Although a relatively new organization, the impact it is making is everlasting. Four highly recognized enthusiasts started Operation: Blue Pride based on the realization that what happens to our oceans affects everyone on the planet. Severely wounded American veterans face some of their biggest challenges as they return home from combat. Combine these two crucial parts of humanity and the result is a successful solution known as Operation: Blue Pride.
As ocean conservationists, Jim Abernethy, Sue Chen. George Schellenger and Shawn Heinrichs united to try and make a difference on land and in the ocean. Once underway, they were joined by three hand-selected veterans whose names are Sgt. Chris Maddeford, Captain Marlene Krpata and Sgt. Stephen Jackel. Their stories are all amazing and emotional yet filled with such a sense of pride.
Operation: Blue Pride is primarily focused on shark conservation and in October of 2012, the group was off to Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, named as such for its many tiger sharks. After making the visit and joined by Sir Richard Branson, it was decided that a documentary was the best way to convey the scope of the adventure. It will serve as an inspiration to other veterans and as a valuable guide when raising awareness to save the oceans.
The dedicated work that this organization continues to perform on a daily basis is challenging financially and has proved to be costly. With continuing support from professionally trusted dive companies such as OTS and Oceanic along with veteran support agencies such as NEADS (Canines for Combat Veterans)as well as a growing community of concerned scuba divers, anything and everything is possible.
Operation: Blue Pride is always looking for used gear to make it easier on the veterans getting into diving due to the high cost of new gear. Buying brand new scuba gear can prove to be a rather large investment at a time when it may not be entirely possible.
This combination of scuba training and marine conservation has given 21 veterans, since 2013, a new lease on life having received scuba training and certification. There is no better medicine for the healing process to progress than becoming certified and taking an active role in ocean conservation.
As members of the dive community, we can get involved in numerous ways. Visit www.operationbluepride.com to learn all about the team and the efforts to save the ocean. On April 23, 2014 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Sullivan & Worcester will host a fundraiser, reception, silent auction and raffle, which will benefit Operation: Blue Pride. It is set to take place at the Conference Center at One Post Office Square in Boston, Mass. If you have questions about the event or are interested in donating items for the auction or raffle, please contact OperationBluePride@Sandw.com or Chris@OperationBluePride.com.
The long-term goal can have monumental results. The team feels strongly that the sparks from the documentary that they plan on making will help several wounded veterans around the world - help the ocean - and inspire more people to make a difference when it comes to the sea. It doesn't get any more positive than that.