Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scuba Diver Snubs Disability in Pursuit of the Underwater World

What's not to love about this story?

About 30 feet deep on Molasses Reef off Key Largo, Greg Rodriguez chased a barracuda, temporarily eluding his scuba-diving buddy, Jim Elliott. When Rodriguez and Elliott emerged about 45 minutes later, they were chuckling.

"You left me in your dust," Elliott said to Rodriguez.

Said Rodriguez: "I thought we could catch him."

What made this playful exchange remarkable is that three months ago, Rodriguez, 26, was confined to a wheelchair -- the result of a traumatic brain injury from a March 2006 car accident that left him in a coma for three weeks. Rodriguez, a Marine Corps veteran from Stickney, Ill., has trouble speaking and can only walk with a cane. But you would never know he was disabled by watching him zip around in the water.

"Diving has helped me a lot. It helps me with my frustrations," Rodriguez said. "I'm a highly active individual and Marine. Due to my disability, I can no longer run. Once I get in the water, I feel that I'm completely buoyant and can dive around the whole world and not get tired."

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