Group stays focused on helping youth

The non-profit U.S. organisation, Stay-Focused, which teaches wheelchair-bound young people to scuba dive, will make this year’s third trip to Grand Cayman next month.

This August, from 2 to 8th, there will be five, college-age women (late teens, early 20s) visiting the island, in addition to paraplegic TV producer from Los Angeles, Carlana Stone.

At the age of 17 she became wheelchair-bound following a car accident and has since gone on to skydive, ski, marry the man of her dreams, and recently became the first female paraplegic in the United States to solo a single-engine aircraft.

All six participants will be going through their scuba certification together here on Grand Cayman.

Already in June of this year there were six teens back for their second diving trip to Cayman (having been certified here last year) and in July five teens were on-island for their first trip.

Founder/President of Stay-Focused, Roger Muller explained that to date the organisation has put 17 teens and young adults through the programme. By mid-August that number will be 22.

‘Including two reunion trips (each participant is offered two trips – one to get certified; a second to refresh skills and have fun), we will have provided 34 diving trips to this very deserving population,’ Mr. Muller said.

The organisation, which is New York-based, has been running programmes in Grand Cayman for the past three years. The first programme was in March 2004.

Grand Cayman is ideal for the programme, Mr. Muller explained.

‘We stay at the Courtyard Marriott, one of our generous sponsors, and dive with Red Sail Sports, another sponsor. The dive sites are close to shore, the water is warm and calm, there is excellent visibility and good medical facilities on-island,’ he said.

Groups have also visited Boatswain’s Beach (another sponsor) while here, had fun on wave runners, and gone parasailing. Evening dinner at different restaurants on island provide support in the form of discounted or fully sponsored meals.

The group has also received help from many other on-island companies.

Now the group is in the very early stages of planning an event called The Dinner of the Decade. Proposed for October, it would showcase the culinary expertise of Cayman-based executive chefs, offering their signature dishes as part of a grand tasting menu. Funds raised will benefit wheelchair-bound young people, through bringing them to Cayman to scuba dive, and have lots of fun, said Mr. Muller.

‘Depending on our success in attracting sponsors I hope to make a final decision on the event before I leave the island on August 13,’ he said.

He continued, ‘Assuming it’s a go, we will donate a fixed amount (to be determined) to the Sunrise Adult Training Centre’.

The first Stay-Focused Underwater Bike Ride in February was a great success, he notes. Over $5,000 was raised.

‘We plan to continue this event,’ said Mr. Muller.

Also, in April Stay-Focused was the designated charity for the Million Dollar Run weekend and will be the designated charity for it each year from now on, he said.

Stay-Focused has also partnered with Parasailing Professionals. ‘You will soon see a Stay-Focused parasail flying up and down Seven Mile Beach,’ Mr. Muller said.

For a full list of local sponsors check out www.stay-focused.org under the heading ‘Partners’.

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