Engage Mag: COD Alumnus Jim Elliott, CEO of Diveheart

Engage Mag: Alumnus Jim Elliott, CEO of Diveheart

Magazine of the College of DuPage (COD)

From COD to CEO — Page 3
Jim Elliott’s Diveheart inspires adaptive divers to focus on abilities, not disabilities.

COD alum and Diveheart founder Jim Elliott is a breath of fresh oxygen for people with disabilities

The stereotypical college-to-career story goes like this:
Go to school.
Earn your degree in a particular field.
Go to work in that field.

But sometimes, even the most remote collegiate experience can make an unexpected impact long after the student has left the classroom.

Yes, you read that correctly: Diveheart helps people who’ve lost limbs; people who suffer from chronic pain; people with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, autism and other conditions by getting them into the water and breathing oxygen from tanks on their backs.

And yes, this is all headquartered in the flatlands of Chicagoland.

The Diveheart seed was planted when Elliott’s daughter Erin was born blind in 1980. Elliott and his

Case in point: COD alumnus Jim Elliott.

Elliott studied journalism at COD. After earning his associate degree, he earned a bachelor’s in sports writing from Northern Illinois University.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the press box. An entrepreneur since he
started caddying at Riverside Golf Club at age 12, Elliott quickly moved from sports writing to advertising sales.

He remained in the media business for two decades, working as an advertising executive for the Chicago Tribune Media Group, WGN and CLTV.

Then, despite his annual six-figure salary, he quit. Instead of selling space and time, he founded a nonprofit organization—one that has since helped thousands of people with disabilities in Illinois and around the world.

And it all started not with a journalism class—but a scuba diving class—at College of DuPage.

Elliott, now 61, is the founder of the Diveheart Foundation (www.diveheart.org). Established in Downers Grove in 2001, this non-profit 501(c)3 organization set out to “build confidence and independence and self esteem in children, adults [including military veterans] with disabilities through scuba diving.”

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Former Apalachicola resident, diver reflects on Thai cave rescue saga

Former Apalachicola resident, diver reflects on Thai cave rescue saga

Wilhelmina Stanton was brimming with excitement when she awoke to news of the cave-trapped Thai soccer team’s rescue Sunday.

“I was jumping up and down — I was super excited,” she said.

The former Apalachicola resident and professional diver couldn’t keep her eyes away from each new update about the 12 boys, called the Wild Boars, and their coach trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand.

Stanton, 35, is a former Apalachicola High student. She’s loved the water since she was small and now spends her days guiding people with disabilities underwater as the South Florida Team Lead for a nonprofit group, Diveheart.

Read full article on Tallahassee.com website.

Read full article on Diversity MBA Magazine website.

X-Ray Mag: Diveheart Malaysia Making Waves and Expanding

X-Ray Mag: Diveheart Malaysia Making Waves and Expanding

Diveheart Malaysia has been making waves since the organization started regular, monthly, in-pool scuba training programs for persons with disabilities (PWD) trained by Diveheart Ambassador and funder and director of Kids Scuba Malaysia, Syed And Rahman, who worked closely with the rehabilitation unit for spinal cord injury (SCI) patients of the University of Malaya Medical Center (UMMC) in Kuala Lumpur.

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WGN-TV9: Local Veteran Brings Sea Statue to America – Finally Sees It

WGN-TV9: Local Veteran Brings Sea Statue to America – Then Finally Sees It


It’s one of the most popular underwater tourist attractions in the world, a 9 foot statue of Christ located just below the ocean in the Florida Keys.

The 400 pound bronze statue of Christ was a gift from the Italians to American divers.

But it was a Korean War veteran from Chicago who was instrumental in delivering the statue to its permanent home.

Gabriel Spataro is one of Chicago’s Very Own.


See full article and watch video on WGN-TV website

Local Dive Expert Weighs in On Thai Cave Rescue

A local dive expert weighs in on the rescue that had the entire world watching.

NBC 5’s Sabrina Santucci reports. (Published Tuesday, Jul 10, 2018)

Click here to know more.

The Power of Scuba Diving for People with Disabilities

The Power of Scuba Diving for People with Disabilities

by Jay Shefsky
WTTW Chicago

People with disabilities have been proving for years that no sport is off-limits. And whether or not an athlete is disabled, every sport can offer physical and emotional benefits.

Scuba diving, research has shown, offers special benefits for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and spinal cord injuries, as well as benefits for people with autism.

The researchers have studied people learning to dive with Chicago-based nonprofit Diveheart. The all-volunteer group works with individuals who have a variety of physical and developmental disabilities, vision and hearing impairments, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and more. It was founded in 2001 by Jim Elliott, who first saw the power of adaptive sports when he taught skiing to his daughter, who is blind. Diveheart’s programs, which are supported through fundraising efforts, has programs around the country and in the Caribbean. There is never a charge to participants.

We visited a session at a swimming pool in west suburban Aurora to learn more.

See full article and video on WTTW website

Diving for Therapy – TEDx Naperville – Jim Elliott of Diveheart

Diving for Therapy – TEDx Naperville – Jim Elliott of Diveheart

After leaving a successful career in the media industry in 1996, Jim Elliot became a full-time volunteer by founding Diveheart, a not-for-profit that helps build confidence and independence in individuals through scuba diving. Jim’s inspiration came from his daughter who was blind from birth, and developed tremendous self-confidence after learning how to downhill ski. Passionate about scuba diving since the 1970’s Jim decided to replicate his daughter’s experience, but in the forgiving weightless environment underwater which provides perfect buoyancy and balance to individuals who might otherwise struggle on land.



Dive Into Life (WVOX Radio) – Diveheart Radio Interview

Diveheart (with featured guest Rosemary Ciotti) – Radio Interview

Dive Into Life (WVOX Radio)

“Dive Into Life” is live every Thursday from 4-5 PM on 1460AM and worldwide at WVOX.COM. Join us and explore our deep “dives” into all that is life!

Listen at Dive Into Life/WVOX Radio site.