Ben Hetrick has always found freedom in the water. As little kid it was swimming with family. As a young man it was water sports with his buddies. After his accident, it was water therapy.
“Being suspended in the water relieves all pressure and allows my body to stretch out and not be confined or restricted,” said Hetrick, who is paralyzed from the waist down.
Hetrick, a Marine Corps veteran, recently joined Raytheon as an engineer based in McKinney. “When I heard of Diveheart and their outreach to the disabled community, I wanted to meet with and learn how to dive with their instructors.”
Diveheart, a charity that teaches people with physical and developmental challenges how to scuba dive, worked with RAYVETS last year to give lessons at the University of Central Florida. In 2018, they sought a Raytheon employee to participate. They found Hetrick. RAYVETS and RADA funded his travel from McKinney to St. Petersburg, Fla. for the event.
While scuba diving in December, Hetrick found a new kind of freedom in the water. “Being able to spend time underwater floating and swimming in the weightless environment without the restrictions of being in my wheelchair was such an amazing experience,” said Hetrick. “Scuba diving gave me a chance, if only for a few hours, to forget about the challenges and boundaries I am faced with in my everyday routines. “
It was not only a rewarding experience for Hetrick, but also for the Raytheon volunteers to see his passion and excitement throughout the event. “The collaboration and teamwork that comes naturally from our ‘can do’ Raytheon culture made it easy to plan and execute this adventure for Ben,” said John Snedeker, the RAYVETS Eastern Region Director of Communications.
ERG leaders, including RAYVETS Global President Brenda Boorda understand the broader impact of these events. “With a team of passionate people, there are no limits to what you can do,” she said. “Service opportunities like Diveheart, and similar events across the country, help us remember the purpose of our work at Raytheon.”