A fourteen year old blind boy is preparing to dive Belize’s Great Blue Hole in what the owners of The Lodge at Chaa Creek hailed as the most ambitious and heartwarming fundraising effort they’ve ever heard of.
Mick and Lucy Fleming said that Rowan Garel, who is preparing to dive some forty feet into the Great Blue Hole on July 14 2013 to raise funds for the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI), is an inspiration to all young people.
“What Rowan is preparing to do is simply extraordinary when you consider his age, his disability, and the fact that he is undertaking such an endeavour strictly to raise funds for an organisation he feels passionate about. He’s one more example of the sort of young people you see in Belize and we feel that his efforts should be recognised,” Ms Fleming said.
The Great Blue Hole, part of the Belize Great Barrier Reef system, is over 300 metres (984 ft) across and 127 metres (407 ft) deep and can be seen from outer space.
Ms Fleming said that Rowan has already made a name for himself in this small Caribbean country by climbing to the summit of Victoria Peak, the tallest mountain in Belize, when he was twelve years old, becoming the youngest and the first blind person to do so. That effort was also to raise funds for the BCVI.
And last year, between July 12 and 16 2012, Rowan walked 92 miles from Belize’s western border with Guatemala to Belize City on the Caribbean coast in another fundraiser, she said.
“We kept hearing of these extraordinary feats, but this Blue Hole dive really struck us as something special. It takes a certain amount of nerve at the best of times, but to dive so deeply without benefit of sight is truly courageous,” she said.
Rowan is very clear on his motivation for taking on the challenge.
”A lot of people when they are speaking to me they don’t even want to use the word blind. I am blind and that’s a part of who I am… we can do anything that a sighted person can except see.
“I am not doing it only for personal accomplishment. I am doing this because of the BCVI. I am doing this as a fundraiser. Many people don’t realize that the BCVI actually goes into the houses of people like myself that are blind, that are visually impaired and they provide services such as providing equipment like canes and computers and all this is free of cost. But of course it is not free of cost for the BCVI. So this is why I am doing the challenge,” Rowan said.
Ms Fleming said that in a developing country such as Belize fundraising activities are necessary to generate income for non-profit organisations, but Rowan’s feats are the most ambitious efforts she’s heard of.
“With its varied topography and features such as the Maya Mountains and the Belize Great Barrier Reef, Belize has always attracted adventurers, but to hear about a person so young tackling some of the more challenging parts of the country, from the highest peak to the depths of the Blue Hole, and doing it for charity, that’s really something, and I think Rowan deserves to be saluted,” she said.
People can follow Rowan’s latest adventure through his blog, www.rowandives.blogspot.com
Photo credit: Channel5 Belize