Elena has an adventurous spirit that won’t keep her down. She is a seasoned scuba diver who loves exploring the sea and all its underwater sights. She is also a quadriplegic, injured in a car accident when she was 25 years old.
Because of her paralysis, Elena needs the assistance of several people in order to dive. She recalls her first scuba experience in Spain where she gathered up a diving instructor, her dad, two cousins, and a co-worker to join her. Elena has some arm movement, but no finger function, so her assistants helped her with things like getting into her wetsuit, and holding her nose once she got in the water to help the pressure in her nose and sinuses equalize before the dive.
Elena is grateful for the effort put in by others in order to help her scuba dive.
“I dive because people want to dive with me. Saying [anything] other than this… means discrediting a lot of people. … I’ve met many people willing to go diving with me, and that has allowed me to keep doing it.”
Elena is now an experienced scuba diver. She’s been in the waters of Mexico, Panama, and the Red Sea. She’s even been diving in the icy waters of France!
Elena is pushing the boundaries that she says society often puts on people with disabilities. After her injury, she experienced a new world – one she feels isn’t designed for people who live with a disability.
“I questioned myself all the time [after the accident], because I didn’t understand why a capable, beautiful girl who used to work as a nurse was suddenly set apart because she couldn’t move anymore. But I didn’t set myself apart, it was society that did it."
Through her diving experiences, Elena demonstrates how she’s chosen to push forward in life regardless of whether or not this world is able to handle her. “People want positive stories, stories about overcoming. But we don’t have to overcome anything—what I want is to live exactly like you,” says Elena.
And that’s precisely what she’s doing.
What sports have you conquered? Share your adventures with us, and you could be featured on AbleThrive!