John Thompson received a nice surprise last week in honor of Veterans Day and the 15th anniversary of a company he purchases apparel from regularly. Thompson was able to send three Wounded Warriors on a diving expedition in Rincon, Puerto Rico from Nov. 3-8 as part of a group of six.
“It’s probably the most peaceful thing you’ll ever do,” said one of the divers, Charles C. Carolus, Jr., Petty Officer Second Class. “A lot of people get scared of [diving] – sometimes when at the top of the water it’s really choppy at the top, but after you get down a few feet it’s just quiet and peaceful with the fish floating around.”
Carolus, a native of Devine, Texas who was treated for a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, was on his second dive with Thompson’s organization, SUDS (Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba). SUDS helps improve the lives of wounded, ill and injured service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. By training the warriors in a challenging and rewarding activity, they support the rehabilitation process and promote mobility. The diving experience offers each service member with a sport they can enjoy during their rehabilitation and throughout their life.
As part of its 15th Anniversary, CustomInk, the leading online provider of custom apparel for groups and occasions, sponsored three wounded warriors for SUDS’s most recent diving trip, which coincides with Veteran’s Day. This was one of 15 initiatives the company executed this year to thank their most valued customers for their continuous support.
“We feel real grateful. SUDs is a small grassroots non-profit and we’ve been ordering t-shirts from CustomInk since our beginning really,” acknowledged Thompson. With CustomInk’s 15th Anniversary, we have 6 injured service members on this trip so basically they’re covering half of the warriors on this trip.”
“When I got notification that we were getting a donation from CustomInk, I was actually kind of shock,” Thompson expressed. “We totally rely on donations as a small non-profit. We feel blessed to be in the position that CustomInk saw the merit in the work that we do.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, over 8,700 soldiers were severely injured during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thompson has dedicated his life to helping improve the lives of wounded or injured veterans.
“When the opportunity was brought to me, I was like you know what I’m going to try something new at least every year. If the opportunity is there I’m going to take it. Life is short so jump on it,” said Carolus.
In addition to sponsoring the trip, CustomInk has also launched a t-shirt campaign to support SUDS, allowing anyone who wants to show their support to purchase an exclusive shirt with all proceeds being donated to the organization to further support its rehabilitation efforts. Shirts will be on sale through November 30th, 2015.