By Marcelle Dibrell
The Scottsdale, Ariz. Region 8 IPSSA Chapter is always trying to find ways to help people, both inside and outside of the pool and spa industry.
The chapter regularly contributes to outreach programs such as the Wounded Warriors Project, a program dedicated to helping rehabilitate wounded service members.
They donate to Heart of Africa, a non-profit charity that provides sustainable homes for orphans and vulnerable children in Africa.
They also make annual contributions to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.
In June, when the Arizona wildfire killed 19 firefighters known as Hotshots, Region 8 was quick to respond, donating $500.
Led by Kurt Schuster, two-time president and previous regional director, the 30-member group of seasoned industry professionals is dedicated to giving back to the community.
Most recently, the group inspired donations that totaled almost $5,000 for Russel Burke, after reading the news of his accident in the Sept. 15 issue of Service Industry News.
Burke, a 37-year old member of the pool and spa industry, dove into shallow water at Lake Havasu on Memorial Day, and is currently paralyzed from the neck down.
When Burke dove into the water off the back of his boat, hit the bottom, he was diagnosed with a complete spinal cord injury, the most serious case of spinal injury in which no motor or sensory function is preserved. Burke is a quadriplegic.
One of the biggest hurdles the family faced was purchasing a wheelchair accessible van, which insurance doesn’t cover, and costs over $35,000.
After reading of the incident, chapter member Bill Moore brought the accident to the attention of his fellow members.
“He came to the meeting and said, ‘We have to look outside of our chapter, and I want to make a motion that we contribute money to his charity,’” Schuster remembered.
The chapter unanimously agreed to donate $500.
News of Burke’s need spread via word of mouth throughout Region 8, and before long, in addition to the contributions of large pool and spa manufacturers, as well as individual donations, Region 8 had amassed almost $5,000 for Burke.
The donations went into a raffle to win a $2,000 vacation, and Region 8 decided that if it won, the region would re-raffle the trip at the Desert Pool and Spa show to try to raise even more money for Burke.
Region 8 did not win the trip, but with the help of these IPSSA members, Burke finally did get his van.
Schuster is proud of his chapter and their willingness to give back.
“I thought it was neat that not one of us knew this gentleman but we were still able to help,” Schuster said.
Burke’s sister, Dianna, wants to thank all of the people who so generously donated.
“Please express to your chapters our family's deep gratitude and appreciation for all of your efforts.,” she said. “We are so touched to see the outpour from the pool industry to help one of their own. Russ has been in the industry since a teenager, and it's another family to him. We would not have been able to buy a modified van for him without this fundraiser. Thank you so much.”