At USIA, we want everyone to get outside and enjoy the wonderful bounty and exceptional beauty that outdoor recreation allows. The outdoor lifestyle is all about the love of the wild, open spaces, hiking and hunting and fishing. And water. We human beings just love the water, and here at USIA, it is our desire to foster, promote, and encourage people to get out there. But there are some of us who, because of unfortunate, sometimes tragic circumstances, can’t participate in the outdoor activities they love so dearly. Either because of a debilitating illness, tragic accident, or through some other catastrophic event, these people would otherwise never get to enjoy swimming in a pool, splashing in a lake, or playing in the ocean again. Many of these priceless souls are children. We call them our angels, and at USIA, we have met several of these angels over the years. The latest precious little one to grace our doorstep is the wonderfully happy Savannah Hunter.
“I have an unusual request for a custom dry suit…” Jackie Hunter, Savannah’s mother, wrote in an email. “My 2 1/2 year old daughter…was diagnosed with infantile scoliosis that we found out is progressing pretty rapidly. She has to get a fiberglass cast (same kind as with broken bones) on her torso on June 23rd. Unfortunately, the cast can’t get wet! I’ve seen online a dry suit company make one for a toddler in a similar situation a couple years ago and I’m hoping to have one done for her so that she can play near the water and sand without fear of the cast getting wet! Please let me know if this is something you can help me get?”
Upon reading Jackie’s heartfelt request, Lana Johns, USIA’s CEO, didn’t hesitate. “I told her we can make it happen,” she said, choking back the tears.
So our fabulously talented and hard-working staff got to work. Manufacturing a dry suit for such a wee one is a challenge. Neck seals double as leg seals. The fit might be wrong. But, in the end, when Savannah and family arrived at USIA to pick up the suit, all was well.
Savannah couldn’t wait to get into the water, and the Hunter family didn’t waste any time getting her there. The next day they were at SW Washington State’s Yale Lake, and, by the looks of the pictures, Savannah had a ball.
She looks like she’s taken to the suit like its second nature, and she’s playing like she doesn’t have a body cast on, let alone a drysuit. It’s a gratifying experience for Ms. Johns and all of us here at USIA. Just seeing that bright little smile as she frolics in the lake is our reward, because we know we’ve helped to create yet another outdoor enthusiast. It’s like we always say, and Savannah is the embodiment of this, “It’s Not Just Equipment, It’s a Lifestyle.”