The Grand Island Dive Rescue Team received a $5,000 grant Monday from the Grand Island Community Foundation to help them buy more equipment and to honor a man who died in October.
The award is part of the Community Foundation’s fall grants.
Deb Larsen, a member of the dive team, said she was inspired to apply for the grant after the they were called to search the pond at the corner of Diers and Concord avenues in October.
John Zebert, 44, of Grand Island, died there on Oct. 12 after a truck he was riding in crashed into the water.
Having the new equipment, Larsen said, could better prepare the dive team and help them prevent such deaths in the future.
“You want to have better equipment because you want to help other people,” Larsen said.
Tammy Morris, the CEO of the Community Foundation, said the awards are available to any charitable organization in Grand Island. The goal, she said, is to further their missions.
On Monday, the Community Foundation also presented $5,000 to the Central Nebraska Child Advocacy Center, $1,000 to Stuhr Museum and $1,500 to the Grand Island Little Theatre. On Wednesday, they will present $5,000 each to the Salvation Army and the Literacy Council.
The money given to the dive team was provided by the Lloyd and Maybelle Wheeler Charitable Trust and Gene and Ellinor Reab Charitable Trust.
The dive team’s cause, Morris said, fit the goal of the grants well.
“I think it’s unique in the timeliness of it, but at the same time, it’s exactly what we’re trying to accomplish,” she said. “We’re trying to fill gaps in the community, and this does that.”
David Lemburg, the president of the dive team, said it will make a huge difference.
With the money, they will be able to purchase four new buoyancy control devices and two new masks.
Currently, the dive team’s BCDs are all different, so divers have to familiarize themselves with where equipment is each time they put a vest on. The new BCDs will all be the same.
The new masks will also allow divers to have hands-free communication, which allows them to more easily search and grab other equipment.
Because the dive team is funded solely through donations and its members are all volunteers, Lemburg said, the grant means even more.
“That’s going to really benefit us in a really meaningful way,” he said.
Tyler Zebert, who is John’s son, agreed. He and other family members were at the presentation on Monday.
He said he is happy the new equipment could prevent another family from going through what his family has.
“It’s kind of nice that they’re going to try to prevent this from happening to another family,” he said. “... If we can prevent it from happening again, I think it will help the community, also.”
Larsen said that’s the goal. She said she hopes the grant can bring something good from tragic circumstances, and the equipment will add to John Zebert’s memory.
“The name John Zebert will always be part of the dive team,” she said.