|Steven Bunn, left, picks up the grand prize from the Florida Keys "Drive and Dive" contest at DEMA Show 2006. At right is Todd Firm, chairman of the Keys tourism council. Bunn won a full week of diving in the Keys and a complete set of Scubapro dive gear. Photo by Kevin Wadlow.|
An Ohio dive shop's travel coordinator won the grand prize from a contest staged at the Florida Keys & Key West pavilion at DEMA (Dive Equipment & Marketing Association) Show 2006 and conducted in partnership with "Scuba Diving Magazine."
Steven Bunn of D&M Sport Diving, Inc., in Uniontown, departed DEMA 2006 on the final day of the show in Orlando with a full week of diving in the Florida Keys, including dive trips, lodging and ground transportation as well as a complete set of Scubapro dive gear.
More than 1,000 DEMA delegates registered for the Keys' "Drive & Dive" competition.
"At first, his wife didn't believe it was for real," said Susanne Tortu, group sales manager with the Keys tourism council. "It was only after we handed him the Scubapro dive gear she realized he had actually won."
Bunn was surprised with being selected, but ecstatic with the prizes.
"My wife and I had been through (the booth) several time, because one of our goals was to improve our knowledge of the Keys," Bunn said. "I was getting information and brochures and I heard my name and just shouted 'Hot Damn.' I figure by the time I'm done with (the trip) I'm going to be an expert (on the Keys)."
The first 500 contest entrants received a limited-edition collector's pin created to celebrate the inclusion of the Florida Keys reef system in the United States Post Office "Wonders of America, Land of Superlatives" stamp series. The "Longest Reef" stamp is one of 40 stamps in the series.
The Keys pavilion also hosted a special guest.
James Connaughton, the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, stopped by prior to his presentation for DEMA delegates.
He lauded the Keys for cooperative efforts between government and the private sector to manage the region's environmental resources.
"The Keys was the first example of government and business coming together to create resource management that combines conservation and recreation," said James Connaughton, who also serves as the director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy. "We consider it a great success."
Created by Congress in 1990, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's Advisory Council consists of private-sector members -- including representatives of the Keys dive industry -- as well as those from conservation and other public-interest groups, scientific and educational organizations and others interested in the protection and multi-use management of sanctuary resources.
For more information about the Florida Keys & Key West, visit their official web site at www.fla-keys.com.