Meet Scotty, Treasure Hunter and Cancer Survivor

Like other Project Angel Heart clients, Scotty is living with a life-threatening illness. Leukemia. And like other clients, he has a unique life story. The best part? It involves pirates and treasure.

Scotty was one of the divers who found the Whydah Gally, the only fully authenticated and positively identified pirate shipwreck ever recovered.

His story starts in the 1980s, when his father, an osteopathic doctor, met an underwater explorer and treasure hunter, Barry Clifford. Intrigued by Clifford’s plans to find the Whydah, which sank in 1717, the doctor became an investor in Clifford’s treasure hunt.

Scotty, who’d grown up reading National Geographic and dreaming of adventure, was equally excited about Clifford’s plans. He’d recently earned several scuba diving certifications, so he decided to ask Clifford for a job.

“Something inside me said, ‘Go for it,’ so I called him up,” said Scotty. “He was hesitant to hire an investor’s son from Colorado. He finally said, ‘I don’t have enough money to hire a full crew.’ So I offered to work for free.” Clifford said yes. Later, Clifford offered him a paid position on the crew.

In June 1984, Clifford’s years of treasure hunting paid off. The crew unearthed a shipwreck they believed to be the Whydah. Soon after, they found proof that it truly was the pirate ship—a bell inscribed with the words “THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716”.

Scotty worked to recover items from the shipwreck for several years. Because he had a knack for finding large pieces of gold during these dives, he earned the nickname “Goldfinger”.

His diving days behind him, he returned to Denver. Things were going well, but then in May of last year, he started feeling tired and out of breath. By June, he knew the reason: acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While undergoing treatment and recovering from a bone marrow transplant, Scotty has relied on Project Angel Heart meals to help him stay strong and positive.

“You guys send meals with all the nutrients,” said Scotty. “That’s been a great help, to help keep my body fit. Your body needs more than just pills.”

Today, Scotty’s apartment is filled with treasures of a different kind: paintings he creates to keep himself busy, memorabilia from his treasure-hunting days, and the Lord of the Rings swords he collects.

And the meals that arrive at his door every week? They’re like gold to the former treasure hunter. “They’ve kept me going,” said Scotty. “They’re one of the reasons I’m doing better than the docs anticipated.”

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