Featured Image Credit: Clearwater Marine Aquarium
By: Laura O’Brien
An uplifting story has become even more inspiring. Winter the dolphin lived near Cape Canaveral, Florida before she became trapped in a crab trap line when she was only two months old. Usually, when dolphins become entrapped in these lines, they do not survive. Amazingly, Winter persevered. Rescuers found the young dolphin and untangled her from the line; but they were too late to save her tail.
The line had cut off circulation to her tail for so long that they were forced to amputate. Winter overcame her obstacles with grace, and she learned how to swim with her new body. Now, Winter has her own prosthetic tail which allows her to maneuver even better in the water. AND she has her own movie! Dolphin Tale is a movie about Winter, in which Winter plays herself. This is where 13 year-old Ellie Challis joins the story.
Like Winter, Ellie has overcome major odds just to be alive today. When she was only 16 months old, Ellie contracted meningitis. The strain which infected her is deadly, so the infant had to fight for her life. Despite the odds, Ellie overcame the illness; but she lost all of her limbs in the process.
Since then, she grew into a vibrant teenager, and learned how to live her life and complete tasks with her new body just like Winter. When Ellie watched the movie Dolphin Tale, Winter’s strength and perseverance inspired her. Ellie decided to begin swimming, because she now dreams of becoming a Paralympic athlete!
Ellie’s supportive father knew of her love for the famous dolphin, so he accompanied her on a long trip from the UK all the way to Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, where Winter lives. Ellie met her hero and got to say thanks to the dolphin who inspired her to pursue her new goal. Thanks to Winter, Ellie has exciting dreams to follow and a bright future ahead of her!