For a little boy recovering from an aggressive form of cancer, there was no better medicine than Wilbur the sea lion. Daniel Lamkin first saw Wilbur at the Theater of the Sea on a trip to the Florida Keys two years before he was diagnosed, when he was four years old. Wilbur painted Daniel a picture, which hangs on the boy’s wall to this day. According to his family, Daniel continuously talked about Wilbur.
In December of 2016, Daniel was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system. He had surgery to remove a tumor and had to endure chemotherapy through April 2017. His mother promised him that when he was done being treated, they would go back to Theater of the Sea and see Wilbur again. It was a goal that got the young boy through a rough course of treatment.
This January, the family made good on their promise with the help of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. Along with seeing the parrot and dolphin show at the park, Daniel got to reunite with Wilbur, who came out and painted him another picture. He also interacted with two other sea lions, Bella and Cole as his parents and grandparents looked on.
People at the park benefited from the visit almost as much as Daniel. Jeremy Hauwelaert, marketing and sales director for Theater of the Sea told a news source, “To see him come here to the sea lions from the parrot stadium just jumping up and down with a smile on his face, that’s why we do it.” Daniel’s mother, Cathy, also said it was treatment for him, but also treatment for them to see him so happy.