My giving story for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium:
Once upon a time, there was a small, scared bottlenose dolphin who had become entangled in fishing gear and was stranded with no hope of survival. Then fate stepped into her story when a human cared enough to call for help. The little dolphin was taken from the only home she knew and transported to a place with new sights and sounds. She was frightened and injured, but her human friends assured her that they could help her. Those humans fell in love with the brave dolphin, and she started to trust them. There was already a dolphin named Summer at the rescue hospital, so they named the little dolphin Winter.
The best part of the story was yet to come. She survived, but lost her tail to irreparable injury. The experts had a terrible decision to make: put the little dolphin out of her misery, or see how she handled her predicament. Fortunately for dolphin fans around the world, her life was spared. One brave, tiny dolphin was about to become the most loved and inspirational symbol in recent memory.
Almost overnight, the movie about Winter's struggle and eventual acceptance of an prosthetic tail made her a star. I even saw the movie twice and cried through it both times. The part that gets me every time is the end when physically challenged children and adults travel to meet the dolphin without a tail. When they touch Winter, I can feel the excitement between them and their hero. The human and the dolphin- so different, so much the same. To communicate without speaking. Just a smile and a squeak. Yet both understand the challenges of the other. I saw her in person recently, and she has a gift of connecting with us. Giving to her rescue hospital felt natural.
The movie "Dolphin Tale" not only transformed the Clearwater community, it changed everyone who saw it, an incredible feat. Who knows how many kids have been inspired to keep pushing through pain because Winter did? Or how many veterans try a prosthetic leg because if a dolphin can do it, why shouldn't they? Winter and her story will be told for generations because she is brave, she is the first dolphin to survive without a tail, but mostly because she connects with people in a way that makes us feel good.
Review from #MyGivingStory
In August of 2014, I made the last attempt at my life. After I came home from the hospital, I discovered 'Dolphin Tale' on HBO, and I hadn't seen it before, but I'm certain that this was fate. I watched in awe of this little dolphin that continued to defy the odds and live as if nothing had happened to her at all! I listened to these inspiring words out of the cast such as, 'You can't make her want to live, she's going to have to want to do that on her own.' and 'Just because you're hurt, doesn't mean you're broken.' It was these words that inspired me to continue living my life and push through my struggle and vow to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium the next time I was down there.
It was about a year later that I was able to visit and I will never forget it. I got a photo with Hope. We fed the stingrays and my niece fed Rufus! My best friend who had not seen the movies yet, I watched her face light up like a Christmas tree and connect with Hope. Unfortunately, we didn't get to spend much time there that day since I did not have my wheelchair and my legs were giving out.
I came back, once again, a year later, on my birthday.. and this was and will always be the greatest day of my life because my parents combined my birthday and Christmas gift to give me the Trainer for a Day program. I spent the day watching the dolphins, talking to the staff, and then doing my trainer for a day. After my trainer for a day program I had the opportunity to talk to David Yates where I got to tell him how much Winter has inspired me. You see, when you have a company like the Clearwater Marine Aquarium that genuinely cares about the animals, the planet, and their supporters, it's a recipe for success. I believe in them wholeheartedly. I love everything they do because they genuinely care! This seems to be a rare find these days.
But the real fact of the matter is, had I NOT found Dolphin Tale, I don't know that I would be here today. And I mean this sincerely. I give to Clearwater Marine Aquarium because they saved my life. How do you pay someone back for saving your life? That's a debt you cant fully repay. There is nothing that I wouldn't do for them so I seize every opportunity to give back to them in any way that I can.
Review from #MyGivingStory