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An experience of a lifetime

Winter the Dolpin has become a very special part of our household. Ever since we had a chance to meet Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics’ Vice President Kevin Carroll at the Amputee Coalition conference earlier this year, Jordan and the rest of our family haven’t been able to stop talking about the inspirational dolphin. Hanger was handing out stuffed animal Winter dolphins and the children’s book about her story. We read the book all the time and Jordan has taken Winter all over the place. The toy sat next to Jordan while we watched the Dolphin Tale movie last month.

Fast forward to last week… and a very special time with Winter sealed our complete devotion to this animal and the rest of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Thanks to Carroll and his assistant Carol Wade, we were able to have special time with the dolphin during our visit last week.

Our friend Ashlyn who we met through this website recently got a brand new myo-electric arm from Hanger. She had a chance to join us as we met Winter and the aquarium’s other dolphins Panama, Hope and Nicholas.

CMA kindly gave us an incredible tour guide. We learned about how Winter came to the aquarium along with all of the other animals that live there. Very young dolphins who are rescued cannot be released back into the wild because they don’t have the survival skills that mother dolphins can give. A number of the other animals that live there have similar reasons on why they are unable to return to the wild.

After our tour, the kids had a chance to spend about 8 minutes with Winter. Jordan decided she wanted Winter to see her swim hand so she put it on before their meeting. We captured it all on video:

The kids were smitten. The family members who got to watch were touched. We feel blessed for the special opportunity. Thanks again to Kevin and Carol for making it happen. Here’s a collection of photos I and a member of the aquarium took during their time together:

By the way, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s focus is on helping marine animals in need. Its mission is to rescue, rehab and release. You have a chance to adopt an animal and help support the aquarium’s mission. Donations are helping the aquarium expand its dolphin area thanks to Winter’s popularity. Hopefully all of this attention is bringing a lot of wonderful developments for the animals and the organization.


  1. Jill @BabyRabies on November 2, 2011 at 9:11 am

    How exciting!! Talk about making memories for a lifetime. I bet all involved will never forget it.

  2. on November 9, 2011 at 11:30 am

    […] of Journalism and Interactive Director at KOMU.  She originally published this story on her blog Born Just Right, a site focused on encouraging parents to advocate and celebrate differences. There she shares […]

  3. Robert Quigley on January 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Hey Jen,
    Just watched Dolphin Tale on video (finally out on DVD), and my kid LOVED it. He wanted me to google around and find out more about winter, and we found this entry. He is super jealous now.
    What a once-in-a-lifetime moment for your daughter. I’m not crying, I was just cutting onions or something….

    • Jen Lee Reeves on January 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      We feel immensely blessed for our experience with Winter and our time in Florida. I’m so glad you guys liked the movie. We are now officially forever Winter fans.

  4. […] the post I wrote after our wonderful Winter experience. The experience ended up inspiring Jordan to have a Dolphin […]

  5. I Finally Watched Dolphin Tale on October 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    […] about your Dolphin Tale experience!  (Read about Jordan’s amazing experience here!)Share this:FacebookTwitterRedditDiggEmailRelated […]

  6. […] 2013,Flashback Friday 0Pin ItDigg DiggTwo years ago, we were in the middle of an adventure of a lifetime. Our family had a special gift of meeting Winter the Dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. […]

  7. […] watched the whole movie intently. It was SO cool to see the movie with the experience of having met Winter and Hope back in 2011. The story of Winter and Hope is just as inspiring as the first movie. Seeing children […]

  8. […] will donate another $20,000! (You probably know the aquarium best for its most famous resident, Winter the Dolphin.) That’s a huge deal and every little bit can make a difference. Since the announcement of […]

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