A 13-year-old girl and a famous dolphin have a lot more in common than you might think.
Ellie Challis contracted a deadly strain of meningitis when she was 16-months-old, and survived despite overwhelming odds. She pulled through; however, she was forced into the life of a quadruple amputee.
Similarly, Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Winter the Dolphin overcame incredible odds. She lost her tail in a crab trap, but persevered thanks to her energy, a prosthetic fin, and her ability to adapt.
Her story was made into the movie “Dolphin Tale”, in which Winter played herself.
After seeing the movie, Ellie was inspired and set her sights on becoming a Paralympic athlete. It is a goal she continues to work towards.
“I saw the film and then I really wanted to get into swimming,” Ellie told FOX 13 Tampa.
Recently Ellie had the chance to meet her hero.
Winter’s perseverance had such an impact, Ellie and her father travelled all the way from the United Kingdom just to say “thank you” for the inspiration.
“As a mom, it makes me proud to have other parents get to see their kids’ dreams come true,” said Cammie Zodrow, the aquarium’s Senior Marine Mammal Trainer.
Watch the video to see the instant bond Ellie and Winter made.