CLEARWATER, Fla. — An 8-year-old boy from England flew to Florida for the rare opportunity to swim with Winter, a dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium who uses a prosthetic tail.
Cieran Kelso could relate. As a double amputee, he also uses custom-made prosthetic flippers to swim.
The Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday that local tourism officials flew Kelso and his family from England to Florida, surprising him with a visit to the aquarium to swim with Winter, star of the movie “Dolphin Tale.”
“His first words when he saw the film was ‘Winter’s disabled just like me,’” said his father Gary Kelso. “There are some pretty raw feelings that go into seeing Cieran swim with the dolphin.”
The family kept the trip a secret from the boy until Aug. 16 when they were on the flight to Florida. The flight attendants announced the trip was a surprise visit to Winter’s home. Kelso’s dream had come true.
On the day of his swim, trainer Cammie Zodrow urged Kelso to tap Winter, the signal to raise her tail. “You guys are best friends now,” Zodrow told Kelso, whose smile grew wider.
He then held onto Winter’s fin and swam beside her, swimming in circles and backward for several laps.
Kelso said he was Winter’s biggest fan and that he could have swum with the dolphin “for a million hours.”
“It was greater than great,” he said after his swim.