Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 2 - A Day with Winter!

This was what the trip was all about. Earlier in the year Ashlyn and a fellow blogger's daughter ( http://www.bornjustright.com/) Jordan had the incredible opportunity to meet Kevin Carroll, Vice President of Prosthetics for Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics. Mr. Carroll is co-creator of Winter the Dolphin's "helper tail". This was also the first time the girls had the opportunity to meet each other and there was an instant bond. We had no idea at the time that we would be presented with such an incredible opportunity!!
After this meeting Ashlyn and I began the process of working with Hanger Prosthetic and Orthotics in Independence, MO for her new myoelectric arm as well and her swim arm. They have been so fantastic to work with. From there we had the opportunity to meet with several media outlets to discuss the opportunity to meet Winter live with the help of the Hanger Prosthetics foundation. Oh yeah. You better believe we were excited. We made plans with the other family and worked with Mr. Carroll's assistant (Ms. Carol Wade) and set our sights on Florida for this October trip! Fast forward to last week - we woke up early on Wednesday (after arriving at 1am the night before) and headed for a quick breakfast. Our limo was waiting outside promptly at 9am to take us to Clearwater, FL for the big day. The limo was impressive to say the least. Jordan and Ashlyn sat behind Jen (Jordan's mom) and I and picked up where they left off several months earlier and as if no time had passed at all. It was definitely an "Ahhhhh" moment. *smiles*

We arrived at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 2 hours later and ready to meet the animals. We were given the royal treatment with a tour guide showing us the ins and outs of the aquarium and the different aquatic life that has found their new home at this very special place. Ashlyn and Jordan looked at the animals swimming above as soon as we walked in.

After touring the facilities the girls (and Jordan's brother, Cameron) were given an even better special treat. The chance to get up close and personal with Winter herself. Yeah, I'm jealous that I didn't get to touch this beautiful creature. However, watching the kids enjoying this moment was even better to me. It made my heart all warm and fuzzy. *smile*

They got to touch her, feed her, wave at her, talk to her. It was more than incredible...but I am at a lack of words to describe how awe struck I was. It was....beautiful!

Oh yeah...Ashlyn totally kissed her!! *squeal*

We enjoyed the afternoon at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, learning about the different animals that live there, how they came to be there and how the aquarium gives them an incredible place to live, make friends and be happy critters.

After the aquarium we managed to squeeze an hour in at the beach. Clearwater is absolutely gorgeous. I could easily live here. We walked into the water and strolled around on the beach.

On the way back to Orlando, we all caught a quick nap in the limo. We needed a little refresher before heading to the Magic Kingdom that evening.

We made our way to the Magic Kingdom to change our Not-So-Scary trick or treating tickets from Tuesday (when we got in at 1 am) to Thursday so we could enjoy this special treat. We decided to explore the Kingdom while we were there. It was nothing like I expected...it was even BETTER!
We stayed for the fireworks and then decided we were exhausted and wanted to get some good sleep in order to enjoy a full day at the parks on Thursday.

Ashlyn barely stayed awake for the ferry ride back to our hotel. We had a terrific day with Winter and friends. This was probably the best day EVER!!

(Pedometer Steps: 9,682)


Erica Moody said...

I can't thank you enough for this blog. I work with a little boy who has special needs in elementary school. On Monday, he ran to me at recess with huge tears on his face, shaking in fear because a little boy was chasing him--and the little boy only had one arm.
His grandparents and I have patiently answered his questions all week (how does he eat? how does he get dressed?) but he refuses to go out to recess. He's paralyzed with fear.
Today, I finally got the idea to look up some info for him. He loved the pictures of Ashlyn! Especially the princess one! My little guy can be angry and a little aggressive at times, but this post really brought out the soft side in him. The matching pink dresses pic? "Aww, cute!" he cooed. He noted her lovely smile and said, "She's so happy! She likes her arm!"
I just can't thank you enough! Give that girl a hug for me!