I told you in the post about visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium that I would share something that especially touched my heart. I realized that I didn’t explain that the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a working marine animal hospital that is dedicated to the rescue, rehab & release of marine animals. Winter and Hope’s stories were shared in the movie (Dolphin Tale), and have inspired so many. The day we visited I was drawn to several bulletin boards (referred to as Winter’s Gallery of Hope) on display at the aquarium that were full of letters and drawings, mostly from children, for Winter and Hope and the Clearwater Aquarium. Oh my goodness, my eyes were full of tears and the tears ran down my face while I read those notes, I was so deeply touched by everything I saw. (I could have easily let loose and cried like crazy, but I tried to hold it together so I wouldn’t startle people around me.)
One girl wrote about having a Save Winter & Hope Day in her room with her family and raising some money to send to the aquarium, and another had a lemonade and cookie stand with her friend. There was a story about a five year old boy with leukemia who discovered the aquarium and it became his happy place where he made a special connection with one of the dolphins living there. Children wrote about having disabilities, or broken arms, and being inspired by Winter’s story to be brave through their own challenges and fears. A mother wrote that a stuffed animal of Winter brought comfort to her child during surgery, and another note came from a survivor of the earthquake in Haiti. With each note I read and drawing I looked at, my heart filled with love for each person sharing their story.
“To all the staff at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, I am probably your biggest fan.”
“It is one of my life dreams to come and swim with Winter. I am saving every penny I find in a jar to come to the aquarium.”
“Dear Winter, Your “Tale” inspired me to keep going and to never give up. Even if it’s just school work!”
“Ever since I came to see Winter I have been drawing pictures of her. She has changed my life. Dolphins are my favorite animal now because of Winter.”
“I would like a job at the aquarium please.”
“Right now I’m 8 but, when I grow up I want to move and work there. I’ve always loved animal rescue. In fact I rescued my own cat Skye.”
“Be Brave. Be Strong. Live to be the Best.”
“Dear Winter, I love you! Your the most awesome animal I can cry!”
I could have stood there all day reading those precious letters. Reading them filled me with so much love, compassion, and hope. Whether you’re familiar with Winter and Hope’s story or not, I thought you would enjoy seeing some of them too.