‘Dolphin Tale’ star Winter dies but touched many lives

Winter, the bottle nosed dolphin that inspired the movie Dolphin Tale, died this Thursday from a gastrointestinal abnormality. She died at the Clear Water Marine Aquarium in Florida where she has lived since being rescued in 2005. She was only 16. Most bottle nose dolphins can live to be up to 60. Winter’s story of rehabilitation has become an inspiration for disabled people around the world including my little Emery.

If you have ever scrolled through any of my socials at @angiewardonline, you have seen me with Emery, my 6-year-old Grand daughter. She has a beautiful spirit, beautiful soul and beautiful smile! The smile, is our miracle. Emery was born with a double cleft lip and palate.She has had multiple surgeries and through God's grace we were led to wonderful doctors and a brilliant surgeon, Dr. Williams, at Children's Health Care Of Atlanta. Because of these amazing people, Emery has a bright, beautiful smile! But she does have a scar, and she has issues with her teeth that will have to wait to be fixed until she is older and her speech is a little different. All things that can make a young child feel insecure.

When Emery was 3 she watched Dolphin Tale for the first time. At that young age, she was mesmerized by Winter's story of overcoming adversity. It became our daily ritual to watch Dolphin Tale and/or the sequel Dolphin Tale 2. We played (actually still do) like we were the characters in the movie. She would pretend to be Winter and I was usually Sawyer, the boy who rescued Winter. From the beginning, she felt a kinship to Winter. Winter had a surgery and Winter looked different but Winter was still the star of the show!

Emery LOVES dolphins! She met her first on at Gulf World in Panama City Florida when she was 3. She has had a Dolphin themed birthday party. Has dolphin jewelry, clothes and books.

Earlier this year for her 6th birthday, Emery's parents gave her a trip to the Clear Water Marine Aquarium to meet Winter! When she opened the present, she cried! A 6-year-old, crying over her present because she was so happy!

In March of 2021, the family went to Clear Water to meet Winter, but when they arrived, Winter wasn't feeling well so she didn't get to see her. Emery did get to meet Hope, the star of Dolphin Tale 2 and she got to hold Winter's actual prosthetic tale! She saw all of the places she has seen hundreds of times while watching the movie.

Our hope was to take her back to meet Winter next year.

Winter touched so many lives, young and old. I am so grateful Emery found Dophin Tale and made Winter her inspiration.

Clear Water Marine Aquarium will continue to spread Winter's message of hope and inspiration. You can still visit or donate to the facility that continues to rehab animals

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