New York Boy Meets His Hero At Clearwater Marine Aquarium

A young boy got the opportunity to travel to Florida to meet a special dolphin, with whom he shares a special connection.

Braedon Monthony is a seven-year-old boy from the State of New York.  Shortly after he was born, Braedon dealt with a viral infection that resulted in the amputation of both his legs below the knee.

The 2011 hit film Dolphin Tale is based on the true story of a dolphin named Winter, who became caught in the ropes of a crab trap in 2005 off the coast of Florida.  Winter was spotted by SeaWorld’s animal rescue team and rescued with the assistance of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.  The dolphin was then transported to Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Winter had been so badly tangled in the crab trap, the ropes cut off the blood supply to her tail.  In order to save her life, her entire tail had to be amputated.  The film showcases Winter’s unending determination to survive as well as the dedication and creativity of the humans caring for her.  Winter received the now-famous prosthetic tail flukes and has thrived since her rescue.

Winter’s story touched millions after the release of the film and Braedon immediately identified with Winter’s journey.  Whether swimming or riding his bike, the loss of Braedon’s legs has not slowed him down.  It was important to Braedon that he meet the dolphin who shares so much with him, so he set up a lemonade stand in his yard to finance his trip down the east coast to Clearwater.  With a little assistance from local media, People Magazine, and a GoFundMe, over $4,000 had been raised.


Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Braedon and his brother got to sit poolside and take some time to splash and play with Winter and Hope, another resident dolphin and the focal point of Dolphin Tale 2.

This meeting meant a lot to Braedon’s mom, Elaine, too.  In talking about Braedon’s initial aversion to his prosthesis, she said, “It took a lot of work, a lot of patience, and several adjustments.”  For anyone who has seen Dolphin Tale, we know that Winter had a very similar experience when first introduced to her prosthetic tail flukes.

Many people of all ages who have endured amputations or other physical differences have come from all over the world to meet Winter, each having a unique and complex connection with the rescued dolphin.

It’s clear that nothing will slow Braedon down.  He said it best himself, “If Winter can, so can I.”


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