The story of Winter the tailless dolphin continues to inspire heartwarming stories about fans who make the journey to Clearwater to see her in person.
The latest is the story of 8-year-old Damian Moore, from Marion, just outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He got to meet Winter and her trainer, Abby Stone, on Tuesday morning at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Damian was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, a condition where his left femur is 75 percent shorter than normal, and has had to wear a prosthetic device on his left leg since he was eight months old.
He found the book Winter's Tail in his school's library and absolutely cherished the book, talking about Winter all the time, according to his parents, Lisa and Chris Moore.
When the family heard that the movie Dolphin Tale was being made, they could hardly wait for it to hit theaters. They took Damian and their 4-year-old daughter, Jailyn. Their daughter even exclaimed during the movie, "Look Damian! She has a helper just like you!" (Damian's name for his prosthetic is his "helper.")
When the Moores surprised him with plane tickets to see Winter in person, he cried. (You can see the heartwarming video at links.tampabay.com.)
On Tuesday, he spent some time petting Winter on a platform near her swim tank and also got a close-up look at her prosthetic tail.
In June, he's scheduled to have surgery on his leg to help him function better. The procedure, called Van Ness rotationplasty, will leave him in a cast from the waist down for six to eight weeks.