“I felt like I bumped into something," said Johnson, of Concord, North Carolina, about her encounter with the shark, “when I turned to look, I was face to face with the shark. He had my whole arm in his mouth, (and) the first bite was all the way up to here," she said pointing to just below her shoulder.
Fear took over she said. "I remember looking at his eyes, the black beady eyes." She said when she yanked her arm away, he clamped down just below her elbow. During the ensuing struggle, she got her arm out and swam back to the boat, holding her arm out of the water, thankful the shark didn't follow her.
Johnson heard about Winter’s story through Hanger Prosthetics, a medical technology company used by both Johnson and Winter. Winter is a bottlenose dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, widely known for having a prosthetic tail. Winter’s story became a book and popular movie, Dolphin Tale. Johnson, along with her family - husband James and children Kylee, Luke, and Natalie - met dolphins Winter and Hope at the acquarium, whose rescue stories have helped them emotionally heal while on vacation in Florida.
"It's really neat the to be able to show the kids the connections that we have. Look, Winter uses her prosthetic just like momma uses mine,” said Johnson. “The similarities are just amazing to be able to connect in a different way."
"I just think it's a neat experience for them to be able see recovering and healing and that Winter’s okay and that means mommy’s okay," said Johnson. "I'm an overcomer and so is Winter, so it's neat to have that connection."