Winter the Dolphin Inspires quadruple amputee to reach her dreams

A 13-year-old girl from England gets to meet Winter, who inspired her to learn how to swim.

It was a sweet and long awaited reunion.

Thirteen-year- old Ellie Challis, a quadruple amputee, visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Wednesday afternoon to see Winter the Dolphin, her inspiration.

At just 16, months old Ellie contracted a deadly strain of meningitis. She overcame it but the infection robbed her of her arms and legs.

After watching the movies "Dolphin Tale" and "Dolphin Tale 2," which starred Winter, Ellie was inspired to learn how to swim.

Two years ago, Ellie’s dream came true when she flew from her home in England to meet Winter.

Winter's tail was cut off when she was only two months old. She was entangled in a crab trap line and lost circulation to her tail.

Ellie says she relates to Winter because she wears a prosthetic fin. 

"It's really weird because she is the only one in the world to have no tail. A dolphin to have no tail. She survived and all that. It's just really amazing," says Ellie.

Click here for more of Winter's story

Ellie can now swim over a half-mile and has been placed on the English para swim team. 

Ellie is aiming to compete at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

"To think now I can drop her off a pool with her friends and off she goes she swims away on her own. The level she has got to, to swim for England now is just brilliant," says Ellie's dad, Paul Challis.

This was the third time Ellie has visited Winter.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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