8-year-old boy with prosthetic legs befriends disabled dolphin

Published: Thursday, Sept. 5 2013 3:10 p.m. MDT

Eight-year-old Cieran Kelso of Cheshire, England, and a dolphin named Winter have an undeniable similarity: They both wear prosthetic flippers when swimming. Cieran, who lost both legs to meningococcal septicaemia as an infant, felt a connection to the animal after seeing “Dolphin Tale,” the movie based on Winter’s story. And unbeknownst to Cieran, his parents planned a trip to Florida’s Clearwater Marine Aquarium for the boy to meet his hero in August.

"There are some pretty raw feelings that go into seeing Cieran swim with the dolphin. His first words when he saw the film was, 'Winter's disabled, just like me,'" said Cieran’s father, Gary, in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "It's just been a dolphin on a film for a long time and now it's real. … It's just a dream come true."

When Cieran was 13 months old, he contracted meningococcal septicaemia, which left him without both his legs as well as most of his finger tips. But despite his limitations, Cieran keeps himself active with various sports and activities.

Cieran and his family were excited about the chance to swim with the dolphin.

“It has been his dream to meet her (Winter), so for this to come true was in itself unbelievable. But for him to be allowed to swim with her was beyond our dreams,” wrote Cieran’s mother on the family blog. “Besides her trainers and the actors from the film, Cieran is only the second person to be allowed to swim with her.”

The Kelso family has a fund set up to raise money to get Cieran custom-made prosthetic legs.

Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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