Woman and dolphin share similar experience

(WBIR-Maryville) An East Tennessee woman has a special connection to a movie star that happens to be an animal.

First, a little background on Lenoir City resident Jerri Maddox.

"I was in a car wreck in 1993," she said.

The wreck crushed her foot so she got a prostheses. Over the years she's had different ones.

"If they don't fit good or fit just right you can't walk in them," she explained.

Leslie King said, "That fit is just crucial to having a healthy active lifestyle."

She has been a prosthetist for 14 years. She sees Jerri at the Hanger Clinic in Maryville.

Leslie fitted Jerri with her most recent prostheses before she went on vacation last month with her husband, Dwayne.

"I went to Florida. My grandson got married and we had a day to spend so we went to the aquarium. Leslie told me about Winter the dolphin," Jerri said.

That's when Jerri met Winter the dolphin who wears a prosthetic tail made at a Hangar clinic in Florida.

"For some of our co-workers to be working with a dolphin is just super cool," Leslie said.

Winter was tangled in a crab trap which led to the amputation of her tail. The missing tail made her swim unnaturally. A team of experts built a prosthetic tail for her and developed a silicone gel liner called WintersGel.

Leslie explained, "She just rejected everything they put on her until they just decided to develop something for her. So WintersGel is something we use in our human patients now."

Winter played herself in the movie Dolphin Tale.

"I didn't know about Winter and I had not see the movie until she told me about it. We went out and rented the movie. It's so inspiring and really good," Jerri said.

At the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Jerri was able to see one of Winter's tales and Winter herself. And she saw a little bit of herself in the situation.

"With that little stub he had he was just moving like this. And when they put that prosthesis on there he could swim like a dolphin," she said.

Leslie said, "You can certainly relate to an animal that's been on your same situation. And for her to get to see Winter in person kind of flailing in her side and not swimming well, to putting on that tail and just taking off in the water just shows how crucial it is that the fit is right and it feels good."

That goes for people and dolphins.


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