Sunlight sparkles on the water and amidst this glistening scene is eight-year-old Zachary. Everything about the moment is magical, from Zachary’s smile – so bright it outshines the sun – to the calm movements of his dolphin companion, to the joy warming his family members’ hearts as they watch. “It was honestly the happiest I’ve ever seen Zachary,” says his mom, Christine.
For this young boy, who requires constant monitoring and medical attention due to a mitochondrial disease, a wish to swim with dolphins provided an opportunity for curiosity and discovery to lead the way instead of his illness.
Zachary spent a day at Discovery Cove®, a marine life theme park in Florida. After his dolphin encounter, he explored a coral reef and swam with string rays. He had a VIP tour at SeaWorld® Orlando, where he fed marine life and enjoyed performances by dolphins, whales, and sea lions. Zachary also visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park and made a special trip to a local aquarium to meet Winter, a dolphin with a prosthetic tail whose story has always inspired him.
Zachary returned home with stuffed dolphins which he named Wish and Star and a collection of pins and keychains that are proudly displayed on his backpack, “so he has reminders and positive, fun things to talk about,” says Christine. “Zachary’s wish was such an incredible journey!”