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Ashtyn Makes a Splash

Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

“ Every single morning she’s here, she’s having fun ”

- Ashtyn's mother

Ashtyn is a bubbly teen who has faced adversity head-on. Even though she has undergone over ten surgeries to help her physical and sensory challenges, Ashtyn doesn’t let that affect her mood. Something that has always brought her joy is dolphins, animals she fell in love with after she interacted with them in a therapy session over 10 years ago. When given the opportunity to have her wish granted, Ashtyn sought some fun in the sun with by wishing to have dolphin therapy.

Make-A-Wish took Ashtyn to the Florida Keys, where she spent several days visiting Island Dolphin Care, a facility in Key Largo that focuses on helping kids swim with dolphins in an aquatic experience unlike any other. Eli, an educator from Island Dolphin Care, mentioned how kids like Ashtyn are “the queen of the show” when they have their one-on-one time with the gentle dolphins. Ashtyn was able to swim alongside the therapy dolphins, and her dolphin guide helped her pet the dolphin’s back and cuddle with the animal. Her family loved how calm and comforting the dolphins were as they interacted with Ashtyn, creating a soothing sensory environment for the wish kid.

“It’s amazing to me to see how the connection is formed with the dolphin that’s working with her. It’s heartwarming,” Ashtyn’s mom said. Throughout her therapy sessions, Ashtyn always had a smile on her face, reflecting the joy she had with her up-close encounters with the dolphins. “Every single morning she’s here, she’s having fun…as the minutes passed, I could see her whole body relax. She was smiling, she was really working hard today and enjoying it all, too, which I think is the best part,” Ashtyn’s mom said.

Wish Granters: Frances Garfunkel and Anne E. Mulhall
Referred by Leslie Montali, her mother
Wish adopted by the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation, Inc.
  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

  • Ashtyn's wish to swim with dolphins

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