With Famous Dolphin's Help, DCF Launches Campaign To Help Special Needs Kids

Jul 16, 2014

Todd and the rest of the Ringeisen family, speaking about the merits of becoming a foster and adoptive parent of a child with special needs. They're at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, as part of a launch of an effort to get more special needs kids adopted.
Credit Florida Channel

There are more than 800 foster kids in Florida who have a disability, and Florida Department of Children and Families officials are hoping to help find potential homes for those kids through a campaign launched Wednesday—a bit inspired by a famous disabled Florida dolphin.

Todd Ringeisen is a foster and adoptive parent of kids with special needs, and he made a plea to Florida residents who may be interested in also becoming one.

“We know that we can’t take in 800 children ourselves, but we certainly can do it one at a time, and that’s what our appeal is to you today: just one at a time, just start and try,” said Ringeisen, joined by his family.

The "Dolphin Tale" franchise stars and is inspired by the true story of Winter, a famous Florida dolphin who lost her tail and gained a prosthetic one. DCF officials say her story is also an inspirational story to kids in foster care.

“It’s not going to be easy. It’s not always going to be fun. You’re not going to sleep every night. You’re not always going to have a smile on your face, but when the child looks up at you and gives you back—something that only they can give you—and that’s unconditional love, right there is what makes it worth it,” he added.

He was joined by Interim DCF Secretary Mike Carroll at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the location of Winter, the dolphin who has a prosthetic tail and is the inspiration behind a “Dolphin Tale.”

“She suffered the devastating loss of her tail, but she never lost her spirit. Winter survived and thrived because of the love and support of her aquarium family who adopted and believed in her,” said Carroll. “The children of foster care with special needs also need a family who will love them, nurture them, and believe in them.”

Special needs kids and their families at Wednesday’s launch of “There’s a Special Need For Your Heart” campaign got the opportunity to meet Winter as well.

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