© 2024 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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

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.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.