Port Aransas, TX—The smiles were even bigger than the waves.
As the white foam of breakers hit the beach, Lauren Scott and Reannah Hollaway were beaming.
The two recent high school graduates are best friends and share an equal love of sea turtles.
Reannah participated in our Wild Wishes® program last April getting to meet an injured Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and giant river otters at Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX. That facility rolled out the red carpet for her.
Wild Wishes® grants exotic animal encounters for children with terminal illness or loss of parent or sibling.
After her wish, Reannah informed me that her friend Lauren also loved sea turtles and had a dream of releasing one that had been rehabilitated.
As I began working on that project a series of events unfolded that I can only describe as divinely inspired.
The Amos Research Keep (ARK) at Port Aransas offered an opportunity for the girls to tour their facility and release two green sea turtles back into the Gulf. So, on Aug. 10 we paid them a visit.
After learning much about the ARK’s inspiring work and seeing many sea turtles, the highlight of the day had arrived. It was time for the turtle release.
As I watched the girls put on their latex gloves and move the turtles out toward the water, I saw worries melt away. I saw that hint of anxiety that I have learned to pick up working with children facing loss and serious illnesses disappear. I saw two young girls being young girls and living that rare, surreal dream come true moment.
When Lauren and Reannah lowered the turtles into the surf and watched them quickly swim away, a tangible feeling of freedom filled the air. It’s the kind of freedom ARK provides many sea turtles and injured shore birds but there was something else.
This event inspired two young ladies facing challenges in life to see that great things can happen-even the very biggest dreams coming true.
I want to thank Alicia and everyone with ARK who went far out of their way to accommodate this wish. And I want to thank everyone who supports the Wild Wishes® program.
You are helping young people in more ways than you know.
Lauren and Reannah will never forget the day they stepped into the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and set free their favorite animals. And neither will I.
Those two young ladies will for the rest of their lives wonder where those turtles ended up and how their lives turned out. Those are the kind of thoughts that not only bring smiles but inspiration.
There are no guarantees but the turtles got a fighting chance and they got it because people cared.
Listen to the podcast inspired by this story below.
Chester Moore, Jr.
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