Port Orchard girl to meet dolphin with prosthetic tail


by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News


Posted on September 22, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 22 at 7:15 PM

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Isabel Powell cannot remember life with a prosthetic leg.  She was just two years old when doctors diagnosed a painful tumor on her foot that would not stop growing.  

"You could tell it was draining her," said Jessica Powell, her mother. "Sucking the life out of her."

So Isabel's parents made the difficult decision to have her left leg amputated below the knee.  The young girl adjusted quickly.  Now 11 years old, she plays softball, swims and takes karate lessons.

Perhaps her greatest thrill came last month during a visit to Hanger Prosthetics in Bremerton.  To her surprise, she got to meet Dr. Kevin Carroll, the man who designed a prosthetic tail for Winter, a dolphin in Florida who lost her tail after she got trapped in a crab pot line.  Carroll is vice president of prosthetics for Hanger.

"I was just so shocked that day," Isabel said.  "I almost screamed."

Carroll was so impressed by the young girl, he invited her to a camp for kids with prosthetics, which will take place in Florida this November.  As part of the trip, she will get to meet Winter, the star of "Dolphin Tale," a movie based on Winter's real-life story. 

"I feel just the same as her," Isabel said.  "It's hard for both me and Winter -- for me to talk and for her to swim."

But both Winter and Isabel prove that those challenges can be overcome.

During class at Hidden Creek Elementary School Wednesday, Isabel's teacher read a book about Winter to the entire class.  That teacher, Nicole Endsley, was born without part of her right arm and wears a prosthetic, too.

Winter's story teaches her students about the importance of adapting to life's problems.

"Have we all adapted to at least one problem in life?" Endsley asked the class.

"Yeah," the students responded.

"And are we still doing pretty good?" she asked.

"Yeah," the students said, this time even louder.

"Dolphin Tale" opens Friday in theaters nationwide.  Isabel and her family plan to see it this weekend.