Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dolphin Research Center to Welcome Wounded Warriors for Dolphin Swim

DRC Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Armando “Mandy” Rodriguez spent time with the wounded warriors and Jax.
Dolphin Research Center to Welcome Wounded Warriors for Dolphin Swim

Grassy Key…On Friday, January 11th, Dolphin Research Center (DRC) will welcome the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride when the adaptive cycling event comes through the Florida Keys. For the fourth year in a row, the cyclists and their support group will stop at DRC where upwards of 50 soldiers will enjoy a Dolphin Encounter dolphin swim free of charge, thanks to the generosity of the Charles Evans Foundation. This event honors our military men and women as they courageously battle the physical and psychological damages of war. DRC members, local residents and visitors will be able to join the line welcoming these heroes. The group is expected to arrive between 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Admission to DRC is free for current members. Other visitors can become members with their donations when they get to DRC that day.

These soldiers are coping with life-altering injuries to body, mind and spirit, including single or double amputations, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. To watch them leave their troubles behind on land for a joyful time swimming with dolphins inspires all who see the experience take place. For many of the participants, the dolphin swim further empowers them on their journey to restore their physical and emotional well-being.

The Charles Evans Day for the Wounded Warrior Project at Dolphin Research Center has become a true community event. The soldiers arrive to a heroes’ welcome from DRC staff, volunteers and visitors. Each is supplied with a wetsuit, loaned by Captain Hook’s Dive Shop, Marathon. Before the Dolphin Encounter, they will enjoy a delicious lunch catered by La Trattoria of Key West. Signs by Renee, of Marathon, has designed a welcome banner. After the swim, the soldiers also receive a complimentary disk of photos.

For many years, Dolphin Research Center has committed itself to supporting veterans and active duty personnel from all branches of the United States military.

DRC Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Armando “Mandy” Rodriguez is himself a veteran who served in Vietnam in the U.S. Marine Corps. Throughout the year, DRC seeks to provide programs not only for the wounded warriors, but also caregivers of injured soldiers, family of active duty personnel, and families who have lost a loved one serving in the war.

Founded in 1984, Dolphin Research Center is home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. Located at 58901 (mile marker 59) Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, Florida, the center is open daily for the public to see narrated behavior sessions and educational presentations, and to participate in interactive programs with the dolphins. The nonprofit organization is funded by admission and program fees as well as by private donors and members. In addition to being one of the most highly respected education and research facilities in the world, DRC is the Licensed Manatee Rescue Team for the Florida Keys and is an accredited member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For more information, visit the center’s website at www.dolphins.org.


Max said...

I always felt this was the best thing about DRC. Everybody can use dolphins in their lives, but our soldiers can truly benefit from "dolphin therapy"

The DRC Family said...
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The DRC Family said...

Thank you Max. We completely agree about everyone benefiting from time with the dolphins. However, we do not consider our work with the military or special needs dolphin therapy. In respect to our work with the military, the goal is to provide them the opportunity to interact with these social animals in an environment of fun and unconditional acceptance. It provides a positive experience and empowers them to bridge those experiences back into their own lives.