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Preteen amputee hoping to raise awareness with Dolphin Tale 2 cameo

Posted at 9:29 PM, Sep 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-18 23:41:36-04

ALLEGAN, Mich. – She’s an extraordinary preteen overcoming obstacles and now she's being featured on the big screen.

In January, FOX 17 introduced you to Ella Gillies, a double amputee who was able to meet Winter the amputee dolphin featured in the movie Dolphin Tale with Morgan Freeman.

Ella is now featured in the sequel to that film.

“All the camera people were everywhere, we got off the bus and they were all there and we were kind of just circling everywhere when we went all down by Winter,” Ella said.

It was the moment that changed the 12-year-old’s life; meeting a dolphin she has more in common with than most and creating an instant bond. Born without tibias, Ella became a double amputee at just six months old.

“It`s really cool to think that it’s hard for humans to do but it’s harder for animals to do it and that she can continue swimming like that it’s really cool,” she said.

Little did Ella and her mom Brande know, that moment would become part of Dolphin Tale 2, a movie about finding Winter a new companion after her surrogate mother dies.

“For some reason it just seems easier for someone to look at Winter and say, wow that’s amazing, instead of wow that’s weird. I don`t think it’s as easy when they see other people that way so I’m hoping it’ll just start that conversation,” Brande said.

They're hoping to start a conversation about limb differences, a change of pace from focusing on all of Ella`s abilities.

Ella says it’s better to ask about her prosthetic legs, then to stare.

It’s a message the very eloquent, pink-haired preteen is using her new found fame on the big screen to share.

“It`s really cool that there’s actually something like this that people can go, even though it’s only an animal, they can know that there’s people out there like that too,” she said.

The trip was made possible by Hanger Prosthetics, the company who made Winter’s famous prostatic tail. They’re a part of `Camp No Limits,` for children with limb differences and their families.

Ella is currently raising money to attend Camp No Limits in 2015. You can donate on this Firstgiving page.

Dolphin Tale 2 is now in theaters.