They said he would never be able to walk or talk again. They said he would never be able to feed himself or do anything on his own.
They were wrong.
After a horrific umbrella accident left Danny LaFace with a traumatic brain injury when he was just 11 years old, doctors said he would be lucky to live, let alone care for himself.
But LaFace beat those odds and began dreaming of bigger and better things. LaFace, 18, had one dream in particular, a childhood dream to swim with dolphins.
LaFace’s wish was granted in June when he spent five days swimming with the dolphins at Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo with help from the Kids Wish Network, a national organization that grants wishes to children with illnesses and injuries.
LaFace and his mother, Ann Marie, 46, retold their inspiring story Thursday morning in the living room of their Spring Hill home. A smile crept across Danny’s face as he remembered the magical experience he had that week.
“It was fun,” Danny said.
Ann Marie said as soon as Danny got in the water, he couldn’t help but scream out in joy.
“He kept saying ‘I’m alive. It’s a beautiful day,'” she recalled.
Before the trip, Danny, who is legally blind and has liver and heart damage, used an oxygen machine regularly and could barely lift his left arm.
However, Ann Marie said Danny didn’t need the machine once during the entire trip and actually used his left arm to interact with the dolphins, a mother and daughter duo named Squirt and Lotus.
“There’s something spiritual with the dolphins,” she said. “That was not just coincidence.”
Ann Marie said Danny’s strength and positive nature reminds her that miracles can happen every day.
“I learn off of him,” she said. “I’ve learned to live one day at a time, sometimes one second at a time. I feel honored that God picked me to be his mom.”
Ann Marie said she could never repay the people of Kids Wish Network and Island Dolphin Care for making her son’s dream come true.
“The people are incredible,” she said. “I want to thank them for their kindness and open heartedness.”
The LaFaces are already planning their next trip to Key Largo, but Ann Marie wants to find a place locally for Danny to continue his water therapy, a method of rehabilitation she hopes to introduce to the community.
“I truly believe water therapy does help,” she said. “My prayer is that God makes somewhere here for these kids to go to.”
Spring Hill, Florida