CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - First responders lined up Thursday at Clearwater Marine Aquarium to welcome and salute an Oklahoma police officer and his family.
The Thompsons came to see Winter. They were inspired by her story of overcoming adversity. They've been through quite an ordeal of their own, especially their 10-year-old son, John, who was badly abused before he was saved by the man he now calls dad.
Winter has certainly touched a lot of people but now she's expanding her mission to include child abuse.
The Thompsons' story is one of those with a horrible beginning and a wonderful end.
Officer Jody Thompson's life changed when his job as a police officer took him to a horrible case of abuse of a child - an 8-year-old boy who was severely underweight, immersed in ice water, and had his hands bound.
Officer Thompson went to the hospital with the boy and never left his side.
Now, two years later, Officer Thompson and his wife are parents to four children. They adopted the little boy - John - and John's sister who was born to their mother in prison a few months later. The couple also has two biological children.
The folks at CMA heard Officer Thompson's story and wanted to do something to recognize the very special family. So CMA invited them to meet Winter and Hope.
Officer Thompson says John is sharing his story so other kids living in abusive situations will have hope. But he shrugs off the title of "hero."
"He's the hero. He's the toughest kid I've ever met. Toughest human I've ever met," Officer Jody Thompson of the Poteau Police Department said. "He saved himself and he saved his baby sister."
The aquarium is using the Thompsons' visit to launch Winter's Rescue Mission to raise awareness for the issue of child abuse.