CHARLESTON, S.C. (October 2019): Natalie Zettles has chronic refractory epilepsy, and despite various treatment attempts, she struggles with frequent epileptic seizures. She’s captivated by the wonders of the sea, and aspires to be a marine biologist. Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses, teamed up with the South Carolina Aquarium for an educational experience to further inspire Natalie in pursuing her dream career in marine biology.
It was a day full of discovery at the South Carolina Aquarium, immersing herself in the wonderment of sea life. Natalie and her family explored all the exhibits and saw the interactive Dive into the G.O.T. (Great Ocean Tank) show, and Turtle Talk, where she learned about the process of rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles. She also gained new insights spending one-on-one time with a sea turtle biologist, and going behind the scenes being educated about the types of foods that each animal is fed and how to document feedings. “We watched them feed the seahorses, and she was able to feed the jellyfish herself,” said her mom Jamie. Other memorable moments were touching a snake, alligator and turtle that educators brought out exclusively for her family. She left with many special mementos from the South Carolina Aquarium… her newly gained knowledge, fascination and a gift basket filled with swag.
“This wish was perfect for Natalie, it’s what she wants to do when she grows up,” said her mom. “She was able to learn so much information about what it takes to work for an aquarium. Thank you so much for organizing this amazing trip. We have memories to carry with us for life.”
During the wish, her family stayed at the Hampton Inn Charleston – Historic District, who also graciously gifted them tickets for a horse-drawn carriage tour to explore the area’s history and beauty. The Charleston RiverDogs’ mascot Charlie also made her smile visiting Natalie at her hotel and gifting her lots of team swag. Domino’s Pizza delivered dinner to their room so the family could have a relaxing night at their hotel.
Kids Wish Network Executive Director Tam Lai said, “We’re so glad Natalie was able to have such a dynamic educational experience that will further inspire her career path.”