GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After losing both legs while serving in Iraq, an Army veteran is working to reclaim her life. One of her goals was to swim with dolphins. Little did Marissa Stock know that her dream would come true this week in Gulfport.
The former military police officer spent six years overseas working with Iraqi police and the Iraqi Army. Her visit to the coast was to take in some well deserved rest and relaxation.
"I've never been to Mississippi before. So we were going to spend the week going to the car show and maybe doing a little gambling, so that's why we're here. Then I heard dolphins, and swimming with dolphins, and that definitely piqued my interest," Strock said.
That interest led to an extensive web search and many phone calls, including one to Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Director Moby Solangi.
"We told her that it was an honor and a privilege to have a veteran and a hero to come in and fulfill their dream," Solangi said.
Strock had always wanted to swim with dolphins, but never really pursued the dream because she worried it wasn't possible.
"Because with the prosthetics, I didn't know if it would scare the dolphins. And then we got the call that I was going to get to go do it," Strock said. "This isn't something everyone gets to experience and I'm definitely grateful for being able to experience this."
Finally, the time came, and Strock got to meet her swimming buddy, Buster, who weighed in at 450 pounds.
"Swimming with the dolphin today was way more fun than swimming by myself," Strock said. "I've learned different things about their skin and just dolphins in general. That was definitely fun. I like science and I like animals."
The swim wasn't just a first for Marissa. She's also the first amputee to ever swim with dolphins at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.