Cancer

Dream of becoming a mermaid helped girl, 7, bounce back from leukemia

  • Seven-year-old cancer survivor Amelia Collins joins Kelley Madden, left, and Cheyenne Bragg on Saturday as she realizes her dream of becoming a mermaid. Amelia has been making her way through the water with her legs together since she was 2. [Courtesy of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park]

Seven-year-old cancer survivor Amelia Collins joins Kelley Madden, left, and Cheyenne Bragg on Saturday as she realizes her dream of becoming a mermaid. Amelia has been making her way through the water with her legs together since she was 2. [Courtesy of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park]

Legs pressed tightly together, 7-year-old Amelia Collins stood at the edge of her grandparents’ pool and smiled.

Then, the Ocala girl with the brunette, Shirley Temple curls screamed, “I have my fins back,” and jumped into the water.

Without separating her legs, she swam by whipping her lower body up and down — like a mermaid.

“She’s always wanted to be a mermaid,” said her mother, Kathryn Collins. “It’s her dream.”

The unique movement also helped Amelia recover from the damage caused by the chemotherapy treatments she received to help fend off leukemia. Swimming like a mermaid rebuilt her muscles.

Now, it has helped her dream come true.

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With assistance from the Tampa nonprofit Makers United for Children’s Hope, or the MUCH Foundation, Amelia donned a finned tail Saturday and swam with the iconic mermaids at Hernando County’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

“She was twisting and twirling underwater with no effort,” said Zachary Hurst, founder of the MUCH Foundation, which works to…