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Message in a bottle: Two young people connect from 1,000 miles apart


Lance Shearer  |  Correspondent

In today’s hyper-connected world, multitudinous channels exist for communication and linking up. But two 11-year-old girls made a connection via a time-honored, old-fashioned technique – a message in a bottle.

The story bounces up and down the east coast of the U.S., but it’s fair to say it originated on Marco Island. That’s where Sofia Wilson had the idea of writing out her thoughts on the current world situation and sending them out for someone to find.

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Sofia and her family live in Clifton Park, New York, just outside Albany, and they came down to Florida to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. After a flight down from New York – “there were only five people on the plane, and no one else at baggage claim,” said Kim Wilson, Sofia’s mother – the family quarantined with family in Ft. Lauderdale, then came over to stay with close family friend Gail Warren in Fiddler’s Creek.

“Sofia is so sweet and charming,” said Warren, who is her godmother. “It was such a blessing to spend time with her and her family.”

While sitting on the beach on Marco, Sofia wrote out her message, and deposited it inside a water bottle – and given how responsible kids tend to be on recycling, it’s reasonable to give her a pass on this.

“Dear ?

“If you find this it is 11 May, 2020. My name is Sofia I am 11 almost 12,” she began. “I am from New York but not the city – Clifton Park (look it up).”

She said the family had come for “a chang from Covid 19, and apologized for being “such a bad writer and speller,” but managed to express her feelings succinctly.

“I have been out of school for 2 months and are not going back. I just want this all to end. Thx for hereing my story. Love, Sofia”

Originally intended to be buried as a time capsule, the bottle ended up being committed to the deep in the waters off Fort Lauderdale rather than Marco Island, when the family went boating with Sofia’s older sister.

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Two weeks later and 700 miles to the north, 11-year-old Sarah Beth Walters, a Jacksonville, Florida resident, was on a beach in North Carolina, visiting family in Olden Beach. She saw what she thought was just junk on the beach, but to her surprise, found and read the message inside.

“I was like omigosh, I found a message in a bottle,” she said. “This can’t be real” – something that only happens in the movies.

At this point, the two girls, both blonde and 11 years old, with the initials S.W., went to more modern communication technology. Sarah texted Sofia, and the two struck up a friendship.

“They talk all the time,” said Kim Wilson.

They girls are attempting to meet up in person and hatched a scheme to make it happen through an appearance on the “Ellen” show.

No word yet if that is actually happening, but their story has gone viral, with television stations in both their hometowns featuring them, on WNYT-TV in Albany and First Coast News in Jacksonville. And they are extending the chain.

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Sarah wrote out a message of her own and put it into a bottle, which was found by a 16-year-old girl named Adriana, who texted her a photo of herself holding the found message.

“This has been a big thing for Sarah – a nice little bright spot,” said her mother Dean Walters.

There has probably never been a more opportune time for an unabashed good news story, and the saga of the two girls and the message in a bottle fits the bill.