Florida woman finds message in bottle from Narragansett

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island woman now has a special connection with a family in Florida after sending a message in a bottle out to sea.

Athina McAleer said the ocean is where she comes to feel close to her mother, who passed away in March 2010.

“Anytime me or my brother or my sisters miss my mom, we come to the beach,” she said.

McAleer said her mother, Cindy Rounds, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. After she passed, McAleer decided she wanted to do something special with her mother’s ashes.

“She sacrificed everything for her kids, so she never got to travel,” McAleer said. “That’s where I got this idea.”

McAleer placed some of her mom’s ashes, along with a message, in a bottle and sent it out to sea in 2013.

“I put the story of where she started and got sick and unfortunately how it ended,” she said. “People ask me all the time, ‘Did anyone find your bottle?’ and I’m like, ‘No.’ So after two years, we didn’t think anyone was going to find it.”

But just over four years later and more than 1,000 miles away, McAleer’s special bottle caught the attention of Stephanie Winnek at Cinnamon Beach in Florida.

Winnek, who spoke with our affiliate Fox 35 Orlando, has since connected with McAleer, who says it is a comfort to know the bottle is in good hands.

“The fact that someone so nice had found it and she contacted me… I don’t know, they are like family now,” she said. “Every day there is a text message.”

In the note inside the bottle, McAleer asks whoever finds the bottle to let her know where it landed and then send it back to sea, so her mom can continue her journey.

Eyewitness News was told that Winnek plans to do just that next weekend.