When Stephanie Winnek discovered a message in a bottle embedded in the sand on a Florida beach, she was curious. Little did she know, she'd become a part of a woman's journey.
“I was working on Cinnamon Beach — the bottle caught my eye," Winnek told InsideEdition.com. "I could tell there was something rolled up in it. It was tied and rolled like a message in a bottle. I couldn’t get the cork out.”
A few days later, Winnek decided to crack the bottle open and realized there were ashes and a letter inside. Those ashes were those of Cindy Rounds, who had died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 53.
Rounds’ daughter, Athina McAleer, had placed her mother's ashes in the sea near her Rhode Island home in November 2013.
McAleer wanted her mother to be able to travel, but she wasn’t sure if anyone would ever find the bottle.
“We thought we would send [her] on a little bit of her on a trip. She never got to travel because she was taken from us at a young age,” read the letter McAleer wrote and placed inside the bottle.
McAleer also left contact information in case anyone came upon the bottle on her mother’s journey. This month, that’s what happened.
“When I opened it, some of the ashes had spilled out of the bag,” Winnek said. “I put some of the ashes under a palm tree in my front yard. I then contacted the number in the letter.”
The women have now been corresponding regularly and Winnek plans to place the letter in a new bottle with the rest of Rounds' ashes and send them off once again.
“It’s amazing. It’s a real-life message in a bottle and that doesn’t happen every day,” Winnek said. “I don’t know if I found the bottle or the bottle found me.”
Winnek said she will add a note inside the new bottle, stating that Rounds stopped in Rhode Island.
“I couldn’t have found a better person to find the bottle,” McAleer said. “It’s just really cool that she will continue on. Maybe in four years someone else will contact me saying they found her. She gets to see the world that she never got see.”