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Whale tale 'Big Miracle' features D.C. love connection

Monday - 1/16/2012, 3:13pm  ET

Dermot Mulroney (AP)
Dermot Mulroney stars in the movie. (AP/Katy Winn)
Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The star-studded world premiere of a Hollywood film about the rescue of whales will be held in D.C. because the story has a Washington connection -- one that's a love story.

The soon-to-be-released movie "Big Miracle" tells the story of the October 1988 rescue in the Arctic Circle.

During the rescue, Bonnie Carroll met her husband, Tom Carroll, an Army National Guard colonel. At the time, she was working at the White House.

She says the movie recreates their romance and wedding, even down to the two whales they had on their wedding cake. She says she actually plays an extra in the wedding scene.

But she admits it was tough to be there while the scene was being shot because she knew their marriage would end abruptly. Tragically, in 1992, Tom Carroll died in a plane crash along with seven other soldiers in Alaska.

Out of that personal tragedy, Carroll says she founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, also known as TAPS. The nonprofit helps those grieving the loss of a loved one who had served in the military.

"TAPS has helped tens of thousands of surviving military families find comfort and hope," she said.

Drew Barrymore, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw and others will walk the red carpet at the AMC Loews Georgetown 14 theater on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Universal Pictures is making it possible for some 300 TAPS families to attend the gala. Carroll said that in addition to the movie premiere, the families will get to hang out with the stars.

Although the premiere is by invitation only, Carroll said there are some of tickets on an eBay charity auction. Bidding on the auction closes at noon Jan. 18.

The "Big Miracle" opens on Friday, Feb. 3.

Here's the trailer to the movie:

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)