Sometimes, inspiration comes from the most unlikely places. But every day, here at the Aquarium, we see thousands of visitors inspired to make a difference in our world, to save our oceans and the animals that call it home. Many of these visitors are children and the actions they take to help support the Aquarium in turn, inspire our staff and volunteers to keep working hard to advance our mission.
Jessica Dunham is the perfect example. She was at the Aquarium a few weeks ago with her brother and her mom, Deb. While watching the dolphin show, she was intrigued by what she had heard about the baby false killer whale currently being cared for at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. She went to talk to Lauren, one of our incredible interpretive delivery program team members, to learn more. After hearing about how the baby was stranded and rescued, seven-year old Jessica decided to do something to help.
She asked her mom if she could sell lemonade for the entire week. After some hard negotiating, Jessica and Deb settled on having the stand open for two days. Thanks to a supportive neighbourhood and friends, as well as decent foot traffic, Jessica sold $114 worth of lemonade! She also spoke to every purchaser about the baby false killer whale, what the funds would be used for, and how she supports the Aquarium. Her generous parents had agreed they would match the funds, so in total, Jessica raised $228 for the baby false killer whale.
When Jessica set a goal of $100, her mom was a bit worried that she wouldn’t achieve it, and that she’d be disappointed. But when we spoke about it for this article, Deb said upon reflection, she shouldn’t have been surprised. “Jessica is a caring and driven young girl who will work extremely hard to achieve her goals. She never ceases to amaze us!”
The family has been members since Jessica was six months old. Deb recalls that even at that age, she would sit quietly and just stare at the beluga whales. Jessica is hard pressed to name her favourite animal though – she said there are just too many to choose from.
It seems that Jessica’s philanthropic tendencies run in the family. Her brother Josh, who is five, donated some of his birthday money to the Aquarium’s very own Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
We are grateful for every single one of our supporters, as every donation helps us advance our mission to conserve aquatic life. Our youngest donors – Jessica and Josh, Avery Hayes, Holly O’Day, the students from W. Ross Macdonald School and so many more – move our staff and volunteers and inspire us to keep making a difference too!