Text/Photos by Donna Malloy
Five-year-old Henry Benton selling lemonade to passersby to raise money for Winter's new home.
Everything Henry Benton learned, he learned before his first day of Kindergarten. The summer before Henry's first day of school his Grandpa Joe Marino, took Henry to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. That's when Henry first laid eyes on Winter, the bottlenose dolphin who swims without a tail.
Henry, not satisfied that Winter did not have a tail, asked his Grandfather: "How can we make a tail for him?"
Shortly after his visit to Florida, Henry returned home to Bradford, Connecticut to prepare for his first day of kindergarten, but he couldn't stop thinking about Winter. The following Saturday, Henry woke up early and began squeezing the juice out of lemons for his lemonade stand. Sitting out in the hot sun, Henry worked all day selling lemonade to passersby in his neighborhood. The only time Henry left his station was to take a nap. But he thoughtfully left a sign to that effect; it said: "Closed for Nap." And Henry even made money while he was sleeping.
When customers would ask Henry how much his lemonade cost, Henry would say: "Whatever you want to give."
That first Saturday, Henry made $30. Grandpa Joe promised to match whatever Henry earned.
The next Saturday, Henry decided to sell dog treats at the local dog park. Henry set up his stand and as dog owners passed by, they'd ask Henry how much the dog treats were? Again, Henry would reply: "Whatever you want to give."
But some people did not have any money on them, so Henry would tell them that it was O.K. to take a treat anyway. Most of the owners would go to their car and retrieve some money for Henry's cause. That Saturday day Henry earned $43.50.
With Grandpa Joe matching his earnings, Henry now had a total of $147 which went toward the purchase of a paver stone in his name at the entry to the Aquarium and the balance to help fund Winter's new home.
Henry's fateful encounter with Winter turned out to be perfect timing. Clearwater Marine Aquarium has just begun work on a newly refurbished, 145,000-gallon dolphin pool which will become Winter's new home. Winter and Panama (her adopted mother) will live in the new pool, but it will also double as a new quarantine pool when stranded marine mammals are brought in. Both Winter and Panama will be viewable to the public through new underwater windows.
The project is expected to cost approximately $300,000. If you would like to donate money toward the project, please visit www.SeeWinter.com. The Aquarium will be open seven days a week during construction, including Friday and Saturday evenings, until 8 p.m.
Five-year-old Henry did his part to help Winter. When asked what he plans to do next, Henry replied: "I'll start another company."
Like I said, everything Henry Benton learned, he learned before his first day of Kindergarten. "Due to Clearwater Marine Aquarium's recent success, we are growing to enhance our animal care and provide guests with an even better experience," said CMA CEO David Yates. Now under construction, the new 145,000-gallon tank will be Winter and Panama's new home.
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