First, picture the ocean. Vast, deep, limitless. Now picture a little girl, a little older than a toddler with curly hair and bright eyes. You wouldn't think the little girl could affect the ocean would you? Well, armed with some lemonade and a big heart, Dylan Leder does just that.
Little Dylan held a lemonade stand to support Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the renowned explorer Jacques Cousteau, in the nonprofit Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center. Fabien has continued his family's legacy of ocean exploration, and started some legacies of his own. He recently broke his grandfather's record for time spent underwater in a submarine, staying under the sea for an impressive 31 days.
But when you talk to Fabien, it's not his extensive knowledge that impacts you, it's the way his eyes light up when he talks about getting children involved in becoming "aquanauts." Fabien interacts with students on Skype, leads seminars, and produces films to teach kids regarding our shining seas, but what he really loves is to get the kids' feet wet, so to speak. He routinely leads projects such as Sea Turtle Restoration, the Mangroves Restoration Initiative, and the Coral Reef Restoration program.
Fabien put his money where his heart is when he founded The Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, for which he serves as Executive Director. When Fabien refers to children, he says "they don't have the word 'impossible' in their dictionary." He loves that about them because it doesn't exist in his vocabulary either.
"There may be some very difficult things in life," states Fabien. "But at the end of the day it's one of the things my grandfather says, 'Only the impossible missions succeed.' We just have to roll up our sleeves and get to work." His excitement is palpable, and increasingly contagious. He's harnessed this passion in creating the Ocean Learning Center.
The OLC teaches the next generation about our planet's waters so "the ocean doesn't die," as Dylan so lovingly puts it.
VIDEO: Meet Fabien Cousteau, Spotlight On Dylan's Lemonade Stand
Dylan was raised with a giving spirit and independent personality, along with a deep sense of empathy. Her mother, Lisa Singer, explained, "she walks down the street and sees people that are homeless and she goes and gets them food, or if she has food she gives it to them. That's all on her own." She really wanted to help Fabien's nonprofit and when she saw a lemonade stand one day, she asked her mother if she can run one to help raise money.
She asked her friends, little philanthropic powerhouses like Zoe Bloom, and together they charmed people, educated them on ocean conservation, and offered everyone cold lemonade with cookies. All the kids wanted to do was "help the ocean", and help the ocean they did. By selling lemonade and yummy chocolate chip cookies, Dylan and her charitable chums were able to give thousands to the organization.
Many children think they are too small to do anything to help others. However, the beautiful little Dylan and her friends show that ANYONE can give back, regardless of age, resources, or environment. As the old adage goes, "Where there is a will, there is a way," and Dylan's lemonade stand was a testament to the fact. She's so young, and yet is concerned about the ocean, helping others, and just making people happy with some cold lemonade. "It was a hot day out," said Dylan matter of factly, "so I thought it would be good to sell some lemonade to help." Out of the mouths of babes.
On a personal note, I grew up "down the shore", taking my first baby steps on the beaches of Cape May, NJ. I have long enjoyed sunny days in the sand, occasionally dipping my toe into the Atlantic Ocean before deciding to take the plunge. But I have to admit I hadn't given extensive thought to "helping the ocean" as Dylan so rightfully said.
I hadn't considered that we have explored less than FIVE PERCENT of the deep sea, and there are still countless species yet to be discovered. I hadn't considered that garbage kills marine life every year, and sea turtles are on the verge of becoming endangered. The ocean is something that you always expect to be there, it doesn't seem like it needs us, but let me assure you, it does. Marine life needs our help. The first step is learning how to help, and how to turn lemons into sweet, sweet lemonade.
One way to help: Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center is now offering a chance to win a 5-night Getaway in Costa Rica to support programs like the Sea Turtle Restoration Program in El Salvador. The trip includes a live conversation with Fabien Cousteau with background on the trip, the location, and how donations help the organization. To enter: www.crowdrise.com/costa-rica1
To quote Joy N. Hensley, "You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the ocean in a drop."
Visit Spotlight On TV for more altruistic celebrities and incredible nonprofit organizations.
What cause do you shine YOUR spotlight on?