Make us your home page
Instagram

Florida Aquarium halfway to $15 million goal after three donations

TAMPA — The Florida Aquarium was expecting a $1 million donation Monday, but came away with more than double that after two anonymous donors pitched in atop a gift from Publix's founding family.

This money puts the aquarium halfway toward its Rising Tides Campaign fundraising goal of $15 million, said foundation chairman Tom Hall.

"We're going to build a learning center, with their support, that will rival any other marine science program in the United States," Hall said to a small crowd gathered Monday afternoon.

As sand tiger sharks circled above his head in the aquarium's largest tank, Hall explained the organization's ultimate plan: a learning center with five classrooms and a staging area — which would double the aquarium's capacity for marine science classes and equip teachers to conduct long-distance learning with children from around the country — and a renovated front entrance and lobby.

This expansion would be the first in 17 years for the aquarium, located in the Channel District.

Barney Barnett, vice chairman of Publix, and Carol Barnett, head of Publix Charities whose father founded Publix, joined Hall, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and aquarium CEO Thom Stork in presenting a symbolic check to the facility Monday afternoon.

"When the world is watching us this August" during the Republican National Convention, Buckhorn said, "one of the iconic pictures that the world will see — not just in Indiana, but in India — will be of the Florida Aquarium."

Carol Barnett said contributing to the aquarium's growth and providing children an opportunity to explore their love of the sea was like fulfilling a dream from her youth.

"I've always had this sort of fascination with the ocean," said Barnett, wearing a sea-star necklace and coral patterned sweater. "It's not like space — you can't put your arms around outer space. But with the ocean, you can reach out and grab it. It's real. It's enchanting."

The two anonymous donors were inspired by the Barnetts' generosity, prompting one to give $1 million and the other to donate $500,000.

Last year, the Mosaic Co. donated $2.5 million to the campaign, the largest single donation in the aquarium's history.

The aquarium said it will break ground on the expansion in September, with subsequent construction projects taking place over a four-year period.

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

Florida Aquarium halfway to $15 million goal after three donations 05/07/12 [Last modified: Monday, May 7, 2012 11:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man pleads guilty to forging check for fake investment

    Personal Finance

    A Tampa resident was convicted Thursday for forging a check for a fake investment. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation said that Eric Franz Peer pleaded guilty. He served 11 months in jail and will have to pay $18,000.

  2. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses

    Business

    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  3. Terrier Tri brings unique triathlon training to South Tampa

    Business

    Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.

    Terrier Tri, a cycling studio in South Tampa celebrates a grand opening on June 27. Photo courtesy of Tess Hipp.
  4. New bistro hopes to serve as 'adult Chuck E. Cheese'

    Business

    YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.

    Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy readies to open in Ybor City. Photo courtesy of Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy.
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]