Clearwater Beach, Florida -- Visitors to theClearwater Marine Aquarium have opened their wallets and hearts to help provide an education for the son of a fallen soldier.
The aquarium said Tuesday it raised $10,000 Saturday for 10-month-old Brodey Sitton whose dad, Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton, planned to take his son to the aquarium to see Winter, the tailless dolphin, when he returned from service overseas.
SSGT. Sitton was killed last month by an improvised explosive device. He was 26 years old.
Brodey's mom, Sarah, brought him to the aquarium Friday to see Winter, as a crowd of spectators watched "and joined in celebrating Matthew's life," CMA stated.
Photo Gallery:Sitton family meets Winter
"This is such a huge blessing for us," Sarah said of the experience. "I'm a huge animal lover. Matt was huge into fishing and the ocean and it was something he had a passion in and when we got the opportunity to do this, it was just a once in a lifetime thing."
The Aquarium donated $2 for each general admission Saturday to a fund to pay for Brodey's education.
"Clearwater Marine Aquarium is dedicated to the Sitton family," the CMA said in a statement, "and will continue efforts to support the family on an ongoing basis."
The CMA's first such effort will be auctioning off an original Guy Harvey and Indy the bottlenose dolphin painting. The E-Bay auction of the Guy Harvey painting will continue for seven days athttp://bit.ly/OAy9ni.
Donations may also be made online at http://bit.ly/QSN3Asor made to Brodey Sitton and mailed to UBS Financial Services, 150 2nd Ave N, Suite 1000,St. Petersburg, FL, 33701.