Download: Dawn Brancheau Dream Big 5k at SeaWorld 2014

By Tony Geftos


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Her life as an orca trainer inspired millions of visitors at SeaWorld Orlando.

Her death came as a shock to millions more around the world.

Her legacy is now the mission of her friends and family, who are helping countless people in her name.

For the first time, those with The Dawn Brancheau Foundation are speaking to a local news organization, 13abc, about the non-profit group that's co-managed from the Toledo area, and inviting our cameras inside SeaWorld for the annual "Dream Big 5k."

Debbie Frogameni has lived in our community for decades and helped with non-profit organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now, Debbie helps run a non-profit of her own: The Dawn Brancheau Foundation.

In February of 2010, Debbie's sister, Dawn, was killed by a whale during a highly-publicized incident inside of SeaWorld Orlando.

Since then, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has kept trainers from getting into the pools with the animals. The company continues to explore alternatives to the traditional performances, including the recent announcement of possibly using inflatable vests equipped with SCUBA gear for the trainers.

Meantime, Debbie and her family are focused on honoring Dawn's life and helping the lives of others.

Volunteers from The Dawn Brancheau Foundation head up service projects for various organizations in Florida near Orlando and Indiana near Chicago, close to Dawn's hometown.

In March 2014, the group constructed Dawn's Playground for homeless children serviced by Mathew's Hope. Volunteers also tend to Dawn's Garden at Edgewood's Children's Ranch, where children grow their own vegetables in a community for those who need food.

In April, 13abc traveled to SeaWorld with Debbie for the group's largest fundraiser of the year, the "Dream Big 5k." We followed volunteers from Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan as they continue to help those in Dawn's community.

"Dawn's Dream: From Tragedy to Triumph" airs Thursday, May 8. We'll post the story on this page after it airs. For more information about the Dawn Brancheau Foundation, visit