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7th annual Dawn Brancheau Foundation Dream Big Walk set for Sept. 24

People gather around a stage at the Lake County Fairgrounds to watch a pair of Magellanic penguins during a demonstration by SeaWorld animal ambassadors after the Dawn Brancheau Dream Big Walk a few years ago. Brancheau worked at SeaWorld when she was killed in an accident.

CROWN POINT — Diane Gross remembers her late sister Dawn Brancheau as being passionate about her family, friends, animals and the environment.

“She was an amazing person who treated everyone with kindness and love,” Gross said.

The eighth annual Dream Walk Sept. 23 at the Lake County Fairgrounds will honor the memory of Brancheau, a Cedar Lake native and a senior trainer who was killed by an orca whale in 2010 at Orlando’s Sea World.

The 2-mile walk, sponsored by the Dawn Brancheau Foundation, begins at 3 p.m. Registration, which includes a T-shirt, is $25 per adult and $10 for youth 17 and under and begins at 1:30 p.m. The event features an animal presentation by the Columbus Zoo culminating in a celebration picnic dinner. Additional information can be found at or by emailing

The onsite community service projects run from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

“Our participants will be assembling personal care bags for Chicago homeless serviced by Lost and Found Ministry, assembling doggie treat bags for families adopting animals from 4 Paws Sake Canine Rescue, filling backpacks and making blankets for children in Kenya serviced by Matanya's Hope and decorating greeting cards for our Cards from the Heart Program to distribute to nursing homes in our area,” Gross said.

The music will be provided by Sammy Listro, Dawn's friend and art teacher, when she attended Andrean High School.

Participants are invited to donate new and slightly used backpacks. This year’s event will also benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Lake, South Lake County Sailing School, Cedar Lake Ministries, the Lake County Fairgrounds, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Horizon for Youth, Sojourner Truth House, South Suburban Family Shelter, Saving Children Foundation, All God’s Children, Nazareth House, South Suburban Humane Society and the Dawn Brancheau Scholarship at Andrean High School.

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