9-year-old raising ‘Funds for Fishes’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nine-year-old Lyon Jernigan created this piece for the Funds for Fishes art auction. Shown above are three of at least 100 pieces that have been donated by artists across the nation to raise money for the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation.

Earlier this summer, 9-year-old Lyon Jernigan of Brewton found himself feeling really sad about the effects of the oil spill.

“I saw that the oil was getting on the birds and sea turtles,” Lyon said. “Some of the animals are almost extinct already, and if we don’t do something, they will all be gone. It made me sad to think about it, and I was upset.”

Emmie Jernigan said her son saw an article in a magazine about a similar fundraising effort for the coast spearheaded by a young girl. “He said, ‘I could do something like that,’” she recalled.

“I told him we could most certainly do something, so we have come up with something that all ages can do,” Emmie said.

The result is a family project: Funds for Fishes art auction to benefit the Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory Foundation.

Lyon has completed several fish paintings for the art auction and the idea has “gone viral,” his mom said. The family has received more than 100 pieces of art for the auction from all across the country, including a wire fish sculpture from a 16-year-old girl in Arizona and photos of shells from North Carolina and several pieces from California artists.

Emmie said the family has been surprised by the response — but she believes people simply want to try to help.

“This came from people’s hearts,” she said. “Sometimes we think that we can’t contribute, but we can. We are thrilled that people want to help and make a difference. We have some good artists that are willing to help make this fundraiser a success.”

The silent auction will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, at The Hourglass in Brewton.

The public is invited to bid on the items. Event t-shirts will be available and there will be live entertainment.

“We want people to come and bid and enjoy the night,” Emmie said. “The art is only as good as the bidders.”