Leadership Tampa Bay wishes to express our sincere condolences to Thom Stork's family and his extended family, The Florida Aquarium. Thom Stork was a mentor to many, a visionary for tourism and development in Florida, and a consummate leader in our community.
You forever changed the landscape of Tampa Bay and you will be sincerely missed Mr. Thom Stork.
TAMPA (FOX 13) - If you took a stroll on the Tampa Riverwalk over the past 4 months, you probably saw the big wall. It was a giant chalk board displaying the words, "Before I Die." On it, were hundreds of scribbled words.
Since August, this 40 x 8 foot wall sat there, inviting people to grab a piece of chalk and finish the sentence, "Before I die..."
It was the class project of Leadership Tampa Bay's 2016 class. A second one was put up in downtown St. Pete.
"Someone wrote, 'have the Cubs win the World Series' which happened," said Loran Jarrett, Vice President of Business Strategy at United Landmark Associates. "There were humorous ones like, 'eat a thousand burritos'."
Jarrett was Leadership Tampa Bay's 2016 class President. "But, then, there were really thought-provoking ones like, 'play at Carnegie Hall' or 'meet my dad' or just 'be a better person'," Jarrett recalled.
Through both walls, they ended up raising $25,000 in donations that went to Academy Prep in St. Pete. "As soon as it went up, the snowball started," Jarrett said. "Each week, we would have the wall completely cleaned. And, each week, it would be filled. We would run out of chalk often. We had to clean the wall often. We've even had a marriage proposal on the wall."
There are a thousand of these walls scattered in more than 70 countries, worldwide. While St. Pete's wall will stay, Tampa's was only planned to be temporary. It was taken down this week, with a few bits of chalk remaining.
The wall was actually moved a little bit early from that Riverwalk location because of the upcoming College Football Playoff National Championship.That's where ESPN will be setting up.
The wall is not gone forever. There are now plans for a permanent location in Tampa Bay. Where exactly that wall will end up, and when, is still being discussed.
"I think there is something about putting things out there in the world," Jarrett said.
Jarrett, herself, learned that simply writing the words can make them a little more real.
"On this wall, when it was launched, I wrote that I wanted to add to my family to have a baby," Jarrett said. "And, I am actually 5 months pregnant now. I ended up getting pregnant about 2 weeks after writing that on the wall."
This is a follow up of Fox 13's original feature of the 'Before I Die' wall upon its installation last year: