Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast gets healthy donation for Native American exhibit

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. -- Where might you encounter a robber, firefighter and mail carrier in one building on a Sunday afternoon on the Treasure Coast?

 

The Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast is where. Sunday, dozens of kids played and made believe there.

 

"Just look at 'em. They're so real. They're growing up. They're so innocent," said David Smythe.

 

Smythe says he loves children -- so much that he donated $43,000 to the museum in Jensen Beach this Spring.

 

"Life is short. Children are the greatest," said Smythe. "Anything we can do for our future to help these children, that should be our aim."

 

Smythe became a millionaire through his 50-year Volvo dealership business in Summit, New Jersey. Now, he calls the Treasure Coast home.

 

Smythe said he gave $5 million in the past couple years to organizations helping residents.

 

"You can't take it with you, and you're only here for a short time on Earth," Smythe said.

 

His donation is helping give life to an interactive garden next to the museum at Indian Riverside Park.

 

Smythe's donation will build a Native American Healing Garden and education pavilion. The 85-year-old says the main push behind the addition is health education.

 

"This obese problem is big, and I wish the devil they would take out every can of soda in these schools," Smythe said. 

 

Museum officials said they're moved by the donation, and it helps fulfill an important mission. 

 

"We're really trying to take a leadership role in educating children on how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle," said Tammy Calabria, executive director of The Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast.

 

They're also impressed by Smythe's generosity and passion for kids.

 

"Just astounded that he cares so much about children," said Calabria. 

 

"Infectious. You are drawn to him and what he wants to bring to the community, and I admire him," said Christine DelVecchio, The Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast board president. 

 

"I love my life, so what did I do in my life at 85? Help other people," said Smythe. 

 

The Children's Museum is hoping to break ground on the pavilion within the next month. 

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