David’s heart for others is hard to summarize in a few paragraphs, but I think this little story will give you an idea of what he’s like: our mutual friend Stephanie struggles with severe health problems, and found the Dolphin Tale movies in the midst of her countless life-saving treatments. When David found out about her, he not only made her a VIP at Clearwater Marine Aquarium--he hung out with her. He got to know who she is and what she cares about. And then, when the opportunity presented itself, he went above and beyond by surprising Stephanie and her family with Taylor Swift concert tickets. (Both the Evans family and David remember it as the “best night ever.”) That’s who this man is. Someone who, in the midst of his unbelievably demanding schedule, makes time for every individual person in beautiful ways they’ll never forget.
TESTIMONIAL - Cozi Zuehlsdorff
"I met David when I was cast in Dolphin Tale at 12 years old. Now, almost ten years later, he’s like my second Dad. David inspires me with his work ethic and sheer vision, but does so in a way that makes me believe that same power is inside of me. He’s not interested in succeeding unless everyone around him succeeds as a result.
My favorite thing about David Yates is that he loves Jesus. I’ve come to David in moments where I felt down, disoriented, and unusable by God. But David always reminded me of the truth: that God never leaves us, He always has a plan for us, and He loves us no matter what. David’s ability to encourage me both deeply and disarmingly has set me straight countless times over the past decade."
TESTIMONIAL - Nathan Gamble
"Don’t you dare ask me to sum up who David Yates is in a few measly paragraphs. No way. It simply wouldn’t be enough. However, if I must, I will have to go back to the best Book ever written to find the correct comparison for Mr. Yates.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, there is a very unique relationship between two people named Jonathan and David. These two men are the best of friends despite their two very different personalities. David was a man after God’s own heart, a poetic genius, and a true leader both in the spiritual sense and relationally. Jonathan was simply David’s incredibly loyal friend who would put his life in danger if it meant helping his friend David.
Jonathan will never have the notoriety that David has, but David would’ve never been the man he was if it wasn’t for the exceptional loyalty and love of his friend Jonathan.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re going to compare David Yates to the Psalmist David, aren’t you? CORRECT! But if it were up to Mr. Yates, he would prefer to be compared to Jonathan. Mr. Yates doesn’t want the spotlight until everyone of his friends (which I’m convinced is everyone he meets) has the spotlight first. David Yates most certainly has all of OT David’s traits: great leader, truly intelligent, creatively brilliant, and influential on the largest of scales. But at the core of who Mr. Yates is as person, he’s a loyal and generous friend who will do anything for anyone at any time. Much like Jonathan."
TESTIMONIAL - Austin Highsmith
I met David Yates in September of 2010 when I arrived in Clearwater, FL to film the first Dolphin Tale movie. David immediately made me feel like an old friend, something that I’ve watched him do with every person he mets. David Yates has never met a stranger, and welcomes everyone in with open arms. I became such great friends with David throughout the filming of both Dolphin Tale 1 & 2, that he became like family to me. So much so that my own father mentioned him during his father-of-the-bride speech at my wedding! David is one of the main people I go to for advice on the “hard stuff,” because I trust his opinion and guidance implicitly.
I always like to say that if David wakes up in the morning and sees a mountain has been put in his path, that he takes one look at the mountain and says, “No problem, I’ll move it.” He’s also a man of very strong faith in Christ, which is undoubtedly the source of his own personal will and confidence. (Phil 4:13) In addition to his faith, David is by far the most generous man I have ever met, and I have met many. I have personally witnessed David single handedly make the dreams of 1,000s of children’s dreams come true. He goes to whatever extreme possible to help those who are in need, and to help make a kid’s life better in whatever way he can. He has such a passion for kids with disabilities and life struggles, for the men and women in our Armed Services, and for the marine environment and marine animals. I could tell story after story of David helping people, and of him helping take care of this beautiful earth that we have been tasked with caring for. My own pastor once said that we look the most like Jesus when we are being of service. Well, David clearly aims to look like Jesus every single day of his life. I love David Yates with my whole heart and I’m eternally grateful for having him in my life.
TESTIMONIAL - Gina Wilkins
Founder & CEO The Kind Mouse www.TheKindMouse.org
“Through David’s straight on approach and consulting, we were able to take our nonprofit from a family affair to a growing community awareness level.”
TESTIMONIAL - Mary Leighton
CEO No Limits Foundation/Camp No Limits www.NoLimitsFoundation.org
“Not only has he provided me with the business perspectives and financial outlooks, but most importantly his belief in myself as a leader has given me the confidence to know that my vision is worthwhile.”
TESTIMONIAL - Sandy Kearney
Founder, Angels Against Abuse - Fighting Child Abuse
"As the founder of Angels Against Abuse, I am always looking for ways to move our nonprofit organization to the next level to be the best it can be for the children we serve who are victims of abuse and neglect. Thanks to David Yates and his ability to be a visionary, his guidance and ideas have been instrumental in our success over the past 13 years. There is such a synergy between what he does in the community and what the Angels do for children who are victims of abuse and neglect, that there was an immediate connection when we were introduced over 11 years ago."
In summary, David is an amazing individual and is well respected for his many contributions in our community. He has given so many children, adults and families HOPE for a better tomorrow. Thank you David for all you do.
TESTIMONIAL - Jo Brower
Executive Director. Remember Honor Support - A 911 Memorial Event
"David Yates, I found as a man with many talents and has a large scope of the business world. He is a visionary, creator, implementer and executor. He is energetic and a passionate advocate that brings a wealth of experience to the nonprofit world. He provides valuable insights on why so many nonprofits aren't getting the results out of their boards of directors and demonstrates the path to energizing and maximizing the impact of a nonprofit board. His communication level is professional, yet personal and fun, while making you feel like a friend from the very moment you meet. He has an amazing and diverse background, history of success and the skills to do the job. His professional expertise and understanding of the challenges of this ever-changing competitive economy is extraordinary. David has been a valuable resource for me while growing our small non-profit, RHS. I would highly recommend David as a coach, consultant or speaker for any of your non-profit or for-profit business needs."
TESTIMONIAL. - Katherine E. Hether
"David Yates is a Christian family man, who has inspired people of all ages around the world. David led his team in taking care of a young injured dolphin named Winter, in Oak Hill, Florida, with no hope for survival, and saved her life with the first prosthetic tail. His vision didn’t stop there. They not only saved Winter, but he also turned her story into two major documentaries and two major motion pictures that brought worldwide hope to all people with disabilities.
To this day, I can still hear the passion in his voice, see the gleam in his eyes as he talked about the many small children, veterans, and people from all over the world that have come to see Winter, and left with renewed hope.
It is his Christ-like love and passion for conservation, marine life, and mankind that inspired me to use CMA as I described a scene in my third novel, Project Wraith. "
TESTIMONIAL - Stephen Brown
"I have worked with David Yates for over a decade. During that time I have seen him stimulate and challenge crowds of every age and origin and hold their rapted attention. I have witnessed him building the brand of Clearwater Marine Aquarium from a tiny structure to a colossal force. He is a man whose integrity is only matched by his boundless enthusiasm. He lives the quote from the late baseball player, Ted Williams, ' for life's sake put back more than you take' "
TESTIMONIAL - Linda Suzzanne Griffin, J.D., LL.M.
Fellow- American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
Florida Board Certified- Wills, Trusts & Estates and Taxation
Griffin & Van Pelt, P.A.
"We had the opportunity to have David speak to about 250 attorneys at our annual convention for the Real Property Probate and Trust Section of the Florida Bar. He did an excellent job speaking about Clearwater Marine Aquarium and its mission. Most importantly he conveyed his hope and inspiration through his enthusiasm and passion for what he believes. The first time I have seen certain attorneys moved to tears for the inspiration and hope that David provides at CMA for children and adults with all kinds of disabilities through the connection with CMA’s animals. As chair of that convention meeting, I received many accolades for David as the keynote speaker."