Jodi Benson Asks Fans to Help Save Samuel E. Wright’s Legacy

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Jodi Benson and Samuel E. Wright from The Little Mermaid

Whether you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or 2000s, many Disney diehard fans will agree that one of Disney’s most beloved movies they ever created is The Little MermaidThe 16-year-old mermaid named Ariel with dreams of leaving the sea and following her heart on land touched many viewers young and old. But Ariel wasn’t the only Disney character in The Little Mermaid that inspired Disney fans.

Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

Recently, we shared the passing of Samuel E. Wright, the voice actor of our favorite Disney crab, Sebastian. Wright brought this character to life with his amazing voice and iconic songs like “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” Sebastian was the ’80s version of Jiminy Cricket, helping Ariel find her voice and becoming like a second father figure while keeping her out of trouble.

Jodi Benson and Samuel E. Wright from The Little Mermaid
Credit: Jodi Benson on Instagram

Samuel E. Wright continued to be a beacon of light by creating a performing arts school for all children, no matter their background or financial situation. Although it has been successful for over 25 years, it is now facing financial distress from the pandemic and may shut down.

The real-life Ariel voiced by Disney Legend Jodi Benson is now reaching out to fans on Instagram to help keep her friend’s legacy alive through a GoFundMe campaign:

Hey friends- please join me and continue the incredible legacy of my dear friend Samuel E. Wright, the beloved voice of Sebastian, who passed away recently.
Sam created the wonderful arts organization -The Hudson Valley Conservatory changing the lives of children in beautiful ways for so many years. Covid has hit this Conservatory hard and they need our help to remain open.
Sam’s amazing daughter, Dee, has created the GoFundMe & we would truly appreciate your donation-no matter what the amount may be.
Thank you so much for your love, support & generosity❤️
let’s do this in loving memory of Sam…

(link in my bio)

If they hit the goal, this will allow them to recuperate debts, find a new building, and continue to offer performing arts classes to children in their community.

According to the GoFundMe fundraiser, the actor’s daughter Amanda Wright shares a bit of history as to why this was so important to her father.

In 1988, Samuel E. Wright, Broadway performer, two-time Tony nominee, and the voice of the legendary character Sebastian the Crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, moved his family to a little town in Upstate NY. He immediately noticed a lack of arts in the area and wanted to make sure all kids had access to the craft he loved so much.

Along with their children’s high school music teacher, he and his wife decided to open a performing arts school. The Hudson Valley Conservatory has been in business for 26 years offering music, drama, and dance classes to students and performances for the community at their 170-seat black box theater.

Samuel E Wright from The Little Mermaid
Credit: The Hudson Valley Conservatory

Sadly, in 2018, Sam Wright was diagnosed with prostate cancer that eventually took his life just weeks ago on May 24th.

Sam always made the children of his community a priority. The school has never turned a child away for lack of funds. Even during very difficult treatments, Sam continued to travel to nearby schools to visit the kids and bring them joy. Nothing made him happier than seeing children laugh and smile.

Samuel E Wright from The Little Mermaid
Credit: The Hudson Valley Conservatory

If you would like to learn more, please check out information on his legacy through the Hudson Valley Conservatory page on Instagram and the official GoFundMe page. 

Did you love Samuel E. Wright’s performance as Sebastian in The Little Mermaid? What do you think of this fundraiser? Let us know in the comments below! 

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