BROOMFIELD, Colo. — At Broomfield's Butterfly Pavilion, curiosity is taking flight. And for 16 years, Gary Gagnon has been there to foster it.
"Gary’s one of our superheroes," said Butterfly Pavilion CEO Patrick Tennyson. "He’s really one of our superstars."
Gagnon is more or less the story keeper of this animal kingdom in Broomfield. He teaches kids and adults about invertebrates and how the small but mighty creatures are vital to the world we live in.
"I like to interject every once in a while, if a kid’s looking at something, I'll ask him a question. I like giving information as much as I can," Gagnon said.
But he's perhaps best known for his relationship with a critter named Rosie.
"What we do is we tickle her a little bit to come out," Gagnon said as he gently encouraged Rosie to crawl onto his open palm.
Rosie is a Chilean tarantula who is always a visitor hit.
"One day a guy came in with his son who was about 6 years old, and of course his son right away wanted to hold Rosie and I asked the dad and he said, 'Not in my lifetime,'" Gagnon said. "About an hour later he came back and said, 'OK, I’m going to hold her.' So I put it on his hand and she pooped on his hand."
Tennyson said the Butterfly Pavilion is an important part of the community, and even more so with Gagnon there.
"Having a place like the Butterfly Pavilion where they can go out and walk among butterflies and really explore nature and get to understand nature, especially with a guy like Gary guiding them and helping them understand what’s going on, makes that intimate connection last forever," Tennyson said.
That is the work of a hero.
"If we take care of each other, even the butterflies or the bugs or whatever, we take care of ourselves and humanity is enriched," said Mary Juszynski, who nominated Gagnon as a Denver7 Everyday Hero.
Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.