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Face to Face with Dalton Cronkite

Dalton Cronkite, 13-year old student at Banning Lewis Ranch Academy, cancer survivor and jeweler said he doesn’t like to sit around.”I’m a hands-on kind of guy,” he said. “I’m the go out, get it done type.”Dalton’s father, Don, introduced his son to jewelry making at a young age. “Ever since I was 5 and my dad had his business, I would run out there and help him with waxes and quenching the molds,” Dalton said. “There was a little couch so I took a nap out there, too.”When he started going to gem shows with his parents, Dalton’s mom gave him a string and a few beads and encouraged him to make a necklace.”It was horrible looking, of course, but Dad said he’d put it in the shop and sell it.” Dalton said he was excited when it sold. He bought a Pokemon video game with the profit. The thrill of the first sale convinced him to keep creating and he sold a few more pieces as well.As he’s gotten older – and wiser – Dalton said he doesn’t spend all the profits on video games. He said he saves his money to buy more materials. “Now, I’m getting gems like savarite garnets and colored pearls.”Dalton said his creations are spontaneous. “I just make it up – double of these, triple of those,” he said. “I just go with what my mind tells me looks good. I try to think of something that a girl would like. I have only made one guy necklace.”Dalton’s jewelry is for sale locally. He said he uses dicroic glass, Swarovski crystals, turquoise, colored pearls, topaz and coral. As he talks about gems and his jewelry like a seasoned professional, it’s surprising that the beautiful pieces on display are the work of a 13-year old.He said he likes working with pearls and uses a lot of garnets in his work. He is beginning to expand into more sophisticated stones. “The thing that challenged me the most is the strand of rubies I’m working with,” Dalton said. “I wanted it even and symmetrical, but the beads were all different sizes.” He said he is almost finished with the necklace and when it is completed, it will include a star ruby.Dalton, who is vibrant and enthusiastic, has recently recovered from his second recurrence of leukemia. He said he has been off treatments for seven months but goes back to the doctor once a month for checkups. He donates a portion of his profits to cancer research, and he and his father have donated jewelry pieces to silent auctions for various cancer foundations.After losing his hair three times during treatments, Dalton said he is growing it out. “I’ll probably let it go to my shoulders and see what they (his parents) think. I’ve got to make up for lost time and I want to know what it feels like to have wind whip it in my eyes,” he said.In addition to his jewelry making, Dalton is an adventurous teenager. He lives with his parents and sister on 40 acres in Ellicott and tends to their small animals. “Sometimes, I feed the chickens and get their eggs; I feed the cats and dogs,” he said. His dog Rowdy, half German shepherd and half pit bull, has been his favorite since childhood.Don Cronkite likes to joke that the dog is also half lion. Last summer, Dalton said the alleged lion spotted on the plains east of Falcon was really his dog.Dalton said he spent the day sitting on the porch, carving a stick and watching the action as the sheriff deputies and the Colorado Department of Wildlife hunted for the non-existent lion. “We laughed about it all summer long.”Dalton likes to hunt, but sticks to animals native to Colorado. He is a good fisherman and said he shot his first elk in February. “It was very cold, freezing out,” he said. “The adrenaline kept me warm. I had to get on my stomach and crawl up to the top of the ridge with the 10-pound gun,” he said. “It turned out all right, and the steak is really good.”His parents are amateur archeologists, and he accompanies them on statewide searches for ancient artifacts. The family has a collection of more than 2,000 perfect arrowheads and knives, scrapers, spoons, awls and a rare grinding stone they found on Calhan ridge.More about DaltonWhat do you want to be when you grow up?Either a jeweler or a paleontologist, but most of the dinosaurs have been already discovered, so I don’t know.What is your favorite movie?“Transformers”Do you like to read?No. Well, yeah, a little. When I have to. If the book gets interesting, I like it. I’m reading Harry Potter. Right now I’m reading the second book.What else do you like to do?I play basketball, fishing, and I might join track in high school. I also play baseball and I used to do football.

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