Alexander, 7, loves to swim and watch television shows about marine animals.
Yet, he often feels like a fish out of water when doctor appointments and treatments for his condition replace those things he likes to do for fun.
"Both of our children, Alexander and Angelique, have hemoglobin sickle cell disease, a condition that affects the red blood cells,” said Alexander’s dad, Cecil. “When we were told they each qualified for a wish, we were concerned at first because we thought that meant something bad.
"Then we learned you don’t need to have a terminal illness to receive a wish and that many kids with sickle cell are eligible,” he continued.
Alexander instantly knew where he wanted to go for his wish. “I picked to go to SeaWorld so I could see all the fish and animals!” Alexander said. “I was really excited to see dolphins and penguins and a walrus!”
“We’ve been to SeaWorld as a family before, but Alexander wished to go again because we had such a great trip the first time and he thinks it is the greatest place ever,” said Cecil.
To make Alexander’s wish extra special this time around, Make-A-Wish Arizona added days at LEGOLAND and San Diego Zoo, plus the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes for special encounters with the animals at SeaWorld.
“Alexander loved going on the roller coasters and we had our own trainer and tour guide so he could get up close and touch the animals,” said Cecil. “He was able to feed the penguins and they arranged a special dolphin show just for us.”
“This is the first time in Alexander’s life that something positive came from his condition,” he continued. “Alexander’s wish was so personalized to him and even if I won the lottery I wouldn’t be able to do this for my kids.”
One huge benefit of Alexander’s wish was something his family never expected.
“Our kids can’t go on airplanes because of their condition, so Make-A-Wish Arizona provided a rental van for our wish trip,” said Cecil. “The van made everything so much easier during that week and we had such a good experience that we realized we needed a minivan for our family.”
“Now, the kids are each able to each have their own row with plenty of space and we have less nerves about traveling in the future. It definitely changed our lives back home and Alexander’s wish makes us want to travel even more.”
As for Alexander, his wish has him planning for the future.
“He’s still young but since his wish, he regularly talks about wanting to do something with water or animals when he grows up,” said Cecil. “At the end of the day, memories are all you have and these moments with our family will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
“Even if there are dark times in our future, Make-A-Wish Arizona gave us something positive that we can hold on to forever.”