When Alexander was a toddler he constantly drew little round doodles. Eventually, his parents realized that he was drawing bugs. As soon as he was able, Alexander began catching and pinning bugs for his own insect collection.
When he was six-years-old, Alexander was diagnosed with high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). During his three years of chemotherapy and treatment, Alexander never lost interest in insects. So, he made a wish to go to the Panama rainforest “to collect insects with real entomologists so they can point out the poisonous ones.”
Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington partnered with Make-A-Wish® Panama to grant Alexander’s once-in-a-lifetime wish.
Alexander’s trip was filled with life-changing experiences, such as operating the gates of the Panama Canal, having a newly discovered sweat bee – Augochlora Alexanderi – named after him, collecting insects on the exclusive Barro Colorado wildlife research island, and catching his prized Blue Morpho butterfly. Make-A-Wish even made special arrangements to get all 400 of the insects Alexander collected back home through customs.
Upon returning home from his trip, Alexander called his trip his “life wish.”
Living the wish
Twelve years after his wish, Alexander is now a healthy 21-year-old, studying environmental science at Central Washington University. “I realized I wanted to protect the insects and biological life that I was always interested in when I was younger,” he said.
Alexander’s family was also deeply impacted by his ‘life wish,’ and still looks back on their trip fondly today. “His wish trip remains the greatest trip our family has ever taken,” said his mom, Lisa. “It was such a unique experience and we continue to keep in touch with friends in Panama today…hoping we might be able to return to see them again.”
Alex still enjoys collecting insects, and his freezer is lined with bugs waiting to be pinned. According to his mom, he has always had a special spot in his heart for “looking out for the little guy.”