Thirteen-year-old Dane has two turtles, three dogs and an eclectus parrot. His menagerie is so varied that his family calls him Dr. Doolittle.
So when Dane found out that he would get a wish, those who know him best weren’t surprised to learn that he wished for a greenwing macaw.
Dane already has one bird named Jasper. The two share an especially close bond. Jasper helped Dane cope through the ups and downs of medical treatment for osteosarcoma. And, he's still there to keep him company and watch over him.
Dane was so taken by Jasper that he started volunteering at Beaker’s Parrot Place to clean cages and learn about birds. Because of this, owners Jeremy and Elena have gotten to know and care for Dane throughout his treatment journey. And that’s how Dane’s wish came full-circle.
Jeremy and Elena from Beaker’s Parrot Place were thrilled when Make-A-Wish Alaska & Washington approached them to hand-raise a parrot for Dane. “We never had the opportunity to work with Make-A-Wish before,” said Elena. “When they called, it was just wonderful.”
Enter Rugby, a 12-week-old greenwing macaw. Dane chose the species because they are smart, social and very perceptive. Greenwing macaws can also live upwards of 60 years.
For Dane and his family, the bird symbolizes more than just companionship.
“There is an element of looking at the future (in Dane’s wish),” said his stepmom, Heidi. “That was a signal from Dane to all of us that he had every intention of making it through the cancer and having a long, wonderful life.”
“I was determined to keep going and get back to the things I used to be able to do. I’m going to try to live as long as the bird,” Dane said. “(Rugby) will remind me of the hard times and how I got through them.”
Even before Dane met Rugby, the wish experience served as a beacon of hope during Dane’s treatment.
“It was really exciting for Dane to have something to look forward to at the end of all the struggles that he had,” said his mom, Krista. “(His wish) was something we could always talk about as a group to bring his spirits up.”
“He’s really excited to have a lifelong friend,” added his Make-A-Wish volunteer, Amber.
“For kids who have had to go through a lot, (Make-A-Wish) brings something back that’s good. For all the stuff they may not have been able to do or wanted to do when they were getting treatment," said Dane. "In the end they get something way bigger that makes up for all of it."
I’m going to try to live as long as the bird. (Rugby) will remind me of the hard times and how I got through them.
Dane, wish recipient