Ryland is a an eight-year-old boy from Colorado who loves animals. Despite living in a landlocked state, his favorite animal is the alligator! When he heard about his opportunity to have a wish granted by Make-A-Wish Colorado, he decided that instead of meeting someone special, he would meet something special… an alligator!
His wish took him and his family to Florida to have a special alligator-filled vacation experience!
The first stop on the list of gator-viewing was touring Zoo Miami. Ryland and his family had a private tour with an energetic and lively guide who made sure Ryland saw all the good stuff. And of course, all the alligators! The time spent at the zoo made Ryland feel like the luckiest kid in the world- he was even on the local news!
The heart of Ryland’s wish, was or course, meeting alligators. The best places to do that in Florida? The Everglades! The tour was perfect. The guides made all the difference and Ryland loved every second of it. The crew spent the afternoon whizzing through the water, scoping out gators and other wildlife. They even caught a 100-pound crocodile that had never been captured before for weighing and measuring! The biologist in charge let Ryland name the critter; so, naturally, he named it Ryland, before discovering it was a girl and changed the name to Rylanda! “My wish came true and even more!” Ryland gushed after the tour was over.
Between the zoo and the Everglades, the family had time to wind down and enjoy the beach at Key Largo. It was Ryland’s first time in the ocean and on a beach and he loved it! He and his family spent all day building sand castles and making lasting memories that they will reflect on for a lifetime.
“He got to feel normal for a few days. He got to talk about dreams for the future without his disease being a though. He fell in love with animals even more and connected with his family. He got an experience of a lifetime that we could have never made happen without Make-A-Wish,” his mom said with a smile.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Ryland but he’s pretty sure he’ll go back to Florida one day to visit Rylanda, making him one of the few people who can say “see you later, alligator,” and really mean it!