MIAMI (WSVN) - The Make-A-Wish Foundation and Zoo Miami teamed up, Friday, to fulfill a Colorado child’s dream of getting up close and personal with some cold-blooded creatures.
Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill had a special day planned for 8-year-old Ryland Gallagher from Colorado Springs.
Ryland and his family were granted an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the zoo.
After feeding the giraffes and petting the rhinos, the family finally moved on to the reptiles.
“Not a lot of crocodiles in Colorado, are there?” said Magill. “We got crocodiles here, and we got alligators here.”
The family took the ultimate family photo when a Burmese python named Fat Boy was brought out. The snake was so long it took the entire group to handle it.
“Do you think you could handle Fat Boy?” asked Magill.
“Oh, yeah!” said Ryland with a smile.
Ryland suffers from cystic fibrosis, a disorder that affects the lungs, digestive system and other organs.
His mother was grateful to see her son and family having so much fun.
“I think this is something that’s going to stick with him forever,” said Ryland’s mother, Tammy Handley.
Make-A-Wish has recognized the toll dealing with a serious illness takes not only on young patients but on their entire family.
“They build a whole experience around the child’s true wish and give the family a break from the medical conditions that are really affecting their lives,” said Stu Opperman of Make-A-Wish South Florida.
Magill was also touched by the experience.
“As a father myself, it just gives me tremendous pleasure to see these kids laugh and smile and allows me to be a bit of a kid myself.”
The trip may have even sparked a new partnership.
“You going to take my job? Please say, ‘No.'” Magill asked Ryland.
“I’m just going to feed the animals,” said Ryland.
The boy and his family will also visit the Everglades and the Keys during their dream trip through South Florida.
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