HARPURSVILLE, NY (WCMH) — A 10-year-old Ohio boy who suffers from a life-threatening seizure disorder got the opportunity of a lifetime as he met his favorite animal and the world’s most beloved viral star — April the giraffe.
It was a day Alex Johnson won’t soon forget as the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his desire to meet the giraffe after he and more than a million others waited for the animal to give birth earlier this year.
Johnson, who is also visually impaired, non-verbal and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to loss of oxygen at birth, traveled with his family from Avon, Ohio, to Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y., Tuesday to meet April and her newborn, Tajiri.
“I can’t believe that we’re here actually ’cause we watched online for so long,” his mother Dawn, told WBNG. “We were waiting for that baby — oh my goodness gracious — we didn’t think she was ever going to come.”
She added that the family trip couldn’t have come at a better time, saying, “For us to be out of our home, out of our normal worries, day-to-day stuff, just life, it’s been fantastic. It’s fantastic just to get away anyway.
Make-A-Wish helps make dreams come true for children who face life-threatening medical conditions in an effort to bring joy to their lives.
“When we received the call from Make-A-Wish, this was truly a no-brainer for us,” said Jordan Patch, Owner of Animal Adventure Park, said in a statement. “April has had such an impact worldwide and we want to ensure that her exposure not only has an impact on animal conservation efforts, but also on any lives that she can touch in a positive way. Alex and his family are wonderful people and we were all happy to meet them and welcome them to our park.”
Just days before Tajiri was born, little Alex had just returned home from the hospital and perked up when he found out April was going into labor.
“He was so sick and just sleeping,” his mom told ABC News. “I told him, ‘Alex, April is about to have her baby,’ and he woke up to watch the entire birth process.”
“Alex and his family are just wonderful, wonderful people, such a strong loving family and to see a child of these circumstances really be able to just enjoy a day that’s just for him is incredible,” Heidi Robinson of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Central New York told WBNG.
April the giraffe became a global phenomenon earlier in the year as the park livestreamed her pregnancy and viewers watched online with anticipation as she was ready to deliver her newborn.
April gave birth to Tajiri in April, but prior to the baby’s arrival, many were inspired by the park’s efforts as the mother-to-be reached viral status.