Please allow me to introduce you to our new friend, Zander, aka Alexzander. When you meet Zander, he exudes joy: pure, raw, unfiltered joy. It is contagious, as you find yourself smiling along with him, while he takes a closer examination of what’s in your hands. An obviously curious little boy we had the pleasure of meeting because of some rather sad circumstances in his life recently.
Zander just had his birthday. His mom planned an extra special party for him, all Vegas Golden Knights related of course. As any celebratory 2nd grader would be, his excitement could not be contained! There was a picture wall, where you could get your picture taken with the goalie, games, and delicious food. Zander invited all the kids in his class, and a few others he has met along the way. The day/time came around and no one was showing up. Now minutes turned into an hour, an hour turned into hours; and still, no one. There were little regrets offered, and many said they would be there. Still, no one came. Zander’s aunt could not watch the disappointment on his face, because in his own words he, “just wanted to have a friend”; so she called out for help on social media.
In response to Zander’s aunt’s plea in a fan FB group, this close-knit VGK-loving community showed up in a big way for him. On Saturday, fans turned up by the dozens to throw him a party at DownTown Summerlin. He received VGK themed gifts and made a couple of dozen new friends, who were now in Zander’s corner with him.
On Sunday a local frozen dessert shop, the Frozen Frog, had a very special ice cream party for him. The VGK Ladies decided that Zander should be the first recipient of our Holiday Acts of Kindness. So we went into birthday party mode and stopped by to see what Zander was up to and bring him a little surprise. We were absolutely heart-warmed around the kindness strangers have shown this little boy. When you meet him, his delight with life is awe-inspiring. We had the chance to talk with his mom a little bit, so we could learn all about Zander and his world.
Zander was diagnosed with ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. He attends 2nd grade and is in a self-contained classroom with 10 of his peers. A year ago, Zander could barely utter a word; “Zander-ease” is what his family would call his attempts at communication. I can tell you that tonight, he had a lot of words to share. He sat right on my lap as we opened up the NHL app, clicked on the Knights, and reviewed the stats of tonight’s game. He scrolled through, stopping to watch a video reel of Fleury. We looked at Schmidt as he repeated both of their names with a chuckle. I can say, without doubt in my heart, that’s Zander’s weekend was complete. Although his birthday party did not go as planned, Zander now has a brand new group of friends standing in his cheering section. This little boy reminded us of the the spirit of the holiday season, and the closeness of our VGK community.
A very Happy Birthday to you Zander, #1 VGK fan!