Monday, February 21, 2011

Alex's Big Day at the Tennessee Aquarium

It was fun giving Alex Schneider and his family a tour of the Tennessee Aquarium recently. The family traveled to Chattanooga from Toronto, Canada so Alex could help another family in need. The seven-year-old has had a challenging life, suffering from a rare blood disorder. But Alex is a tough little guy with a big heart. He's also a huge fan of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The family watches every episode and frequently enjoys watching tapes of the show together. And now, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Schneider family will be part of the show. Alex, his dad Adam, mom Helena and sister Alisha not only got to help build the Sharrock home in Rossville, Georgia - they also got to meet the show's star, Ty Pennington.
But even Ty might have taken a backseat to the Tennessee Aquarium's penguins. When asked if he'd like to meet a penguin, Alex seemed excited and said, "Yes." Several of the birds made a behind-the-scenes appearance to paint for the Schneiders.

Alex's favorite color is red, so the penguins used that and mixed in a little purple to create some new masterpieces for the seven-year-old to enjoy at home.

But penguin painting wasn't the only activity the Schneiders got to observe. They were treated to many of the experiences Keeper Kids will enjoy during Spring Break.

Here animal encounter specialist Lindsay Rogers introduces the Schneiders to Chattanooga Chuck, the Aquarium's groundhog. They also got to meet an opossum, a toucan and a really big snake which Alex really enjoyed.

The whole family enjoyed watching the big, toothy sharks in the Secret Reef exhibit. (We managed to capture one swimming directly overhead in the first shot.) And Alex really had fun meeting volunteer SCUBA divers John Herman and Brian Akins. They are among the nearly 200 volunteer divers who help keep the exhibits looking great, feed some of the animals and talk with visitors during interactive dive shows.

Thom Demas, the Aquarium's curator of fishes, brought out some newborn seahorses to show the Schneiders and other guests in the Seahorse gallery.

These tiny "steeds of the deep" were literally born a few hours earlier. Demas explained how these animals eat and live at the Aquarium. You can see another batch of seahorses being born at the Tennessee Aquarium in this video.

Alex and his sister also got a chance to meet aquarist Jake Steventon and help feed our Arapaima. These guys are among the largest freshwater fish we have on display. You can see these guys in the Flooded Amazon exhibit across the way from our giant blue catfish. We hope Alex and his family had as much fun visiting the Tennessee Aquarium as we had showing them around.


Glenbrookemama said...

I'll bet Ty was proud to meet Alex! What a trooper--showing that life is about helping folks like the Sharroks, about celebrating the amazing world around us, and about spreading love to all the folks around us! Alex is my new hero! Way to go, TN Aquarium--one of our favorite places on earth!

Rosy Smith said...

Hi Alex
I really want to say u thanks. & really feel proud on you. How caring you are!! this is wonderful lesson for are peoples.