A 9-year-old boy from Pennsylvania known as “Little A” is ready to go hunting with South Carolina’s “Big A.”
It all came from a mistake.
Letters asking for the Chester County sheriff to go hunting with Alex Collins of West Chester, Pa., were sent to the wrong state’s Chester County sheriff.
But the sheriffs in both states are making Alex “Little A” Collins’ dream of going hunting with the “Big A,” Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood, come true. Alex will leave Chester County, Pa., Monday and fly from Philadelphia to Charlotte, then head to Chester County, S.C., for two days of hunting with Underwood.
“Best mistake I ever made,” said Alex’s mom, Leslie Collins of Chester County, Pa., which is outside Philadelphia.
Underwood runs periodic hunting and fishing trips for kids in Chester, S.C. to show the outdoors to children who might not have a chance to go, or don’t have someone to take them.
Alex and his mother saw the trip on Facebook under a heading that said Chester County Sheriff’s Office and sent in letters asking for Alex to go. The son of a single mother, Alex Collins wrote he doesn’t have anyone to teach him or take him hunting, but he wants to go more than anything in the whole world.
His mother wrote that Alex is a wonderful kid, and even his teacher wrote that Alex is a super child with great potential. But the Facebook page was for the Chester County, S.C., sheriff, not the one in their home county.
Alex Collins was heartbroken, but the deputies did not let him stay somber.
The trip was paid for by deputies at the Chester County, Pa., sheriff’s office, where Carolyn Welsh is the longtime sheriff and one of just a handful of female sheriffs in the country.
The two Chester sheriffs, Welsh and Underwood, met at a Colorado conference last year and became immediate friends.
After Welsh and her deputies determined that young Alex Collins had written about the hunting trip, she contacted Underwood and the two sheriffs arranged for Alex to get to South Carolina. Deputies in Pennsylvania paid for the plane ticket. Alex Collins will stay with Underwood and his family for two nights.
Alex said he is not nervous, even though he has never gone hunting.
“I always wanted to see what it was really like,” Alex said by phone. “They have safety tests and all kinds of things I have to learn first.”
Welsh gave Alex and his mother the grand tour last week and gave him camouflage hats and sweatshirts and other stuff for the trip. Employees gave him spending money.
“Alex was so excited he could hardly stand it,” said Welsh, a mother and grandmother. “We are just as thrilled to be able to do this. Alex is an adorable child. This is a trip of a young lifetime.”
Welsh will take Alex to the Philadelphia airport. Underwood will greet Alex in Charlotte and give him the royal treatment.
The story, originally published in The Herald Dec. 13 then shared online, has brought donations from all over South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other states.
Alex, such a good kid, even wrote a thank-you letter to Sheriff Welsh. In the letter he said the same thing he said Friday: This is the “Best Christmas Ever.”