Connecticut boy gets wish granted to be a wildlife photographer for a day

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Oban Birmingham
Oban Birmingham, 8 Credit: WINK News

A child fighting cancer got to live his dream for a day. 8-year-old Oban Birmingham made it all the way to Collier County from Connecticut. And, he was able to go behind the scenes as a wildlife photographer in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Between alligators, hogs, and birds, Oban saw it all on Monday. He even was able to see a video of two Florida panthers, as captured by a camera along a trail.

“Oh great! Oh my gosh!”

Monday, on the backroads of Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Oban just had to get as close as possible to the wildlife. “That is… oh my gosh, I have no idea oh my gosh, I have to get a closer look,” he said.

Oban got to be an explorer and naturalist on Monday instead of a kid with cancer.

“This is the perfect place for lizards, panthers, you name it!” said Oban.

Tom Birmingham is Oban’s father. “He was diagnosed in October of 2020. And it was some kind of rare a kind of cancer called Burkitt Lymphoma, and he had Burkitt Lymphoma Leukemia because it had spread so rapidly,” Birmingham said.

“Hard. It’s been kind of frustrating too,” Oban added.

Now, Oban is thankfully in remission. But, he didn’t even have to think about his cancer. His Make-A-Wish wish came true! He finally got access to his happy place – The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

“This is Oban and his personality and who he is. And that’s just all we wanted from the beginning of the diagnosis is we just wanted him back to who he was and who he wanted to be,” Birmingham said.

WINK News Anchor Rachel Cox-Rosen asked Oban his favorite part about nature. “Ummm, just how beautiful it is,” he said.

Oban did see a lot of critters on Monday but he hopes to see a Florida panther in real life one day.

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