When the sheriff of Chester County, S.C., sits down to Thanksgiving dinner, he will be surrounded by family, and to him that includes a 10-year-old boy from Chester County, Pa., he met last year.
"It's just like he's mine, just like my own son," Sheriff Alex "Big A" Underwood said.
The pair met after Alex Collins, now nicknamed "Little A," wrote a letter to Underwood asking to go on his annual hunting trip with area children. Alex, who lives in West Goshen Township, read about the outing on Facebook and never imagined there was more than one Chester County.
After learning of Alex's confusion, the sheriffs of the two Chester Counties made his wish come true last December when Alex, the son of a single mother with health problems, flew to South Carolina for a one-on-one hunt with Underwood.
Another hunting trip in South Carolina followed this spring.
The sheriffs also surprised Alex with a trip to South Carolina last weekend that included the children's group hunt that geography denied him last year. On a separate outing Tuesday, Alex bagged a buck. The meat is to go to needy families in South Carolina.
Alex is set to hunt with the sheriff until he flies home Sunday, and Underwood said he wants to take him hunting again in January.
"I want to spend as much time as I can with him," said Underwood, calling Alex "a delight."
Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh of Chester County, Pa., agrees. Since the mix-up last year, Alex has become a familiar face in her office. Welsh took him to his first Eagles game in August, and they have also been to Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers games.
"He's a beautiful little boy," Welsh said, "who wiggled his way into the hearts of two sheriffs."