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'Zander' is no longer of this world, but he's still helping little children

Drowning victim benefit to aid children in need

Sept. 7, 2005

Heaven's streets are made of gold and its gates of precious gemstones. Its rivers are crystal pure and its occupants just as pure, made so by a crimson tide that has flowed since the beginning of time. Each occupant is awarded crowns for deeds, great or small, done on Earth. Men and women of all races and all walks of life are there. And the little prince of Gilbert is there, too.

Alexander Curry Kendall, 2 years and 8 months old, passed through a sapphire gate to his new home in May 2003. In that year, 28 children drowned in Arizona. Fourteen of those were under the age of 5. Alexander was one of them.

He was "sweet boy" to those who knew him best. Dad, Tom, and mom, Caroline, had other nicknames for him as well like "Zander moon" and "little dude."

His big brother Joey loved it when Zander would want to suit up in football pads, just like him, and toss the ball around. And Katy, big sis, would read to him and they would share their love of animals by playing with the menagerie of household pets. When the family welcomed triplets, Ryan, Matthew and Zachery, to their home, Zander was happy to become the leader of the new diaper brigade.

All was well with the Kendall clan. They even, in the year Zander was born, and after a lifetime of searching, found faith in God. That faith would help them find their way in the tragedy that would come.

On that day, little Zander followed his parents to the back yard, as they were tending to a sick pet. As mom and dad passed the above-ground pool to the back of the yard, Zander climbed the ladder and found the cool water. "Sweet boy" was one to seek a cozy hug in the morning and, from his father's arms, reach to "hold the moon" in the early evening. More than curious, his little motto was "go crazy" for every ounce of adventure the day brings.

The emergency unit that responded was ill-trained to handle the situation. The Zander call came to a private company servicing the area of Gilbert where the Kendalls lived at the time, near Ocotillo Road and Val Vista Drive. In the days and months that followed, close family members and the Kendalls' Canyon Ridge Bible Church family became a lifeline and a source of comfort.

While "little dude" has found an old red barn that needs fixin' up in his heavenly place (he loved to help his dad with outdoor chores), his earthly legacy is hard at work, too. His family has established The Zander Fund to help children dealing with tragic circumstances in all parts of the world. In its short history, the fund has donated to causes ranging from the intensive-care unit at Banner Desert Medical Center to orphanages in Africa and Mexico.

Although this story is certainly a sad one, the Kendalls have found peace in knowing that the good work of this fund will keep Zander alive and give his passing some meaning.

A well-known Bible passage reads, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Through their tears, the Kendalls have found a way to answer the call to help the hurting among us.

On Sept. 30, the third-annual silent auction and dinner is slated to benefit the fund at the Solera Pavilion at 6360 S. Mountain Road in Chandler.

All proceeds are donated to benefit children in need and their families. If you would like to attend, donate items, or learn more about the fund, please visit www.thezanderfund.com.
Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic

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Copyright 2005 Arizona Republic

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