By Katie Steiner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most kids can’t wait to open their presents on their birthday. But one boy in Sauk Rapids didn’t want any presents this year when he turned six.

Instead, he wanted to raise money for a good cause.

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Meet Liam. You won’t catch him without Dave nearby.

“He really loves Dave a lot. He’s his best buddy,” Liam’s mom, Jacey Hansen, said.

Dave is a stuffed bald eagle.

“He goes everywhere with him. He comes to the grocery store; I have to buckle him up in the car. It turned into this whole thing,” Hansen said.

You would never know it, but Liam was born with a hole in his heart — Congenital ky-full scoliosis — and has tethered spinal cord syndrome, which means lots of doctors appointments and invasive surgeries. That’s how Liam latched on to Dave.

“I think it was when he wanted to take an animal for his surgery. He always brings one into the operating room. And they kinda put a band on him and go back with him. That has helped him get through a lot of the surgeries. Is just having that support,” Hansen said.

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Grandpa took Liam down to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha last year and Liam was hooked.

“He learned more about them, and learned more about the bird, and then Dave just became his best buddy. And now it’s eagle everything,” Hansen said.

Liam loves eagles so much, that on his 6th birthday, he didn’t want birthday presents. He wanted to help real-life Daves.

“Because of Dave, because he loves him so much, he’s been to the National Eagle Center, and we were talking about it, and he asked if there was a way he could pay back or do something for the eagles,” Hansen said.

Liam raised $434 for the National Eagle Center, and because of a grant, Liam’s gift was matched.

“To see this little boy be so impacted by eagles, it just warmed everybody’s heart down here and brought a tear to a lot of people’s eyes. He’s so special,” Charley Nelson, development manager of the center, said.

“I’m proud of him, I always have been. He’s a really great kid. He has been since he’s been born. He’s taught us a lot of patience. I don’t know, I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Hansen said.

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Liam’s proving he’s just as majestic and powerful as his best friend Dave.

Katie Steiner