With Christmas just a week away, children around the world are eagerly awaiting Santa’s visit. However, some might not get another Christmas, and so Santa made an early visit to some very special kids on Sunday, Dec. 16.
Instead of a chimney, they’re using a front door.
It’s the one day of the year that Santa and Mrs. Claus can take a break from the mall and go house-to-house instead.
“We look forward to this all year,” Mrs. Claus told Fox News.
For the rest of the year, Mrs. Claus uses the disguise “Tina Olson” to help organize with the Secret Sleigh Project. The project provides medically fragile children all over the United States the opportunity to meet Santa in their own homes.
“A lot of these children have immunity deficiencies and can’t get out to see Santa in public, so Santa comes to see them,” she said.
“We’re out visiting seriously some of the most miraculous families,” Santa, who uses the disguise “Stephen Roth,” told Fox News.
Many of the children use wheelchairs to get around.
Several have breathing tubes or other medical conditions that make it hard to impossible for them to see Santa outside.
Home visits offer the children an opportunity to enjoy the same joys as everyone else.
“We start waiting the day after Christmas for the next year,” Debbie Hogfeldt of Windsor told Fox News.
The Hogfeldts adopted seven children with special needs. Santa and Mrs. Claus spent quality time with each of them. Watching her adopted children interact with Santa and Mrs. Claus makes her emotional every time.
“Like almost like you want to cry,” she said. “Seriously. Just that big well of emotion.”
The Secret Sleigh Project began in 2015, after a mother was saddened by the thought that her daughter wouldn’t be able to visit Santa after a diagnosis requiring new machines meant new care-taking efforts were needed. She remembered feeling disappointed.
But then she pictured Santa walking into her daughter’s room and how her daughter’s face would light up with a giant smile upon seeing him. She thought to herself, “Why not see if that can happen?”
And happen it did.
That year, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and some remarkable elves visited 16 children. The next year, more than 50. And last year, it went international and over 300 children received magical home visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
One mother’s wish has now manifested into bringing joy to hundreds of children.
“We’re out here trying to bring some happiness and some cheer into what we know can sometimes be very challenging and difficult homes,” Santa said.
The visits are as joyful as possible. There’s singing, dancing, and, if possible, talk about what the children would like for Christmas.
Santa said he cherishes each moment during the home visits because for some children, it might be their last Christmas.
“It still breaks me up. Going into a house and knowing that next year, when you go around to visit those kids, that little guy might not be there anymore,” he said. “When you know that that might be the last time they get this kind of thing, for me, it tears my heart out.”
That knowledge makes every laugh, every hug, that much more precious.