story, happened in December 1997 in Wisconsin, USA.
leukemia and was not expected to live to see Christmas. Her brother and
grandmother went to the mall to ask Mark Lenonard who was a professional Santa
Claus to visit the hospital to give Sarah the gift of hope through
encouragement and prayer.
by showing up at the mall where he worked.
came to see Santa at The Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on
santa’s lap, holding a picture of a little girl.
smiling. “Your friend? Your sister?”
sick.” – he said sadly.
grandmother who was waiting nearby and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.
you, oh, so very much, Santa!” – the child exclaimed.
encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring
him for Christmas.
grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say
something to Santa, but halted.
to ask you, Santa, but …” – the old
woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the
little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.
granddaughter well, you see … she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it
even through the holidays.” – she said through tear-filled eyes.
possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for
Christmas, is to see Santa.”
told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and
he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that
afternoon. He knew what he had to do.
that hospital bed, dying?” – he thought with a sinking heart, “This is the
least I can do.”
all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of
the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked Rick, the assistant location
manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.
look on his face.
conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day.
Rick said softly. Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa.
They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in
through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed.
be her family; there was the grandmother and the girl’s brother he had met
earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother stood by the bed,
gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead.
later was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on
her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and
closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.
smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!”
weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him.
her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son — 9 years old — gazed up
at him with wonder and excitement.
tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he
saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and
he had to force himself to choke back tears.
Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the
family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or
his hand gratefully, whispering “Thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with
and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him
she’d been a very good girl that year.
Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from
the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around
Sarah’s bed, holding hands.
asked her if she believed in angels, “Oh, yes, Santa… I do!” – she exclaimed.
watch over you.” – he said.
Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and
heal her body from this disease.
her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed,
he started singing, softly, “Silent Night, Holy Night…. all is calm, all is
hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this
moment, as Sarah beamed at them all.
the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own.
authoritatively, “you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting
well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I
expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!”
that to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he ‘had’ to. He had to
give her the greatest gift he could — not dolls or games or toys — but the gift
eyes bright. He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.
eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed.
slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa’s side to thank him.
Sarah.” – he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.”
back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves
to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his
proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to
being a ‘good’ Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the
‘only’ child in the world at that moment.
immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her
to his chest.
recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy — much
different from the little girl he had visited just a year before.
mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their
to be instrumental in bringing about — this miracle of hope. This precious
little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to
Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank you, Father. ‘This is a very, Merry
Susan Morton Leonard, Santa’s wife