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5 Year Old Boy Dies In Santa’s Arms As He Get’s His Final Wish

From Arizona Republic newspaper

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Eric Schmitt-Matzen looks every bit the Santa Claus.

His 6-foot frame carries 310 pounds, leaving “just enough of a lap for the kids to sit on,” he says with a gentle Kringley chuckle right out of Central Casting.

No fake facial fuzz for this guy. Schmitt-Matzen’s snowy beard is the real thing, albeit regularly bleached to maintain its whiteness. His shag is so spectacular, in fact, it won first place in the “natural full beard, styled moustache” division of a 2016 national contest sponsored by the Just For Men hair products company.

He’s professionally trained. Custom-tailored in red. Was born on Dec. 6 (that’s Saint Nicholas Day — are you surprised?) Works approximately 80 gigs annually. Wife Sharon plays an authentic Mrs. Claus. His cellphone, with a Jingle Bells ringtone, continually counts down the days until Christmas. Even his civilian attire always includes Santa suspenders.

The whole shtick is designed to spread joy and have fun.

Which it does – except for the role he played several weeks ago at a local hospital.

“I cried all the way home,” Schmitt-Matzen told me. “I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive.

“My wife and I were scheduled to visit our grandchildren in Nashville the next day, but I told her to go by herself. I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time. Actually, I thought I might crack up and never be able to play the part again.”

This is what happens when a terminally ill child dies in Santa’s arms.

“I’d just gotten home from work that day,” recalled Schmitt-Matzen, 60, a mechanical engineer and president of Packing Seals & Engineering in Jacksboro.

“The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.

“I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’ ”

Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital in 15 minutes. He met the lad’s mother and several family members.

“She’d bought a toy from (the TV show) PAW Patrol and wanted me to give it to him,” he said, voice growing husky. “I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job.’ ”

 

Full Story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/11/cried-all-way-home-santa-claus-grants-final-wish-dying-child/95315536/?hootPostID=60e84399ad033fdd6f87f6f9ac50ebf5

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