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Santa makes special holiday visit to children in pediatric ward at YRMC
Santa made an early stop Monday morning to the pediatric ward at Yuma Regional Medical Center to visit with some children who thought they might not get to see him this year because they were in the hospital.
And of course, he didn't come empty-handed. Santa, played by Al Jones, went to the rooms of several sick children, dropping off stockings filled with candy, stickers, stuffed animals and other toys. He was accompanied by Mrs. Claus, a couple of elf volunteers and Sgt. Leanne Worthen of the Yuma Police Department.
“This is just a brief moment out of my delivery schedule tonight,” Santa told the Yuma Sun. “Being in the hospital on Christmas Eve and being sick, it just kind of breaks your heart. So if I can come and give them a moment of joy, it makes it so much better.”
Santa also gave red carnations to the nurses who were on duty. The toys he gave the children were donated by local businesses.
In the first room he visited, Santa found 3-month-old Kane Notah and his parents. While Kane may be too young to remember his special visitor, his parents were very appreciative.
“I liked it,” mother Adelaida Flores said. “It was nice. I haven't seen Santa in awhile.”
Before leaving, Santa gave Kane a large stuffed teddy bear, a small stuffed donkey, some candy and jars of Play-Doh.
In another room, Santa found 12-year-old Esaile Valenzuela, whose face lit up as soon as he entered the room.
“I'm happy,” Valenzuela said after his visit.
Valenzuela's mother, Lupe Ibarra, said her son was back in the hospital with an infection after his appendix had ruptured a few days ago. She said they would find out some time later in the day if her son would need surgery.
Given everything her son has been through, Ibarra said it was good to see him excited and happy. “He is so shy, but he had a really big smile on his face.”
After giving Valenzuela a stocking and a teddy bear and spending a few minutes talking to him and his parents, Santa told him that he wanted him to get better soon.
With fewer children to see this year than he normally sees at YRMC, Santa had some toys left over. Worthen said any leftover toys were given to the emergency room for doctors and nurses to hand out to children who come to the hospital during the holiday.
After making his rounds at the hospital, Santa — given it is his busiest day of the year — had to get back to delivering toys to other children around the world.
“This actually makes my heart feel better, too,” Santa said of his holiday hospital visit.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.