Santa is famous for his gift-giving and wish-granting abilities. But none of those wishes are as powerful as the one professional Santa portrayer Eric Schmitt-Matzen was able to grant for a young, terminally ill child in Tennessee.
Sam Venable of the News Sentinel reports the gift started when Schmitt-Matzen received a call from a nurse at the local hospital. She informed him that there was a very sick 5-year-old who wanted to see Santa. Naturally, the good-hearted man headed straight to the hospital to see the boy.
Sadly, the boy only had a little longer to live, and this would be the last time he would have the chance to see Santa. After rushing to the hospital, Schmitt-Matzen met with the family who gave him a gift to give to the child.
Inside the intensive care unit, the young boy and Santa exchanged what would be the boy's last conversation.
"'They say I'm gonna die,' he told me. 'How can I tell when I get to where I'm going?' I said, 'Can you do me a big favor?' He said, 'Sure!' 'When you get there, you tell 'em you're Santa's Number One elf, and I know they'll let you in. He said, 'They will?' I said, 'Sure!' He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: 'Santa, can you help me?' I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.'
Even though he was able to grant the dying boy's last wish, Schmitt-Matzen said the event took a huge toll on him. In fact, Schmitt-Matzen says he was ready to give up his job as Santa permanently.
"I cried all the way home," Schmitt-Matzen said. "I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive."
Schmitt says it took him a few days to convince himself to play one last show. But when he saw all the smiling children ready to sit on Santa's lap, he realized that he was just where he needed to be.