First he jingles some bells. Then Santa gives a hearty “Ho Ho Ho!” from the North Pole TV studio in his busy workshop.
Next the elves start singing “Oh what fun it is to ride...” as they walk toward the cancer unit at Miami Children’s Hospital. Cisco Technology made it possible for patients to have a virtual visit with jolly St. Nick.
12-year-old Kevin Perez has Ewing’s Sarcoma, a tumor that started in his hip area.
His mother Ari says they’ve been in and out of the hospital a lot this year. “We’ve been here now for 10 days, but we’ve been here for eight months, and I think this is wonderful for the kids because they get presents, they get to see Santa,” she said. The presents are delivered by volunteer elves. “I’ve never done something like this. I mean, to see Santa and all the elves,” said Kevin, who got a Flip camera. Darius Johnson, 10, is just down the hall. He has a sarcoma in his right leg and wasn’t feeling well on Wednesday.
“Since Thanksgiving in and out. Goes home and he comes back. But he’s going to make it. He’s going to make it, yes” said his grandmother Jo Ann Johnson of Coconut Grove. Santa is on a flat screen monitor on top of a rolling cart covered with a reindeer costume. The cart makes stops at several rooms. “Amanda Hello. How are you?” he asks. Amanda Lugones, 4, is getting treatment for a brain tumor. Santa knew exactly what she wanted: a Barbie. “This is so special for me to do this. It has something in my heart that brings me joy” said Santa. The youngest patient was 22-month-old Patrick Edwards who had a tumor in his kidney. “That’s such a neat way to connect with this generation too. They love this technology” said his mother Elizabeth Edwards of Homestead. The Santa Connection program is taking place here and 15 other children’s hospitals across the country. Before Christmas there will virtual visits to about 1,500 pediatric patients.