FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In a little more than a week, Santa Claus will be visiting children all over the world. Sunday afternoon, however, he made a special visit to some very special kids.
They traded their sleigh for a vehicle with four wheels. And instead of the chimney, they settled for the front door.
“We look forward to this all year,” Mrs. Claus told FOX31.
The rest of the year, Mrs. Claus uses the disguise “Tina Olson” to help organize with the Secret Sleigh Project. The group coordinates home visits for Santa and Mrs. Claus with medically fragile children.
“A lot of these children have immunity deficiencies and can’t get out to see Santa in public, so Santa comes to see them,” she said.
Many of the children use wheelchairs to get around. Several have breathing tubes or other medical conditions that make home visits much easier on the families.
“We start waiting the day after Christmas for the next year,” Debbie Hogfeldt of Windsor said.
The Hogfeldts have adopted seven children with special needs. Santa and Mrs. Clause got to spend one-on-one time with each one.
Hogfelt says the home visit is important because it lets her children experience the same joy as every other child during Christmastime.
“Like almost like you want to cry. Seriously. Just that big well of emotion,” she said.
The Secret Sleigh Project began four years ago with one family in Fort Collins. It has since grown to almost every state and several countries on nearly every continent.
“We’re out here trying to bring some happiness and some cheer into what we know can sometimes be very challenging and difficult homes,” Santa, who uses the disguise “Stephen Roth”, told FOX31.
Santa says he cherishes each moment during the home visits because it may be some children's last Christmas.
“It still breaks me up. Going into a house and knowing that next year, when you go around to visit those kids, that little guy might not be there anymore,” he said. “When you know that that might be the last time they get this kind of thing, for me, it tears my heart out.”
The visits are as joyful as possible. They sing, dance and, if possible, talk about what the children want for Christmas.
The Secret Sleigh Project is always in need of more volunteer Santas and elves. If you want to help or if you are a family in need of a home visit, you can find all of the information on their Facebook page.AlertMe