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One Last Wish

Helena Ekonomo, Staff Writer

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A 5-year old boy suffering from a terminal disease died happily in Santa’s, Eric Schmitt-Matzen, arms on the 12th of December.

Eric Schmitt-Matzen, is a 60-year-old Santa look alike, who makes little kids happy every Christmas season. Schmitt has more than 80 gigs during the holidays.

The five year old was staying in a hospital in Tennessee and only had a few minutes left to live when a nurse called Schmitt-Matzen for an emergency visit.

Schmitt-Matzen had no time to put his entire Santa costume, only his suspenders.

When he arrived to the hospital he found the little boy in bed and his family waiting for his arrival.

He implored the family to not cry, “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,’” he claimed.

The little boy’s mom gave him a Paw Patrol toy to hand to her son.

“Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!” Schmitt-Matzen tried to cheer up the boy.

The boy had some momentary happiness to hear he was Santa’s number one elf. Schmitt-Matzen was surprised with what he responded with.

“They say I’m gonna die, how can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”

Schmitt replied, “When you get there, you tell ‘em you’re Santa’s number one elf, and I know they’ll let you in.”

“He was more concerned about missing Christmas, than dying,” said Schmitt-Matzen

Schmitt-Matzen says “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.”

The mom soon rushed back into the room crying, a nurse followed suit.

Schmitt-Matzen left the hospital crying. To the extent that he couldn’t drive because his tears blurred his vision.

Schmitt-Matzen says he spent four years in the army with the 75th Rangers and he had seen his share of tragedies. Yet he couldn’t stop the tears that came when he ran past the nurses’ station sobbing.

Schmitt-Matzen shared this story with NBC affiliate WBIR in an interview. He explains how he answered the call to grant one child’s final wish to see Saint Nick before he died. In the few days after the interview, this story has been in the news and has been shared countless of times on social media. People have been showing their support and gratitude towards Schmitt-Matzen.

These kind words have helped him. He thought he would never be able to play Santa Claus again because he thought he would start crying during every gig.  He even skipped on visiting his grandchildren. However, Schmitt-Matzen eventually found the courage to slip back on his red Santa Claus suit. “When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold,” he told the News. “It made me realize the role I have to play. For them and for me.”

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MHS Student News
One Last Wish