Santa Visits American Family Children's Hospital
MADISON - Santa gave his reindeer the day off and instead arrived by fire truck to the American Family Children's Hospital where patients anxiously awaited his visit.
All of the patients waited their turn to visit with the Jolly Old Elf. And, with a little help from the nurses and child life specialists, he knew every child's name and interests.
Two-year-old Siobhan Mertz (pictured above left) a patient at American Family Children's Hospital, was shy talking to Santa, but had a big smile on her face afterward. "It was good!" she said about seeing him.
Santa's elves were of course on hand to help during the visit as well. They were all volunteers hand-picked by Santa from Madison's Local Firefighters 311, a union of firefighters and EMS from Madison, Monona and surrounding communities.
Allen Schmid, a member of Firefighters 311, explained that the Firefighters 311 raises funds for different causes throughout the year, including the gifts for the patients. They also sponsored Santa's visit.
"The staff here at the hospital does an unbelievable job coordinating Santa's visit and helping to make it possible," he said.
One young elf, Jack Mulhern, was the son of Rick, a member of Firefighters 311 and also one of the elves. The eighth grader handed the presents to each of the children as they sat and visited with Santa.
"I like to help people," said Mulhern, explaining why he wanted to come. "It feels good to help give the kids a special day."
Santa visited with more than 50 patients at the hospital, and made personal visits to the rooms of children who weren't able to come out and see him.
Santa, who is actually retired firefighter Dick Lindauer, has been visiting kids at area hospitals, including American Family Children's Hospital, for 49 years. He plans to keep going, and many of the elves will be right there with him.
Schmid concluded, "Seeing these kids really helps you appreciate the season."
Date Published: 12/18/2009