By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 200 children from the hematology department at St. Christopher’s Hospital enjoyed a day filled with holiday fun at the Sheraton downtown Sunday afternoon.
“Santa Claus came 26,418 miles down to see them two weeks in advance,” says Jim McCloskey aka “Secret Santa,” who works with the non-profit Committee to Benefit the Children (CBC).
The three-decades old non-profit brought in Santa, face painting, holiday goodies and much more to children who spent the last few years fighting blood diseases at St. Christopher’s. But the good news is they are winning.
“When we started this thing, only four percent of the children lived,” says McCloskey. “90% of them make it today.”
CBC’s holiday celebrations for the children and their families is twofold. First, a Christmas party for the kids in remission (today). And on Christmas Eve, a home visit from Santa for more than 100 kids with advance stage diseases.
“We want them to know that they are a special person in the eyes of Santa Claus,” says McCloskey, “and we want families to know that they are not by themselves. We’re there for them.”
Tara Laskey is a mother of two, and her son Tyler, 9, has megaloblastic anemia. Thanks to her father, she is able to take care of Tyler, but there’s a lot to do.
“There are blood transfusions, he can turn completely yellow, he has to wear a spleen guard,” says Laskey.
But today, Laskey and the whole family could relax and forget about the battle, if only for one day.
“It’s just nice for him to have fun and see Santa,” she says.
As for Tyler, the party has him looking forward to…
“Presents,” he says, smiling. “I want the entire Lego set.”
For more on Committee to Benefit Children, go to cbckids.org.