Santa Claus made a special visit to the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda on Dec. 10 to spend a little extra time with some very sick but couragous children.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit that grants wishes to children battling life-threatening medical conditions, invited families from the Washington, D.C. area to a private screening at The Movies at Montgomery Mall. Five families whose children are awaiting their wishes from the foundation wrote letters to Santa, and watched “Yes, Virginia” with Kris Kringle, who also read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
“The event is awesome,” said Vilma Bembo of Waldorf, whose 9-year-old son has stage four gliomatosis cerebri, a rare brain cancer. She said it was her son’s first outing since being released from the hospital several weeks ago, where doctors at Children’s National Medical Center in D.C. removed a lesion from his brain.
Fatou Mboge of Rockville said she asked Santa for Dora the Explorer. The 5-year-old is waiting for a trip to Disney World, said Make-A-Wish spokeswoman Tara Wilson-Jones. She said Fatou has neuroblastoma, and likely will face lifelong cognitive disabilities due to a stroke.
Gabriella LaPointe of Gaithersburg, who suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, asked Santa for Barbie Popstar and an iPad, she said after the event. A fashion lover, the 4-year-old outfitted herself in her favorite color for the occasion, topping off a hot pink outfit with a hot pink, sequined hat.
She is waiting for Make-A-Wish to send her and her family on a trip to Paris, said her mother, Marizol LaPointe.
“It’s because she loves fashion shows,” Marizol LaPointe said of their impending trip to France. “I always ask, ‘What do you want to be when you grow?’ She say, ‘I want to be a popstar and model, and I want to be a doctor to help the kids.’“
Santa also met with the general public that evening. Attendees were treated to special performances by students from Yorktown Elementary School in Bowie, and the Teen Angel Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to bring joy through song and dance. TAP includes middle and high school students who rehearse at The Bullis School in Potomac and offer free performances to the community, according to their website.
The event was part of Macy’s annual “Believe” campaign, which started five years ago and raises money for Make-A-Wish, according to a press release from Macy’s. People of all ages are invited to mail a letter to Santa Claus using Macy’s Santa Mail letterboxes, which are located in every store. Macy’s donates $1 for each letter, up to $1 million. Letter boxes can be located by asking any associate.
Santa Claus, who is in the middle of a 26-city tour as part of the “Believe” campaign, encouraged people to help the cause by dropping off their letters at Macy’s.
“I will get each and every one of them,” Santa said.