The story revolves around a 5-year-old boy facing a terminal illness, expressing his final heartfelt wish

I always wondered how much fun people who play Santa have during the festive season. It must be a tough job because you have to meet the expectations of every child you see, which would be hard for me. But there must be a great feeling of satisfaction at the end of each day.

A good Santa can make all little kids smile, even if they are feeling down. Just knowing they’re bringing magic to a world that really needs it must feel like a soothing balm for the soul.

Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a mechanical engineer and co-owner of Packaging Seals & Engineering, plays the role of Santa Claus for events and gigs each year. Recently, he experienced a difficult and sad situation unlike any other Santa’s usually encounter.

In 2016, Eric Schmitt-Matzen got a sudden call when he came home from work. The call was from a hospital in Tennessee. A nurse explained that a five-year-old boy who had a fatal illness was not expected to live much longer and had a last wish to meet Santa.

Eric quickly went to the hospital and talked to the boy’s mom. She gave him the present that her son really wanted for Christmas: a Paw Patrol toy. Eric took the gift and told the family to wait outside. He didn’t want to cry in front of the child if the family got emotional.

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According to Eric, he went into the special care part of the hospital, sat at the end of the boy’s bed, and said, “I heard you might miss Christmas this year. What’s going on?”

After the boy opened the gift, he said, “They say I’m going to die. How will I know when I get to where I’m going?” Reportedly, Eric then asked the boy for a special favor.

He said, “When you reach the Pearly Gates, just tell them you’re Santa’s top elf, and I’m sure they’ll let you in.” The little boy sat up, hugged Eric tightly, and, as Eric later shared with the press, the five-year-old passed away while in his arms.

The man explained, “He was in my arms when I felt him go,”

“I served four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers. I’ve seen a lot. But I ran past the nurses’ station and screamed out my eyes.”

Sources say Eric’s sad experience made him wonder if he still wanted to be Santa. However, after making himself go to an event the next day, he remembered what initially convinced him to become Santa in the first place and the love, laughter, and joy of the children he met.

Shortly after Eric’s story gained widespread attention in December 2016, doubts emerged about its accuracy. The Knoxville News Sentinel, the first to report the story, added a note at the beginning of its article stating that it couldn’t confirm Eric’s account independently.

In response, Eric expressed feelings hurt by the skepticism about the truthfulness of his story. He shared this sentiment through a text message, stating that he felt used and abandoned, as reported by TIME.

“I made it clear from the start that I planned to stick to my promise and not share any details that could reveal the people’s identity.”

He also said, “Now people say I am not telling the truth. I wanted to do something good, was convinced to share my story, and now the media is making fun of me for sticking to my beliefs.”

If Eric’s act touched your heart, please leave a comment in the box below.

Brenda A. Maples
Brenda A. Maples