A local Santa Claus recognized for his calming presence and skills in handling special needs children has done it again.
He helped a North Texas family walk away with something they’ll always treasure.
Lasting memories are just a flash away for many families during the holidays.
But settling in for that perfect picture with St. Nick can feel out of reach for many families.
“We don’t have any pictures like that,” said Kayse Barrow as she plays on the floor with her son, Brantley.
Barrow hoped her non-verbal son with autism would be able to take the first picture with Santa since he was an infant.
The family drove to Cabela’s in Fort Worth on Sunday and anxiety set in.
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“Are we going to wait two hours in line for him to have a meltdown,” she wondered. “Is he going to try and bolt?”
By the time it was their turn, mom and stepdad forgot to tell Santa something.
“Santa is kind of wrestling with Brantly,” she said.
“I just told mom I was having trouble holding him,” recalled Santa. “That he was very strong.”
Mom then told Santa, ‘he’s autistic.’
“And he lit up,” she said. “Like almost like he was happy to hear that.”
“I told her ‘now I know how to handle it,” said Santa.
Barrow said Santa scooped up her son and put his hands underneath his legs.
“Stood up, gave him a deep hug, called him by name and told him everything was going to be okay,” said Santa. “Deep pressure hugs and you have to lower your voice and you have to treat them with respect that they deserve.”
A magical touch, mom thought, until Santa leaned in.
“Santa whispers in my ear, 'Santa has an autistic daughter.’ And I was like oh my gosh,” she said. “He said Santa’s daughter is 44 so you’ve got a lot more time.”
In the end, the picture the family received with their visit is worth more than words.
“It means everything to have that picture, have our family all together and happy and calm,” said Barrow.
A gift for Christmas, thanks to a special heart with the right touch.
“I’m ecstatic to help,” said Santa. “Christmas is about giving and it’s about love and it’s about sharing.”
“He was so incredible, so kind, so sweet,” said Barrow. “Everything Santa should be but this man was extra. Best Santa ever.”
Cabela’s in Fort Worth is inviting families with special needs children to visit with the American Sign Language-fluent and special-needs trained Santa on Thursday, December 19 from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Each child will get to share their Christmas wishes with St. Nick and receive a free photo of the visit, according to Cabela’s.