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Santa stops for breakfast

OGDEN -- Over scrambled eggs, sausage and juice, about 50 seriously ill children chewed the fat with Santa on Saturday morning as they pitched their Christmas wish lists.
/ Source: Ogden Standard-Examiner

OGDEN -- Over scrambled eggs, sausage and juice, about 50 seriously ill children chewed the fat with Santa on Saturday morning as they pitched their Christmas wish lists. OGDEN -- Over scrambled eggs, sausage and juice, about 50 seriously ill children chewed the fat with Santa on Saturday morning as they pitched their Christmas wish lists.

The Breakfast with Santa event held by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah at the Comfort Suites hotel seemed to brighten the spirits of the children.

The kids were filled with anticipation and joy as Saint Nick made his way into the hotel's ballroom.

"Their eyes just light up when they hear his bells ring ," said Christine Ellingson, manager of volunteer services for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The children were given Christmas stockings filled with goodies and then participated in holiday arts and crafts.

For many of the kids, the event provided a day away from seemingly endless surgeries, sterile hospital rooms, and painful needles that often dominate their fragile lives. "It's a chance for them to see other children who are the way they are," Ellingson said.

The aim of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah is to provide strength and joy to children ages 21/2 to 17 with life-threatening illnesses. The chapter grants them special wishes such as meeting a celebrity, traveling to a fun destination or receiving a special gift. It grants about 140 wishes a year.

The chapter sponsors several annual events across the state for children and their families including a reunion, an Easter egg hunt, the Rubber Ducky Derby as well as Breakfast with Santa.

Alex Meeks-Cole, a 13-year-old Layton resident who suffers from neurofibromatosis, a disease that affects the development and growth of nerve cell tissues, said he particularly enjoyed Saturday's Breakfast with Santa event.

"It's just awesome what they (Make-A-Wish Foundation officials) do for little kids," said Meeks-Cole, who plans to become a foundation volunteer when he turns 16.

Meeks-Cole's favorite Make-A-Wish memory is the trip the foundation gave him in 2000 to Hawaii, where he caught a blue marlin while deep-sea fishing.

His mom, Trace Meeks, said Make-A-Wish events enable families with seriously ill children to support each other. "Parents realize there are other families that are going through the same thing so they are not alone," she said.

Jeremy Chatelain of North Ogden, whose 5-year-old daughter Sarah, is recovering from leukemia, praised the Make-A-Wish Foundation for sponsoring the Breakfast with Santa and other events.

"We love it," he said. "It makes it fun because these are things we can't do on our own."