For the last nine years, Eric Schmitt-Matzen has dressed up as Santa to spread joy around Knoxville, Tennessee.
A few weeks ago, he also brought peace to a five-year-old terminally ill boy, who ended up dying in his arms.
The 60-year-old Schmitt-Matzen was working at his day job as a mechanical engineer in Jacksboro when a nurse called him from a nearby hospital.
The name of the hospital is not being named out of the privacy of the parents.
“She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus,” Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’” She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’”
When Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital, he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit where he met the boy’s family and was given a toy to give to him.
Schmitt-Matzen also gave the boy a pep talk.
“I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!
“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’”
Schmitt-Matzen said the boy then asked him point blank: “They say I’m gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”
The kindly Kris Kringle figure told the boy to just tell everyone “you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.”
Schmitt-Matzen then hugged the boy as the child died in his arms.
The story has since gone viral and is touching people based on social media comments.