Friday, December 23, 2011

The Christmas Miracle ... a True Story by Santa Mark

The Christmas Miracle

A true story written by Susan Morton Leonard, as told to her by her husband, Santa Mark Leonard

It is so humbling to realize that –- as flawed and ordinary as we are -- God can use us in miraculous ways. This very special story represents the magic and glory of the season. This is a true story, as told to me by my husband, who was a professional Santa Claus, of a real Christmas miracle which he was blessed to have experienced. A story that I think will cause YOU to believe ...

Thank you, Dr. Lisa Christiansen, for having your team create this video. They used the audio version of this story (below), created by WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio, and photos from our "The Christmas Miracle, a True Story by Santa Mark" Facebook page*. 

For the audio version of the story, click on the audio icon below,
courtesy of 
WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio in Janesville, WI*:

Here is the podcast of the radio interview 12/21/15 with WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio in Janesville, WI, featuring Talk Show Host and Operations Manager Tim Bremel, Santa Mark Leonard, Susan Morton Leonard, and Dr. Lisa Christiansen:

The Christmas Miracle ... a True Story by Santa Mark

In December 1997, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. "Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?" 

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but …” the woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "The girl in the photograph, my granddaughter ... well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa, any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital. "Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon, I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in.  Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Billy Ray, Miley Cyrus and Santa Mark
Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family – there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes in tact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug.  A child the tender age of his own son – 9 years old – gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intently at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

"Oh, yes, Santa, I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you," he said.

Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.  The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, and tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah," he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!" He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he had to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could – not dolls or games or toys – but the gift of HOPE.

Richard Gere and Santa Mark
"Yes, Santa!" Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. "Hi, Santa! Remember me?"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed, as he always does, smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a ‘good’ Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the ‘only’ child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!"

Santa's jaw dropped.  Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy – much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed – and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about – this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well.

He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank you, Father. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!

© 2000-2015 Susan Morton Leonard

All content in this blog post is copyrighted and may not be copied, used or distributed, whole or in part, without written permission. However, sharing of the URL is permissable.

Santa Mark was a natural-bearded, professional Santa Claus 1993-2003 in Danbury, CT; Franklin, TN; Wauwatosa, WI; and Long Island, NY. Santa Mark was blessed to have been featured as Santa Claus on The Green Bay Packers’ Christmas Special, a syndicated "Pack Attack" TV special taped at Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, Lombardi, in Milwaukee in 1999.  He enjoyed being asked to portray Santa Claus, with scripted lines, in Nashville for the Billy Gilman Classic Christmas TV special which aired in 2000 on TNN. Santa Mark was voted "The Best Santa in the Greater Milwaukee Area" from 1995-1999 (five years in a row) by radio station WOKY through a listener call-in poll. He has also been featured in many local newspapers and by local TV stations in each city where he has served as Santa, and additionally in Knoxville, TN, where we lived most of those 11 years while he was "Santa". While these were wonderful experiences and are fond memories, the single most significant occurrence during Mark's time as Santa (and in his entire life) was when God used Mark in a true Christmas Miracle that we are so humbled to share with you above. God can use all of us, as ordinary and flawed as we are. We are mere vessels through which the Holy Spirit can operate in this physical realm. This experience has blessed us beyond measure! May God bless each and every one of you and have a very Merry Christmas!

* Thank you, WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio in Janesville, WI, for contacting us to do an on-air interview next week to share our "The Christmas Miracle" story.  Thank you, Timothy W. Bremel, WCLO Operations Manager / Talk Show Host, for being so gracious and kind, and for your desire to bless your listeners with this uplifting story. We asked our new friend, Dr. Lisa Christiansen, to join WCLO Radio for this on-air interview. She featured our story on her Facebook Fan Page on Dec. 7, 2015, and at present, in just nine days,  it has reached more than 50 million people, has been shared more than 200,000 times, and has more than 100,000 "Likes". Wow, amazing! ISN'T GOD GOOD? :)  Dr. Lisa is a best-selling author, life coach, motivational speaker, business consultant, and personal empowerment expert. After the segment airs, we will post a link to it. Thank you, WCLO, for producing an audio narration of the story, which was used in the subsequent making of a video by Dr. Lisa. Both are at the top of this page. 
-- Susan Leonard 12/16/15

This story is featured, along with other heartwarming stories, in the hardback book Christmas Miracles. 
Guideposts, New York; 2008 ISBN 978-0-8249-4742-2 (pp. 204-210) and can be purchased here:

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Anonymous said...

Love this story.

Tammy Doane said...

A great story.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and perfect. the true spirit of Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Very special and inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

A beautiful story,very touching and inspiring.Thank You Lord For Saving Sarah's Life.Santa Mark u r a blessing!

Sherry Wallace said...

Ive heard this before and each time I cry. Mark, thank you for your faith and love. Love you and Susan. Miss singing with you. Always had a joyous time.

Susan said...

Thank you, Sherry. We miss you and love you too!

Trendymother said...

I love your story Susan, it's is very inspiring. Can I have your permission to publish on my blog - Full credit will be yours and your blog address published too. I can be reached on Thank you

Trendymother said...

I love your story Susan, it's is very inspiring. Can I have your permission to publish on my blog - Full credit will be yours and your blog address published too. I can be reached on Thank you

Susan said...

Absolutely! Feel free to share, and thank you for asking for permission first. :) Many blessings to you and yours!!

Unknown said...

I almost cried reading this. He is an amazing man for doing what he did. God bless him...

Anonymous said...

I did cry reading this miracle article. As a nurse I have seen many tragic cases and watched many patients die. I also have seen miracles where we thought that the patient would die but by some miracle they survived. I have come to believe that when it is our time to die there is nothing we or anyone can do to prevent it from happening.

Susan said...

Thank you for offering your service as a nurse! Praise God for miracles of all kinds. Sometimes miracles of healing are seen here on earth and sometimes healing is received in Heaven, where they they are given their new bodies in Christ, free from sickness, disease, pain and suffering. May God bless you this wonderful Christmas season!

Debra Brown said...

Hi Susan! What a wonderful story this was and what a Blessed feeling it must be to have been a part of it. My sister posted the story on FB and it truly hit home with us because our step brother played Santa from the time he was eighteen until he passed away this past year. He was in Georgia and we know that he touched many lives himself during those years. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It does remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.

Debra Brown

Susan said...

Thank you for your comment, Debra! Oh yes, this entire experience has been such a blessing and so humbling, too! That is amazing that your stepbrother was a Santa for so many years! And he was here in GA, too! Many blessings to you and yours!