Santa Closes His Eyes With Sleeping Boy For Touching Reason
Kristin Danley 12/5/2018
Samantha and Josh Wade were so excited to take their toddler Ryland to the Belden Village Mall in Canton, Ohio, to see Santa. But their special outing didn't quite go as planned due to Ryland's medical condition.
If startled by something as simple as someone's sneeze or a dog barking, Ryland will begin experiencing seizures. Some days he can endure as many has half a dozen because of his epilepsy; he also has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy rendering him unable to speak, walk or eat on his own.
But Ryland has the best attitude and is always smiling, his mom told TODAY. Samantha and Josh vowed to never deny Ryland any childhood experience he can enjoy simply because of his health condition.
So they dressed him for a special photo shoot with Santa at the mall called "Soothing Santa." It was a sensory friendly experience for youth with special needs.
The morning of Ryland's scheduled visit with Santa, he had a seizure at home that left him very sleepy. Samantha and Josh were bound and determined for their little guy to still see Santa, so they bundled him up and headed to the mall.
But Ryland fell asleep in Samantha's arms while they walked to Santa's North Pole. As Samantha gingerly laid Ryland down on Santa's lap, she explained how he had suffered a seizure that morning and probably wouldn't wake up for their photo.
"Santa said, ‘That's just fine.' Santa kind of held him close, and then he started talking to Ryland."
Santa spoke softly and rubbed Ryland's arm. His mom recalls him saying,
"'I know you're sleepy, but I'm here.'"
Then Santa leaned his head down gently onto Ryland's and closed his eyes, creating the most amazing moment in time. Samantha couldn't believe how their photo turned out.
She explained to TODAY:
"Sometimes, that's just what Ryland needs, somebody to sit with him, and Santa just seemed to know that. It made for an awesome picture. I would rather have that than Santa smiling at the camera while Ryland is sleeping on his knee. Santa went with the flow. It was perfect."
The mall's marketing director Gina Bannevich said Santa has a "special spot in his heart for children with special needs." It was the perfect meeting between Ryland and Santa, Samantha said.
"Just that somebody was intuitive enough to know that Ryland wasn't going to wake up, he wasn't going to talk back and know it was time to relax a little bit and not expect more than what he should have. It made for a memorable Christmas."
Samantha shared the precious photo on the Facebook page The Mighty, a website highlighting people with disabilities. She wanted everyone to know that there are indeed Santas who will take the time to sit with a special needs child and enjoy them.
People around the world instantly fell in love with Ryland's photo. Isn't it just adorable?