In storybooks, Christmas is more than reindeer and sleigh bells. It’s a holiday of light and hope—a day to look forward to in the midst of cold, dark winters. This was especially true for four-year-old Jacob.
Jacob was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was just two years old. At age three, he and his family were dealt another blow when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Jacob and his family traveled from their isolated village of Shaktoolik, Alaska— a town with one street and no roads in or out—to Seattle Children’s Hospital for Jacob’s chemotherapy treatment.
After spending the long winter months in a hospital bed in Seattle, Jacob returned home with one wish: to have Christmas with his family.
Jacob, an extraordinary little boy, had made an extraordinary wish. His village of less than 250 people had no grocery store or even running water. It was going to take many hearts and hands to make Jacob’s wish come true, and Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington was up for the challenge.
On a brisk February morning, Santa and two of his elves traded in their sleigh for an airplane filled with gifts, treats and food from Nome, Alaska.
With a boisterous “ho, ho, ho” and eight giant bags of toys, Santa and his elves were met with smiles from the whole family. “No one was left out that day,” said Santa Paul of Nome. “But Jacob certainly got the most, and he had a great time playing with his new rescue fire engine.”
What kind of celebration would it be if it wasn’t topped off with a cake? A North Pole specialty, Jacob’s cake was custom-made and carefully delivered from Nome, complete with two of Jacob’s favorite things: Thomas the Train and bulldozers. Later that day, the whole village hosted a potluck dinner, exhibiting the true spirit of Christmas and community support.
When it was time to leave, Jacob gave Santa Paul a big hug. “He seemed real happy,” Santa said. “It was an honor to be there and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Christmas for Jacob’s family was a day of joy they could cherish with each other. “It was a great opportunity for Jacob and his family to have a special moment together,” said Nicole Sheldon, Regional Director of Make-A-Wish Alaska.
A wish never fades:
Sadly, Jacob lost his battle with leukemia. Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington is proud to have brought hope, strength and joy into his life, as well as the lives of his family members and community.
Special thanks: Kawerak Inc., Santa Paul, city of Nome, Everets Air Service, Bering Air, Nome Trading Post, Fred Meyer, and Make-A-Wish trustee Amy Fredeen.