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Published: Fri, December 16, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Terminally ill Tennessean boy, 5, dies in Santa Claus's arms


A festive survey was conducted by Columbus Direct of 100 primary school children aged between five and 11, in October this year.

Because yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus - and he is nothing but love and generosity and devotion. His long white beard and curled mustache makes him flawless for the part. At 310 pounds and 6-feet tall with, as he put it to the Knoxville News Sentinel, "just enough of a lap for the kids to sit on", his stature fits the part.

Schmitt-Matzen, a mechanical engineer who heads a company in Jacksboro and an Army veteran, said it took him days to recover, but he is continuing to play Santa.

Mr Schmitt-Matzen first told the sad story to Knoxville News Sentinel and it has since gained national attention.

A few weeks ago, his cellphone began dinging out the melody to "Jingle Bells", so he picked it up. 54 percent of children will still leave out milk for Santa this year though, and 38 percent will leave him cookies.

Schmitt-Matzen nearly hung up his Santa hat that day, but when he thought about the impact he can make on children's lives, like that little boy's, he made a decision to stick around - at least one more year. "It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital".

A terminally ill boy died moments after his final wish - to meet Santa Claus - was fulfilled by a kind-hearted impersonator who rushed to the child's bedside. He cleared the room for fear that he would start to cry, and his mother handed over a gift to give the boy, a toy that he had been wanting. "It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time", he told the News-Sentinel.

"When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep".

Schmitt-Matzen recalled that the boy "was more concerned about missing Christmas than he was about dying" for most of their conversation, but knew that he did not have long to live. "Go, get. We do tell them the truth". There's no way you can miss Christmas'. "They say I'm gonna die. We don't need you coming over here blabbing whatever the hell you're blabbing", a parent was heard saying in the video.

While the child could barely tear away the wrapping paper, he was elated when he saw what the gift was, then chose to ask Santa a very big question. When he saw the toy, he smiled.

Schmitt-Matzen considered hanging up his red suit but saw some children laughing and playing and then changed his mind.

"You sure are. I'm sure they'll let you right in".

"... it was my job to make sure he got Christmas", Schmitt-Matzen told NBC WBIR in an interview.

'When you get there, you tell them you're Santa's Number One elf, and I know they'll let you in, ' he told the boy.

"I said, 'Can you do me a big favor?'

It made me realize the role I have to play", Schmitt-Matzen said.

"I wrapped my arms around him".

"His mother ran in".

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