Santa Claus isn’t an easy role to fill, but Eric Schmitt-Matzen of Knoxville, Tennessee, has managed to spread Christmas cheer for many years. Weighing in at 310 pounds and standing 6-feet tall, he looks every bit the part of old St. Nick.
Eric takes his job as Kris Kringle very seriously, so when he received a call about a terminally ill 5-year-old boy who was asking for Santa, he knew just what he had to do–he immediately hurried to the hospital and got there in about fifteen minutes. There, Eric met the boy’s brother and other family members and handed a toy to the mother to give to her son.
“He was more concerned about missing Christmas, than dying,” Eric recalled to WBIR 10News. “When I got there, it was my job to make sure he got Christmas.” Afraid that he would break down in tears, Eric asked everyone else to leave the room.
After a heartfelt conversation with the boy, Eric alleges that the 5-year-old reached out to him for an embrace and quickly died in his arms. While some skeptics are raising concerns about details of Eric’s story, he’s sticking to it.