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updated: 12/9/2017 3:31 PM

Santa lifts kids' spirits at Marianjoy hospital in Wheaton

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  • William Lackland, 5, of Elgin sings Christmas carols into a microphone held by speech therapist Rima Birutis as 176 children gather to visit with Santa Saturday at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton. William had brain surgery earlier in 2017 and had to relearn how to walk and talk, but now he loves to sing.

      William Lackland, 5, of Elgin sings Christmas carols into a microphone held by speech therapist Rima Birutis as 176 children gather to visit with Santa Saturday at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton. William had brain surgery earlier in 2017 and had to relearn how to walk and talk, but now he loves to sing.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Taylor Alyssa Davis Dahlhauser, 7, of Wheaton hugs Santa Claus as he arrives for a visit with children Saturday at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton.

      Taylor Alyssa Davis Dahlhauser, 7, of Wheaton hugs Santa Claus as he arrives for a visit with children Saturday at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Summer Chylewski, 10, of Lombard visits with physical therapist Ginny Girton Saturday at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton.

      Summer Chylewski, 10, of Lombard visits with physical therapist Ginny Girton Saturday at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
Daily Herald report

Santa Claus and his elves made an early visit to more than 175 youngsters Saturday at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton.

The 10th annual Toys for Tots event at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital was an opportunity for young patients with disabilities to interact with Santa and receive gifts in a safe, fun and accessible environment.

"Our goal at Marianjoy is to help our pediatric patients with disabilities experience a fulfilling lifestyle," said Ginny Girten, Marianjoy pediatric program coordinator and physical therapist. "Being able to have a fun holiday visit with Santa, in this environment where he and his helpers are so understanding and compassionate to their unique needs -- it means the world to these kids and their families."

Girten said specific toys were chosen that are well-suited to the kids' disabilities so they could have as much fun as possible.

Toys for Tots has partnered with Marianjoy for a decade to offer the opportunity for kids with disabilities to have a fun holiday experience, just like their peers. In addition to getting presents from Santa, the children were able to sing carols, color pictures, design crafts, eat holiday treats and take family photos.

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