Visiting Santa can be a hectic time for children with special needs and their parents. But a Clay man has a simpler solution to bring the North Pole to special needs children.
“My wife and I were at a point where - well what do we do - because we knew we couldn't go to the mall, or do any of the traditional Santa Claus events,” said Adrian Bayardi of Syracuse. Adrian has a five-year-old son, Daniel, with epilepsy.
This time of year most parents take their kids to the mall to see Santa, but that’s not so easy for Daniel.
“The idea of waiting in line for half an hour with a bunch of strangers to see Santa and then try and put him onto Santa’s lap, and explain everything that goes along with his epilepsy to somebody is just, it wasn’t feasible,” said Bayardi.
So, when Daniel turned four years old and started seeing Santa and his elves on TV, Adrian and his wife had a decision to make.
“Sitting him on someone's lap who's had, 80,90,100 kids there before just not knowing is, cause for a lot of tension and anxiety,” he said.
So, there had to be a better way, right?
We can do this, let's set up Santa's Workshop, let's let kids come here,” said Terry King. Terry and his wife Doreen have three children with special needs. And after a few years of taking their family to the mall to see Santa, they decided there had to be a better way, and the Kings took action.
Enter: Santa’s Satellite North.
“The kids can come in, Santa’s here, refreshments are here, you want cocoa you want cookies, you wanna play with the toys you wanna talk to the elf. You know, at different times we had an elf working,” said King.
The King’s have created an elves’ workshop on their property in Clay where children with special needs and their families can come and see Santa.
“It’s just… an opportunity to see Santa with no stress for the family, the child, the child can come in and see Santa on their own terms,” he said.
This holiday season will be the second year of Santa’s Satellite North, and the Kings’ are hard at work getting the place ready for the first round of appointments tomorrow (Saturday).
The quaint shed where the Kings’ make their elves’ workshop is surprisingly small, but cozy. Children’s toys occupy the room’s nooks and crannies, a heater sits just below the window warming the room, and an armchair seemingly built for a Santa Claus is nestled in the corner.
Last year the workshop had just one weekend day of appointments, but it was so successful that this holiday season there are three.
Adrian and his son Daniel were one of the families that came to Clay to see Santa last year.
“My son was a bit anxious when we first went in, and Santa got down on the floor with him and started playing with a fire truck with him pushing it across the floor to make him feel comfortable and kind of build that level of trust,” said Bayardi.
The Bayardi’s wasted no time this year, their appointment is already booked.
“I actually know some people who I want to pass the information along to but I wanted to make sure I scheduled our appointment first,” he said.