Seven-year-old Pastor wanted to share a dinner of hamburgers and cookies with Santa in the North Pole, and he got that and more through Make-A-Wish Foundation, in partnership with Macy’s.
Christmas came early for Pastor who met Santa Claus and experienced his own magical Winter Wonderland celebration complete with a reindeer, a sleigh, and snow!
Pastor of Woodland, California, who has been bravely battling leukemia since last year, got his wish on the same day that the department store launched its 14th annual “Believe” letter-writing campaign together with Make-A-Wish.
The campaign, which runs until December 24, gives people of all ages the chance to send letters to Santa and deliver wishes. Pastor was one of those lucky recipients.
The lad spent an afternoon with Santa at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, and his family is extremely grateful for the opportunity.
“We felt overwhelmed [with] joy. Our hearts melted. We were looking forward to this day… he would always talk about it. We just felt happy for him that he finally got to see [Santa],” Pastor’s aunt, Teresa, said in an interview.
Pastor’s day started with a meet-and-greet with Santa at Macy’s in Downtown Sacramento. Then, the pair received the ultimate VIP treatment as they rode a red Tesla to Golden 1 Center, a portion of which was transformed into a festive holiday atmosphere specially made for Pastor.
The boy was then treated to several exciting activities that he had always wanted to do with Santa, including eating cheeseburgers, decorating a gingerbread house, having a snowball fight, feeding a live reindeer, and of course, opening presents.
Sean Mullin, a board member at Make-A-Wish® Northeastern & Central California and Northern Nevada, described Pastor’s adorable reaction to meeting Santa in a statement to PEOPLE:
“When Pastor first arrived, he made a comment that he wasn’t sure if he would get actually to meet Santa. And when he walked in the door, turned the corner, and saw Santa there, his face lit up… it was magical. He had a phenomenal experience.”
Teresa told Make-A-Wish that her nephew had really wanted to meet Santa, so spending the day with him “served as a nice escape” after undergoing treatment for cancer.
“My favorite part was when we all walked in together to meet Santa and Santa was waiting for us,” she said. “[Pastor] was lighting up in the eyes. He will not forget that… he is so happy, he forgot everything that happened in the hospital.”
“He knew he was sick but he didn’t understand how bad,” Teresa continued. “This was very special to him… he’s a kid again and he’s able to do all of the things he could do before.”
Santa also spoke to the foundation, recounting his fun day with Pastor.
“What a wonderful day we’ve had today… this has been a beautiful day because we made so many special memories with Pastor,” he said. “Pastor is a wonderful young boy. He was so excited to meet me at Macy’s. And then we drove in a Tesla… he had so much fun yelling, ‘Open sesame!’ every time the doors opened.”
Since 2003, Macy’s has donated over $137 million to Make-A-Wish and has granted more than 16,000 wishes through their annual Believe campaign, impacting 3.2 million people, according to the campaign website.
If you want to help kids like Pastor get their wishes, you can send a letter online or drop one in the big red letterboxes found in Macy’s stores. For every letter, the department store will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, to help make a child’s wish come true.
Other ways you can support the campaign is by donating online until December 24 or rounding up your in-store purchases, up to 99¢, through November 19.
Watch Pastor’s Winter Wonderland celebration with Santa in the video below.
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