An Indiana mom now has a priceless holiday photo, after a mall Santa went the extra mile for her autistic son.
According to WANE, 4-year-old Austin Maners has been using a feeding tube since he was nine months old. But in September, Austin’s doctors told him he could start eating food orally, meaning he could finally eat cookies during the Christmas season.
Beth Salzbrenner, Austin’s mom, wanted to commemorate her son’s journey with a picture, but not just any picture. She wanted a photo of Saint Nick tube feeding Austin milk and cookies.
“I thought it would be a good way to have like a memorial picture.”
Salzbrenner decided to take Austin and her daughter Gracie to the Glenbrook Square Mall in Fort Wayne to get his holiday picture with Santa.
However, they were disappointed to see such a huge crowd waiting for photos. Luckily, Santa and his helpers stepped in to save the day.
Noticing how overwhelmed Austin was, Santa and his elves moved the little boy and his family to the front of the line.
At this point, Salzbrenner brought up her vision for the holiday photo, and Santa and his helpers agreed.
The mom then quickly changed Austin’s outfit and prepared his feeding tube for the special moment to follow.
When he was already, Santa shared his cookies with Austin and began tube feeding him for the photo. Salzbrenner noticed how excited her son was during the moment.
“He was just so mesmerized that Santa was feeding him. He looked at me and said ‘Mommy, see what he’s doing? He’s giving my milkies.'”
The mother decided to share the “magical” moment on her Facebook and was blown away by the positive response it received.
Guuuuyyyssssss!!! What do you think? Austin thought he was cool stuff sitting in Santas chair! And poor santa was so…
Guuuuyyyssssss!!! What do you think? Austin thought he was cool stuff sitting in Santas chair! And poor santa was so nervous he was shaking! And who doesnt love cookies and milk with santa! This santa deserves to be recognized for his willingness to tube feed my little guy so that he felt included in sharing cookies with santa! Thank you so much to my fellow tubie momma for the idea! It’s such a cherished photo!
As WANE reports, Salzbrenner was unable to thank the mall Santa how she wanted to and was hoping to give him a hug for providing her with a photo that her family will “cherish forever.”
According to WBAL, the lucky mom was provided the chance to reunite with the kindhearted Santa, also known as Santa Bob, after the two were contacted to do an interview.
Santa Bob shared photos from the reunion on his Facebook.
A few days ago I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Beth and Austin at the Fort Wayne mall. Austin is a special…
This is the magic and spirit of Christmas.This is why I love being Santa Claus so much. It’s for the kids, the memories and happiness it brings. I am grateful to have met Austin and Beth. I hope they feel and are enjoying how much joy that has been shared with the world. I certainly am.
Salzbrenner hopes her and Austin’s experience raise awareness about kids with special needs. She wants people to realize that kids like Austin deserve love and attention like everyone else.