NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Nothing like "Breakfast with Santa" to spread holiday cheer and the Fraternal Order of Police served up just that Sunday for children with special needs.
The FOP Headquarters was transformed into a winter wonderland tailored to families with special needs.
Kelly Guzik's precious little girl is now two years old. Smiling more than ever and able to recognize new faces. So, when she met Santa Sunday, Kristen knew exactly who the big man was and shared a sweet moment with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
"Yea, She smiled. She loved him. This is nice, they have this special thing for special kids," Guzik said.
The second annual event designed with the unique needs of children like Kirsten in mind, the brainchild of 19th District Lieutenant Maria Ortiz-Rodriguez, herself the mother of a son with autism who struggled with boisterous holiday parties.
"Every time I would take him, he would have a hard time with the loud music and different issues," Ortiz-Rodriguez explained. "It's also more like a support system. When we're all here, you get to see other parents that are going through the same situation and we're all on the job as well. So, we all know what it is, the stress, the challenges that come with it and also the love," Ortiz-Rodriguez said.
Lt. Ortiz-Rodriguez says everything I designed so the children are never startled or have sensory overload. It's a tender attention to detail that brought eight-year-old Bella's parents to tears.
"It was very nice because it's hard for us to do a lot of things with her," said Angie Boyer, Bella's mom.
"It's a lot different than the Santa at the mall experience. Santa held Bella - you don't get that experience at the mall. It's like 'Next up kid.' This is great, they just take their time. There's no rush. They try to give you the best moment possible," explained Keith Boyer, Bella's dad.
In all, about 60 families got the chance to have breakfast, receive gifts and, of course, sit on Santa's lap.