Operation North Pole Brings Christmas to Children with Rare Diseases

Most people view Christmas as a time for celebrating. Spending time with family, and getting out to festive events and parties can be cornerstones of the holiday. For children like Quinn, who suffers from VACTERL association, it can too often be just another day in a hospital. Keep reading or follow the original story to see how Operation North Pole made a difference.

200 firefighters and police offers welcomed 75 terminally or seriously ill children to the North Pole on Saturday. Brought to life by retired fire chief Tim Crossin, and nurse Barb Dabler, Operation North Pole is charity whose mission is to bring some of the joy surrounding Christmas to sick children. This year they set up their festivities in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

The day began with a train ride on decorated Metra cars. The children were welcome to participate in a mock snowball fight. They were also provided entertainment by singers, and costumed guests depicting such characters as Buddy from the film “Elf.” Children also received gifts along the way.

When the journey ended at convention center a long line of uniformed first responders in North Pole Fire Department shirts greeted the children. The ornate decorations at the convention center covered nearly 28,000-square-feet of space.

There were opportunities to take pictures with Santa Claus, and plenty other activities. Different groups had brought in puppies children could pet, set up crafts, provided music, and brought in costumed performers to support the children.

“I heard it was wonderful, but this is just beyond expectations,” said Quinn’s mother, Carrie.

Quinn suffers from the rare condition VACTERL association, and rare condition you can learn more about here. He’s four years old. In those four years, Quinn has had eight surgeries, and nine visits to specialists. He continues to have serious health complications and requires regular visits to the hospital.

“This is the first time we’ve been out in a month,” continued Carrie. “It’s been good to see so many people come together and make the kids feel special.”

Another child attending the North Pole event currently has just half a heart. He’s described the outing as the best day ever as many times as he could.

Local firefighters, police, and hundreds of volunteers are touched by their experience serving at the event. They know that for some of the children present, this could be the last Christmas they experience. As a result, everyone involved makes an effort to ensure this holiday is special for the children.

It’s a sad notion, admits Fire Chief Marty Feld. On the other hand, it is a wonderful opportunity to spread joy. He reflects on how much fun the children are having in the moment as he takes in the day. Chief Feld and the many other volunteers feel blessed to be part of such an outreach. Even if it’s just for a day, they made Christmas wishes larger than life for these children.

Read more in the Daily Herald here.

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