11-year-old Santa super-fan realizes dream by helping others on Vancouver Island
Stephanie wasn’t thinking about the connection to Christmas when she named her son Nikolas.
"He’s a March baby. He’s not a December baby," she says, before showing me Nikolas’ first picture with Santa when he was about nine months old. "But he is all things December!"
For as long as Stephanie can recall, Nikolas has been infatuated with Christmas. For his eighth birthday (in the spring), his favourite present was a full Santa suit (which includes a fake beard). He’s worn it regularly ever since, including to trips to the mall to pose for pictures with the big guy himself.
"It just feels fun being him," Nikolas explains, when asked why he’s such a Santa super-fan. "You get to deliver all the presents and then you have a big warm heart afterwards."
Rather than warm, during a recent run, Nikolas felt worried.
"I don’t want kids to wake up and have nothing under the tree," he says.
Nikolas knew this past year has been so tough for so many families, and started considering solutions.
"If you have enough to give," the 11-year-old says. "You should do it."
Seeing as he had enough energy to run 10 kilometres, he wondered if he could give that to help raise money for CFAX Santa’s Anonymous.
"We can be very humbled by our children," Stephanie says about Nikolas’ plan to help families in need. "They teach us so much."
On the day of his fundraising run, Stephanie couldn’t help but consider her son’s compassion, empathy and resilience, as he kept running during a relentless rain storm and achieved his fundraising goal of $10,000.
"It felt just like Christmas," Nikolas smiles recalling the accomplishment.
It also made the boy feel like giving more, so he asked the charity if he could use some of the money to help shop for the kids in need.
"But let me back-up a bit. Nikolas can’t stand shopping," Stephanie says, before showing me pictures of the trip to Toys ‘R’ Us. "Of all my three kids, he is the last one I’d want to bring to a store."
Which is why she was so surprised to see how joyful Nikolas was in his Santa state of mind — thoughtfully choosing just the right toy for each one of the diverse children on his lengthy list, before donning his Santa suit to deliver the bags and bags of presents to Toy Mountain at Uptown Mall.
"A tingly feeling just comes into you," Nikolas smiles.
It’s the feeling you get when you focus on giving rather the receiving. The feeling Nikolas gets while realizing his dream of being just like his namesake.