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Indiana Hospital uses rappelling elves to cheer children, patients

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The patients of Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health experienced a bit of holiday magic as a few of Santa’s elves rappelled down the side of the 10-story building to greet them. According to Good Morning America/Yahoo! on Dec. 6, the visit was intended to cheer those who couldn’t be home for Christmas.

The elves wore their holiday finest complete with red and green garments and pointy shoes. They appeared outside the patients’ rooms where they waved and smiled at the children and their parents inside. Santa was visiting on the inside, going from one room to the next. He visited the kids and their families and to pass out gifts.

Melissa Sexton is the hospital's special events coordinator. She explained that since many of the patients can’t be home for the holidays, the hospital tries to bring a bit of normalcy to their lives.

Two-year-old Nathan Siktberg was in the hospital with tethered spinal cord syndrome, a neurological disorder he was born with. He was there to have surgery to help him walk better. The Siktbergs had arrived at the hospital on Dec. 3. Nathaniel had had a pretty rough night according to his mom, Cassandra Siktberg.

Fortunately, the next morning is when the elves made their surprise visit. Nathaniel had been lying in bed, unwilling to do anything. Though he was capable of walking, he had been unwilling to take even a few steps. His mom thought Santa and the elves might be just what he needed.

The elves were scheduled to arrive at 10:00 a.m. The kids were moved into rooms in the hospital with big windows before the arrival time. The cables were already hanging outside and Nathaniel stared in wonder at them.

Those who could, drew messages for the elves before they arrived. Too young for that Nathaniel enjoyed scribbling while he waited.

When the elves appeared, Nathaniel was beaming. The elves swung back and forth as a way to play and interact with the kids. Then the kids watched them visit patients on floors below and those in a separate building across the way.

When he woke the next morning, he wanted to know if Santa and the elves were coming back. His mom said it was neat experience for her son to have.

The American National Skyline, Inc. was responsible for supply the elves and The Cheer Guild operates a toy room at the hospital and oversees doling out more than 214,000 items to patients each month.

The hospital thanked American National Skyline, Inc. for bringing the elves and The Cheer Guild, which operates the hospital's toy room, distributing more than 14,000 items to its patients every month.

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