Listen to Esmeralda’s radio call to Santa
Five-year-old Isaiah Handy from Youngstown missed a week of school while he was in the hospital; the same week that Santa Claus paid a visit to his classroom.
He had a unique opportunity to share with St. Nick his wish for a dinosaur for Christmas when a group of volunteers from the Mahoning Valley Amateur Radio Association connected him to the “North Pole” for a one-on-one conversation.
“There’s dinosaurs everywhere in the house. That’s all he talks about,” his mother, Jessica Ramsey, said. “Everyone here has been so great, and Isaiah and his sister really liked the chance to talk to Santa on the radio.”
The ham radio operators have been visiting hospital children locally for 14 years. They slyly admit they might get more enjoyment out of doing it than the kids themselves do.
“If we can give a child 5 minutes to think about something else other than why they’re here, then we did our jobs,” said Jack Sovik, club member. “It’s a humbling experience. We can’t do anything to affect their care, but we hope to at least make them feel a little better.”
Six volunteers walked the hallways of Akron Children’s Beeghly campus inpatient floor, and then saw a few more children in the ER. Each was given the opportunity to interact live with Santa on the other end of high-tech-looking walkie talkies. Each child and visiting sibling also received a stuffed animal toy.
“The club initially created the ‘Santa Claus Net’ when members’ kids were little, but we were looking for interesting ways to keep it going after they all grew up,” Jack said. “We do a lot of public service work as an organization, and we saw a niche and decided to fill it. And it worked.”