Special Visitor Makes Annual Trip to the St. Joseph Hospital NICU a Tradition - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on December 18, 2016

Special Visitor Makes Annual Trip to the St. Joseph Hospital NICU a Tradition

For the past 13 years, putting on a Santa suit and visiting parents and babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Wheaton Franciscan - St. Joseph Campus in Milwaukee has been a Christmas tradition for Greg Phelps. These days the visit requires him to fly across the country from Portland to Milwaukee, but it’s important enough to him to make this annual pilgrimage.

It all began after his son, Kyle, was born 12 weeks early, weighing just 2 lbs. 9 oz. Greg remembers that first anxious Christmas at St. Joseph Campus when a Santa stopped in to take pictures with all the tiny babies.

“Kyle has had dozens of pictures with Santa over the years, but the first one is something we always remember. That photo is so special to us we wanted to make sure the tradition continued, so we come back every year,” explained Greg.

The babies may barely notice Santa but their parents certainly do, and meeting Kyle, now a strong, healthy, teenager, gives them hope for their own little ones.

“Every baby's situation is different, but Kyle is a good example of how a tough beginning can have a happy ending. It means a lot to the parents to meet and talk with Kyle. The baby's first Christmas picture with Santa is just a bonus,” Greg said.

A Christmas Blessing

After spending six months in the NICU, baby Ka’Niyah Lamar is going home Dec. 19. She was born on June 4, weighing 1 lb. 12 oz. Her mom, Kadijah (pictured left), said that bringing her daughter home is the best Christmas gift she could have received.

Ways You Can Give

To learn how you can help families with little ones in our Neonatal Intensive Care Units, please visit:

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Special Visitor Makes Annual Trip to the St. Joseph Hospital NICU a Tradition