December 24, 2015
In 2014, Santa visited roughly 1,400 children. On average, he is apart 30-40 events during the holiday season. For most charity and community events, in typical Santa-fashion, he selflessly volunteers his time.
Some know him as Father Christmas. Others refer to him as Kris Kringle. In northern Ohio however, a new name has become synonymous with Jolly Old Saint Nick.
For the greater part five decades, Donald Meyer of Vickery has not only portrayed the white bearded legend, he has become the closest thing to the real Santa Claus the world has ever seen.
Born in Cleveland, Meyer aka Santa, had a relatively normal upbringing. Just barely into adulthood, life was forever changed in more way than one when he injured his pinky and ring fingers during his first tour as a soldier in Vietnam. It was there that he therapeutically began tinkering with toys and spreading joy to children.
“In order to keep [these fingers] working, my mom and dad sent me airplanes and bags of candy,” Santa said. “So as I was putting these airplanes together, before I would finish the skins, I would pack them full of candy. Then we would take and go on top of our compound, wind them all up and send them out to the Vietnamese kids.”
Christmas of 1970 was the first time Santa stepped into the iconic role that would dominate his life.
Upon completion of his second military tour, Santa returned home, where he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite being in his early 20s, stress slowly turned his facial hair white, but Santa found a way to use it to his advantage. His mother-in-law fashioned him a red suit and he began visiting with children.
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