Bravery in the face of battles: Four-year-old superhero Ryan Haro, diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer, finds strength alongside Spider-Man at Santa’s Workshop.

MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach magically turned the hospital’s auditorium into “Santa’s Workshop,” spreading holiday joy to the pediatric patients who are hospitalized over the holidays on Friday, Dec. 8. Creating a festive atmosphere, patients and their families enjoyed a morning of collecting toys and gifts from holiday-themed booths thanks to the creativity of hospital staff, Turner Construction and community organizations. In addition, Santa made spirits bright at the event, joyfully listening to their heartfelt wish lists and delightfully distributing presents.

Kataleya, a four-year-old who was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, has been receiving treatment and undergoing chemotherapy for nine months at Miller Children’s & Women’s. Santa fulfilled Kataleya’s Christmas wish, gifting her a cherished Barbie doll and bringing a radiant smile of joy to her face.

“It makes me thrilled that not only my daughter, but all the other kids as well, are able to come downstairs and attend these events – getting a little bit of Christmas,” says Kataleya’s mom, Ashley Suazo. “Sometimes we’re isolated and not able to do anything. Santa’s Workshop made me and Kataleya really, really happy.”

This event served as a respite for hospitalized children, offering a temporary escape from the challenges of medical treatments and providing them with a precious opportunity to embrace the joys of childhood. By partaking in traditional holiday activities, patients can momentarily set aside their health concerns, fostering a sense of normalcy and happiness during what otherwise might be a difficult time. It not only contributes to their emotional well-being but creates cherished memories that extend beyond the hospital room.

“Santa’s workshop is truly one of our favorite events of the year, it’s an amazing time to celebrate this wonderful holiday season,” says Rita Goshert, director, Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “The children are missing out on holiday events because they are in the hospital, so we bring the fun to them. Santa’s Workshop is a fantastic partnership between hospital departments and community members to bring wonderful holiday cheer to each and every one of our patients.”

The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach was developed to help make the hospital experience a more positive one for children of all ages. Child Life Specialists help to cultivate an environment for patients and families that is fun, engaging and child friendly – especially during the holiday season. Santa’s Workshop is made possible by 17-year sponsor, Turner Construction, and dozens of local organizations who volunteer to make the holiday magic happen.

Kamilla, a four-year-old pediatric cancer patient, finds heroes and joy among her Marvel friends at Santa’s Workshop.