Santa makes an early visit for Elliot


MASON CITY, Iowa – On April 18, Shanda and Jonathan Burgos received news that would change their lives forever.

Their 8-year-old son Elliot had been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor that had spread to his spine.

This left Elliot afraid that he wouldn’t be able to see Santa this year, so My Happy Place stepped in.

“I kind of paired up with another board member and she had actually interviewed Elliot a few weeks ago and found out that he really likes trains and he really likes the Hawkeyes,” says Deidra Rattay, My Happy Place co-founder.

A host of family, friends and sponsors from Cent Credit Union gathered to see Elliott meet Santa and his new train-themed bedroom.

“Many friends and family and the community itself have done great for us,” says Shanda.

Elliot will receive his fourth round of chemotherapy on Nov. 7, leaving his parents hopeful that it will be his last.

“If his MRI shows that he is cancer-free after this next round of chemotherapy, then we’ll just kind of keep a close eye on him,” says Shanda.

And it’s stories like this that keep My Happy Place co-founder Deidra Rattay coming back to remodel room after room for kids facing the biggest struggles.

“To get to watch him walk in the door and see his face when he saw Santa Claus when he came in because he knows that he could be in the hospital on Christmas — and he was scared that he may not get to see Santa this year and for Santa to come to make a special appearance for Elliott, it fills my heart.”

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