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Valley kids with special needs get a special visit from Santa

The United Cerebral Palsy team’s focus is all about living a life without limits and providing children with experiences, no matter what challenges.

PHOENIX — For many families, a visit with Santa is a tradition that is not attainable because of physical limitations or sensory overload concerns, but thanks to United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona, it was all made possible. 

The UCP team’s focus is on living a life without limits and providing children with experiences, no matter what challenges they may have. 

The sights and sounds said it all at the Adaptive Santa Holiday Breakfast at the UCP of Central Arizona in north Phoenix Saturday.

It was packed with excitement, laughter, and kisses for Santa during photos alongside Mrs. Claus.  

“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” said Santa. 

The event was perfect for kids like 7-year-old Alexandra Anderson and her family, who cherished every second of fun.  

Credit: 12News

“She was diagnosed with Pitt-Hopkins when she was just a baby, and ever since then, ten months old, she’s been coming to UCP weekly for her therapies,” Alexandra’s mom Nicole said.  

While initially, her parents heard grim things tied to the neurodevelopmental disorder she’s living with, she says they have chosen to defy medical journals and try their hardest to overcome it.  

“Yeah, this is a big deal,” Nicole told Alexandra as she helped her walk across the lawn. “Come on, let’s go!” 

While some have said she might never walk again, she’s getting there and learning each day how to get stronger while communicating through special technology.  

Alexandra pushed a button on her device, and the speaker echoed, “Happy holidays! Happy holidays!” 

One of the goals of UCP of Central Arizona this time of year is to ensure these children have a bright holiday season. 

“We’re really grateful for that,” Nicole said. 

At this event, the director of therapy programs and the early learning center Valerie Pieraccini says they focused on celebrating the season at a comfortable pace for everyone.  

“Santa’s elf is actually a physical therapist, so that’s a pretty big rarity,” she said.  

Everything at the celebration catered to those who attended, even Jaxon, the mini therapy horse, who is trained to wear a vest and work with clients and patients at hospitals and special events like this.  

Credit: 12News

“We’ve been so fortunate to find a family here and people that believe in Alexandra,” Nicole said.  

This special place creates magical memories for these amazing families, sharing the joy of the season.  

“You never imagine a journey like this, but because of UCP and those that believe in her, the journey is that much brighter,” she said.

Credit: 12News

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