Pediatric cancer fundraiser at Trilith features ‘Real Deal’ Santa Joe McGee

The Real Deal Santa Joe McGee. Photo/Submitted.
The Real Deal Santa Joe McGee. Photo/Submitted.

For families looking for a place for the kids to visit with Santa Claus, Trilith in Fayetteville is the place to be on Dec. 5.  The Real Deal Santa Joe McGee’s trip to Trilith is a fundraiser to help fight pediatric cancer.

A mainstay in the role of Santa at the annual Fayetteville Christmas Parade and countless other area events, The Real Deal Santa Joe McGee will visit with kids at Trilith on Dec. 5 at 290 Heatherden Avenue from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  to hear all about youngsters’ Christmas wishes.

Donations, which come with no minimum, are requested, but not required. Every dollar of the donations received from visits with Santa Joe during the Christmas season benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute through the nonprofit Santa David’s Children Fund. The goal for 2020 is $50,000.

Those wanting to sign-up for a visit with Santa can visit Santa will respond by sending an email about the visit and the social distancing practices in place. Donations can be made through PayPal, Venmo, check or cash.

Santa Claus and Christmas have a special meaning to Santa Joe.

Nearly 10 years ago, on December 19, 2010, his brother, David Fordham, passed away.

“He was my mentor, friend, coach, business partner, my right arm and a Santa. David was principled, and he was honest and charitable. After his passing, I’ve heard from people how he secretly helped them financially, or had done work for them unbeknown to anyone else,” Santa Joe explained.

“I stayed with him every day for 55 days in intensive care. It was life-or-death for so many days. Eventually, he succumbed to a heart attack on Dec. 19, 2010. He was holding my hand, and we were staring into each other’s eyes as he closed his for the last time,” Santa Joe said.

Santa Joe said it was in March 2012 when he learned that he, too, had prostate cancer.

“I found the ‘smart bomb’ of radiation, Proton Therapy — a radiation beam that is shaped to the tumor and deposits its energy in the tumor without passing through the rest of your body. While it was great news for me, I didn’t realize what that meant for childrens’ cancer until I went to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute,” Santa Joe said.

Commenting on the experience he had at the institute, Santa Joe said, “The day I walked in the doors and saw the first bald-headed girl, playing in the lobby with their myriad of toys and art projects, I knew I was led there for a reason. My eyes filled with tears, and I thanked the Lord for bringing me to UFPTI. I also knew that if David were alive, he would want to help these children.

“It was then I decided I could carry on his legacy as a Santa. I used to feel that by doing so, I would somehow be stealing some of David’s thunder. Now I know that with the nonprofit charity ‘The Santa David Children’s Fund,’ it will only help to make his thunder better known.”

Santa Joe in the past seven years has raised $160,000 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and UFPTI.

Santa David’s Children’s Fund is a 501(c)(93) nonprofit and participates in a variety of events.

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