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Santa Visits Sick Boy At His Washington Township Home

Alex Hammer of Washington Township with Santa Claus, aka Bogota Firefighter Ken O'Donnell.
Alex Hammer of Washington Township with Santa Claus, aka Bogota Firefighter Ken O'Donnell. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Krista Hammer comforts her dejected son, Alex, 10 minutes before Santa's arrival.
Krista Hammer comforts her dejected son, Alex, 10 minutes before Santa's arrival. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Alex Hammer standing outside his home as he starts to hear sirens and see the flashing lights of firetrucks and police cars on his street.
Alex Hammer standing outside his home as he starts to hear sirens and see the flashing lights of firetrucks and police cars on his street. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Alex Hammer being told Santa Claus came just to visit him.
Alex Hammer being told Santa Claus came just to visit him. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Alex Hammer meets Santa.
Alex Hammer meets Santa. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Inside his house, Alex opens his first present from Santa.
Inside his house, Alex opens his first present from Santa. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Sitting by Santa, opening presents, Alex Hammer starts to cheer up.
Sitting by Santa, opening presents, Alex Hammer starts to cheer up. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Krista and Adam Hammer of Washington Township get emotional as their son opens his gifts from Santa. The couple was expecting a visit, not the gifts.
Krista and Adam Hammer of Washington Township get emotional as their son opens his gifts from Santa. The couple was expecting a visit, not the gifts. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Smiles all around as 4-year-old Alex Hammer enjoys all the attention. Pictured, from the left, are Krista Hammer, Alanna Hammer, Alex Hammer, and Santa.
Smiles all around as 4-year-old Alex Hammer enjoys all the attention. Pictured, from the left, are Krista Hammer, Alanna Hammer, Alex Hammer, and Santa. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Enchanted by a new toy.
Enchanted by a new toy. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Police officers and firefighters look on, pleased to see they've succeeded in bringing a little boy joy.
Police officers and firefighters look on, pleased to see they've succeeded in bringing a little boy joy. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Alanna Hammer and her elated brother, Alex, with Santa.
Alanna Hammer and her elated brother, Alex, with Santa. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Alanna Hammer and her brother, Alex, enjoy a moment on their front stoop with Santa.
Alanna Hammer and her brother, Alex, enjoy a moment on their front stoop with Santa. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Trumpeters from the Westwood High School band play carols during Santa's visit to Alex Hammer's house in Washington Township. They volunteered to play.
Trumpeters from the Westwood High School band play carols during Santa's visit to Alex Hammer's house in Washington Township. They volunteered to play. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
As Santa leaves on his firetruck, Krista Hammer, mother to 4-year-old Alex, was all smiles.
As Santa leaves on his firetruck, Krista Hammer, mother to 4-year-old Alex, was all smiles. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Little Alex Hammer, tired from a day at the Sanzari Children’s Hospital, was dejected Thursday night — until Santa Claus showed up at his Washington Township house.

The big guy in red brought a bag of gifts, too, containing every single item on the 4-year-old boy’s wish list.

Santa arrived as part of an exciting procession of six firetrucks and six police cars, all from Bogota and Washington Township.

“Look, Alex!” said his mother, Krista, kneeling by his side and pointing to the lights coming down Colonial Boulevard.

They stood on the front lawn of their home along with his father, Adam, and sister, Alanna.

The little boy, recently diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, peered down the street, a somber look on his face. In the past month, his mother said, he’s endured two surgeries and chemo.

When Alex looked up into the face of a police officer who told him Santa Claus came to see just him, he appeared puzzled.

When Santa, aka Bogota Firefighter Ken O’Donnell, appeared, everything changed.

Wide-eyed, he let Santa take him back into his house.

In his living room, Santa sat Alex and his sister on the couch and gave them his presents, which included a Washington Township police cap for each sibling.

Some two dozen police officers and firefighters stood and watched Alex rip the paper off all his favorite toys as his mother teared up.

Two minutes into the unwrapping, the boy, smiling ear to ear, exclaimed, “This is the best Christmas ever!”

The scene unfolded like a Christmas movie, complete with soundtrack as volunteer brass players from Westwood High School, wearing Santa hats and Christmas lights, played carols outside the family’s front door.

The whole thing started, Krista Hammer explained, when her husband told his longtime friend, Marina Cole, about Alex’s illness.

“He told her Alex wasn’t able to get to the mall to see Santa this year,” Krista Hammer said.

Cole understood, Adam Hammer said. She is a cancer survivor.

Unbeknownst to the couple, Cole called her brother, Sgt. Geoff Cole of the Bogota Police Department, who immediately started organizing Santa’s visit.

“Sgt. Cole called me and asked if we wanted to join in, and we said, ‘Absolutely,’” said Washington Township Lt. Rich Skinner, who led the Santa procession on a motorcycle.

He said Washington Township Police Officer Heather Castronova, who works on community initiatives, was key to pulling off the special event.

“There’s a ton of firemen and police officers involved,” Skinner said. “We all just wanted to come and wish Alex a merry Christmas.”

The family has been surrounded by support since Alex’s diagnosis, Krista Hammer said.

“People have asked to start a GoFundMe,” she said. “We thanked them but said no. All we want now is for Alex to feel special.”

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