An 8-year-old with autism cried happy tears when he finally met Santa Claus. Now, the internet is crying too after his mom shared photos — and the backstory — on Facebook.
Since the age of 2, Baiz Weerts dreamed of getting a picture with Santa, but his “irrational fears” kept him from getting close.
“Baiz asks to go to the mall almost every weekend. He’s like ’I’m gonna do it this time!’ But as soon as we get there, he freezes,” Weerts’ mother, Sheila Seelye, told TODAY Parents. “So, we sit and watch from afar while he works through his feelings."
The second grader from Illinois has an anxiety disorder called selective mutism, which means he speaks normally at home, but shuts down in social settings.
For that reason, Seelye is calling what happened on Saturday a "Christmas miracle."
Last weekend Weert’s twin sister, Layna, decided she wanted a photo with Santa at the Gurnee Mill Shopping Center and ran right up.
“Baiz was emotional because he wanted to follow her but he couldn’t do it,” Seelye said.
As Weerts’ frustration began to build, he climbed into a shopping cart and began to cry.
Santa, who had been watching the scene unfold, slowly got up from his chair and made his way over to Weerts. He touched Weerts hair, gently rubbed his arm and gave him a candy cane.
“He knew just how to calm Baiz down,” Seelye revealed. “He kept telling him, ‘You’re OK buddy. You’re gonna be OK.’ He knew just what Baiz needed in that moment. I’ve never seen him so happy.”
Seelye noted that Weerts looks like a typical kid so bystanders often think he’s just having a temper tantrum.
“Santa just knew,” Seeyle told TODAY Parents. “That meant the most to me. He knew Baiz needed him to come over."
Seelye added that Weerts has been in and out of the hospital over the last few weeks with health problems.
"The timing was perfect," she said. "Santa picked the right child at the right time."
This story was first published in November 2019.