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Published: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 @ 8:38 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 @ 8:38 PM
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A man identifying himself as the Santa Claus who was accused by a mother of being insensitive to her special-needs baby at a free photo session is telling his side of the story.
Megan Self’s story about how Santa snubbed her special-needs son, Caleb, by “refusing” to sit and pose with him during a free Bass Pro Shop photo session went viral. When the company offered her an apology, a gift certificate, and a special photo session, she declined and suggested they make a donation to medical research, instead.
But the Santa in question, Glen Burkett, said he did not snub the boy and, in fact, was trying to be sensitive to the circumstances.
He posted his explanation, along with the photo, on his Facebook page.
Burkett said the child was brought to him "strapped in a wheelchair and on a ventilator." The family unhooked the boy from the vent and placed him in Santa’s arm "with a plastic tube in his throat," he said.
Burkett said he was “stunned” but carefully walked in front of the camera, with no direction from the family on how to handle the boy. He said he held the boy at a slant so his face would appear in the photos.
And, finally, he said the family seemed pleased with the photo and never requested a retake. In fact, he said the next he heard of the family was when they contacted a television station to claim he had refused to sit with the boy on his lap.
"This photograph has gone viral on Facebook and on television. This child was brought to me stapped in a wheelchair and on a ventilator. I assumed they would bring the child in the chair to the set so I went to assist. They unhooked the child from the vent and placed him in my arms with a plastic tube in his throat. I was stunned but as carefully as I could I walked over in front of the camera. The child could not respond to the bells and sqeekers used to direct their attention for a photograph and I was given no instructions on how to handle this child. With him cradled in my arms to support his head I manipulated him for the best picture by positioning my body at an awkward angle toward the camera, got the picture and returned him to his family and caretakers as quickly as possible. They approved of the picture initially-retakes are sometimes requested, but not in this case. Then this family contacted a television station and said I refused to sit with this child on my lap to take a picture! No one requested anything and I delivered the best picture I,could of this child for Christmas!"