S.A. family outraged by Santa's standing photo with special needs child

Outrage over handling of special needs child

SAN ANTONIO -- The family of a 13-month-old baby with a genetic brain and muscle disorder has received a formal apology from Bass Pro Shops, days after the family said Santa Claus refused to be photographed with the child on his lap.

The incident happened Friday afternoon at Bass Pro Shops in northwest San Antonio.

Megan Self told KENS 5 she unhooked her son Caleb from his breathing apparatus and other medical equipment, after waiting in line for a free picture with Santa Claus.

Self said Santa stood up, took one photo with Caleb, then quickly handed off the child, who has been diagnosed with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy.

The genetic development disorder causes Caleb's muscles to weaken. An MRI this summer revealed Caleb's brain has begun to shrink as well.

"We've been through a lot this year, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and everything. This was basically the icing on the cake," said Self.

According to Self, Caleb has been hospitalized 11 times since March. Despite his repeated medical setbacks, Caleb's family wanted him to experience sitting on Santa's lap.

"We were trying to work with them so we can get that memory, get the picture of him on his lap and everything," added Self.

A spokesman for Bass Pro Shops said via telephone Monday "this is not something we feel great about". The spokesman added Santa Claus, his elves and store employees taking part in the free picture promotion go through sensitivity training before each holiday season.

The spokesman said while malls and other stores continue to raise the price for pictures with Santa, Bass Pro Shops this year alone will provide more than a million free pictures with Santa.

The company offered Self a gift certificate and a one-on-one photo session for Caleb and Santa. Self declined the offer, and instead suggested Bass Pro Shops donate the money to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.



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