December 21, 2021

2-Year-Old Boy with Terminal Illness Dies after Seeing Santa for the Last Time

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A toddler who had been in hospice care for months received a welcome visit from Santa a week before dying. The surprise visit was coordinated by the Secret Sleigh Project, which brings Saint Nick to the homes of ill children. 

The onset of winter brings the glad tidings of the festive season. People wait eagerly for Christmas every year, and the celebrations last for a long time. One exciting element of the holiday festivities is receiving gifts from Santa Claus. 

Imagine Saint Nicholas taking a trip around town to spend quality time with kids. It turns out the Agnew family from Salt Lake City, Utah, experienced something similar four years ago. 


Miles Agnew sat on Santa's lap one last time in December 2017. | Photo:


2-year-old Miles Agnew was born with microcephaly and had spastic quad cerebral palsy, cortical vision impairment, intractable epilepsy, brain malformations, and feeding intolerance. 


The Agnews adopted him when he was three months old. His adoptive parents also had two children, Hailey and Taveon. Miles had been in hospice care for months, and his health was gradually declining. 

His mom, Michelle Agnew, shared that his body went into shock and his condition drastically worsened. The Agnews couldn't fathom what happened to their sweet boy. 

Miles Agnew. | Photo: Edition



On December 5, 2017, Miles and his older siblings received a surprise visit from Santa, orchestrated by the Secret Sleigh Project - an organization that provides medically ill and fragile kids an opportunity to meet Santa at home. 

Bodily revealed that visiting Miles felt personal and emotional.

Jeff Bodily, who had more than 35 years of experience being Kris Kringle, visited the Agnew family at Primary Children's Hospital, where Miles was admitted. 

Santa visited Miles and his older siblings in hospice care in December 2017. | Photo: Edition



The terminally-ill toddler sat on Santa's lap one last time during the hour-long stay. Bodily explained Miles could barely keep his eyes open and looked fragile. He also added:

I just wanted to help make their Christmas memories continue at least one more year (sic)."

Michelle shared that her son was frail during his Santa visit, but he appreciated the surprise and would have been overjoyed if he were awake. She also revealed that Miles was fond of holiday festivities. 

Miles Agnew. | Photo: Edition



Unfortunately, Miles succumbed to his worsening health and passed away only a week after Santa's visit. His mother revealed that he suffered frequent seizures in his last days. She told Inside Edition:

“We are completely heartbroken. I can’t even put into words how empty we feel.”

The Agnews had lost two other kids due to genetic conditions. Sarah Portillo, the founder of the Secret Sleigh Project, explained that helping orchestrate small miracles for Miles and other kids made the Christmas season meaningful. 



Bodily revealed that visiting Miles felt personal and emotional. He shared that it reminded him of when he met his former wife, whose youngest daughter passed away due to hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He also expressed: 

"I can’t lie, I got choked up, and there was a tear in Santa’s eye, but this was for this family’s memory (sic)."

Little Miles couldn't tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, but his family was grateful for all the love, care, and support they received from family, friends, and strangers. We hope Miles is in a better place, and we wish peace and strength to his loved ones.


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