PEORIA, Ill.– A Peoria Santa Claus is decking the halls of local hospitals with lots of joy turning kids frowns upside down. The joy of the holidays is sometimes hard to feel when your life consists of hospital walls and tests upon tests.
Bill Turney knows not everyone can be home for Christmas, so he makes sure that Santa comes to see them.
It’s only fitting that he is this week’s CI Hero.
“Can you imagine all the kids in this world that are sick?,” said Bill Turney, “Santa Bill.” “They need to be cheered up a little bit. Even if it’s just Santa with a simple little visit and a simple little gift. You know, that makes them forget that they’re sick for a few minutes and they smile.”
Just like Santa’s elves, “Santa Bill” and his helpers work all year long to collect donated toys and purchase their own rounding up thousands of dollars worth of toys. All to prove that the big man in red always knows where the good boys and girls are. One big-ticket item “Santa Bill” worked hard for was a football helmet signed by numerous Chicago Bears. For Angelo, a child at OSF Healthcare, he was so surprised to see that the helmet is now his.
“It was awesome,” said Angelo. “I want to see Santa at home and here.”
For kids in the hospital, it’s hard to feel the spirit of the holidays while hooked up to machines or IV’s. That’s why “Santa Bill” brings Christmas to them.
“The kids are in there thinking, ‘Santa’s not going to find me here.'” said Turney. “The parents, they want to get their kids home. It’s important to me that I go in there and make them forget that they’re sick for a few minutes.”
This year carrying a special commemoration in honor of Eric Beebe and Jerry Cline, two people who truly encapsulated the meaning of Christmas.
“Everything we collect this year will be done in the memory of these two gentlemen that really stood out and helped me out all these years,” said Turney.
“Santa Bill” has done this for 23 years and he says nothing will keep him from continuing to spread cheer for many years to come.
Read up on how you can be a part of Santa’s Hospital Helpers by CLICKING HERE.
Nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero by CLICKING HERE.