Children who want to see Santa Claus can find him at the mall and many other places. But those who are not healthy enough to leave their hospital rooms cannot deliver their wishes face-to-face. For those children, Cisco Systems employees played elf Tuesday, delivering Santa via videoconference to some of the patients at Duke Children’s Hospital.

Lili Frazier did not get to sit on Santa’s lap. Instead, she visited him on his laptop, asking for a chocolate pie.

Lili, 3, spent 23 days in Duke’s pediatric intensive care unit after surgery to remove a tumor around her pituitary gland. A complication brought her back to the hospital and threw a wrench in her plans to share her wish with the big man in person.

Even children who could not get out of bed got to meet with Santa. For them, Judy Pannella, a child and adolescent life specialist at Duke said, Cisco’s Santa experience included a visit via an iPad and Cisco’s Jabber app.

The visit came as such a surprise to Danielle Delgado, 6, that she couldn’t come up with her Christmas wish. That was no problem for Santa.

“Do you know what my elves have been telling me,” he asked, “I heard that you wanted a Lalaloopsy doll.”

Danielle’s mom said that despite the inconvenience and stress of her Spina Bifida – she’s had nine surgeries and many days and nights in the hospital – the staff at Duke has creative ways of making it as much fun as possible.

“There’s nice things that are happening and she’s old enough now she can enjoy the play room and all the other extra activities going on,” said her godmother, Marie Delgado.

Tuesday marked the second year that Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) has brought the Santa experience to the Duke Children’s Hospital. It is the only such experience in the state. They offer it at 43 children’s hospitals across the country.

Cisco operates its second largest corporate campus in Research Triangle Park with some 5,000 employees. 

Reporter: Allen Mask, M.D.
Photographer: Rick Armstrong
Web Editor: Jodi Leese Glusco