Caroline Robertson, 13, right, smiles and leans onto Santa Claus on Wednesday in the Christmas in Alaska store. Robertson has trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, and asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation if she could meet Santa in Alaska.

Caroline Robertson, 13, right, smiles and leans onto Santa Claus on Wednesday in the Christmas in Alaska store. Robertson has trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, and asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation if she could meet Santa in Alaska.

Visiting North Carolina teen meets Santa at Make-A-Wish event in Ketchikan

KETCHIKAN — Caroline Robertson loves two things: Santa Claus and Barney.

In that order.

Which is why a smile erupted across her face Wednesday in Ketchikan when Saint Nick himself strolled into the Christmas in Alaska store to say hello.

The 13-year-old excitedly walked over and began talking to Santa, making sure he would stop by her house this December.

“I like you, Santa,” she said, as the new friends moved to a nearby chair to discuss what Caroline wanted for Christmas.

While the two chatted, Caroline’s mother, Brenda Robertson, wiped tears from her eyes.

Caroline has trisomy 18 — also known as Edwards Syndrome — a genetic condition caused by an extra 18th chromosome that negatively affects normal development in children, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

“Most (children with trisomy 18) die within a few days of birth,” said John Robertson, Caroline’s father. “Very seldom do they make it past 1 or 2 years old, and Caroline is 13 now.”

Not only has Caroline lived to be a teenager, she’s able to walk unassisted.

“She wasn’t supposed to be able to walk,” said Tom McMahon, a family friend whose wife serves as Caroline’s babysitter. “She walked into church one Sunday morning without her walker and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

John Robertson said doctors and specialists were shocked, and told him he had a true miracle in Caroline.

About a year ago, Brenda Robertson contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation regarding her daughter. The nonprofit aimed at fulfilling wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions granted Caroline’s wish: to visit Santa’s house.

Once the cruise schedules were finalized, the family planned their trip from Potter’s Hill, North Carolina.

Though Ketchikan is a little south of North Pole, it’s where Santa Claus lived Wednesday. And on the last Alaska stop for the Robertson’s cruise aboard the Radiance of the Seas, Caroline ate cookies, drank hot chocolate and got presents from one Mr. Claus.

“We have a trisomy 18 child who is not only not supposed to be here, but is healthy,” John Robertson said. “We’ve truly been blessed.”

• Taylor Balkom is a staff writer for the Ketchikan Daily News, where this story first appeared.

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