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Mike "Santa" Colwell

1943 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Mike "Santa" Colwell Obituary
"SANTA" MIKE COLWELL 10/13/1943 - 2/13/2014 On Thursday February 13, with his devoted wife - Elaine ("Mrs. Claus") and caring friends at his side - Santa Mike Colwell peacefully went home to be with the Lord his Saviour Jesus Christ. Santa Mike's life can be summed up in one word: "LOVE". Love of family, friends, his Harley, and life itself. But his greatest love was for children - especially those facing catastrophic illness. In 1974, Mike put on a Santa suit to make a surprise gift delivery to his granddaughter. Several months later, when he learned a neighbor's child had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, he again donned the Santa suit to deliver a special gift in fulfillment of the boy's dying wish. That experience profoundly changed his life, transforming him into a real, full-time Santa Claus, dedicated to bringing the joy of Christmas to critically ill children all year round. In 1979, Santa Mike asked a few of his fellow Harley riders to strap new toys to the back of their bikes and join him for a Christmas Eve ride to Children's Hospital of Orange County where the toys were given to children in the Pediatric Oncology Department. That was the beginning of the O.C. Hogs annual CHOC Toy Run - a tradition that continues today, often drawing over 2000 riders. By 1988, when Santa Mike's non-profit organization "Share the Spirit" was formally incorporated, he was visiting thousands of children in hospitals and shelters throughout Southern California. Though slowed by the effects of a stroke in 1996, Santa Mike continued to deliver special gifts, candy canes, and the healing magic of a loving spirit to critically ill children until shortly before his death. Santa Mike is survived by his loving wife Elaine; brother Tommy Colwell; and sisters Pat Gilbreath and Sherry Pope. Although he never had children of his own, Santa Mike was father, friend and mentor to 6 stepchildren, 8 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. A celebration of Santa Mike's life is being planned for late March. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in his memory to Children's Hospital of Orange County, Pediatric Oncology Department.

Published in Press-Enterprise on Feb. 20, 2014
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