CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A team of elves spread out across Charlotte on Tuesday to make sure women fighting breast cancer got very special deliveries.
And it’s all because of another woman much like them.
The silver SUV may not be a sleigh, and Joe Pagani definitely does not have Santa’s beard, but he’s as good a Santa as any for Maria and her family.
She's been fighting breast cancer since February.
"Sometimes I want to cry when I heard she had breast cancer. It was really shocking," her 10-year-old son, Aron, told us.
The mother of five first worried about how she’d pay rent after surgery, chemo, and radiation forced her to stop working. That’s when Joe Pagani and the non-profit he runs, GoJenGo, first stepped in.
"They come and pay my rent," Maria explained.
Pagani’s wife, Jen, started GoJenGo when she was fighting breast cancer. They host a 5K every year, but Jen’s favorite thing was their Spread the Joy program – where volunteers adopt families of women fighting breast cancer across Charlotte and make Christmas happen.
"Santa Claus is coming to my home, not to the town, right?" Maria laughed.
"Today is about re-living Jen’s dream of helping as many people as we could. Every year, this was her biggest push – the spread the joy effort," said Pagani.
Aron and the other kids said they don’t know how to say thank you.
"I’m very grateful for it."
Jen passed away almost six years ago.
"It keeps her alive in my son's heart in my heart. She knew this would be her legacy, and I’m very proud we're keeping it going," Pagani said.
You can find out more about GoJenGo at gojengo.org.