NEW ORLEANS - The uplifting story of a little girl who believed her note would reach Santa Claus, is touching hearts around the world. Thursday night she is in New Orleans for another big surprise.
A single mother from Lafayette, at times has worked two jobs to try to make ends meet for her young daughters, but she always makes them feel rich with an abundance of hope and dreams. She could never have imagined the riches of blessing that would come back to her family, all because her girls believe in Santa Claus.
Thanksgiving night, Keani Page, 6, wrote a letter to Santa with a wish list her single mother could not afford. A tablet computer, shoes that light up, and a turtle. This year, mailing it to the North Pole was not enough. She tied it to a balloon shaped like a crown with the word 'princess' on it, then launched it with her sister, Shanya, 10, from their home in Lafayette.
"Because it would get to Santa Claus faster," Keani explained.
"I was thinking that balloon (is going to) come down. Never thought it would have made it 800 miles away. Never," said her mother Sheena Page.
Days later, Rachel Goffinet found it in Evanston, Indiana, just outside of Santa Claus, the town. Through the internet, Rachel found the Page family and the note came back to Lafayette with everything on the list, wrapped and ready to put under the tree.
"She believes. She believes. My oldest too. They both believe Santa did do this. Miss Rachel and Santa and the elves, they did it all," explained Sheena.
The story hit the news in Indianapolis, but pulled on the heartstrings of some men around the world. Stephon Marbury, who plays basketball in China, called his New York friend Leland Hardy .
"He has his own sneaker company. He makes these light up shoes with all these gadgets and so on. You can change the colors of the lighting and even speak to the shoes and all that. So he wants to get this girl these shoes as part of this whole Christmas miracle that she's having," said Leland Hardy, an entrepreneur in New York City and Founder of newyork.com.
Those shoes arrived today. Then Leland found out Keani loves the Pelicans and star player Anthony Davis. So her called actor Ameer Baraka in New Orleans, who got in touch with his friend, Pelicans Assistant Coach Robert Pack. Tonight, the Page family will have prime seats and pictures with the Pels at the game.
"What Keani did is believed in something, gave herself a chance, and it worked out for her. And that's what Team Hope is about," said Coach Robert Pack,
President of the Robert Pack Foundation and co-founder of Team Hope.
Now, through their Team Hope, Coach Pack and entertainment moguls Master P and his son Romeo, are surprising the Page family, Friday, with a trip to movie sets and theme parks in Los Angeles.
"This is a miracle, a real Christmas miracle," said Sheena.
So yes, Virginia, and now Keani, there is a Santa Claus.
Thursday night, Anita Demps, wife of the Pelican's general manager, gave the girls a generous donation for dance lessons.
Hardy says, Kobe Bryant's production company, as well as Tyler Perry's, are each looking into turning her story into a Christmas movie.
Donations to help children with educational opportunities can be made to The Robert Pack Foundation by e-mailing email@example.com
For Team Hope shirts and apparel to help the non-profit go to http://teamhopenola.org/