December 28, 2018

When MAMA Saved Christmas – A Holiday Tale


There are many stories that circulate about Santa Claus, but a Mission Health favorite is the time that MAMA saved Christmas.

You know how the story starts: “Twas the night before Christmas …”

MAMA flight nurse Barbara Sawyer and her flight medic teams were readying their MAMA supplies, when much to their surprise, they received word over their radios of a strange sight on the radar. They were astonished to hear of one small red dot, followed by eight white dots and a larger red dot – Santa!

Little did they know that the children and employees at Mission Children’s Hospital were expecting a visit from the jolly old elf himself.

Mission Control said nothing was scheduled to be up in the air that night, but they watched in horror as the dots seemed to dip over the Blue Ridge Parkway. Mission Control radioed MAMA to help good old St. Nick.

MAMA flew to intercept Santa’s sleigh, and brought him into Asheville the rest of the way. He descended from MAMA with a “Ho ho ho” and his bag full of toys, giving thanks to the MAMA crew for getting him safely to the sick girls and boys.

After toys were distributed and cookies and milk consumed, Santa heard the jingles of his ride just outside. He thanked the employees for the special treat, and then he boarded his sleigh and bounded off into the air.

The story goes, that just before he was out of sight, employees and children all heard him say, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”



  • Last year Mission Health cared for more than 900,000 of our friends and neighbors across western North Carolina.
  • Mountain Area Medical Airlift (MAMA) helicopters made nearly 1,100 lifesaving trips.
  • Mission Health emergency departments throughout the region saw more than 142,000 patients last year. That’s 1 out of every 10 people in our area. We were pleased to continue our legacy of caring, having recently opened two new emergency departments at our member hospitals, cut the ribbon on the new Mission Hospital McDowell, and continued construction of a replacement facility for Angel Medical Center and the new Mission Hospital for Advanced Medicine (expected to open in late 2019).

Mission Health’s experienced and caring employees work every day to ensure access to the highest quality healthcare across the region and are committed to helping the people of western North Carolina to be well, get well and stay well.