This 10-year-old boy asked Santa for a coronavirus vaccine last year. This year he has another request

All Jonah Simons said was a coronavirus cure to save the world.

That was last year. Jonah’s letter was collected through the US Postal Service’s Operation Santa program and published on CNN. It was one of many that revealed the toll the pandemic is taking on children across the country.

This holiday season, the 10-year-old Florida boy is back with a different request for Santa.

“Dear Santa, it’s me, Jonah. Do you remember me? I was the one asking for a Covid cure,” he wrote in a letter to the North Pole and shared with CNN. “By the way, so much for the vaccine! You helped save lives. Can I please have a Santa Claus costume this year to spread your joy around the world?”

Letters to Santa reveal the toll the pandemic is taking on children

His mother, Doe Simons, says Jonah writes his own Christmas letters without the help of his parents.

With an relentless virus and threats from the Omicron variant still plaguing a weary nation, Jonah has big plans for the Santa suit.

“I want to wear it and walk around the neighborhood and spread the joy of Santa Claus asking people what they want for Christmas,” the fifth grader told CNN.

Jonah Simons' letter to Santa last year.

Jonah’s mom says she’s not sure her son still believes in Santa Claus.

“But Jonah has had moments of Christmas. For example, last year he sent his Christmas wish into the universe, and to a certain extent it came true,” she says.

“I think writing that letter, even if he didn’t believe in Santa Claus, was for him the ability to exercise some control over the issue (of the pandemic). It was his way of communicating his feelings and expressing what he wanted.”

Helping others is nothing new to Jonah

Jonah has been spreading joy in his Parkland community for years.

Growing up in Parkland, where 17 people died in a 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has had an impact on Jonah and other kids in the area, his mother says.

“What happened here had a big impact on the children here. He was in middle school and his school was on lockdown that day,” she says. “I think that like Jonah, you bring kids here who think civilly and want to make a difference … When he sees the impact his helping is having on others, he wants to do more to help.”

Jonah turned 10 in July, and in lieu of gifts, he asked family and friends to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His birthday fundraiser raised $1,000 in donations from family and friends from around the world — even his favorite employees at the local Publix store, his mother says.

Jonah Simons holds up a photo showing his long hair before he donated it to charity for his 10th birthday this year.
He also celebrated his birthday by donating his hair locks of love, the charity that makes wigs for children with cancer or other conditions. During a year of lockdown, he teamed up with some friends and grew his hair to nine inches.

“It took so long that I was bullied for it,” he says. “Some people called me a girl.”

Jonah’s good deeds aren’t limited to birthdays. He works year-round to help his community, including donating and sorting food for the homeless with the organization Feeding South Florida and wrapping Christmas presents for children.

Doe Simons says her son’s charity begins near home with his grandparents, who are in their 90s and live nearby. Jonah takes out their trash every week, holds car doors open for them, and helps them up the elevator with their walkers, she says.

Jonah with his grandparents Nancy and Jay Simons.

He is an aspiring doctor whose medicine is love

Jonah has long found ways to spread happiness. At the age of 3 he started dressing up as a doctor to visit sick relatives.

“Ever since he was a little boy he always wanted a doctor’s outfit,” says his father Joe Simons. “He dressed as a doctor because his medicine was love. He visited family members in the hospital, checked their vital signs, spoke to the nurses and prescribed a special drug: love.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Jonah asked his parents to buy him a “pandemic suit” with the personal protective equipment that healthcare workers wear at the hospital. He told them he wanted one in case he needed to visit relatives in the hospital and prescribe his love medicine.

Jonah hasn’t had to do this yet, so he mostly wears the outfit at home when he’s treating his stuffed bear.

“His bear is very well taken care of,” says his mother.

When family members are hospitalized, Jonah Simons disguises himself as a doctor to visit them. Then he prescribes a special drug: love.

Jonah has big plans for his 11th birthday

Jonah’s inspiration is Heather Khalil, a Parkland woman who is very active in the community and was awarded the Mayor’s Medal of Charitable Service.

“She really got him into becoming a civil servant,” says Doe Simons.

Jonah wants to be many things when he grows up. Most days he tells people he wants to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a police officer. But he believes he can make a bigger difference as the leader of the free world.

“My biggest goal is to be president,” he says. “In this way I can change many things and make decisions that help other people.”

Until then, he will continue to help people in his community.

Jonah already has big plans for his 11th birthday next July. He hopes Covid-19 will be a thing of the past by then so he can go to sleepaway camp without a mask.

He has also signed on as an ambassador for the homeless. And once again, he plans to use his birthday to raise money for charity. He might even be wearing his Santa suit. This 10-year-old boy asked Santa for a coronavirus vaccine last year. This year he has another request

Charles Jones

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