SHARPSVILLE, Pa. (WYTV) – If you grew up in Mercer County, chances are you have seen Rickey Fair during the holidays.
That’s because every Christmas, Fair puts on his Santa suit to become Santa’s special helper.
The borough’s Santa program has been ongoing since 1947. As part of the program, Santa and his helpers visit homes in Sharpsville with gifts for the children..
“There’s nothing like it. I’m a children’s kind of guy, anyways,” Fair said.
Fair has dedicated more than 20 years to playing Santa for local hospitals, retirement homes and service projects.
But if you saw him earlier this year, he wasn’t exactly the man that he is today.
For the last five years, Fair was in so much pain from diabetic neuropathy that he couldn’t even lift his feet.
“We’d do 40, 50, 60 houses every night, and I couldn’t take the walking, so I kind of semi-retired, hopefully that I could get this neuropathy straightened around,” he said.
In October, he received treatment from St. Jude Medical that turned his life around. It was a spinal implant, known as a dorsal root ganglion stimulation device.
“The transformation for him before and after the placement of this neuromodulation device is like night and day,” said Dr. John Wrightson, of Joshuason Rehabilitation & Pain Management Ltd.
Fair calls it his third chance at life.
He has diabetes from a brain hemorrhage he suffered 15 years ago and also had to get a new foot because of arthritis.
Now, he’s ready to get back to volunteering his time in the role of Santa.
That’s what makes him this week’s Hometown Hero.