Barack Obama, with a Santa Hat and Shimmy, Surprises Patients & Families at Children’s Hospital
Barack Obama is spreading Christmas cheer!
On Wednesday, the former president, 57, surprised young patients and their families at Washington, D.C.'s Children's National, the same hospital Michelle Obama visited annually during her time as first lady.
As seen in a video shared by the children's hospital, Obama was dressed in a red Santa hat and casual wear as he went door-to-door and met several members of the staff during his hour-and-a-half visit.
The father of two visited with kids in one of the playrooms where they were working on art projects, even recording a video that was later shared with the patients he was unable to meet.
“It was truly a wonderful surprise! One of the kids started crying, and another child, who had been too weak to stand for the last few weeks, insisted on getting up to stand for a photo with Obama,” Amy Goodwin, the head of public relations for Children's National, tells PEOPLE.
During his visit, Obama also gave a speech to the families, patients and staff members.
“I just want to say thank you to all of you guys. We had a chance to talk to some of the wonderful kids and their families,” the 44th commander-in-chief said. “At a time that, obviously, is tough for folks, and as a dad of two girls, I can only imagine in that situation to have nurses and staff and doctors and people who are caring for them and looking after them and listening to them, and just there for them and holding their hand. That's the most important thing there is. What a great reminder of what the holiday spirit is supposed to be about.”
“Merry Christmas and happy holidays to the extraordinary kids, families, and staff at Children's National. And thanks for humoring me as your stand-in Santa,” Obama also tweeted, along with footage from his visit.
Twelve-year-old Katriel Levin and her mom were in the middle of a UNO game when Obama dropped into their room for a surprise that made the child cry tears of joy. He gave Katriel a puzzle saying that his grandmother liked to do puzzles, according to Goodwin.
Obama also went into 4-year-old Carter Smith's room, the child was so excited to see his new gift – an Avengers set – that it took him a while to see who exactly was delivering the toy.
“What an amazing afternoon! Mr. Obama's surprise visit – complete with a Santa hat and toys – was incredibly special for our patients and their families. I know they will be talking about it for years to come,” Dr. Kurt Newman, CEO and President of the Children's National Health System, tells PEOPLE.
During his surprise appearance, Obama shared a special moment a child who had a Captain America-printed pillow after he asked the child about his favorite superhero.
“The thing about superheroes is that they always have something to get over, some sort of struggle. Because if everything was easy, there would be no point to them being a superhero,” Obama told the child, adding, “That's kind of like you!”