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Santa makes special delivery to family of Arizona firefighter injured in explosion

Posted at 8:25 AM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 11:44:04-05

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Driving a Jeep with a toy filled SUV in tow, Santa made a special delivery Friday to the family of an Arizona firefighter who was injured in an explosion.

Peoria firefighter Justin Lopez was one of eight people injured when a utility sized lithium battery exploded at an APS substation in April. Lopez's road to recovery is long and filled with challenges.

With seven children, the elves from VIP Mortgage and the 100 Club wanted to make this a special Christmas for Justin, his wife Sarah, and their seven children.

"He's our hero," Santa told the children.

It has been a hard year for Lopez and his family. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in the explosion. The close call with death and the challenges recovery presents have tested the entire family.

"I think you're stronger than you think you are," Sarah Lopez said. "The community has been amazing. They all rally around us. This is another showing of how good our community is."

As the children try to figure out what Santa brought, Justin and Sarah marvel at how blessed they all are, being part of a community that thinks so much of them.

"All things considered, I feel great and fortunate and blessed to be here today and not the other way around," Justin said.

For the Lopez family, perhaps the best gift of all this Christmas is knowing every day together matters.

"I think everything now has new meaning," Sarah said. "We don't take life for granted, even him being at a recital or Thanksgiving it's amazing he's here, and we appreciate it ten times more."

This story was originally published by Mark Phillips at KNXV.