Why Gympie almost didn’t have its Barefoot Santa this year
GYMPIE'S famous Santa is back spreading Christmas cheer and this year it can only be described as a Christmas miracle.
If you'd asked the doctors by his hospital bed three weeks ago, Colin Betts wouldn't be alive, let alone out walking his dog in his Santa suit.
The well-known Gympie character has entertained the masses on the Bruce Highway for the past few years where he's waved his Christmas count down sign.
On November 8, a routine throat examination at Noosa Hospital turned critical when Mr Betts stopped breathing and "died on the operating table".
"I was without oxygen for 10 minutes - they told my friend if I woke up I would be brain dead."
Mr Betts was evacuated to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, as bushfires threatened the Noosa Hospital.
"My friend was told to get the family ready for a bedside vigil," Mr Betts said.
"She prayed and said 'don't do this' - and the next morning I came out of a 14 hour coma."
The 60 year-old, who was born with a hole in his heart and has suffered two heart attacks, uses his near-death experiences to fuel his kindness and live everyday at a time.
"I'm so thankful that I'm here," he said.
"They didn't expect me to wake up. I'm not supposed to be alive."
"I love life, I love people, I love smiling, I love making people happy."
Mr Betts is collecting toys to help spread Christmas love, he said.
Donations can be dropped into Gympie 4GY at 21 Geordie Rd.