CANTON, Ga. – Christmas is still going strong for 14-year-old Nick Waters (search).
When the boy's church asked what he wanted for Christmas, Nick, who cannot talk and was born with no arms, slowly typed his reply with his feet: Lots of Christmas cards. Ten thousand of them.
More than two weeks after Christmas, he has more than 130,000 cards — and they are still coming. They line the halls at his home, along with the living room, and the kitchen, and every other room in the house.
"To see him the month of December, it was like a different child. His color looks good. It was the best Christmas ever," said Nick's mother, Penny Waters.
Nick has Holt-Oram syndrome (search), a rare, inherited disorder that causes heart abnormalities and birth defects of the hands and arms. This was the first Christmas in several years that Nick did not spend in a hospital, and no one in his family wants the season to end.
Friends and church members help handle all the mail. Each day, they form a circle in the living room with Nick in the middle, taking delight as envelopes are opened and each card is read.
Unopened cards are stacked waist-high in postal bins in the dining room, a closet and the garage.
As the cards poured in, Nick's family — including father, Charles, and sisters Tabitha, 19, and Kasey, 13 — filled in a map, marking each state where a card had been mailed from. South Dakota and Alaska were the last postmarks to pass through the door.
Cards also have come from Ethiopia, Israel, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Ireland, Australia and Canada.
Nick also received a package from the Secret Service (search), with photos of President Bush, Air Force One and White House pets Barney and Willie. He has cards from the Wake Forest basketball team, the NBA's Orlando Magic (search), the University of Georgia, Miss Utah and Elvis, who confided to Nick he is still alive and in hiding.
"He's probably touched more lives in a month than we'll touch in a lifetime," said Darrell Cheek, a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Woodstock who helped organized the effort along with members of Faith Baptist in nearby Ball Ground.
Church groups spread word of Nick's request through the Internet.
"He could have asked for anything," his mother said. "He could have asked for a swimming pool. He just wanted cards and mail."
Those close to Nick say the cards helped ease his pain. Nick has spent other recent Christmas seasons in the hospital, fighting infections and complications following spinal surgery in 2000.
"This is probably the happiest I've seen him in four years," said Debbie Brineman, a specialist who has worked with Nick for seven years.