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Christmas spirit: Businessman brightens Christmas for Mikko Gegen

This is how the Gegen family house on Jefferson Lane looks thanks to the efforts of Judy Capeti, Mark and Maureen Linnemann and several volunteers. They decorated the Gegen family house with the lights you see here. Star Gazette photo by Chad Richardson

Christmas wishes do come true.

Ask little Mikko Gegen, who is battling cancer.

With the help of his grandmother, Judy Capeti, and Mark and Maureen Linnemann, who own and operate Skip's Sprinklers, Mikko's house on the city's west side glows with holiday lights.

"Our house has a light display that is absolutely to die for," says his mom Shelly on the family's CaringBridge website. "I never, in my wildest dreams, would have imagined it would turn out like it has."

She indicated that Mikko has been "campaigning for weeks" to have Christmas lights on the house. He would talk about the other houses with decorations in the neighborhood, and wanted his home to be decorated, too.

During the first week in December, Mikko had his last radiation treatment and wanted a celebration of sorts. He desperately wanted lights on the house.

Shelly told her husband, who mentioned it to his mother. A behind-the-scenes crew got to work.

The day that Linneman put up the lights, Shelly called home and told Mikko that Santa Claus had called her. He would be sending tall elves dressed in disguise to put lights on their house just for him.

"Really?" he asked in excitement. Throughout the day Mikko "peeked" out the window and saw a crew creating a beautiful display of lights.

By late afternoon, most of the lights were on the house, but the elves were still working. The family went to a hockey game in Cottage Grove that evening.

When they returned home and turned onto their streets, the lights drew them in.

"That's coming from our house!" said Mikko, excitement growing in his voice.

Shelly described the gesture as a "magnificent labor of kindness and hope in the beautiful light display."