Community helps 'Santa' with his animals

6:05 PM, Apr 11, 2011   |    comments
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But on Friday, while Bill Lee was tending to one of his horses, his trailer rolled on top of him, crushing his sternum and lungs and breaking all of his ribs.

"He took one of our horses that was ill to a veterinarian in Arvada. When he was paying [the veterinarian] said, 'Your trailer is rolling!' and being the man he is, he went after it. He slipped underneath the wheel and it rolled right over his chest," Carol Lee, Bill's wife, said.

Now Carol Lee, or "Mrs. Claus," not only has to worry about and take care of her husband who is recovering in Denver, but she also has to tend to their ranch in Idaho Springs which holds more than 150 animals.

"We have nine reindeer with three calves on the way very soon. They are the life blood of keeping this place alive. But we also have donkeys, mules, horses, cattle, goats, sheep, dogs, chickens - I have quite an egg business going," Carol Lee said.

Besides being Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, the Lees also have a burro farm and petting zoo they run most of the year.

It's obvious why Carol Lee needs help, but before she could even ask, the community already took the reigns.

"Small town community support is unbelievable. I had no idea. Someone showed up yesterday morning just to feed the llamas. I didn't even know he was here," Carol Lee said. "I told Bill that this morning and he started to cry."

This community Bill Lee has poured his heart into is happy to give back.

"He'd do anything for anybody. He's volunteered for everything, every parade, every school function," longtime friend Steve Indrehus said.

Indrehus says family, friends and even strangers want to help the man they say made so many Christmas' special.

"Everyone is up there right now helping out... taking turns feeding and cleaning the animals," Indrehus said.

Carol Lee couldn't be more grateful.

"I never thought I'd be in this position and needing the support. It's going to be a long haul but he will come home," she said.

Bill Lee is still in intensive care at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver.

If you want to help Carol and Bill Lee, go to www.laughingvalleyranch.com.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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