PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Santa and Mrs. Claus came to Hampton Roads early this holiday season to deliver gifts to terminally ill children and their families.
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Together with local first responders, Santa loaded his bag and made nearly 70 stops to delight children across the region. Logan and his big brother, Evan, once visited one of the stops and were confused as to why a fire truck pulled up in front of their house with lights and sirens on.
That was until the Clauses came in!
“It was a total surprise for the kids, and it was the happiest I’ve seen my kids in ages,” recalls their mom, Bobbi Argabright, of Yorktown.
Logan was only four years old when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer of the bone and surrounding tissue. He has been untreated for nine, almost four years now and is doing well.
“I love Edmarc,” said Argabright. “During Logan’s treatment, there were many organizations that we worked with. Edmarc still invites us to their picnics. Even though he is not in treatment, they are still in touch.”
The annual Santa Run by Edmarc Hospice for Children has brought joy to children in Hampton Roads for over 30 years. In 2021, Santa and his volunteer elves left around noon on December 12 to stop at 10 routes.
“With the Santa Run, families can carry one less burden and children can enjoy the magic of the holidays,” said Edmarc Executive Director Debbie Stitzer-Brame.
The purpose of the event is to take the added stress of the holidays from parents and give their potentially immunocompromised child the chance to see Santa.
But it’s not just children who get gifts. Edmarc gives gifts for the whole family.
“For bereaved families, it can be difficult to find the strength to shop and wrap gifts, so all of that is still done for their other children,” Stitzer-Brame said.
More than 27 sponsors, including WAVY-TV 10, came together to ensure that nearly 60 families received gifts this holiday season. Gifts are also delivered to families who opt out of Santa’s visit or to those who may be celebrating other holidays.
The gifts come in giant, hand-sewn cloth bags.
Community members work together in every way to make the event a success, even volunteering time to capture the day.
Karen Hibbard of Karen Hibbard Photography in Chesapeake took part a few years ago and rode next to Santa again this year.
“There are few events during the holiday season that compare to Edmarc’s Santa Run,” Hibbard said. “So many wonderful volunteers came together to make this day an unforgettable one. I am thrilled to have the opportunity again this year to help capture the moment when Santa Claus arrives and spreads love and joy. It’s just as much a gift for me.”
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