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.
Along with local first responders, Santa loaded up his bag and made nearly 70 stops to surprise children across the region. Logan and his big brother, Evan, were once among one of the stops and were confused why a fire truck stopped in front of their house with its lights and sirens on.
That was until the Clauses made their appearance!
“It was a total surprise for the kids, and it was the happiest I had seen my kids in a while,” recalled their mother, 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. Now nine, he has been off treatment for almost four years and is doing well.
“I love Edmarc,” Argabright said. “There were a lot of organizations that we worked with during Logan’s treatment. Edmarc still invites us to their picnics. Even though he’s off treatment, they still keep in touch.”
The annual Santa Run by Edmarc Hospice for Children has brought joy to children across Hampton Roads for over 30 years. In 2021, Santa and his volunteer elves headed out around noon on December 12 to make stops on 10 routes.
“The Santa Run allows families to shoulder one less burden and lets kids enjoy the magic of the holidays,” said Edmarc Executive Director Debbie Stitzer-Brame.
The goal of the event is to take the added stress of the holidays off of parents and give their possibly immunocompromised child the opportunity to see Santa.
But, it is not just children who receive gifts. Edmarc provides gifts for the whole family.
“For bereaved parents, it can be difficult to find the strength to shop and wrap gifts, so all of that still gets done for their other children,” Stitzer-Brame said.
Over 27 sponsors, including WAVY-TV 10, came together to ensure nearly 60 families had gifts delivered this holiday season. Gifts are also delivered to families who opt out of Santa’s visit or those who may celebrate different holidays.
The gifts are delivered in giant hand-sewn cloth bags.
Community members work together in every way they can to ensure the success of the event and even volunteer their time to capture the day.
Karen Hibbard of Karen Hibbard Photography in Chesapeake took part a couple of years ago and rode alongside Santa again this year.
“There are few events during the holiday season that compare to Edmarc’s Santa Run,” Hibbard said. “So many amazing volunteers came together making this day one to remember. I’m thrilled to be helping again this year to capture the moment that Santa arrives spreading love and joy. It’s just as much a gift to me.”