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Kentucky Kernel

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UK HealthCare annual Breakfast with Santa returns after COVID-19 pandemic

A child attendee sits with Santa during the Breakfast with Santa event on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

UK HealthCare hosted its 35th annual Breakfast with Santa event on Saturday, Dec. 2, the first since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tradition of ‘Breakfast with Santa’ began in 1985 and has since continued to bring cheer and holiday spirit to dozens of attendees at the UK Chandler Hospital. 

Originating from a member of the UK Hospital Auxiliary Services, the department has hosted the gathering since the first annual event and has continued post-pandemic. 

“They (UK Hospital Auxiliary Services volunteers) do it as a way to thank the staff for their work in the hospital. The volunteers are in the hospital every day, so they see how hard the staff work,” said Sara Camic, manager of volunteer services at UK HealthCare.

Camic said the event was advertised internally to members within UK HealthCare and their families and sold out within just three days. 

The breakfast was held in the UK Chandler Hospital Dining facility in Pavillion A, and at the entrance children attendees were given paper to write their Christmas lists for Santa.

They then were seated throughout the dining facility at numbered tables, where they enjoyed a hot breakfast provided by volunteers.

Santa entered the facility around 9:10 a.m. and sat in the front of the dining room, where attendees were able to line up to speak to him.

Attendees were able to take pictures with Santa as well as give him their Christmas lists.

First-time attendee and a UK optical manager, Megan Chestnut, attended the event with her mother and daughter, Aria.

“I think the fact that we’re able to be together with some of our other colleagues and the fact that I was able to bring my mom was a lot of fun,” Chestnut said.

Rachel Miller, a UK gynecologic oncologist, also attended the event for the first time with her husband and two sons.

“It’s just amazing to be a part of the community and share the love with everyone around,” Miller said. 

To help celebrate the Christmas holiday with Santa, UK athletes and mascots Scratch and the Wildcat took pictures with and interacted with attendees.

Students from UK golf, gymnastics, football, STUNT and cheer were seen at the event, some in full uniform.

“Kentucky cheer is really big on giving back to the community, which is one awesome thing that I love about this program. When we saw the opportunity (to volunteer), we all jumped on it,” freshman and UK cheerleader Gavin Usery said.

Usery said it was his first time volunteering at the event and he was “having an absolute blast.”

The student-athletes helped put on the event by serving breakfast and even posing for photos with children in attendance.

“It’s just been amazing interacting with the kids and seeing the smiles on their faces has been great,” fifth-year student and golf team member Cooper Parks said.

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