The setting was different, but the spirit was the same as 35 of the families who make up the Cardiac Kids group of the Capital Region gathered by Zoom for their annual Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, Dec. 6.
Just as it would have been had they gathered in person, the kids talked over each other – sharing stories of Elves on the Shelves, asking when Santa would be there, and showing off the coloring pages they had done in advance of the gathering.
The group settled as the American Heart Association’s Heart Challenge Director, Kim Sheedy, welcomed the group, interrupted only a couple of times by “When is Santa coming?”
Vicki Dodd read her book, “Twas the Night Before Christmoose,” while Longshot the Moose danced behind her. The kids again showed their coloring pages – which were pictures of Longshot. The story is based on the time a moose wandered onto the track at Saratoga Race Course. Longshot also offered the families a discount on purchases of her book.
Mrs. Claus took a break from her work with Santa and the elves to share a few jokes and ask some trivia questions. “What do the elves learn in school?” “The Elf-abet” made everyone laugh, and the young group was surprisingly skilled at knowing what happens in “It’s a Wonderful Life” every time a bell rings (an angel gets his wings).
Mary Daikos, mother of Ella, who was born with a congenital heart defect, sang a few songs to herald the arrival of The Big Man himself. With a ringing of a bell, Santa appeared, comfortably seated on a hassock in front of a Christmas tree. He chatted with the children for a while before telling them that he had dropped off $25 gift cards for each child – Cardiac Kids and their siblings – with the American Heart Association. The cards will be mailed out this week.
“Like so many, all of us who are part of the Cardiac Kids group have reduced the number of activities we participate in,” said Jennifer Corcoran Conway, mother of the 2021 Heart Hero of the Capital Region Heart Walk and Run, 9-year-old Aedan. Conway is also a partner at Tully Rinckey and chair of the Capital Region Board of Directors at the American Heart Association. “The Heart Association’s Breakfast with Santa is an important tradition for all of us, and I’m glad we figured out a way to make this happen so our children can gather the way 2020 has us all gathering – digitally. We’re glad that Santa can join us by Zoom and we can celebrate together.”
1 in 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect, the most common birth defect. The American Heart Association is committed to improving the lives of our Cardiac Kids. One of the Cardiac Kids, who attended her first Heart Walk in a stroller, graduated from high school this year, and a 62-year-old woman born with a heart defect frequently attends meetings. The American Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Foundation committed to funding $22.5 million in research about congenital heart defects by the year 2022.
The Cardiac Kids program is sponsored by CDPHP.