HCA Midwest Health
December 13, 2023

HCA Midwest Health NICUs Welcome Santa and Buddy the Elf for 15th Year

Friday, December 8th marks the 15th year that Santa and his elves, along with the Kansas City Mavericks, visit to spread holiday cheer to families of tiny, critically ill preemies at three HCA Midwest Health neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Overland Park Regional Medical Center neonatologist Rob Holcomb, MD, will reprise his role of Santa. Each preemie will receive a tiny, hand-knitted Santa hat. More than 1,000 families and their babies have experienced the joy of Santa and Buddy the Elf over the past 15 years.

Owned by the Lamar Hunt Jr. family, the Kansas City Mavericks have been involved in the event for ten years — for a profoundly personal reason. Hunt’s daughter, Sarah Hunt Arkell, and her husband, James, know the life-changing experience of having a newborn in a NICU. As a former NICU family, the couple spent five emotionally charged weeks keeping vigil over their critically ill son, Michael, at the Overland Park Regional Medical Center Level III NICU as neonatal experts and specialists nurtured and nourished him.

“Sarah and I look forward to this incredible event every year as an opportunity to reflect on how far Michael has come, and to show our gratitude to the caregivers who made such a positive impact on our lives,” said Arkell. “We made lifelong connections with special people in the NICU and it’s important for us to pay it forward for the families going through the difficult journey, to show them that life gets better outside the NICU.”

“On behalf of the Kansas City Mavericks, I’m pleased that we can assist with providing comfort this holiday season,” said Mike Cukyne, Maverick’s Team President. “Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s NICU has deep roots within the Mavericks’ families, and we are honored to recognize their efforts — along with those of Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center’s NICUs.”  

The Kansas City Mavericks is presenting sponsor of Holiday of Hope. Food will be donated by Donutology and The Big Biscuit and Andy’s Frozen Custard, putting smiles on the families faces as they enjoy the memories of Santa and sweet treats.

“The holidays are a very poignant time for families to have babies in the NICU,” said Rob Holcomb, MD, neonatologist, Sunflower Neonatology and Overland Park Regional Medical Center Level III NICU.  “HCA Midwest Health’s NICUs and our physicians, nurses and staff nurture and nourish the tiniest and sickest of babies. Part of our mission is to minister to families and help create positive, lasting memories, especially during the holidays. This is the best day of the year for me and Buddy the Elf - and after 15 years, it warms our hearts to have brought joy to more than 1,000 families and their babies.”

HCA Midwest Health is Kansas City’s largest healthcare and NICU provider, caring for more critically ill newborns than any other area healthcare system in the region. Overland Park Regional Medical Center is part of HCA Midwest Health.