December 12, 2022
Santa and his elves, along with the Kansas City Mavericks, made their 11th annual Holiday of Hope visit to spread holiday cheer to families of tiny, critically ill preemies at four HCA Midwest Health neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Overland Park Regional Medical Center neonatologist Rob Holcomb, MD, reprised his role of Santa. NICUs visited include Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Research Medical Center.
Owned by the Lamar Hunt Jr. family, the Kansas City Mavericks is the event’s present sponsoring for the eighth year — and for a profoundly personal reason. Hunt’s daughter, Sarah Hunt Arkell, and her husband, James, know firsthand 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,” says James Arkell. “We built a family in the NICU, making lifelong connections with special people. It’s important for us to pay it forward to the families currently going through the difficult journey, and 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,” says Mavericks owner Lamar Hunt Jr. “Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s NICU was there for our family, and we are honored to recognize their efforts — along with those of Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center’s NICUs.”
Donutology, The Big Biscuit and The Russell donated food for the event and The Circle of Hope Foundation, which provides social, emotional and financial support for parents with babies in the Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU, provided décor, side dishes and other items. Award-winning photographer Jessica Strom captured baby’s first photo with Santa.
“The holidays are one of the most poignant times for families to have babies in the NICU,” says Overland Park Regional Medical Center Level III NICU Medical Director Thomas Lancaster, M.D., neonatologist. “HCA Midwest Health’s NICUs and our physicians and nurses take the tiniest and sickest of babies and nurture and nourish them. Part of our mission is to minister to families and help create positive, lasting memories, especially during the holidays.”
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.