By Jessica Morrow, Marketing Coordinator
The holiday season is a special time of year. It’s a time to gather with our loved ones and create memories that last a lifetime. Most of us will never forget the conversations had with Santa as we sat on his lap and told him about the gifts we wanted on Christmas morning. These moments can be taken for granted by most, as they seem like a right of passage during this time of year. However, there are some families that know all too well the void that’s left from missing these memory-making moments. Whether it’s a child fighting through an early childhood developmental issue or families who have a little one that must spend their Christmas break in the hospital, rather than playing outside with friends. There are families throughout the Kansas City Metro and beyond that could use an extra dose of Christmas spirit.
ACI Boland Achitects very own, Greg Highbarger, took it into his own hands to provide children and their families with a sense of normalcy and joy during their tough time by acting as Santa. This being the 20th year that he has donned the Big Man’s red suit, I sat down with Greg to get to get to know more about why he started this tradition and what he has learned about the Christmas season over the years.
JM: Greg, 2014 marks the 20th year that you have acted as Santa for children throughout the metro, who may have not otherwise had the chance to see him. How did you initially get involved?
GH: I was asked by a colleague, who had a special needs child, if I would be their Santa for their Holiday party. A favor for a friend turned into a true passion.
JM: Why do you continue to volunteer your time year after year?
GH: Simple: The joy I give and, more importantly, receive doing this is immeasurable. It is the kick-off to my holiday season every year!
JM: Do you have a favorite memory?
GH: Several years ago I was approached by one of the families about their son. Apparently he was not the best at eating his vegetables (who is?). They asked if I could mention his eating shortfall during his visit with Santa. I did and it worked! Still eating the vegetables today and Santa is getting ALL the credit! I would be remiss if I also failed to mention the countless responses I receive about the joy their child had in visiting with me as Santa. Many of them will only “go to” me as their Santa. With many of these kids, that is truly special!