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Sacramento Santa Provides Wheelie Big Christmas

Posted December 23, 2014 01:45 PM CDT

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The BMX exhibition was excitement enough, but then Santa arrived in his convertible and it got even better!

Eyes were big and smiles were shy as the children listened to Santa onstage at this year's EMQ FamiliesFirst Christmas party in Sacramento. And then he told everyone to close their eyes and get ready for a surprise.

Santa pulled back the curtain and there were 195 shiny new bicycles of all sizes and colors, and the crowd went wild! Each child would be taking home a new bicycle of their very own!

EMQ FamiliesFirst is a nonprofit agency that helps children and their families, and for 39 years it has hosted a holiday event for foster and at-risk children. Bicycles for this year's celebration were donated by community members and businesses, and assembled by local volunteers including members of the Sacramento Wheelman Club, Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento Police Department Cadets.

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"Close your eyes, and I'll give you a big surprise," Santa said.

"We look forward to this event every year," said Lt. Roman Murrietta of the Sacramento Police Department. "These kids have had a rough time and many probably thought they wouldn't get any presents at all. These gifts show that the community around them cares about them — that they are not forgotten."

Gordon Richardson, Executive Director of EMQ FamiliesFirst in Sacramento, spoke of the difficulties some families have during the holidays. "It can be difficult for those who think their lives don't match the perfect images we see in TV commercials and movies — and that's pretty much everybody."

EMQ FamiliesFirst believes the most effective form of care for children, youth and their families is based in the community. With an active donor community, EMQ FamiliesFirst takes a leadership role in implementing coordinated services and being responsive to their county partners and families. Part of that donor community is lead sponsor Union Pacific Railroad, given the "2014 Above and Beyond Award" for their ongoing, dedicated support of the Foster Santa program.

Once the bicycles and helmets were matched with their new owners, the Sacramento Police Department and Cadets managed parking lot traffic so each child could take a test ride. Sounds like it will be an especially Merry Christmas in Sacramento this year!

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