Premature infant Logan Vazquez got his first Christmas gift and his first photo with Santa on Saturday when members of the Pedalheads cycling club rode to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove bringing presents for pediatric patients.
Logan's gift -- a small light-up snowman -- was among piles of coloring books, craft kits, toy trucks and games that traveled about 2 miles from Lemon Tree Grocer in downtown Downers Grove to the hospital by bike.
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About 25 cyclists, led by Vita Zadura of Chicago and Vicky Tate of Downers Grove, dressed like Santa, elves or reindeer as they gave the hospital a stockpile of gifts to share with pediatric patients and children who have to undergo medical tests.
"I just wanted to give back, give them a Christmas they'll hopefully always remember," said Zadura, whose festive biking gear included a pink Santa hat over her helmet and red and green ribbons braided into her hair.
Little Logan Vazquez got his gift hand-delivered to his mother, Bridget, who said it was awesome to receive a decoration for Logan's corner of the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, from the cyclists.
Logan has been in the hospital since his Oct. 2 birth at 1 pound 14 ounces, Vazquez said. He now weighs 3 pounds 14 ounces, but may not be able to go home to Naperville until after Christmas.
"If he's still here, we'll celebrate it here," said Vazquez, 23.
Zadura, Tate and Santa, also known as Todd Crisman of Glen Ellyn, marveled at Logan wrapped in a green blanket as he yawned, stretched and opened his eyes to see his new toy and the visitors.
"You've made my Christmas, by the way," Crisman told Logan and his mom. "And that's saying a lot, for Santa."
While some premature babies like Logan may have a long hospital stay ahead of them, many patients of Good Samaritan's pediatric unit are discharged quickly, said Peggy Farrell, nurse manager of the NICU and pediatrics. Still, she said, the hospital can be a scary place for children who don't have to stay overnight, especially if they must undergo a test like an MRI or a CT scan.
"It's a very comforting thing for the whole health care team when they get to give a gift," Farrell said. "It means a lot to everyone."
The stuffed animals, musical toys and other presents delivered Saturday by the cyclists were not all doled out right away. Many will be stored and given to children throughout the next month and even after Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Day have passed, Farrell said.
"We spread the cheer through the whole year," she said.