Dixie State basketball players, cheerleaders bring Christmas spirit to children in hospital

ST. GEORGE — A child in the hospital is bad enough. A child in the hospital over the holidays can be disheartening for both the child and the parents. Dixie State University tried to make it a little easier Monday by providing presents for the children, decorations for the rooms and a visit from the big guy himself, Santa Claus.

A premature baby in the neonatal unit of Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah, Dec. 11, 2017 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

“A little bit of smiles in an otherwise not-so-great experience,” Derek Cannon of Saratoga Springs, Utah, said. Derek’s 21-month old child is in the hospital and will probably be over the holidays. “It was a pleasure to have them here and we’re grateful for the time they take and the effort they put into visiting the kids here.”

Santa was joined by Dixie State University basketball players and cheerleaders to distribute Christmas trees and presents through the neonatal intensive care unit and the pediatrics unit at the 400 East campus of Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.

“They’ll remember this,” DSU basketball coach Jon Judkins said. “Probably more than anything else. Their eyes will be open today to see how happy these kids are when you give them a present and how appreciative they are. … We brought trees, we brought toys, we brought dolls, we brought trucks.”

The coach said he was excited that his players got behind the effort.

“I think it’s huge,” Judkins said. “I think it goes hand in hand. I think you need to do both. It’s not just come to Dixie State and play basketball. It’s get a good education, get involved with the community. That’s why I think we’ve been so successful, our community gets behind us too. We’re a family.”

“It’s amazing that these families can go through that and still have a smile on their face when they see Santa,” Santa Claus said. “We’re going up to the pediatric floor and then when we leave here, we’re going to get ready for my Christmas Eve run.”

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