Santa Visits Children Fighting Illness

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PANAMA CITY - A local motorcycle club is spreading some Christmas cheer to children fighting chronic illnesses.

The Defenders Motorcycle Club is made up of law enforcement officers.

Santa and his elves arrived at Tender Love and Care United Wednesday evening, but not on a sleigh.

They were escorted by members of the Defenders Motorcycle Club, riding their Harley Davidsons.

This is the 3rd year the Panama City Chapter has delivered Christmas gifts to the center.

"They know it's coming and they get excited as you probably saw on their faces as they waited for Santa. It's a big deal for them. A lot of these kids wouldn't have a lot of Christmas if it wasn't for their help," said Lisa Luchini, Director of Nursing.

Tender Love and Care is a non-profit organization that provides health care for children with chronic medical conditions.

Without the help of the off-duty cops, their families may have struggled through the holidays.

"They sometimes don't get the Christmas like other kids. We are here to help. We want to do whatever we can to assist these kids and to make a holiday meaningful and a little more joyful than what they would normally have," said Greg Robarts, Panama City Chapters Club President.

The club raises the money for this event during the Thunder Beach Motorcycle rallies in Panama City Beach.

This year they raised $2,500, which is about $100 for each child.

Luchini said, "They go out and purchase all the gifts, wrap all the gifts and then bring them all here."

Everyone agrees the best part of the event is seeing the kids smile.

"It makes their day; that's what we want to make their day." Robarts said.

The local Defenders chapter is one of 62 nationwide.

All of the members are law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency first responders.