Santa and firefighters make Christmas Eve stop at the hospital

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DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Before a very busy night, Santa and Mrs. Claus always make sure the kids spending the night in the hospital aren't forgotten.

On December 24, 2016, the pair made a stop at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport.

"It's a busy, busy day for us, but it's great to actually spend a little bit of time with people in the hospital. Not everybody's going to be able to make it home tonight," said Santa.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are joined by their friends at the Davenport Fire Department to deliver gifts and smiles to the hospital patients.

This year, though, someone special was missing.

Lt. Mark Kakert, who organized the annual event, passed away earlier this year. Lt. Kakert spent nearly 30 years with the fire department, and the Christmas Eve delivery has always been close to the Kakert family's hearts. This year, his daughter, Katie, volunteered to carry on the tradition.

"It's so special. I know it means a lot to them that Santa actually came, and knew that they were in the hospital, and was able to bring them a present personally," said Kakert. "It's really heartwarming to see."

In addition, a special gift for the hospitals' newborns ensured Lt. Kakert would not be forgotten.

"Normally we buy store-bought onesies, but this year they had them custom-made. They put my dad's badge number on it, which is 518, which is really special," said Kakert.

The gifts and visits are especially meaningful for the families spending the night away from home.

"Most people want to be home for the holidays, and if we can come and just kind of bring a little bit of cheer and a smile to their face, we try to do that when we can," said firefighter Ryan Hanghian.

The firefighters purchase the gifts each year.