They wouldn't have had Christmas at all without KBER and their listeners.
WEST VALLEY CITY — Bradley Begent has put on his fur-trimmed red coat and pants dozens of times in the past nine years, but never before has it meant as much as it did on Wednesday night.
He and his "elf" wife, Alicia, heard of the need for a volunteer Santa on the radio last week and the two of them stepped up to help provide a happy holiday for six children who might not have had one this year.
"It was unbelievable, they were just shocked," Begent said. "They wouldn't have had Christmas at all without KBER and their listeners."
Just over a week ago, the children's mother, Aryann Smith, was involved in an accident that left her trapped underneath a bus for several hours after it hit her in a crosswalk. She was hospitalized with at least one broken leg, but was home resting on Wednesday, when Begent, dressed as Santa Claus, walked in carrying a large bag of presents.
He arrived in a silver SUV instead of a sleigh and didn't slide down the chimney because the small apartment didn't have one, but either way, he was well received.
The kids bounced with excitement and great big smiles stretched across their tiny faces as Begent handed out the gifts — all donations from listeners of the local KBER 101.1 radio station.
"We didn't know if we could do Christmas this year, with the accident and everything," said Taysha Smith, Aryann's sister. "We've been so worried about my sister."
Aryann Smith was in the crosswalk near 3650 South and 3200 West, on Dec. 12, when a Utah Transit Authority bus hit her and she was dragged underneath the front of the vehicle. Emergency officials worked steadily to free her, while one West Valley City police officer held her hand as she lay on the cold ground throughout the ordeal. The bus driver was cited for not yielding to a pedestrian, and remains on administrative leave during an internal UTA investigation.
Tuesday night, KBER dropped off a Christmas tree and lights to put the family in the spirit and the presents came as a "big surprise," Taysha Smith said.
"I have played Santa for all kinds of parties, where kids will come sit on my knee and ask for things, but those events were nothing like this," Begent said. "This was for a good cause. Handing out presents to those kids was an unbelievable experience."
He said his part was easy — he just showed up. It was the presents from gracious radio listeners this seaon that really saved Christmas for those kids.
"We've got one heck of a community out there, one that steps up when people need things," Begent said.