By Brenda L. Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — Mayor Greg Ballard came out Saturday to celebrate the 15th annual Breakfast with Santa event at the Chapel Hill 7th and 8th Grade Center in Wayne Township. Ballard declared it “Marshall Lewis Day” in honor of the event’s founder.
The event is organized by the Indiana Division of Steak ‘n Shake and the Wayne Township Fire Department and sponsored by businesses such as Engaging Solutions, Long’s Bakery, Toys for Tots, Westview Hospital, and others.
Families are invited to the free event to enjoy breakfast, visits with Santa, and musical entertainment.
“This is such a heart-warming story,” Ballard said. “Toys for Tots, the fire department, and so many others have come together to make this possible.”
Lewis founded the program in 1999 when he and a handful of civic-minded individuals wanted to give Christmas to a few families in the Wayne Township community.
“We started that first year with about 150 people at the Steak ‘n Shake on 10th Street,” Lewis said. “It’s not even there anymore.”
Lewis said he was honored and touched by the presentation by the mayor and the fire department.
“It was such a surprise,” he said. “I am so very grateful and so thankful to all our sponsors over the years. I’m so thankful to the fire department for taking this over when I had to retire.”
Lewis suffered a stroke and had not been able to help with the Breakfast with Santa event for the past few years. The Wayne Township Fire Department wanted to make sure Lewis and his family knew just how appreciated they were. The founding committee members were given special jackets that say “Breakfast with Santa Committee.”
Kim Boyd was one of those founding board members who was also present at the event on Saturday. She posed for photos with Lewis, showing off their new jackets.
“I also have to thank the fire chief (Gene) Konzen,” Lewis said. “And the trustees we’ve worked with over the years.”
Lewis said he and his wife, Cheryl, along with their children, had worked on the project together.
“We kept outgrowing places to have it,” he said. “My goal back then was to grow it so big we could have to take it to the Hoosier Dome.”
He said maybe Lucas Oil Stadium should be his new goal.
This year’s goal was to help 3,500 children who reside on the west side of Indianapolis. In order to fill that goal, the department is asking members of the community to make monetary donations and/or contributions of new toys, clothing, books, and gift certificates.
Those willing to make donations are asked to call the Wayne Township Trustee’s office at 241-4191.