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On December 10, 2022, Logan Health Children’s, in partnership with Whitefish Credit Union, held its inaugural Sensory-Friendly Santa event at Whitefish Credit Union’s South Kalispell office. This event provided a supportive environment for people with sensory sensitivities to meet Santa and enjoy the magic of the holidays at their own pace and comfort level.

With over a dozen families in attendance, each 30-minute visit was specifically curated to meet the needs and comfortability of the child or adult interacting with Santa. Colter Effertz and his son, Hendricks, were excited to attend the Sensory-Friendly Santa event over the weekend and have their first holiday photo with Santa.

“My son absolutely loved his experience with Sensory-Friendly Santa,” says Effertz. “He’s four years old and hasn’t been able to see Santa yet due to COVID precautions and the usual mall experience can be overwhelming. He’s autistic, so the crowds and the noise can be difficult for him. This experience was wonderful. It was so nice to have a whole 30 minutes with Santa so he could get comfortable. And, his first photos with Santa were great; he really enjoyed it.”

The extended time, as well as special toys and activities, provided those with unique sensory needs the opportunity for an individualized, happy and memorable Santa experience.

“Many families remarked that they had given up on ever getting the classic holiday photo with Santa due to the sensory overload that comes with a typical Santa experience,” explains Carly Rickard, Chief Development Officer for Logan Health Children’s. “It was an honor to partner with Whitefish Credit Union to create a supportive environment without long lines, pressure to get photos quickly, loud noises or bright lights.”


Opened in the summer of 2019, the 190,000 square foot Logan Health Children’s facility was created to provide local access to high-quality pediatric specialty care close to home, including the largest group of fellowship-trained pediatric specialists in the state. Highly skilled, highly trained medical staff, nurses, therapists, social workers and other health care professionals deliver pediatric care in an environment appropriate for children. With 30 inpatient beds, including a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and an acute care pediatric unit as well as dedicated spaces for family caregivers, Logan Health Children’s has become a pediatric healthcare destination, saving the lives and improving the health of children across Montana.