Santa Claus partners with Molly's Miles for donation event

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COLUMBIA – Santa Claus came to town on Friday to aid an organization for the friends and families of fallen police officers.

Molly’s Miles was raising funds for the Missouri Chapter Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.). Molly’s Miles was organized in honor of fallen police officer Molly Bowden, who was mortally wounded while conducting a routine traffic stop in 2005.

The line stretched out the door at the beginning of Friday's event. Children crowded in to meet Santa Claus. Byron Pittman played Santa.

“I wanted to give,” he said. “I started looking for opportunities to volunteer.”

Pittman was in a car accident a few years ago. His therapist asked him to imagine the happiest person he could think of, which was Santa Claus. Since that moment, Pittman has taken on the Santa Claus role for his own enjoyment.

“He’s always jolly. He’s always happy. He’s always spreading cheer,” Pittman said.

Pittman personally knew Bowden. He was contacted by Molly’s Miles to play Santa.

“If you knew Molly, you knew that she always had a smile and she was bringing joy wherever she went,” Pittman said. “She was a little bit of Christmas.”

Molly's Miles set up a table to allow people to register for a 5k and 10k it hosts. It also sold merchandise and collected donations to go towards Missouri C.O.P.S.

“Once there’s an in line of duty death, they will move in and work with the family to make sure they have all of their financials straight away, and then also they’ll help send them to camps and they’ll help get them to the National Police Week Memorial” said Buddy Anliker, a lieutenant with the MUPD.