When Julie Gartshore googled the best place to live with a child with Down syndrome - the Illawarra was the frontrunner.
So Julie and husband Glen moved their brood - Natalie, 15; Taylah, 14 and Max, 10 - from Mount Isa to Woonona 12 months ago and they haven’t looked back since.
The family was among thousands of people at Wave FMs Breakfast on the Beach on Sunday, to enjoy a great event and help raise funds for The Disability Trust.
The organisation, which assists people with a range of disabilities including Down Syndrome, had been a fantastic support, Mrs Gartshore said.
‘‘I was 23 when I had Natalie and it was a big shock to my husband and I when she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome,’’ she said.
‘‘As she was getting older we realised she needed more options and opportunities, and she’s thrived here with the help of the trust - it’s the best move we’ve ever made.
‘‘She’s been able to make friends and do activities with other kids just like her, and we’ve been able to be around families in similar situations to us. It’s just been life-changing.’’
Around 4000 people flocked to Wave FMs 36th annual Breakfast on the Beach at Stuart Park on Sunday, where some 3000 sausages, 3000 eggs, 200 kilograms of bacon and 300 loaves of bread were washed down by 4000 bottles of juice, 2000 cups of coffee and 2000 cups of tea.
Wave FM breakfast co-hosts Travis Winks and Emma Bennett told the Mercury that The Disability Trust was chosen as this year’s charity recipient after announcer Jade Papesch revealed her new baby Lulu had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
‘‘The Trust helps a lot of people in the Illawarra with all sorts of conditions, including around 75 people in the region with Down Syndrome,’’ Mr Winks said.
‘‘With baby Lulu’s diagnosis, it has affected us personally, and so many of our listeners have sent messages of support to Jade.
‘‘We’ve said it before, but we continue to be amazed by the generosity of the Illawarra community, and the community has again embraced this year’s Breakfast on the Beach.’’
And while life remains a challenge for Mrs Gartshore, and other parents of children with Down Syndrome, the support of organisations like The Disability Trust and the community make it easier.
‘‘We have good days and bad days,’’ Mrs Gartshore said. ‘‘But we’re a strong family unit and here in the Illawarra we have fantastic support available.’’