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It was all smiles in Helensburgh as Illawarra families gathered for a festive day at the KidsWish Christmas Party for children with disabilities and illnesses.
The free charity event welcomed 2000 people to Symbio Wildlife Park on December 7 with bubbles, face painting, and entertainers.
'The big family'
For Flinders woman Barbara Regan, it was an opportunity to treat her 10-year-old grandson Jackson who has autism to a fun day out along with his two siblings.
"The kids have a ball, they just love coming seeing Santa and having a toy that they get but this is the first year that they've danced," Ms Regan said.
It was the family's fourth time at the KidsWish Christmas party and there were quite a few familiar faces among the crowd.
"It's like a big family when you get to know so many people and you see the same people year-after-year and you get to say hello to them and sit and have lunch," Ms Regan said.
Jackson Marston said his favourite part of the day was receiving Lego from the goody bag and enjoying an ice cream.
His twin sister Maddy performed in the Christmas dance which she said was good practice for the upcoming school talent show.
"We did three dances this year. We did The Little Mermaid, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the Dinosaur Stomp one and then we played lots of different games," Maddy said.
"I really like joining the kid's group and seeing all the different abilities to do what they can do best and to join in with them."
Jamie arrived at Symbio ready to rock
Dapto man Jamie Zahra-Skinner wasn't at Symbio just to have a good time he was there to perform.
The 20-year-old drummer has autism, epilepsy, and a permanent brain injury. He is part of The Kids Rock band with his twin brother Rhys and said they were "just being rock legends".
"I love playing my drums and tambourines ... Just have some fun [to] show the crowds and everyone," Mr Zahra-Skinner
Watching her twin sons perform, Louise Zahra-Skinner said she's a very proud mum.
"We've been with KidsWish for over 13 years now and the progression from what it used to be to what it is now and the creation of the Kids Rock Band in the last couple of years has been wonderful for the boys," Ms Zahra-Skinner said.
KidsWish House: 'Their safe space'
Ms Zahra-Skinner said the charity KidsWish House in Flinders "is basically the only place they can go to because they have no immune system".
"That's their safe space and because we've been with them for so long it's family ... you know nobody's going to put anyone in danger of being sick or anything like that."
A bunch of fun
Beyond the fun of the zoo, families enjoyed a silent disco, photos with Santa and multiple sensory activities. Even Mercury Max made a special appearance at the event!
Families cooled off at the Splash Park in Symbio and had the opportunity to meet some of the animals at the zoo.
The charitable event is for families who share somewhat similar journeys to come together, according to KidsWish fundraising manager Emily Wright.
"It's a real highlight for the kids and families. It's just a way of bringing them some joy and happiness at this time of year among a year of challenges that they face," KidsWish Stakeholder Engagement and Fundraising Manager, Emily Wright said.