EVERY year Peta and Ben Kennedy switch on their Christmas lights to raise money for The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.
The Castle Hill family accesses the Institute's Early Learning Program (Vision Impairment) which works with families of children with significant vision loss, from birth to five years of age.
Their son, Thomas, has been attending since he was diagnosed with vision loss aged five months.
“The diagnosis was a relief but we couldn’t help but worry about Thomas’ future," Ms Kennedy said.
As a special education teacher in early intervention, she knew how critical the early years were.
"It was easy to get ahead of ourselves, worrying about whether he'd be able to drive a car instead of what he needed then," she said.
“He was such a happy little baby and that gave me strength.
"When he was asleep I would worry but when he was awake he was happy and engaged, doing amazing things despite his vision loss.
"That was very comforting to me.”
With ongoing support from the RIDBC, Thomas is now doing really well and the family is giving back to the organisation that has done so much for their family by raising about $1000 every year for them.
“My father used to put on a Christmas lights display every year, and when he passed away we decided to continue the tradition in his honour," Ms Kennedy said.
“When Thomas was born, friends suggested we make the lights a fundraiser for RIDBC.
“Now each year we put on the lights and hold a raffle. We also put a little donation tin on our letter box.
"Spreading the word and supporting the fantastic work of RIDBC is so important.”
■ WHERE TO SEE THE LIGHTS: The Kennedy's lights will be on every night until after Christmas from 8pm to 10pm at 2 Poplar Court, Castle Hill.
■ ABOUT RIDBC: The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children is Australia’s largest provider of services for children with hearing or vision loss, assisting thousands of children a year across Australia. The service relies heavily on fundraising and community support to raise the approximately $2.5 million it needs each month to continue to maintain its intensive educational and research programs.