Local children get out of hospital rooms and into the holiday spirit at Shriners Annual Christmas Party

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Erin Hance spends much of her time throughout the year at local hospitals and much of her time during the day taking medications.

"She's diagnosed with Dystonia... It's involuntary movements of your muscles, uncontrollable," Erin's dad, Josh Hance, said. "She wakes up, about 5:00 in the morning, starts off with her medicine... and then she takes medicine again at lunch and before bed, at dinner time."

But on Sunday, she spent the day at a party.

The local Shriners group in Panama City threw its annual Christmas party for the children who are treated at Shriners Hospitals.

"I always go here for the Christmas parade, not the Christmas parade, but the Christmas party," Shriners kid Gavin Spain said.

Some of the kids are battling orthopedic problems or burns, others are working through spinal injuries and different health conditions, but all of them got into the Christmas spirit by playing games, watching magic shows and even meeting jolly old Santa Claus himself.

"It's all about the children, having fun, putting a big smile on their hearts and eyes and enjoying life," local Shriner James Matchkus said.

He said he cares so much about the children, that each child at the event, young and grown, feels like his own.

"I'm actually a Shriners kid... If it wasn't for them I don't think I would've had the hope and become the person I am today," Shriners kid Mariah Hobbs said.

Some familiar faces also attended the event.

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford was there, reading the children a Christmas story. Newschannel 7's very own Neysa Wilkins also took the stage, singing Christmas songs with the kids and their families.