Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Kiwi dance queen Parris Goebel meets her match at sick kids' hospital in south Auckland

Little Liviela Ulunga couldn't help showing off her dancing skills to Parris Goebel when she met the famous Kiwi choreographer yesterday.

Goebel dropped into the Kidz First Hospital in south Auckland to launch a Christmas campaign to help sick children.

The choreographer - who has worked with pop superstars such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez - is an ambassador for the hospital.

The hospital is running a Christmas appeal to raise money for badly-needed new medical equipment.

Liviela, aged 8, had been awake since 5am practicing her dance routines to show to Goebel.

The youngster has been a regular patient at the hospital since she was born with a hole in her heart and was left with circulatory problems in her legs.

"Visiting Kidz First Children's Hospital is a big part of our lives, there are even people who remember bathing Liv when she was a baby," Liviela's mother Rebecca Wood said. "The staff are like family."

Liviela works on her speech and movement with therapists, and also sees pediatricians and her friends in the play room.

"When Liv was born there was a bit of doom and gloom but I knew she would prove them all wrong," Rebecca said.

Now at school, Liv, who also has autism, is doing well.

"So many people have helped us, and I believe you can show your gratitude by paying it forward," Rebecca added. "We don't have lots of money, but everyone can give something.

"If a hundred people give you a dollar, that's still $100. It adds up."

Goebel, who performed a sell out show at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau the previous night - was impressed with Liviela's dancing and later toured the wards speaking to sick kids.

"Anyone can be a part of a child's Christmas by donating any amount, big or small," Goebel said. "Give a gift that counts - give a gift of life and together we can make a significant difference."

To support Kidz First Children's Hospital:

• Post cheques to Middlemore Foundation, Middlemore Hospital, Floor 3, Bray Building, Hospital Rd, Otahuhu, Auckland 1640.

• Make an online donation at www.middlemorefoundation.org.nz/christmas• Direct deposit to Westpac 03-0173-0026663-00.

• For queries call the Middlemore Foundation on 09 270 8808.

- Herald on Sunday

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