SUNCOAST – Santa’s reindeer had the day off so Santa showed up in style by chopper.

Santa greeted about 153 kids invited to The North Pole who either have disabilities or are terminally ill.

Fourteen-year-old Jerry Bussell has autism, ADHD, Tourettes and Craniosynostosis but today he’s just a regular boy.

“I make new friends every time I come here,” he says.

Jerry’s mom, Brenda Bussell, says she does too.

“You’re able to talk to the parents that are going through the same thing,” explains Bussell.

Manatee Sheriff Rick Wells says Santa didn’t come empty-handed

“Every toy they want is here today,” he adds.

The event started in 1985 by flight attendants. Years later, the Sheriffs Office, along with Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Fire Department, keeps the annual tradition going. This year they celebrated the 32nd annual “Flight to the North Pole”.

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Krystel Knowles
Krystel Knowles joined SNN in February of 2016. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a Bachelors in Mass Communications and minors in News Editorial and Telecommunication Production. Krystel is trilingual- fluent in Spanish, English and French (and picked up some Portuguese while studying abroad in Brazil). Krystel started her career in print journalism. She was a correspondent for the St. Pete Times Newspaper, staff writer for Focus Magazine, and head reporter and photographer for South Tampa community news publication. In 2011, she made the switch from print to broadcast journalism. She has since worked as a photojournalist for Fox 35 in Orlando, and also as a photojournalist/multimedia journalist for ABC action news in Tampa. Although she was born in Tampa, Krystel moved to New Port Beach, California within a few months. She then spent 8 years in Lima, Peru before moving to Miami, Florida. While living in Peru, Krystel danced at the National School of Ballet and sang in a choir. Her passion for ballet led Krystel to figure skating in 2015. Her other hobbies include: skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, and traveling.