Since 2015, CP Teens UK has an annual Ball as many of you know. This was originally done as a 'one off' event, but we had such a fantastic night in 2015 that it returned in 2016, so 2017 was no exception and last week saw the 3rd annual CP Teens UK Ball - and in the meantime, my Mum is getting crazier & crazier! I don't think when I setup CP Teens UK my Mum ever envisioned being a full-time event manager, a full-time trustee, a campaigner, a RaceRunning club coordinator, a spokesperson for so many young people with physical disabilities, a safeguarding officer ... the list is endless, but I suppose mighty oaks grow from small acorns!
The annual Ball is organised by myself, my Mum and Team Simpson, Team Lowe (Mum's side of the family) and close family friends. No 'professionals' involved, the whole night is ran by family (hence the many arguments in the lead up to the Ball!) and a small group of friends. As a result, it's really hard to gauge how the Ball is going on the night - I always notice every little hiccup, usually my Dad is to blame! But this year, lots and lots of people have been saying things like "best one yet!".
This year saw the Ball completely sell out for the second year running, which is a massive leap from the first Ball - in 2015, we were selling tickets up until the week before, which made it extra complicated with table plans, meal orders etc. It has seemed to get bigger and better year on year and the annual Ball video, which shows and summarises CP Teens UK's achievements throughout the year, really captures the journey and developments. We are now developing an impressive library in our house of the annual videos on DVD - to date, there is over an hour of footage showing the story of CP Teens UK 2013-20717! And, I'm already collecting footage for the 2018 video!
The first CP Teens UK Ball - 2015
Although the Ball seems to get bigger and better each year, for me it always has the same meaning behind it, and if anything this meaning also gets bigger and better each year. In a world that young people with physical disabilities are often pushed to the sidelines, this is their night to sparkle. The night belongs to them. It is beyond fabulous (my inner Sharon Osborne coming out!) to see all of the people that have connected through CP Teens UK come together, often for the first time in person, in their ball gowns and bow ties to have the best night! Everyone in the room is everyone's friend and everyone is immediately understood.
Not only does the Ball celebrate the annual achievements of CP Teens UK, it is also a night of celebration of all the young people in the room and their achievements. This year we were in the company of Paralympians, wheelchair athletes, athletes, RaceRunners, world record holders, bloggers, models, campaigners, national award winners, motivational speakers ... the list goes on. I don't usually use 'the 'i' word' as I know how annoying it is, especially when it's trotted out in every other sentence! But, it really was a room full of inspiration.
I always wake up the morning of the Ball feeling as if I can achieve anything ... as soon as the hangover has gone that is, haha! The young people who come are all doing such fantastic things despite our physical difficulties and limitations, and it is amazing that all these people are my friends. In its 3rd year, the Ball is now forming a group of 'regulars' who return year after year - it feels like a big family is starting to really form and every October, the excitement of being reunited is almost all too much!
And, the local businesses who keep buying tables year after year because they feel it is such a worth while cause as they can see the friendships there in front of them. It is thanks to their support that I can run CP Teens UK with their extremely generous donations. The night just feels really special and quite unique, and I don't really know how we've got here, formed this and reproduce it year after year?! One of life's many mysteries!
The Ball is so much more than 'just' a Ball and the evening means the world to me. I get to dress up and spend the evening with the best of friends who share so much in common as well as many challenges yet we can celebrate so many achievements and party the night away!
I already cannot wait until the 2018 CP Teens UK Ball!
All photos can be found in the Gallery