Giving a voice to our mito warriors
We may have just had The Oscars but there was just as much glitz at The Lily Foundation's annual charity ball, which had its share of dazzling dresses, glamorous guests and moving speeches. But the real stars of the show were the young adults who stole everyone’s hearts with their poignant accounts of the reality of living with mitochondrial disease.
Around 300 guests gathered at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel for the black tie event inspired by the opulence of the Orient and hosted by Aussie comedian Adam Hills. This year is a milestone, being the 15th anniversary of the foundation, and the evening was a celebration of everyone and everything that has contributed to making the charity what it is today.
After a drinks reception, guests made their way to the ballroom which, thanks to the hard work of the Lily team, definitely deserved the ‘best dressed’ award. A massive shout-out to the team at Artpod Brighton, who worked miracles to dress the ballroom, with glittering decorations and finishing touches such as illuminated cranes and gorgeous table lanterns. Also a roaring success was the Chinese lion, which danced and writhed to the drumbeat while those bold enough posted their pledges into its gaping jaws.
Everyone feasted on a lavish 3-course dinner whilst bidding on a selection of exciting lots in the silent auction and taking lucky dips in the fortune cookie raffle. The overall winner of this fun-format raffle was decided by a confetti cannon ‘play-off’ on stage, and only an intervention by VAR ensured the 2-night water sports adventure break in Dorset did in fact go to its rightful winner!
During the speeches, Liz Curtis, CEO and co-founder, reflected on how much the charity has grown over the last 15 years and, more importantly, how the number of patients and families it supports has increased. But it was the personal testimony recorded by mito patient Bal that drew the biggest reaction. The Lily Foundation has helped fund a communication aid for Bal because her diagnosis means that she’ll eventually lose the ability to talk. Her moving story prompted tears from many and a standing ovation from all.
Madcap comic Terry Alderton then teamed up with Lily co-founder Jonathan Pearce for a fast and furious auction. There was an impressive array of prizes kindly donated by a variety of Lily supporters, from VIP Grand Prix and Wimbledon tickets to a luxury Kenyan treehouse break, a private box at The Royal Albert Hall and meet and greet tickets to see the one and only Peter Kay. These prompted a flurry of eye-watering bids which helped to raise over £75,000 on the night, with ticket sales and pledges still to follow.
Young adult mito sufferer Amy was incredibly grateful to attend the event: ”Thank you so much for the weekend,” she enthused afterwards. “It was wonderful.” Fellow guest and mito patient James also had an experience he will never forget. “The opportunity to attend the ball was a memorable experience that I will cherish for a lifetime,” he reflected. “I feel privileged to have been a part of it.”
All proceeds from the night will go towards providing counselling and therapy services for patients and their families who are affected by mito – people like Amy and Bal and James. Because no one should have to face mito alone.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved in creating such a fabulous occasion, in particular all of our hard-working Lily volunteers. We couldn’t make this happen without the help of each and every one of you!