“The noblest art is that of making others happy” – B.T. Barnum

The Challenge Ball 2019 promised spectacular and that it delivered!

Opening its curtains to all our wonderful guests, 2019 saw Pullman Melbourne On the Park transform into a velvety red circus of flickering lights, musical mayhem and whimsical roving performers that brought us to our feet, time and time again.

The night began with a BANG as Transit Dance made their entrance with a shrill blast of spectacular – dancing their way through the room to their own infectious beat. Their spellbinding and electric performance set the tone for the night and was the special spark that ignited the ball and got everyone humming.

From there, the night followed an upwards trajectory with our talented ringmaster – none other than Tom Gleisner – leading the charge. He dazzled our audience with his wit and charm, finding a way to captivate the people’s attention throughout the entire show.

Tom was not the only person in the room to steal the hearts of our audience as the stage was graced by Australian rock royalty, Boom Crash Opera!

Welcoming the original line-up of Dale, Maz, Pete and John, Boom Crash Opera set the stage alight with a vibrant set of hit after hit. The crowd simply could not get enough of them and joined the group in belting their insanely catchy tunes for the whole of Melbourne to hear.

Velvet Corporation have become a staple feature of our gala events and for good reason – they never disappoint! After the roar of Boom Crash Opera, Velvet Corporation kept the tunes flowing as they sang all the best hits of the last three decades.

Beneath the big top and glitter of the night, there was also a heavy undertone – one which Leesa Gathercole so eloquently reminded us of in her moving speech. Leesa did not dabble too much in the details of her family’s journey with cancer; but what she did delve into was the importance of support and empowerment of community.

The Gathercole family was shocked by the reality of cancer in 2003 when their son Tom was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma. After a three-year battle, Tom lost his fight against cancer, which left Leesa, her husband Craig, and son Bryce – who was 8 years old at the time –devastated, albeit not broken. They found a way through their heartbreak and welcomed a third, beautiful son Zack.

Throughout their tumultuous journey, life was a constantly evolving battle that lacked any clear sense of direction. However, having been thrown from pillar to post, Leesa said that the one thing that remained constant was Challenge. For the Gathercole family, Challenge was the shining light they all needed to navigate their way through the cancer experience.

It took Leesa 16 years to share her story, but it was worth the wait. Every word she spoke touched the hearts of the audience.

Stories like Leesa’s – the ones of battles, which are fought, won and lost – are the stories that need to be told. There is magic in music and magic in wonder, but the greatest magic of them all can be found in these stories, and in the listener. It is true that our words and ideas can change the world because as easy as they are to speak, their echoes are eternal.

Life is the most spectacular show on earth, and this is what the Challenge Ball celebrates.

We thank every single one of our guests who attended this year’s Challenge Ball and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Your support means the world to us and helps us continue the work we do: brightening the lives of kids and families living with cancer.

The Challenge Ball of course would not be possible without the assistance of a wide body of people.

The Challenge Ball Committee reached new heights this year investing countless hours of work and devotion into the success of this event. Your hard work and diligence are appreciated so very much, and we cannot thank you enough.

To all our spectacular volunteers, we say thank you! Your generosity and willingness to help never ceases to amaze us and we would be lost without you.

Finally, thank you also to all our sponsors – Pullman Melbourne On The Park, Microhire, ALH Group, Rathbone Wine Group, Darrell Lea, Graphic VM, Impact Digital, Cocktails By Design and Townsend Signs. Your support allows Challenge to turn this event into the spectacular that it was, and we cannot express how grateful we are to have the privilege of your passion and commitment.

We hope you all enjoyed 2019’s Challenge Ball Spectacular and if there is any message you can take from the night, let it be that there is no magic too small or unimportant one can’t offer to the world. Sometimes the greatest magic can be found in the smallest of gestures.