James’ News & Progress – 20 June 2009

It is not every Friday night that you sit down to dinner with almost 1000 people ‘with a touch of puffin’. I have to say in the lead up to the inaugural Puffin Magic Ball I was both nervous and excited. As I mentioned during the evening, when you are a kid growing up you never imagine attending your own fundraising event in a wheelchair but I can happily say it was one of the most memorable nights I have ever had.

It was more like a reunion of all the various friends and family accumulated over 30 years of life. As such, given I have not been in the country for almost a decade much of it was spent catching up with old friends and reminiscing. I will always remember the way my breath was taken away when I first entered the grand ballroom and saw 91 proud perspex puffins perched perfectly as the centre piece on each table which later became highly sought after auction items!
One of the highlights (among many) was the incredible effort made by so many with their ‘touch of puffin’ including two old college mates with bright orange flippers mimicking puffin feet – quality! I am still totally overwhelmed by the phenomenal support shown by so many not only on the night but since my accident. As my sister Penny often asks ‘do you feel pressure?’ given so many people are now involved and following your rehabilitation goals.
I was also given a unique opportunity to tell my story since the accident through one of my friends in a 20 minute video which was shown. This reflection was quite emotional for me but I hope informative for all present. This will be uploaded shortly.

A couple of the more entertaining questions in the puffin quiz led by the MC were: “In Iceland, on the McDonalds breakfast menu, is there an item called a Puffin McMuffin?” and “in Iceland, is there such a thing called a puffin crossing?”
I was so happy to see so many of the Peter Puffin hand puppets on the dance floor enjoying themselves. Following my request on the night, already this week I have received photos of Peter partying in Ibiza, Peter walking in Switzerland and I have even been told that Peter will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro shortly. Given I am out of the equation temporarily I am thrilled Peter continues to globe trot as he has done so successfully in the past! Obviously any Peter photos are welcome going forward and I will do my best to have them uploaded onto the website!
I cannot finish this week without acknowledging the incredible amount of effort that went into a production such as this. I will be forever thankful to the amazing ball committee for all their hard work and commitment in the months leading up to the night. Given I have not had too many late nights lately, I would be kidding myself if I tried to claim that any type of rehab was attempted for the rest of the weekend! My sore neck the following morning was a very small price to pay for such a fun evening. The grand kids will definitely hear about this one!