In 2005, my daughter Emily Bloxham, her close friend Shauna Stephens and I decided to start a breast cancer fundraiser event. My neighbour, Darcy Martin, happened to be the manager of the Port Kembla RSL Club, a popular and groovy retro venue. Darcy offered their auditorium for free, so that became the home of our fundraiser: the Bubbles Ball and helped shape the tone of the event.
My other daughter, Fox Lee, came on board in 2007, where her design skills were greatly needed to ‘bling up’ the event. Fox created a logo, flyers, auction sheets and wonderful signs, really adding to the Bubbles Ball identity. Our new website carried our mission statement: “Women of the Illawarra, helping women of the Illawarra, wherever we see a need”.
When I joined Circus WOW in 2007, it was soon to lose its Bellambi lease shared with Circus Monoxide, and exhaust its funds from Wollongong Council. I realised I could help them raise funds by inviting them to partner with the Ball, where they would receive payment for helping with organisation and staging a cabaret show for the event. With the amazing Maree Alwert taking on the job of MC, The Bubbles Ball became a fabulous, over-the-top night, which grew to 300 guests by its final year.
Many local women and WOW members pitched in to help the event over the years, in particular Karin and Helga Stossel, Deb Wallace, Lee Leighs, Carol Lynch, Jen Webster, Stacey Cunninghame and Alivia Corbanese. They helped with organisation, bookings, publicity, social media, bringing in prize donations and whatever else needed doing. Thanks to all who assisted, attended and donated generously to the event, the Bubbles Ball raised over $100,000 across ten years, providing Circus WOW much-needed funds in return for their fabulous performance. It was a wonderful community partnership of women helping women.