The 2nd Annual Joshua Ball was a huge success – with tickets selling out and JAF raising over $60,000 – almost doubling its profit from last year’s event! Over 180 people came out on the unseasonably warm evening of November 5th, 2015 to Top of the Town in Arlington and enjoyed breathtaking views of the city and great food and drinks including donuts by Sugar Shack and wine by Josh Cellars. More importantly, attendees heard the raw and brave words of Olivia Forrester, a young fifteen-year old, sharing her story of anxiety, depression, self-harm and eating disorder, all while trying to keep up with that “perfect image” of herself. Her father, Scott Forrester, then spoke, reading a poem Olivia wrote during her dark days that moved everyone in the audience to tears. Together, Olivia and Scott, shared a very real account of daughter and father navigating the painful waters of mental illness and how only through openness and asking for help is Olivia doing so great today, having learned these five important lessons:
1. There is no shame in feeling whatever I genuinely feel. I do not need a reason to feel a certain way. The feeling is there, therefore it is real and it is valid.
2. The joy of being my true self is so much better than the suffocation of trying to be someone that I am not. The genuine relationships and successes I experience while being myself outweigh the rejection and pain that come along the way. The thing about being yourself is that you do not have to fit a certain mold. As long as it is real, it is enough.
3. I do not always need to be in control. I have learned to trust that everything happens for a reason and that I am not given any challenges that I cannot overcome. I have realized that although not everything is good, something good comes out of everything.
4. The importance of family. My family is my biggest support and my number one fans. No matter what, they love and accept me for who I truly am.
5. Lastly, I am me. I am loved and cared about simply because I am myself. There is not and will never be anyone else like me who can make the same impact that I do.