I have to admit, I choked up a little as we walked through that door to meet ‘the boys’ (as we’d all been affectionately calling them) for the first time. Almost 12 months in the making and here we were, seeing a little dream come true. But it was more than that – there was so much anticipation and emotion behind this fan moment between our son and a band called ‘Justice Crew’.
To take it back a step, last October Ben and I joined our friends in Sydney for one night to attend a gala dinner in support of an amazing organisation called Hands Across the Water. It was the first time we’d both been in a different city to our three little Loves. Sam’s favourite band, Justice Crew, was due to play at the event.
“Mum, can you please take a video of them for me?” he asked.
I assured him that I would, but when we arrived at the dinner, we discovered that JC was unable to play that night. They had, instead, offered a half hour performance as an auction item.
So, one thing led to another and, rather than videotaping Justice Crew rocking out to one of their hits, instead we managed to buy a boy band from one charity, and later donated the performance to another of our favourite organisations, Camp Quality. (My beloved husband wrote a blog post of his own about how it all happened. A very special mention to our beloved and very generous friends, Tricia and Randall, who knew Sam loved JC and egged us on, as well as contributed to the final amount.)
We returned home after our whirlwind night away in Sydney and told Sam that, sadly, we couldn’t video the Justice Crew performance because they weren’t able to play. We didn’t tell him about the auction. His response?
“That’s okay, Mum. Hey, do you think they could play at my birthday instead?” 😉
Fast forward 10 months and we finally shared the exciting news with Sam that Justice Crew would soon be playing at the Arnott’s Family Fun day in Brisbane, an event to celebrate the biscuit company’s 150th anniversary and also raise money for Camp Quality. Even more exciting, our family would be able to meet the boys from Justice Crew and Sam would have his photo taken with them before their performance. We then spent a few weeks listening to JC songs on repeat and watching loads of video clips. I’m pretty sure even Nicholas knew the words to their songs off by heart by the big day.
13 September arrived and Sam was up at the crack of dawn, anxiously anticipating the big event.
After making our way to the Arnott’s bakery, Ben and Sam waited in line with both sets of grandparents for the 10.45am bakery tour. While they were on the tour, Charlie, Nicholas and I took the opportunity to explore the venue with Grandma Marie and listen to some of the entertainment. A young member of Camp Quality sang beautifully, firstly with a friend and then with her sister. Knowing she’s been facing her own health battles, it was heart wrenching to hear her singing to an amended version of ‘Fighter’ by Jamie Grace (and seeing her mother shed a few tears on the sidelines).
We enjoyed a day filled with balloons, slippery slides, face painting, jumping castles, far too many biscuits (but those Tiny Teddies looked so cute riding in TimTam cars), photos in antique Arnott’s delivery vans, music, getting up close and personal with some Australian wildlife, Cold Rock ice-cream… and then the big moment arrived. At 1.15pm, our little family was greeted by security guards and ushered through to the ‘green room’ to meet Justice Crew.
The JC boys were warm and welcoming, despite Charlie hiding behind his grandparents and Sam, understandably a little starstruck, barely able to get out three words (Nicholas, on the other hand, walked in with a big “hi!” to everyone and promptly made himself at home). We chatted as photos were taken by the official photographer, then watched the crew practice a few dance moves and record a special message for Arnott’s 150th birthday. All the boys signed a CD for Sam, which he proceeded to hold onto for dear life.
When the boys asked Sam what his favourite song was, he responded ‘Fly’ – which apparently wasn’t on the agenda for that afternoon’s performance, but they said they’d add it in. After I snuck in a few extra photos, we said our goodbyes and headed back outside and let the boys finish their rehearsal. On the way out, we discussed with the delightful Catriona Rowntree and her son, Charlie (totally name dropping now, aren’t I? ;)) the downsides to eating multiple TimTams before going on carnival rides. Catriona, the patron for Camp Quality, was the MC during the afternoon’s entertainment. She is so divine, and also has impeccable taste in boys names.
Soon after a puppet show and dance party with our friends Kylie and Deano from Camp Quality, we were at the side of the stage, rocking out to the music and watching Justice Crew perform their amazing dance moves. There were lots of squealing tweens dancing at the front of the stage. I had a moment of pride when JC added “and a big thanks to Sam and the Love family” into one of their songs, and I watched the big smiles on Sam and Charlie’s faces as we danced along together to the familiar tunes. I was totally in the moment, listening as though every word of every song was meant for us and as though we were the only ones in the audience. My heart was full.
Some of our nearest and dearest friends and family members came along to be part of the day, and I was so thankful. There was no expectation for them to be there, but they were and it made the event even more special.
I am so grateful to the team at Arnott’s and Camp Quality who made the day happen, and especially to the State Manager of CQ, Theresa Scanlan, who went out of her way to make us feel such a special part of the proceedings. At the conclusion of the event, we heard that Arnott’s had raised over $40,000 for Camp Quality through the Family Fun Day.
It was a good day. An exhausting but wonderful, momentous, heart-filling day.
There’s an intro track on the Justice Crew ‘Live By the Words’ album where the boys discuss how they are feeling and their readiness to go out on stage for a concert. They talk about how far they’ve come and what they need to remember: “Stay focused, be humble, be grateful, and always work hard.”
If my boys live by these words too, I will be a happy mumma.
“So you gotta be strong
Live by the words of the song
Together is where we belong
Never stop dreaming
Keep holding on.”
~ Justice Crew
* Thank you to Tricia Velthuizen for capturing the concert and Love family photos x