There are few formal events where guests can claim to have laughed, cried and danced, all before the main course.
But that’s exactly what those who attended the Reach Foundation charity ball on Friday night at Crown Palladium experienced.
Just like Reach founder Jim Stynes himself, the event was unique.
The Bond theme was always going to make for a lively evening with drinks shaken not stirred and some colourful costumes working the foyer at the pre-dinner drinks.
But Stynes’ conspicuous absence for the first time in the history of the event made for a nostalgic evening.
When the formalities began, members of the Reach programme both in Melbourne and Sydney paid tribute to the former Dublin minor and explained the huge effect he had had on their lives.
They talked about their passion to continue his good work and ensure that the foundation goes from strength to strength.
There were two video tributes to the former Melbourne President, with images of the cancer battle which was documented in his documentary intermingled with shots of the Brownlow medalist playing Gaelic football in Ireland and Australian rules in his adopted country.
By the time the video tributes were done, there were more than a few tears in the room.
The late Irishman’s wife Sam took to the stage during the tributes and spoke about how she and the family were coping.
She said that while they were doing well, she was now experiencing what most warned her would be the most difficult time, the three-month milestone since her husband’s passing.
But she said that it was like Jim had groomed her for what was to come during their relationship and that he had taught her to be “resilient”.
When the tributes were complete, an aptly timed ultimatum was issued that would lift the mood of the room.
The MC said that Stynes was always keen on filling the dance floor before dinner so everyone was to fulfill his wish. And so the crowd did.
As it turned out the dance floor wasn’t big enough, and people queued to dance in the aisles close by.
Jim Stynes’ sister Sharon, who has worked full time with the organization since her arrival in Australia, would have been delighted.
She spoke of how the siblings had always worked on the event together and how her brother had always wanted it to be perfect.
While it was indeed a perfect evening for those who attended, of which there was a strong Irish contingent, the most abiding memory will be of what Stynes created.
It’s clear from the young people in the room that Reach will continue to excel and honour his legacy for many years to come.