We missed last year's party - which is a get together of "SDR families" - as we were in STL at the time, but were able to attend this year. To be honest, it had sneaked up on us - things have been so busy at home, school and work that we didn't have much chance to let ourselves get excited. We knew for sure that Ben and his family were going but werent so sure about the others as we hadn't had chance to try and catch up.
The first family that we met were the Wardleworths who we bumped into in a service station half way down the M1. As Loup said at the time, it was amazing that we had only really spent a week or so in each others company more than a year ago and here we were, as if we'd known each other for years and not seen each other since last year. That's the thing - such a common bond with everyone we met.
On arrival at the hotel we were staying at, amazingly, we found that Jack - another STL friend - was in the room next door!
Quick change and off to the party venue (10 min drive) where Ev wanted to walk in with his crutches. Ben and his family were there and as soon as Ev saw Ben, his competitive streak kicked in and he walked the last few steps into the hotel independently. Ben's own amazing journey has been tracked by Calendar (local news programme) and they have done a number of great pieces and they were there to provide an update, tied into the party. Calendar article. As well as Ben, Ev is on there (spot his feet at 01:09) and the rest of us make (thankfully, in my case) very brief appearances...
I hadnt really thought about how the party would be (it was, unsurprisingly, emotionally charged) - and steadily more families joined the throng - some we recognised from Facebook, and it seemed weird in that we knew who they were but didnt know them. As we did more "celeb spotting" the real star of the show entered the room - Dr TS Park. We had chance for a very quick chat as he was whisked into the party room, and as we followed we also got chance to meet one of the physio's from STL - Mike Kenyon aka "Mad Mike" but he could quite easily by "Awesome Mike", "Genius Mike" or perhaps just "Ev's Mike".
Then, our collection of friends from STL was complete as we spotted the Foxes and then also Jack. It was so good to catch up with them all and to see, within a 20 yard radius, all of our STL buddies, that we spent all of the time catching up and didnt have time to do much mingling with other families. Hopefully next time we will get more chance to speak to other families who we have only ever met online.
Unfortunately, Ev had had such a busy week that he was really "tired and emotional" by 10pm. So we had to head back. It was an awesome event - and we were a little sad that we hadn't had chance to join in more. Luckily, but not unexpectedly, someone put together a video (thanks to Phil Putnam Spencer) SDR Party 2012 video - so we will always be able to go back again.
We were lucky to get the chance to go to STL, lucky to meet such wonderful people, lucky that Ev has had this wonderful opportunity and we were lucky to get chance to be in that room. The future's the most important thing, but sometimes the past is pretty good as well...