It’s been seven years of beautiful dresses and hairstyles, laughter and love. Seven years of the community gathering together for a night of being fancy without feeling self-conscious, of celebrating the good that brings us together, of knowing that those ties are stronger than anything else.
The Princess Ball is everything Valicity Faith was, her father Josh Faith said last week in the lead up to this year’s event.
“Our daughter had a gift for bringing people together when she was here,” Faith said. “She’s still doing that.”
On March 11, hundreds will gather again to pretty up and party down for the seventh annual Princess Ball to celebrate Valicity’s life. An electric personality, Valicity was diagnosed with leukemia a week after her third birthday in 2008.
After spending more than a year in Seattle enduring chemotherapy treatments, Valicity was allowed to go home when her cancer was considered in remission. Her parents, Josh and Candy Faith, marked their daughter’s return to the valley with an informal Princess Ball for family and friends.
It was a wonderful day, Josh remembers. However, Valicity’s remission went into relapse in March of 2010, and she passed away that July. She was 5.
After the staggering loss of a child, the couple took some time to grieve, to get themselves back together. But it was Candy’s idea, Josh said, to start up the Princess Ball again. Bringing people together to celebrate their daughter is part of the healing process, but the couple also wanted to help other families struggling with what they had endured.
The Princess Ball has since become a powerhouse fundraising event, with tables overflowing with raffle and giveaway prizes. There’s also the Golden Ticket raffle option, which allows people to buy tickets for prizes they could win without being present at the actual ball. Golden Tickets are $25 and available online, and only 200 are sold for each prize. Those prizes include: A Montana Rifle Company X2 Extreme Rifle; a diamond bracelet worth $4,500; a 50cc motor scooter; AR barrels from Proof; and four tickets to a Seattle Seahawks game with hotels.
Donation also pour in for the ball, and Faith said that as of last year, the event had raised a cumulative $250,000 for various nonprofits, such as Angel Flight West, which helped fly the Faiths to and from Seattle for Valicity’s monthly checkups.
This year, Eisinger Motors became the corporate sponsor, pitching in $10,000 to cover the event’s costs, making sure all the money raised will go toward the programs. Faith said he expects to raise $75,000.
“This is going to be our biggest year,” Faith said.
The ball sells out every year, so Faith advised any families hoping to go to get their tickets early.
The donation recipient this year is the Montana Hope Project, an organization of Montana Highway Patrol officers granting wishes to children with critical illnesses. Zach Miller, the Kalispell-area wish coordinator for the group, said the organization will grant the wish for a Libby family to go to Give the Kids the World in Orlando, where they will also have access to Disneyworld.
Of course, the event itself will be a glamorous, glitzy time, with free hairdressers, games, visits from Miss Montana and Miss Teen Montana, music, dancing, and even a fashion show for the attendees.
And it’s only gotten more popular as the years go on. In seven years, the Faiths have seen it grow from an informal party for their child to a major valley event celebrating and supporting life.
That, Faith said, has been the goal all along.
“You’ve got to take the good from the bad,” he said.
For more information on the Princess Ball, including ticketing and raffle information, visit www.valicitysonceuponatime.org.