In February, 99 Balloons held it’s 6th annual Engage Conference. Each year this conference focuses on the intersection of church, inclusion, and disability and offers many great workshop options for church leaders. This year we hosted over 74 people from 6 different states and 2 different countries. We also really wanted to make sure parents were encouraged, so other workshops offered were on education, self-care, guardianship, and special needs trusts.
(founder Matt Mooney welcomes attendees to the Engage Conference)
(speaker, coach, and artist Emeka Nnaka leads a workshop on Inclusion and the church)
In addition to the daytime conference, we added a community wide gathering in the evening called “99 Balloons Presents” with hopes to simply invite more people into the conversation about changing the story of disability. This was a beautiful and creative evening with a collection of local musicians and poets who created pieces for advocacy and awareness. Jasper Logan, Amber Haines, Seth Haines, and Rachel Billingsley all shared their heart and talent with us.
(Seth Haines sharing a writing piece at 99Balloons Presents)
The evening was capped off with very special guests, Jay and Katherine Wolf of Hope Heals. The Wolf’s shared their heartbreaking and hope-filled journey of Katherine surviving a stroke in 2001, at age 26 and the realities of their lives now experiencing disability.
(Jay and Katherine Wolf, sharing their story)
One attendee of the evening described the impact that 99B Presents had in her life:
“Sometimes you have evenings that blow up your “box” that you’ve put God in. When people share their story and it explodes with the mercy and radiance of a God Who sees more than we see, Whose ways are higher than our ways, and Who loves us enough to invite us into The Story, His Story. Those times when your view of God shifts…of Who you think God is & how you think He moves; ways He reveals His glory; how He is IN the midst of suffering, pain, & healing; how He cherishes ALL of us, in our unique qualities, our disabilities, our brokenness inside and out, displaying His BEAUTY through the beauty of His people. When He shows us His power, faithfulness, and radical LOVE in ways that are not of this world, but can only be explained by the mystery of a God that is WILD and cannot be tamed. My heart is bursting with a love for these humble Jesus followers who are courageous to share and reflect His extravagance daily, as they abide in Him.”[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MHDP-kkCVI?rel=0&w=853&h=480] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrmdjKj5_fg?rel=0&w=853&h=480]
If you would like to help 99Balloons continue to change the story of disability through many ways, like our engage conference and special advocacy evenings like this one as well as rEcess respite programs, global trips and more. Please join us in the work by clicking below: