At the ninth annual Art for Advocacy fundraiser at Dallas’s Fashion Industry Gallery on November 7, “crepe paper” streamers were hanging from the ceiling throughout the big room: blue, red, silver, yellow, green, gold, orange.
The colorful décor was all part of celebrating “the process of art,” event chairs Paige and John Slates explained, and also “reflected the process of healing the children.” Which made sense, since the annual art party benefits the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, which helps deal with child abuse in part through art therapy programs.
All around Paige and John, an estimated 650 guests—including Brian Bolke and Faisal Halum, Lynn McBee, Nancy Cohen Israel and Solomon Israel and Suzanne and David Droese—were enjoying appetizers by Lombardi’s catering and checking out the works on display by more than 100 artists. As they did so they were entertained by three musical acts, in succession: Cameron Ernst, deejay S.O.U.L.Jah, and Ishi.
The varied work by artists ranging from Sedrick Huckaby to Rusty Scruby, which had been procured by art chairs Cris Worley and Holly Johnson, brought in a reported $300,000 for the DCAC.
Helping to pump up sales this year was a “mobile bidding platform” app that the fundraiser was employing for the first time, Paige and John explained. Just as they were doing so, someone rushed up to tell them that the first piece of the night had been sold: a painting called “Kara’s Wave,” by Matt Cusick.
John had had his eye on “Kara’s Wave,” too—but he wasn’t that disappointed. The painting was valued at $1,150, after all, and it had sold for “more than value” to benefit the DCAC.
* Photos provided by Dallas Children's Advocacy Center
Texas’ First Canine Companions For Independence Graduation And Matriculation Resulted In Cheers And Tears
Just the day before the Canine Companions for Independence Baylor Scott and White Health Kinkeade Campus had been dedicated. On this Saturday, November 7th afternoon, the center would be the scene of the beginning of four unique partnerships and the next step for puppies “entering the professional training” stage of the service dog program.
It would be a graduation and matriculation day filled with cheers and tears by the standing-room-only room of humans that included Baylor Scott and White CEO/President Joel Allison, CCI CEO Paul Mundell, CCI National Board Chair John Miller, philanthropist Jan Rees-Jones, Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy Director Linda Marler and Wounded Warrior CCI teams U.S. Army Ret. Sgt. Steve Blackman with Godley and U.S. Army Ret. Sgt. Brian Boone with Brindle.
This day was a long time in coming. And for such an occasion, it was only right that Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade served as the commencement speaker. He recalled how his beloved dog, Bo, had introduced him to the unique talents of canines working with humans in need. Before becoming one of the Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy program’s teams, Bo had seemed like your typical BFF. Ed told how Bo would get him up in the middle of the night for bathroom break. They would head off to a nearby bridge. One night Bo disappeared across a bridge and came running back alerting Ed that the park’s port-a-potties were on fire. Another night Bo came racing back and jumped into the judge’s arms with 20 horses headed in their direction.
It was through the Baylor program that Ed discovered that Bo made an immeasurable impact in the lives of patients. Researching the subject, Ed came upon the Canine Companions for Independence program based in California. Over the years it had placed more than 4,000 dogs with people with disabilities, both physical and mental.
After three years of negotiations, Ed and the Baylor Scott and White team landed the center. It would not only be the first CCI facility in Texas, it also be CCI’s first association with a hospital. Here Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and crosses of the two breeds would have months of training and vetting after being raised by volunteer puppy raisers. Not all would make it. Each would have to have the temperament, the intelligence and the ability to assist.
In a show of appreciation to Ed, it was revealed that a puppy in the next littler of CCI puppies would be named in his honor. It seems that all the puppies born in a littler share the same first initial. The “K” litter that will include “Puppy Kinkeade” is due to be born within the next month.
But this was more than a graduation day for four teams. It was also a day when the new “recruits” were to be handed over by their puppy raisers to the CCI trainers for their six months of learning. It was gratifying to see the families and individuals, who for 14-16 months had worked and done the preliminary work day-in, day-out, present the dozens of Labs. As one individual said, “I just couldn’t do it. I would be too attached to give them up.”
Still these puppy raisers like Judy Schumpert, who had raised 17 puppies over the years for service, recognized that their dogs were going to serve a greater purpose.
On this day, four such dogs had not only met the incredible requirements, they had bonded with four individuals, each with different needs that the dogs could serve with loyalty, understanding, training and what people call “unconditional love.”
As part of the official graduation, each pooch’s puppy raiser brought their dog to the stage and handed over the leash to the new companion as the crowd applauded and teared up.
As Ed said, “These folks are no longer people with needs or disabilities. They were the people with the cool dogs.”
There was Jaspers V that would help Emma, who has autism and lives with her grandparents. Mabel V would be assisting Sarah by becoming a “courthouse dog” in Marble Falls and work with abused children going through the court system. There are only 100 courthouse dogs in the country.
Pablo VI would help wheel-chair-bound Chelsey. And then there was Vincent III that would be U.S. Army Captain Michael Caspers’ “point man”. Standing perfectly erect in his uniform, Michael was so focused and professional. It was hard to imagine how much his life changed since that day in Afghanistan when on August 24, 2011, he stepped on a pressure-plate IED and lost his right leg below the knee.
Shifting gears, Michael told how Vincent had already started working with him in their two weeks together. It seems that Michael’s prosthetic limb didn’t allow him to know when he stepped on toes. Vincent had already started letting him know with a yelp.
With the sun shining overhead four partners left the Kinkeade Campus for new lives and adventures, while more than a dozen new recruits moved into the shining new kennels to undertake their final step toward a spring graduation.
Throughout the land, the days after Thanksgiving Thursday have become known as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now today’s Giving Tuesday. Little do most know that in North Texas, every day is a giving day.
Still, today it seems like email boxes are being hit with all types of #GivingTuesday requests to help those in need. So, if your credit cards aren’t maxed out and you can spare to share, check out some of those requests. There just might be a new one that piques your interest and involvement.
According to Children’s Medical Center Foundation Senior Vice President Cyndi Bassel,
“We are so pleased and proud to continue this essential service in our community by providing a ‘home’ for patients and their families with the most challenging and complex needs.
“Our goal is simple: to return each child to his or her optimum level of health. But considerable resources are needed to sustain this multidimensional program, which includes a licensed pediatric hospital for children from infancy through age 18 with developmental or birth disorders, traumatic injury or severe illness. Inpatient specialty areas include neurological rehabilitation, feeding and pulmonary programs.
“Our Children’s House also includes nine outpatient clinics across the DFW area that offer care coordination, development screenings and assessments, sleep studies, parent education and support, and even a special needs day care. Outpatient pediatric specialties include physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation, pulmonary problems, feeding difficulties, chronic and recurrent headaches, and speech/language therapy.
“The stories of lives restored and improved are numerous. One such story is of Emmy Kaighan, who was struck with a devastating brain inflammation at the age of 3 and had to relearn virtually everything. She is now well along her road to recovery at the age of 9, due, in large part, to the superior therapy she has received and continues to take part in at Our Children’s House.
“To learn more about Our Children’s House or to support this critical program and children like Emmy, please visit give.childrens.com/och.”
-Cyndi Bassel, Children’s Medical Center Foundation Senior Vice President
* Graphic and photos provided by Children's Medical Center Foundation
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