An everyday, normal circus would have three rings, animals, clowns, lots of food, kids, top performers and live action. Well, the Children’s Cancer Fund‘s 24th Annual Luncheon and Fashion Show on May 2 had all of that except the first two. There were absolutely no animals in sight unless you counted Chuck E. Cheese. Instead of three rings, there were four rings of activities spread throughout the Hilton Anatole’s Trinity Ballroom and surrounding rooms.
First, let’s explain that in the past, the event has been held in the Chantilly Ballroom, but The Real Estate Council already had dibs on the ballroom to set up for its Fight Night on the following evening. But Luncheon Co-chairs Lori Buschel and Keyea Webster took this as an opportunity to create the big top in a really big way.
Now on to the circus.
RING #1 — The warm-up act was held in the Wedgwood Foyer, where Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman posed for pictures with the big sponsors and VIP’s. Troy even brought along his camera and his daughters saying the girls were really excited about attending the event. When asked about his camera, Troy admitted that he was using a Canon because his Nikon proved to be a little too advanced for his needs.
RING #2– After passing through the Rotunda, guests partied at the pre-lunch reception in the Trinity Pre-Function Area with champagne corks popping along with Dr Peppers being served up to kids of all ages. While some checked out the huge silent auction items, others made the mistake of stepping outside for a smoke or a cellphone call. Seems that it was a tad bit difficult for some to get a signal inside. but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was getting back inside. Once you were out, you were out. Luckily, understanding guests on the inside opened the one-way doors to allow the out-of-touch guests to return to the circus.
RING #3 — Some will swear that the real action of the day was taking place in the Trinity I Exhibit Hall, where the soon-to-be-onstage types were getting to know each other, as well as prepare for their catwalks. Throughout this magical prep room, clowns and magicians entertained, food was on tables everywhere, makeup including nail polish was being applied to the youngsters.
A word about these behind the scenes folks — these creative types are using far more than brushes, magic tricks and balloons. They have personalities that are simply amazing as they talk and work with the kids, some of whom are vets of past CCF shows and others who are debuting. But don’t for one second think any of these kids are wimps. Like war veterans they have each faced emotional and physical challenges that would send adults running.
The sound of champagne corks may have been heard in Ring #2, but here it was purely giggles and major laughter. Celeb escorts got to know the young cancer patients, who were the day’s headliners. Averi Moya kept Clarice Tinsley, LeeAnne Locken and Rich Emberlin laughing. Boys will be boys and AJ Wells and Jozef Vega
scampered around with balloon swords besting the likes of Errol Flynn and Antonio Banderas. Pat Smith learned that Katie Mao shared the same date as her daughter’s birthday in November. Ballerina Allisyn Hsieh was amazing the little models with her tippy toe poise. Lauren Shackleford and Brooke Archer were creating paper plate critters.
RING #4 — In the Trinity II Multi-Use Room, preparations were just finishing up before the doors opened. An aerial acrobat was testing the equipment, while organizers decided to install stanchions to prevent guest from walking under the set-up. In addition to the aerial act, huge colorful cubes and spheres chandeliers along with upside down umbrellas were suspended from the big top. On stage were a red-and-white backdrop with huge gold square frames on either side of a gold circular entry just perfect for introducing the stars.
Just as planned the doors opened and the stanchions did their job as guests avoided being dropped upon by the non-stop acrobat. They, of course, saluted him with their cellphones. Almost immediately ringmaster Nathan Johnson called attention to the center ring for Lori, Keyea, Roger and Troy to get things going.
Then KDFW’s Steve Eagar along with Clarice introduced Melinda Shapiro along with her father Fred. It was 24 years ago that Melinda’s mom, Debby, co-chaired the first luncheon along with Hedda Schmidt.
Following the Shapiros, the presentation of the Rainbow artists in their Dillard’s finery along with their celeb escorts. All went perfectly. Even those two rambunctious chaps AJ and Jozef had set aside their balloons and acted like well-behaved five- and six-year-olds. Each group got extended applause as Steve read out a brief bio on each of the child models.
It was after AJ and Roger finished up their runway stint that an extended break took place. First there was the live auction that led off with family portraits valued at $1,018 for $150. Actually it wasn’t an auction item. Anyone who wanted the package could put their hand up and get it. At one point photographer David Irvin took over the microphone and talking up the package to grow the hands. As if that wasn’t enough, he went out in the audience to point out folks who wanted the offer.
This segment was followed by the live auction of six other items. And then there was the “Call for Cash,” in which celebs like Daryl Johnston, Drew Pearson, Jason Witten, Mike Modano, Dat Nguyen and Rudy Gatlin went out in the audience to collect donations. To get the audience revved up for this, Dr. Kasey Leger and cancer survivor Candace Darden were introduced to the audience with a compelling story of Candace’s battle with cancer. While Ray Johnston played in the background, the boys hit the audience with women shouting for specific celebs to pose with them for pictures before getting their booty.
While traditional and raising money, these break activities either led some to believe that the show was over or it was getting late. Whatever. By the time the money collecting was done and the Part II of the fashion show had started, five tables along the runway were pretty much people-less.
Too bad because the second part of the fashion show was just as great as Part I with the grand finale being Tony Romo joining Witten and Reece Hokit.