33rd Annual Care Dallas Breakfast To Feature Actress/Author Mackenzie Phillips And Breathe Life Healing Center Founder Brad Lamm

Perhaps Mackenzie Phillips was the first one to spot Harrison Ford as a hunk in 1973 when she and Paul Le Mat drag raced with him back in “American Graffiti.” She was just 14 years old and already part of the celeb universe being the daughter of The Mamas and The PapasJohn Phillips. The hit movie had hardly made the rounds before Mackenzie was in the TV comedy “One Day at a Time.”

By the third season of the show, the 19-year-old Mackenzie was already in hot water that included arrests for disorderly conduct, drug and alcohol abuse, two near-fatal overdoses and various stints in rehab. Despite efforts to deal with her addictions, she relapsed time and time again even admitting to using cocaine when she was pregnant with her son Shane Barakan.

While she appeared to have cleaned up her act by 2010, she also made headlines in 2009 with her telling Oprah Winfrey that “she was raped by her father in a hotel room when she was 18 while passed out after a drug binge but continued to use drugs and have consensual sex with him for years.”

Since that time Mackenzie’s life has gained a sense of normalcy. In 2013 she became a Primary Substance Use Counselor and began working in the addiction field as a counselor. Just last year she joined the Breathe Life Healing Center’s staff.

Mackenzie Phillips*

Brad Lamm*

According to Breathe Life Healing Centers Founder Brad Lamm, “We are thrilled to have Mack join the Breathe family. Our clients will no doubt benefit from her expertise in the field and her personal journey to recovery. She has recovered so much – a life rich in value and substance and I cannot wait to collaborate with her. She is a brave warrior who has trudged a long road, and has built a true bridge back to life. Plus, she’s not a glum gal!”

33rd Annual CARE Dallas Breakfast Chair Mary Martin just reported that both Mackenzie and Brad will be the featured guests at the Care Dallas fundraiser at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, November 15, at the Dallas Country Club. Honorary Event Co-Chairs are Lindsay and George Billingsley.

In addition to the talk by Mackenzie and Brad, Charles Carneal will receive Margaret Sharpe Award and JDs Chippery will be presented the Community Partner Award.

While individual tickets are not available now, tables and sponsorships are. Check here to get your spot.

* Photo provided by Care Dallas

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea

Cathy Vieth and Shane Walker

It’s that event of the year in which creative juices are let loose resulting in jaw-dropping expressions by passersby. Benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, the Mad Hatter’s Tea has become a feast for gawkers and showboaters.

Amber Griffin’s hat

On Thursday, April 27, “Under The Tuscan Sun” had some of the guests’ chapeaus reaching for Old Sol at the Arboretum, while others looked like an Italian platter had taken residence on their heads. Mamma mia!

While the post is being prepared, check out the hats and faces at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: Annual Downtown Holiday Parade Is Looking For A New Host

UPDATE: The Adolphus Hotel that was one of the original sponsors of the mega-holiday festivities has signed up for the 2017 parade. Don’t you just know that Santa will have plush digs the night before.

The annual parade that marches through downtown Dallas in early December has had some “adjustments.” In recent year’s Children’s Health has hosted the parade. Out of the past five years, it’s had to be canceled twice (2013 and 2016) due to inclement weather. Describing it as “inclement” is like saying the summer is North Texas is warmish.

Children’s Health Holiday Parade (File photo)

It was just announced that Children’s Health would not be the official host of the event. According to Children’s Health spokesperson Scott Summerall, “After hosting the parade for nearly three decades, we have decided to move forward with other new and meaningful ways to bring cheer to families in our community this holiday season. We are considering ways to celebrate and honor the parade’s history in its 30th year, but are still ironing out details of a potential event. We will continue hosting the other treasured holiday events across our system, including the annual Holiday Tree Lighting at our Dallas and Plano campuses, Breakfast with Santa with the Women’s Auxiliary, and our Holiday Patient Party for families in the hospital. These events are beloved by our patients, families and team members, and are an important component of fulfilling our mission to make life better for children.”

But don’t go thinking that the parade is a goner. According to a report on WFAA at noon, THE Dance Director Jeffrey Giles and former Parade Director Cassie Collins “have filed a permit with the City of Dallas to host the parade, and will be reaching out to sponsors soon.”

BTW, over the years the parade has had such corporations as Southwest Airlines, Neiman Marcus and the Adolphus Hotel provide major support.

Sold-Out Alert!: Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Women Of Dallas Fashion Show And Luncheon

That day has come. In keeping with the age-old tradition of being a done deal before North Texas evacuates for the summer, the Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Women of Dallas Fashion Show and Luncheon is sold out.     

Amy Hegi, Piper Wyatt, Julie Hawes, Pat Harloe, Janie Condon, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Tucker Enthoven, Katherine Coker, Delilah Holmes, Anita Arnold and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

So, if you had planned on personally handing your check in Tuesday, scrub it. That is, unless it’s an awful hefty check and who knows? Maybe CCB Chair Pam Perella and Luncheon Chair Christi Urschel will get their space makers out and find you room for the event on Friday, September 15, at Neiman Marcus Downtown with designer Zac Posen in the audience and his fashions on the runway.

JUST IN: Businessman/Philanthropist David B. Miller To Receive 2017 Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award

David Miller (File photo)

While it’s hard to miss the towering David Miller in a crowd, he tends to shy away from being in the spotlight despite his leadership in business and philanthropic endeavors. But he’s going to have to adjust to being the man of the hour on Wednesday, October 25, when he is presented the 2017 Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award at the Hilton Anatole.

Benefiting the Methodist Health System Foundation, the annual dinner is one of the gems of the fall season with surprises for both the recipient and the guests.

According to Methodist Health System Foundation President Jim Johnston, “David Miller clearly exemplifies Bob Folsom’s legacy as a revered community leader, serving Dallas with integrity, humility and respect. Like Mr. Folsom, David’s dedication and involvement with SMU, his dynamic leadership as a successful entrepreneur/business leader, as well as his care, concern and generosity toward others who are less fortunate, have made a lasting impact on Dallas and beyond. This year is particularly poignant because of the passing of Mr. Folsom in January. We hope to make this a special celebration as we pay tribute to Mr. Folsom as well.”

David and the late mayor had a lot in common. They both were athletes at SMU. Bob played on the football team and David was a basketball player. At different periods they served on the Edwin L. Cox School of Business. While Bob became a “legendary investor and developer… who built a fortune as a master of real estate,” David set his sights on the oil and gas industry, co-founding EnCap Investments L.P. and MAZE Exploration Inc. Despite their professional accomplishments, both men placed a priority on their families and community.

It was an interesting touch of irony that despite being 23 years apart in age, Bob was born on February 15 and David on February 17.

In typical David fashion, he responded upon learning of being the award recipient: “I am humbled and honored to receive this significant award as Bob Folsom was a role model for many of us, and he was a true servant leader.”

Co-chairing the dinner will be Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, Lottye and Bobby B. Lyle, Jeanne L. Phillips and Gail and Gerald Turner.

For a full-blown release on the announcement including David’s countless accomplishments, both professional and philanthropic, follow the jump. [Read more…]

JUST IN: The Inaugural Jade Ball To Benefit The Crow Collection Of Asian Art With Robert Weatherly Chairing And Lynn McBee As Honorary Chair

There’s the Fur Ball, the Eye Ball and now there’s the Jade Ball. It was just announced that on Saturday, October 7, the Inaugural Jade Ball Gala will take place benefiting the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

Robert Weatherly (File photo)

Lynn McBee (File photo)

Gala Chair Robert Weatherly and Honorary Chair Lynn McBee revealed that a black-tie, three-course dinner will take place at Belo Mansion for 400 complete with a grand entrance, signature cocktail, entertainment, networking and a live auction.

With summer vacation just kicking off, it’s a perfect time to check out the 19-year-old museum “dedicated solely to the arts of Asia, with rotating galleries exhibiting the arts of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam.”

Oh, about the price of admission? In addition to having air conditioning to cool off the summer heat, it’s free admission thanks to its founders the late Margaret and Trammell Crow.

The Family Place Opened Texas’ First Shelter For Male Victims Of Domestic Abuse

There’s a misconception that domestic abuse only victimizes women and children in a household. Not true. The thinking is that real men just don’t get abused. That’s not true. It’s often not reported because of the humiliation that a male victim has “not stood up for himself.”

The Family Place*

For more than 15 years, The Family Place has been working with such men on a limited basis, due to financial resources. They’ve had to resort to using hotels and apartments, and that has been costly and not the most satisfactory solution. Just last year they “provided shelter for 32 men and nonresidential services for 50 men.”

That’s why The Family Place team rolled up their sleeves and committed to creating a true facility for men and their children to seek protective shelter for healing and undertaking a better life. Their goal was to provide 21 beds and private rooms for men with children.

Construction got underway in 2016 and the house was opened this month. However, there was no grand opening due to the fact that its location must remain undisclosed.

These clients will have access to counseling, emergency relief services, case management, childcare, healthcare, legal aid, transitional housing and rental assistance.

Funding for the shelter was achieved through grants.

* Graphic courtesy of The Family Place

Memorial Day Is A Day To Remember Those Lost To War

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was established following the Civil War. It first took place on May 30, 1868. According to General John Logan, its purpose was to see cemeteries “strewn with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

By 1890 it was a holiday recognized largely in the north and it stayed that way until World War I, when it was adjusted to honor all Americans who died fighting in any war.

Flags

In 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed for all American’s “to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’” at 3 p.m. local time.

So, while you’re enjoying a day off, take a moment at 3 and realize the cost of the freedom provided by those lost to war.

As Hope Cottage Warms Up For Its Centennial, CEO Sonyia Hartwell Is Retiring With Chief Program Officer Brooks Quinlan Moving On Up

Hope Cottage is getting ready to kick off its centennial warm-up year at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, with “Step Up For Hope Fundraising Walk” starting at Hope Cottage.  There will be no charge, but if a person raises $100 s/he’ll be rewarded with an event shirt and a goody bag.

All members of the family are invited to participate including the pets. (Cats might be a bit skittish about joining in, so let them stay at home on the couch.)

There will be games plus prizes for individual and teams who raise the most monies, best team costume and best dressed canine (leash required) in the pooch parade.

Sonyia Hartwell (File photo)

Brooks Quinlan (File photo)

Unfortunately, Hope Cottage CEO Sonyia Hartwell will not be a part of all the official festivities. She’s retiring to Arizona on Wednesday, June 28, after working at the adoption agency since 2009. During her tenure, she saw Hope Cottage through many developments, including the moving of its facility at Fitzhugh and McKinney to its brand spanking new sweetheart of a building in the Wilson Historic District.

As for who will be replacing Sonyia, it will be Hope Cottage Chief Program Officer Brooks Quinlan, who also joined Hope Cottage in 2009.

George Washington Will Be Subbing In For “Hamilton’s” Sister-In-Law At Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon

There was a chance of kicking off the three-day Memorial Day weekend with some disappointing news. However, it turned out to be good news.

Let’s get the bad stuff over with first: The Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Friday, June 23, was to have Renée Elise Goldsberry, who played Alexander Hamilton’s sis-in-law from “Hamilton.” Yup, you read it — “was.”

According to Luncheon Co-Chair Kara Altenbaumer-Price, “We learned yesterday that an unavoidable scheduling conflict had arisen for Ms. Goldsberry and she is no longer able to serve as the 2017 ASC Luncheon Speaker.”

Well, double darn it. But, wait! Here comes the good news.

Christopher Jackson*

Kara reports, “While a change at this late date is not what we would have wished for, we are excited to announce that Christopher Jackson, who originated the role of George Washington in the Broadway production of ‘Hamilton,’ has graciously agreed to step into the role of luncheon speaker on short notice. Mr. Jackson was awarded a Grammy and nominated for a Tony for his role in ‘Hamilton.’  He won a Drama Desk Award for his role in ‘Hamilton’-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s last show, In ‘The Heights,’ as Benny.”

How did they manage to land Christopher? Luncheon Co-Chair Beth Bedell reported, “Rather than simply cancelling when it became clear that her current project would not wrap on time, Renée took responsibility and personally secured Christopher as her replacement.”

In addition to appearing in “The Lion King,” “Memphis,” “After Midnight” and “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” Christopher has also been seen on “The Good Wife,” “Bull” and “Oz,” as well as being “nominated for three Emmy Awards for composing music and lyrics for television and winning the ‘Outstanding Original Song’ Emmy Award in 2011 for his lyrics to ‘What I Am,’ which he co-wrote for ‘Sesame Street’ with Bill Sherman.”

So, keep Friday, June 23, inked in, because instead of a sister, a father of this country is going to be speaking to benefit the Junior Players.

* Photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

Was There Something You Forgot Before Heading Out For The Summer?

MySweetCharity

Vacation plans are made. The kids are tapping their fingers waiting for the final bell of the semester. You’ve bought enough sunscreen to cover Big Tex. You’ve made reservations for the pets to go to camp, while you’re away.

But wait! There was that something that you were supposed do. Yup, it was really important when you thought of it. Something about a calendar. That’s it! You wanted to make sure that you got your upcoming nonprofit events on the MySweetCharity Calendar. No problem. Here’s the link to submit any and all nonprofit events. It’s free unless you want to add bells and whistles.

MySweetCharity Submit An Event

As for staying in tune with the North Texas news, people and happenings, don’t worry that pretty gray matter one iota. MySweetCharity will continue to keep you up-to-date on the goings on. Take MSC to the beach, the mountains or wherever you may go. All you need is an internet connection and you’ll have MSC.

BTW, if you subscribe to MSC, then you’ll get your daily fix around 6:02 in the morning as usual.

2017 Tablescapes Sponsorships and Tickets Are Now Available For The Two-Day Kappa Kappa Gamma Fundraiser

The Kappa Kappa Gammas were donning their blue-and-whites on Tuesday, April 25, for the kick-off of the 2017 Tablescapes — Forever Blue And Beautiful — at Lori Martin’s University home. Gee, even the wallpaper in the dining room was blue and white.

Co-Chairs Mary Hubbard and Beth Dike revealed to guests like Louise Griffeth and Cynthia Beaird that the annual fundraiser would return to the Dallas County Club just in time to inspire hosts/hostesses on how to dress up their tables for the Thanksgiving feasts.

Louise Griffeth and Cynthia Beaird

Tablescapes by Candlelight will take place on Monday, October 16, followed the next day with the presentation by keynote speaker Mark Sikes and a seated lunch at the decorated tables throughout the club.

If Mark isn’t a household name, he definitely should be. In addition to doing Draper James in Highland Park Village, and being a part of Reese Witherspoon’s splendiferous world, he has also been an advising bud for Nancy Meyer.

Presented by Central Market, the fundraiser will benefit the following nonprofits: Akola Project, Camp Summit, Cristo Red Dallas College Prep, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support, Seniors Pet Assistance Network, Town North YMCA, Visiting Nurses Association/Meals on Wheels and Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation.

Tickets are available now!

Joel Allison Addressed The Future Of Healthcare At The Senior Source’s 18th Annual Charles C. Sprague Sage Society Dinner

The Senior Source‘s Charles C. Sprague Sage Society was established in 1999 with the late Charles Sprague leading the charge to help raise funds and awareness about the growing needs of the elderly. To help achieve these goals, the annual Sprague dinner has been annually held for the past 17 years. This year’s dinner was highlighted by former Baylor Scott and White Health President/CEO Joel Allison as the keynote speaker. It was just back in 2015 that Joel was the recipient of The Senior Source’s Spirit of Generations Award. Here is a report from the field about the dinner:

On Tuesday, April 25, a crowd of 130 philanthropists committed to improving the quality of life for older adults in North Texas gathered at the Dallas Country Club for The Charles C. Sprague Sage Society’s 18th Annual Dinner and Program, hosted by Dallas non-profit organization The Senior Source. Headlining this year’s event was Joel Allison, immediate past president and CEO of Baylor Scott and White Health, speaking on a topic that’s been dominating headlines: “Health Care in America: Where Do We Go from Here.” Among Mr. Allison’s many astute observations were that much of the debate lately is focused on insurance and billing rather than health care itself, and that the doctor/patient relationship should be considered above all other relationships.

Scott and Susan Wilson, Joel Allison, Cortney Nicolato and John Taylor III*

“Joel was the perfect expert to speak about the future of health care in America,” said Scott Wilson, who co-chaired the event with his wife, Susan. “Our Sage Society members really enjoyed his perspective, his industry-wide knowledge of such a layered and complex subject, and his uncanny ability to make it understandable for those not in the health care field.”

In addition to co-chairing the event together, the Wilsons also celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary at the event. “The centerpieces on your table are for sale after the presentation, one will be in my home on the sofa table behind my couch where I will be sleeping tonight,” remarked Scott about the timing.

Leonard Riggs and Alayne Sprague*

Diane Allison*

Debbie Oates, Christie Carter, Dee Collins Torbert, Carol Huckin and Pam Busbee*

Cathy and Larry Helm*

Sara and Gary Ahr*

While the subject of health care was top of mind at the event, the crowd at the The Charles C. Sprague Sage Society’s 18th Annual Dinner and Program was also very committed to The Senior Source. Guests in attendance included The Senior Source President/CEO Cortney NicolatoSusie and Jim Riley, Cher and David Jacobs, Pam Busbee, Debbie Oates, Christie Carter, Carol Huckin, Dee Collins Torbert, Sara and Gary Ahr, Gail and Warren Randell, Sharon and Mike McCullough, Jane and Pat Jennevein, John Taylor III, Leonard Riggs and Alayne Sprague. Keynote speaker Joel Allison was joined by his wife, Diane Allison. Atmos Energy, the presenting underwriter, and KPMG LLP, as partner underwriter, made it possible for 100 percent of the members’ contributions to directly benefit the agency’s services.

Mike and Sharon McCullough and Gail and Warren Randell*

Jim and Susie Riley and Cher and David Jacobs*

The Sage Society is a special associates program that educates members on aging issues and supports the programs of The Senior Source. It was founded in 1999 under the leadership of the late Dr. Charles Sprague, then Chairman Emeritus of Southwest Medical Foundation. Membership to the Society entitles participants to attend entertaining and educational presentations at a dinner held each spring, while supporting the Society’s two major goals: building financial support for services that improve the quality of life for older adults and educating community leaders on the challenges of the aging population.

About The Senior Source
Since 1961, The Senior Source has served greater Dallas as the go-to nonprofit for aging services.  The agency offers personalized assistance, protection, and connection support to all older adults in greater Dallas for these individuals to THRIVE.  As a United Way service provider, The Senior Source offers 10 comprehensive programs for those 50 years of age and older. For more information, contact The Senior Source at (214) 823-5700 or visit www.theseniorsource.org. You can also find The Senior Source on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theseniorsource or Twitter using the handle @theseniorsource. 

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

JUST IN: Details Revealed About Upcoming 2017 Parade Of Playhouses At NorthPark Center For Dallas CASA

Who says that summer is the “quiet time” for North Texas fundraisers? Even before schools are out, Dallas CASA is already staking claim for more than two weeks of its annual Parade of Playhouses. The annual favorite fundraiser that transforms NorthPark Center into a showcase of mini-cottages is scheduled to officially be on site starting Friday, July 7.

Parade Of Playhouses*

Built and donated by local designers, architects and builders, the 16 pint-size palaces include an Australian airline-themed house, a Rubik’s cube and a space-theme house.

This year’s collection includes houses from the international playhouse design by Nicollo Abe of Ontario, Canada; Riaan Kotze of Massachusetts, USA; Christiaan Luijk  of Cape Town, South Africa; and Amrita Raja and Katharine Storr of London, United Kingdom.

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle, ““The creativity, imagination and ingenuity that these playhouse builders and designers brings is simply astounding. The vulnerable children we serve need safe homes where they can heal from their physical and emotional injuries and begin dreaming of a future they could not dare to think about. We hope every builder, designer and organization donating a playhouse knows they are helping an abused child begin to build a new dream for themselves.”

On Sunday, July 23, the mini-mansions will be raffled off. Interested? Raffle tickets are going for $5 each or five for $20 and can be purchased at event ticket tables or online during the 17-day run.

Jim Thompson (File photo)

Thanks to the following people and organizations, who are aiding Dallas CASA’s goal of providing all abused children with a Dallas CASA volunteer to help them through the child welfare system:

  • Honorary Chair — Jim Thompson
  • Parade Host — NorthPark Center
  • Castle — Jim Thompson
    Estate — SketchUp
  • Mansion — Kappa Alpha Theta Dallas Alumni Chapter, Newton Thomas with Summit Funding Inc. and Pirch
  • Villa — Bernbaum/Magadini Architects and Jackson Walker LLP
  • Playhouse Architects and Builders — Austin Commercial, Beck Architecture LCC, Bob Borson, BufordHawthorne Homebuilders, Butscher Construction, Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti, Domiteaux and Baggett Architects, FP Construction, Guardian Exteriors Inc., Jay W. Grishby Jr., Harman, Holder Construction Company, LRO Residential, Omniplan Inc., Perk Homes, Redlee/SCS, Robert Hopson Construction Group, Schwob Building Company LTD., University of Oklahoma – College of Architecture and William P. Manning Company Inc.

The 22nd annual parade is the absolutely perfect event because it’s free for the viewing, inside the air-conditioned center and helps Dallas CASA “continue its growth trajectory to serve all children in need.”

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA

Mad Hatter’s Tea Judges Scored With Some Pretty Heady Escorts For The Arboretum’s Fundraiser Patron Party At Amy And Kelsey Warren’s Estate

As Pat Green surveyed Mad Hatter’s Tea Honorary Co-Chair Amy and Kelsey Warren’s backyard, he laughed when someone asked him if it was bigger than his spread in Fort Worth on Tuesday, April 25. What brought the country-western singer to Dallas was the Mad Hatter’s Tea patron party. No, he wasn’t going to be entertaining at the tea the following Thursday. But his adorable blonde wife Kori Green was going to be one of the category judges and Pat was playing the role of escort for the evening.

Amy Warren

Pat and Kori Green

Still another escort was Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who was also playing a secondary role to wife Micki Rawlings, who also was to be a judge.

Mike and Micki Rawlings

Tracy Rathbun and “her husband”

But wait! There was still another judge in the crowd overlooking the palatial grounds. It was restaurateur Tracy Rathbun with “her husband.” Tracy told “her husband” she had been amazed earlier in the day at how itty-bitty Simone Biles was at the “A Chance to Soar” benefiting Jonathan’s Place.

Amanda Hill and Melissa Lewis

Jocelyn White and Joani White

Others in the crowd were the Honorary Co-Chairs Amanda Hill, Women Council of the Dallas Arboretum President Melissa Lewis, evening’s chair Emilynn Wilson and husband Claude Wilson, Anne Stodghill, Phyllis and CJ Comu, Joani White and Jocelyn White, who would be emcee at Saturday’s Equest Gala as well as the Mad Hatter’s Tea.

Itty-Bitty Gold Medalist Simone Biles Scored A Perfect Ten For Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar” Luncheon Guests Of All Ages

Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki

If Episcopal School of Dallas or The Hockaday School staffers noticed that their lunchrooms were a bit scant of students on Tuesday, April 25, they were right. The lasses were at the Hilton Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom with their parents’ permission.

The occasion was Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar Luncheon.” Now, normally it might be considered a grown-up event, but this one had two mega-athletes — Olympian God Medalist/former foster child Simone Biles on stage and Maverick main man Dirk Nowitzki as one of the day’s award recipients.

As mom Tracy Lange surmised, a couple of the moms hosted a table for their girls, and others quickly followed suit filling the ballroom with 700.

Tracy Lange, Livia Lange, Amelia Schoellkopf, Olivia Hohmann, Mary Ellen Schoellkopf, Kate Eastin and Monica Eastin

Sydney Hoyl and Kristi Hoyl

While some might question pulling the young ladies out of school, others reasoned that in addition to seeing world-class role models, the girls had the opportunity to be part of a grownup fundraising experience.

Some of the young luncheoners, like Livia Lange, Amelia Schoellkopf, Olivia Hohmann, Mary Ellen Schoellkopf, Kate Eastin and Caroline Bagley, were dressed to the nines. Too bad they’re too young for 10 best Dressed. Others like Sydney Hoyl opted to stay in their school uniforms.

Simone Biles and Ron Biles

The photo opp for guests and Simone was a bit of a ramble scramble due to Simone’s late arrival. She had been delayed due to an interview in another area of the hotel with KXAS/emcee Meredith Land.

Walking to the front of the room with her father, Ron Biles, Simone’s 4’9” size seemed even more so standing next to 7’0” Dirk. Still her smile was as big as ever despite having taken a flight from Los Angeles following her appearance on “Dancing With The Stars” the night before.

Even before folks like Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Jenny and Trevor Rees-Jones III, Stacey Walker, Jessica Nowitzki, Lydia Novakov, Tracy Rathbun, Monica Eastin and Pam Busbee took their seats, the raffle tickets were sold out.

Pam Busbee

Tracy Rathbun

Stacey Walker and Bryan Dunagan

Following the welcome by Luncheon Co-Chairs Julie Bagley and Rachel Stephens, the invocation by Highland Park Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Bryan Dunagan and a luncheon of pecan crusted chicken breast salad, the following awards were presented:

  • Award of Compassion to Dirk Nowitzki
  • Award of Excellence to Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones
  • Award of Service to Gary Borofsky representing Dillard’s

Jonathon’s Place’s CEO Allicia Graham Frye told the group that last year, 277 children were handled by Jonathan’s Place. She finished her remarks saying, “My wish is that every child that comes across my path would feel loved.”

Allicia Graham Frye and Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones

It should be noted that unlike the Chick Lit Luncheon, the audience was silent during the award presentation and Allicia’s remarks.

It was then time for Simone to chat with Meredith Land on stage. The undercurrent in the room seemed to race, as if Santa had just popped down the chimney. For those close to the stage, they got a pretty good look at the twosome. However, the quality of the lighting and video created shadows, making the on-screen presentation challenging.

Simone Biles

Still, Simone did not disappoint with such revelations:

  • “I was just a crazy kid.”
  • She started gymnastics at the age of six and loved it immediately.
  • Her routine was an hour and half of conditioning, going to school and returning to the gym for her real workout. Such a regimen required more than dedication, it demanded sacrifice like, “I’ve never been to a prom. I cried a lot. Sasha (Farber, her ‘DWTS’ partner) was the first guy that she had really danced with and “he was 20 years old.”
  • Regrets — “I shouldn’t say that I do because of all of the accomplishments that I have from it. It’s all worked very well.”
  • Bullying — “Rise above it and use it as a motivation to do anything that you want to do and to always prove them wrong.”
  • Confidence — “I have very down-to-earth parents. I have amazing friends. My brothers, as well, are supporting me. It’s kind of easy to do that. But at times it gets hard because I want to be a normal kid and do other things. At the end of the day it’s my goal that I want.”
  • Olympics — “I actually didn’t really want to go to the Olympics when I was younger. I said I did because every little girl wanted to, so I would say, ‘I want to go to the Olympics.’ At a time in my career I knew I could be the best and it scared me so much that I would sometime sabotage my gymnastics. I knew I had the potential, but I didn’t want all that attention on me. It scared me so much. So I would do things on purpose. But I got out of it…. In February 2016 I had a really big breakdown. I had been at the top for three years and I thought this is my really big year, but what if I get hurt. And I started thinking of all these things, so I was too scared to even tumble. I thought if I land wrong, there goes my Olympic game. I would go to the bar and start bawling. It happened for two weeks. I cried a lot. I would go to practice and my coach would be like, ‘Just go home.’ My Dad told me to call my sports psychologist and I said, ‘No, I just want to cry.’ And my dad called him. He came into my room and handed the phone to me and I usually don’t cry in front of him or really anybody, and I just started bawling my eyes out — ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m not going to make the team. Blah, blah, blah.’ He (the sports psychologist) said, ‘Simone, what was the first thing I said to you when you came into my office?’ We chatted about it.”
  • Sports Psychologist — “For three years your parents, your coaches, your mentors, it’s good to have someone that knows your sport, but it helps that it’s not the same person over and over again.”
  • Whom did she not want to disappoint — “I didn’t want to let down America because they had such big goals for me. They expected me to get five gold medals and I only walked out with four, so I felt like I let them down a little bit.” Afterwards she was asked in an interview about how badly she felt getting a bronze instead of a gold, her response was, “I’m sorry if that was your goal. I’m sorry if you guys had to backspace on your typewriter. I’m pretty happy. This was my first Olympics and I’m 19 years old and I’m walking out of here with five medals. My goal was to make the finals. Whatever happens happens. I came out with four golds and one bronze and pretty proud of myself. I’m sorry if I disappointed you because they already crowned me with five gold medals. I think they (the interviewer) was trying to put it on me, so that’s what hurt a little bit.”
  • On the podium — “You feel like you’re a princess up there. It never feels real. I would always look at my parents. They would be bawling and I would then start tearing up. I’m an ugly crier.”
  • Post Olympics — “I haven’t worked out since the Olympics. It is my year off, so that is why I chose ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ I’m going on a vacations with my family this summer.  One is Hawaii and the other is Belize… I eat ice cream every chance I get.”
  • 2020 — “I’m going to train for the 2020 Olympics.”
  • What makes Texas special — “It’s the people. I’m in L.A. right now and it’s very different. I think it’s the southern-ness.”
  • What she misses — “I miss my bed and my dogs. I cook for my dogs. They’re spoiled little things. They have monogrammed beds. They’re not little. They’re German Shepherds. We have three.”
  • First Date — “It was like low key. I had never been on a date before or had a boyfriend. So, it’s all new. We just went to get frozen yogurt. It was a little scary. I’ve trained all my life to go to the Olympics, not to go on a date.”
  • The future — “I think I want to do something with sports management.”
  • Foster care — “[Being a foster parent] really does change a child’s life. It does give them a home, love. A lot of them age out at the age of 18 and that makes me sad. I was very fortunate for my situation. It really does make difference in the kids’ eyes.”
  • She recalled that before being rescued from her birth mother, there were days when she ate her cereal with white.
  • She felt that she would not win “Dancing With The Stars.”

At the end of the conversation, Simone looked out into the audience with each member holding a card reading “10.”   

She was then off to Jonathan’s Place to visit with children waiting for a foster parent.

Co-Chairs Ann And Lee Hobson’s Art Ball “Glittered” With Fashions, Faces, A Fabulous Record-Breaking Live Auction And A Net Of $1.3M+

With the departure of Dallas Museum of Art Eugene McDermott Director Max Anderson in September 2015, fundraising at the DMA shifted direction. As adorable as the Downton Artsy and Art Ball Funk video takeoffs were in years past, the DMA’s Art Ball  leadership was keeping expenses as tight as a third face lift without losing the artistic panache of activities.

Lee and Ann Hobson

To get the mission accomplished for this year’s big black-tie fundraiser, Ann and Lee Hobson were called on to co-chair the 2017 Art Ball on Saturday, April 22. Inspired by their love for romantic France, the Hobsons announced the evening’s theme would be “All That Glitters.” It turned out to be the perfect canvas for guests to display beautiful fashions ranging from simple elegance and old-time showstoppers to wearable art.

But could the blonde twosome pull off a luxurious evening of dining, dancing and dough raising without going in the red? On paper they hit a home run, scoring a net of $1,330,138. On the scene, it was a grand slam.

Still, there had been a little anxiety due to the weather. The night before, a cold front had rain in the area that would have been a frown-maker in years past for the tented affair, due to the Mark di Suvero sculpture requiring a hole in the top. No matter how careful the construction of the tent, there was just no way to totally enclose the opening. One year, guests complained that raindrops had found their way to their table underneath the sculpture. This year, the Hobsons and event producer Todd Fiscus had carefully edited the main room to keep things intimate, leaving the di Suvero out in the cold.

Todd Fiscus, Agustin Arteaga, Ceron and Michael Flores

To make up for the MIA artwork, the artistic beauty was still there thanks to the array of guests. Despite it still being before Memorial Day, the rule of never wearing true white until after Memorial Day was not the protocol, thanks to gents in white evening jackets (Stuart Bumpas, Ceron and Fiscus, Michael Flores, Stephen Giles, Brad Kelly and host Hobson). Hey, this is the artistic set and they know no ordinary ho-hum rules.

Debbie Ryan, Brook Hazelton and Capera Ryan

The ladies also rose to the occasion with designers, both past and present. In vintage gowns were Houston’s Becca Cason Thrash on the arm of Brian Bolke and Christen Wilson with Faisal Halum. Capera Ryan was golden in Galanos with her mom Debbie Ryan (in Armani) and Christie’s American President Brook Hazelton.

Ben and Tracy Lange, Clay and Lisa Cooley, Bela Pjetrovic and Chase Cooley

Kemp and Kit Sawers

Rusty and Bill Duvall

Barbara Daseke

John and Jenny Kirtland and Michael and Sharon Young

Designer Michael Faircloth had had his work cut out for him, ranging from Tracy Lange’s white evening pants with train to Lisa Cooley’s sweeping gown showcasing an old master’s work of art. Other designers being shown were Dior (Bela Pjetrovic, Dallas Snadon and Nancy Carlson), Naeem Khan (Moll Anderson and Katherine Hall), Tom Ford (Catherine Rose), Badgley Mishka (Kit Sawers),  Alberta Ferretti (Julie Hawes), Pamella Rowland (Rusty Duval), Rick Owens (Sharon Young), Mary Katrantzou (Barbara Daseke and Jessica Nowitzki) and Monique Lhuillier (Nancy Rogers).

Jennifer Karol and Merry Vose

Becca Cason Thrash and Brian Bolke

Clane LaCrosse, Crystal Lourd and Margot and Darin Ruebel

Michael and Shelly Dee

Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki

But still there can be a cost to wearing couture. Georgina Hartland admitted that her Valentino was a bit scratchy.

Georgina Hartland

Stuart Bumpas, Mary McDermott Cook and Diane Bumpas

Barron and Rebecca Fletcher

Will and Catherine Rose

Tom Lentz and Marguerite Hoffman

Pat and Charles McEvoy

Needless to say, the cocktail party was filled with eye-catchers like DMA Board President Catherine and Will Rose, Muffin and John Lemak (he accessorized his tuxedo with a sling following his rotator cup surgery), Lara and Bob Tafel (his colorful pocket square inspired by Tim Gunn‘s talk last year), Fanchon and Howard Hallam, Gonzalo Bueno with Michael McCray, Wendy and Jeremy Strick, Walter and Laura Elcock, Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner, Claire Emanuelson, Clarice Tinsley, Nancy and Clint Carlson, Mimi and Rich Sterling, Rob Kendall, Tony Holmes, Mary McDermott Cook with Dan Patterson, Kit and Kemp Sawers, Kara and Randall Goss, Clair Dewar, Lynn and Allan McBee, Shelly and Michael Dee (she was in a traditional Bhutanese jacket, he was in kilts), Jennifer and John Eagle, Carlos Gonzalez Jaime, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, Jennifer and Tom Karol, Leslie and Bryan Diers, Marguerite Hoffman with Dr. Tom Lentz, Dirk Nowitzki, Kim and Justin Whitman, Pat and Charles McEvoy, Tori and Ross Mulford, Jenny and John Kirtland, Sharon and Michael Young, Rusty and Bill Duvall, Brandi and Pete Chilian and Cindy and Lindsay Brown, Clane LaCrosse with Crystal Lourd, Margot and Darin Ruebel, Bill and Wendy Payne, Brooke and Blake Davenport, Katherine and Craig Hall, Moll and Charles Anderson, Brooke Hortenstine, Reed Robertson, Walter Voit, Fort Worth’s Marsha and John Kleinheinz, Rebecca and Barron Fletcher and Jo Staffelbach Heinz and Andre Staffelbach.

Gonzalo Bueno and Michael McCray

Jeremy and Wendy Strick

Walter and Laura Elcock

Agustin Arteaga and Carlos Gonzalez Jaime

Just making it under the wire was the Rogers posse (Donna Brittingham, Michael Flores, Doug Carney and Dallas Snadon) led by Fancy Nancy. They ran into jewelry designer/actor Adam Shulman and his Academy Award-winning wife Anne Hathaway with Adam’s cousin Peter Brodsky and his wife Lael Brodsky. Adam had designed a bracelet for Lady Rogers.

Brooke Hortenstine, Peter Brodsky, Nancy Rogers, Adam Shulman, Anne Hathaway, Lael Brodsky and Reed Robertson

Following the cocktail party in the tented reception area, the curtains were pulled back revealing a romantic scene with greenery and five chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, white lattice behind the staging and table settings with tablecloths of swirling colors and gold flatware. The reviews flowed in like champagne in a Baccarat flute. As one guest said upon gazing at the room, “This is just like Ann’s and Lee’s home. It’s both inviting and elegant.”

Melissa Foster Fetter

Sue Gragg

Due to the dip in temperatures, some of the gals like Melissa Foster Fetter, Mary McDermott Cook, Jennifer Karol, Carol Glendenning, Sue Gragg, Kit Sawers, Kara Goss, Leslie Diers, Rusty Duvall, Crystal Lorde, Wendy Payne, Shelly Dee and Heather Washburne had brought along their shawls and coats in case of a slight chill.

As for the program, DMA Eugene McDermott Director Agustin Arteaga, who’s been here seven months, is still learning his way around the hood. At one point he reported that Dallas Mayor “Mark Rawlings” was present. He also told the crowd of 500 that Lady Hobson had been the driving force and revealed that, just the day before, Ann had celebrated her 52 birthday. Oops! The crowd protested and Ann smiled. She had just hit the 50 mark. Not to worry. Hiccups happen.

While catering mistress Cassandra Tomassetti checked the tables and service, there was no need. The seated dinner led off with Petrossian caviar and potatoes with lemon crema and chives under glass, followed by three courses (first course — handmade angel hair pasta, morel mushrooms, quail confit with Madeira sauce; second course — pan-roasted Rhode Island wild fluke, spring vegetables and tomato fumet; and third course — an assortment of pastries).

Rajan Patel and Ann Hobson

It was then time for Brook to auction off the eight items curated by Rajan Patel and Merry Vose, and what an auction it was. DMA Board Chair Melissa Foster Fetter happily looked on as hands competed for items. A couple of times during the night, Georgina and Fancy Nancy at nearby tables tried to outbid each other. At one point, despite his best efforts, Brook couldn’t get the donor’s go-ahead to double the offer for the ladies.

Christen Wilson and John Kleinheinz

Luckily, Brook had better luck with the biggy item of the night — a week’s stay at the Hobsons’ seven-bedroom chateau in the south of France. A breathtaking battle of the paddles commenced between Lady Rogers and a group of pals led by Bill Payne, with bids passing the $100K mark. When Brook wondered aloud about satisfying the two bidders, Ann hopped up with arms waving to go for it, with each bidder agreeing to pay $120,000. In delight Christen Wilson danced between the tables like an adorable sprite. No wonder. The auction of the elegant eight hauled in $460,000, resulting in “the highest-grossing live auction in Art Ball history.”

For more than two pages of picture featuring the fashions and faces, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: Sale Of Wylie Facility Has Equest Packing Its Saddlebags And Consolidating The Equine Therapy Program At Texas Horse Park

For the next ten days, the Equest folks are going to bustling. While they’ll be tending to the horses and clients, Equest CEO Lili Kellogg reported that they’ll also be packing their stuff. It seems that their Wylie facility has been sold and they’ve got to be out of there by Wednesday, May 31, and calling Texas Horse Park their mane (sorry, about that) home.

Lili Kellogg

Andy Steingasser

Dave Perry-Miller’s Andy Steingasser revealed that the 42.5-acre property was sold to a Chinese developer. Not only is Andy the board chair for Equest, he’s also the Realtor who handled the deal and donated 100% of his commission to Equest.

The original asking price was $2.5M, but Andy wasn’t talking what the final amount was. All he could say was that he’d had many sleepless nights.

BTW, just as in every move, the Equest team could use some help. They need storage bins, label makers and industrial shredders. Here’s the link how you can buckeroo help.

Business Council For The Arts Is Calling All Art Heroes For Obelisk Awards

Each year the Business Council for the Arts presents its Obelisk Awards at a luncheon to “honor businesses, business leaders, arts/cultural leaders and nonprofit organizations who have significantly advanced arts and culture in North Texas.”

Event Co-Chairs Thai-lan Tran and Steven Roth have just announced that nominations are now open.

Exactly what does it take to be a nominee? Here’s a breakdown of the requirements for your consideration:

For Businesses:

  • The New Initiatives Award recognizes businesses for supporting an innovative arts/cultural program created within the past three years. Awards are given to one large, medium and small business each.
  • The Arts Partnerships Award recognizes businesses that have provided sustained support to an arts/cultural organization for three or more years. Awards are given to one large, medium and small business each. A business may only win the Arts Partnership Award once every two years.
  • The Arts Education Award recognizes one outstanding business for its support of arts education programs.

For Individual Business Leaders:

  • The Business Champion for the Arts Award recognizes long-term leadership and commitment to arts/culture by a business executive (president, CEO, partner).
  • The Outstanding Leadership Arts Alumnus Award recognizes outstanding board leadership and commitment by a graduate of the Leadership Arts Institute.

For Individual Arts/Cultural Leaders:

  • The Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader Award recognizes an arts leader who has consistently demonstrated vision, impact, innovation, and successful alignment with business and community partners throughout their tenure.

For Nonprofit Arts/Cultural Organizations:

  • The Distinguished Cultural Organization Award is given by Neiman Marcus to recognize one outstanding nonprofit organization for a project or program that has enhanced the community through partnership with a business.

Larry Glasgow (File photo)

According to BCA Board of Directors Chair Larry Glasgow, “For more than a quarter century, the Obelisk Awards have been the symbol of excellence recognizing support of the arts in our community.  Past recipients include visionaries who represent diverse industries, each one making a unique contribution to our cultural vibrancy and quality of life. With the exponential growth of the arts in North Texas, we believe that this year’s nominations will include long-time arts supporters as well as the new and innovative.”

The awardees will be celebrated at the 29th annual Obelisk Awards luncheon at Belo Mansion on Wednesday, November 15.

The deadline for nomination submissions is Wednesday, June 21. That’s less than a month away, so put on those thinking caps and make the world know about an art hero.  Here’s a link for the nomination form.

Sold-Out Alert!: It’s Their Time

When Leslie Crozier takes on a task, she does it with gusto, to say the least. After observing the devastation of a family member’s Alzheimer’s, she established a nonprofit —It’s Their Time — “dedicated exclusively to advancing research for Alzheimer’s.”

Leslie Crozier and Roger Rosenberg (File photo)

To fund Dr. Roger Rosenberg’s Research and DNA Vaccine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, she’s put together a cocktail celebration this Tuesday at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek with WFAA meteorologist Pete Delkus as co-host and Hollywood F.A.M.E. Star Award Winner Aubree-Anne performing.

At one point, Leslie reported, “Remind me not to start a brand new amazing charity… and throw a kick-off at the Mansion… 120 days later! I might have been just a little ambitious in my goal!!!”

But, she need not worry. With determination and loads of friends and supporters, the event is sold out.

To ramp up the fundraising, she’s also arranged for eight live auction items including dinner with Dr. Rosenberg, concert tickets to Lady Gaga’s concert and an incredible Fourth of July stay in Vail that will have paddles rising.   

You Only Need This Information Once To Save Your Life

As Kevin Hurst described earlier today, Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate. No matter how skinny, rich or what zip code one claims, she feels free to unload with her tornadoes, straight-line winds, hail and locusts (okay, so the locusts may not be part of the mix). That’s why during certain parts of the year, especially spring and fall, she really slams the North Texas area with zeal.

For this reason, it’s imperative to have a “WhIP“ (What If Plan). Have you got a place to hunker down? Do you know just what you need to have in your hunker-down sweet spot?

What’s that? It only hits trailer parks and places that you’ve never heard of? Oh, please! Forget that. You’re demanding an example? Okay, you’ve got it. 

Gloria Eulich Martindale (File photo)

Just ask Gloria Eulich Martindale, who is smart, gorgeous and a roll-up-your sleeves fundraiser, as well as being a lady who knows firsthand. She was at her farmhouse on Saturday, April 29, when Mother Nature unloaded. The house was wiped out and Gloria and her family were lucky enough to have a basement that had been used “to store stuff” to hunker down.

Or, if you think it only takes place in the rural areas, hit the “Rethink” button. It was just a couple of years ago that the elegant Turtle Creek area got slam-bammed by a Ma Nature temper tantrum with a sledgehammer toppling trees and devastating the area.

If schools and commercial buildings have fire drills, think about holding your own. Here are some things to check:

  • Do you have people who will check on you if they don’t hear from you following a weather sweep?
  • If you have a VIP documents (i.e. insurance, birth certificates, passports, etc.) and a home computer, should they be part of your escape plan?
  • Have you had a dress rehearsal?
  • Do you have an app that will alert you of threatening weather in your area? If not, check with the local media. They’re free and more than willing to alert you. Despite Arianna Huffington‘s suggestion at the recent Genesis Luncheon of not sleeping with your cellphone on your bed stand, do it. If Arianna complains, tell her to check with us. There’s a time and place for everything.
  • What about the elderly? If you have a “vintage” member of your circle, have you checked on their game plan? They may pat you on the head and tell you not to worry. Don’t fall for it. Nicely demand that they show you where they would go and how to contact them, just in case.
  • What about your critters? How will you handle them in such a crisis? Having them micro-chipped can be a life saver. 

Tonight may result in another “Duh” occasion, but why not use it as an opportunity to do that drill and to let each in your household take responsibility, if a weather or whatever crisis should arise?

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Art Ball

When 2017 Art Ball Co-Chairs Ann and Lee Hobson announced “All That Glitters” as the theme for the Dallas Museum of Art’s annual fundraising gala, they set the mark for the art-loving set to razzle dazzle. And, boy, did they ever rise to the occasion!

Lee and Ann Hobson

Jennifer Karol and Merry Vose

Despite the late season cool front that swept through the area, there were plenty of gents in white evening jackets and gorgeous beauts in beautiful gowns on Saturday, April 22.

Brooke Hortenstine, Peter Brodsky, Nancy Rogers, Adam Shulman, Anne Hathaway, Lael Brodsky and Reed Robertson

With the weekend appearing to be a bit rainy, why not check out the faces and fashions at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. There are more than 70 of ‘em.

JUST IN: Robyn Conlon To Serve As Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show Honorary Chair

Robyn Conlon (File photo)

Today must be “Honorary Chair Announcement Day.” This morning it was the news that 105-year-old Margaret McDermott would serve as the honorary chair for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala.

Now, Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Angie Kadesky has revealed that joining Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show Chair Beth Thoele for the Equest fundraiser will be Robyn Conlon as honorary chair.

Presented by Highland Park Village, the fashions on the runway at Brook Hollow on Tuesday, October 3, will be from HPV with Jan Strimple heading up the production.

Kevin Hurst Provides A Firsthand Look On How North Texans Are Pulling Together Following Recent Tornadic Devastation And How To Help

With spring weather sporadically tearing up families and homes, its devastation only provides a rallying point for both friends and strangers to help the healing process. Following the recent onslaught of tornadic activities on Saturday, April 29, Neiman Marcus Director of Charitable Giving and Associate Volunteerism Kevin Hurst was able to see firsthand the ruination and the coming together. He has kindly shared his experience in the following report with photos:

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

If you have not personally been affected by a man-made or natural disaster, then you most likely have not seen first-hand what the destruction really looks like. The one-dimensional electronic images on TV, online, and print do not accurately portray the three-dimensional devastation.

As the director of charitable giving, and the steward of Neiman Marcus associate’s donations to the Neiman Marcus Disaster Relief Fund, I was recently invited to take a tour and witness the catastrophic damage that Canton and the surrounding communities suffered when four separate tornadoes moved through the area on Saturday, April 29. On May 4, I joined the American Red Cross and other corporate supporters for a 60-mile journey just east of Dallas.

During the drive, we heard all of the facts and figures:

  • four tornadoes, one of which was an F4 (the second highest type),
  • one tornado stayed on the ground for 51 miles, which is completely rare
  • 7,019 meals served to affected families and volunteers
  • 2,910 comfort and clean up kits distributed
  • The speed at which two emergency shelters had been set up
  • 100 homes destroyed or uninhabitable

The facts and figures are just that…facts and figures.  

On the day of our tour, the sky was a vibrant blue and not a cloud in sight…there was even a slight breeze to keep things cool. Just the day before, the area had once again been under a severe storm watch with the possibility of hail. In fact, we were told to wear thick sole shoes and long sleeve shirts. In addition to the storm damage, the demolition of homes had already begun causing insulation particles to float in the air. I recall seeing one house being torn down as we drove down a rural road and thought about the juxtaposition of the destruction with the glistening elements in the air.  It almost seemed like snowflakes floating to the ground.

We had been coached that we should not ask too many questions. Each person would be at a different place in the grieving process. It was best to let them talk as little or as much as they wanted and we should simply say “I am sorry for what you are going through.”

It wasn’t until we started delivering water to those families that reality set in. I think it is safe to say that our demeanors changed from that of an outsider looking in, to one who was now able to truly empathize with those affected.

Our first stop was at a trailer home. We were greeted by a 60-something year old gentleman, “Mark,” seated in a lawn chair in the middle of his yard. He was having lunch which consisted of a hamburger, bagged chips, and a bottle of water; all of which were provided by the local church that had set up grills to help feed their neighbors. Mark’s 86-year old mother, sister, and a young child were all home when the storm hit. They huddled together in an interior room. When it was over, the entire mobile home had been lifted eight inches and moved one foot from its original foundation. The branch of a large tree fell directly into the middle of the home, most likely preventing it from being completely blown away. Needless to say, their home is uninhabitable. The irony is that most of their personal possessions like photographs and keepsakes were all intact.

As I snapped these photographs, I again thought about the juxtaposition of the scene…the tattered American and Texas flags proudly displayed and waving against a backdrop of ruins.

Blue tarp covers the hole left from the tree branch*

To compound the tragedy, Mark’s brother was visiting in a travel camper and was inside of it with his dog. The tornado picked it up, slammed it on its side, and peeled the roof off extracting all of the contents. Thankfully the two walked away with minor cuts and bruises. The door of the travel camper was located wrapped around a tree.  

Campers on its side*

Inside camper with roof peeled off and door of camper wrapped around tree*

As we were visiting, a retired veteran and neighbor, “Bob,” came to talk to us. At first glance, his house directly across the street appeared to be unscathed, however that was not the case. He shared that the entire roof pulsated up and down during the storm loosening ceiling joists and cracking walls. As a trained storm spotter, he knew exactly what to do in the case of a storm and was prepared with a back-up generator, thus allowing him to continue living in his home. Being trained doesn’t necessarily mean that you are exempt.  

Bob has a cell phone tower on his land. When the company came out to inspect it, the technician climbed about ten to fifteen stories to the top. He reported that he could actually see the trench of destruction in the ground and where the tornado made a 90 degree turn to his neighbor’s mobile home.

I mentioned that our Red Cross guide said people would be at different stages of grieving. For both Mark and Bob they were grateful. Grateful not only that they were alive, but they still had some place to call home. I have to say how “impressed” (if that is even the appropriate word) I was with Mark. He was completely open and seemed almost anxious to share his story. We were told that people find it therapeutic to talk about the event.  He invited us to walk around his property and take pictures. I almost felt like it was a badge of honor for him…perhaps if only because his family was safe. As for Bob, and I suspect because of his storm training, he had a different perspective. He actually said he was “happy” it happened. He explained that this storm actually brought his community together; neighbor helping neighbor.

Showroom buildings (left) new and (right) old*

Damaged vehicles*

Our next stop was a Dodge dealership which took a direct hit. The dealership had just completed construction on the new showroom building on Friday. They were in the process of moving everything over from the small, outdated showroom building across the parking lot when the tornado hit on Saturday. Literally, every vehicle sustained damage. Some vehicles were thrown over 200 yards into an adjacent pasture. All that was left of the new building was the steel frame and the old building was completely flattened. A neighboring house across the pasture took a direct hit. Rather than flattening it, the tornado went right through the middle leaving a gaping path with both sides still standing.

In part, this visit was organized by the American Red Cross to demonstrate their quick response and the programs and services provided in a time of crisis. In reality, it demonstrated so much more. It demonstrated the force of nature. It demonstrated the gratitude and compassion of individuals. It demonstrated the resiliency of a community. For me, it validated our decision to become a National Disaster Partner with the American Red Cross. I mentioned earlier that I act as a steward of our associate’s donations to the Neiman Marcus Disaster Relief fund. This support allows the Red Cross to be ready within hours to activate the volunteer network and provide food, water, shelter, products, and other services that would help those affected start to recover from this life-changing event.

Amaryllis*

One final juxtaposition and photo. Amid the piles of debris at Mark’s home, I saw this Amaryllis flower.  It was seemingly untouched by the winds and flying materials.

The genus name Amaryllis comes from the Greek word “amarysso,” which means “to sparkle.” In Greek mythology, it was the name of a shepherdess who shed her own blood to prove her true love, and in so doing inspired the naming of this flower.

Similar to the flying insulation particles that glistened in the sunlight, this Amaryllis equally sparkled. We can only hope that much like Greek mythology, this lone flower will act as a shepherd of hope for the community and shed pollen to spawn new life.

* Photo credit: Kevin Hurst