Just In: “The Art Of Film” Is Sold Out!

If you were hoping to attend the Dallas Film Society‘s The Art of Film this Friday at the Hall of State with Robert Duvall (Bobby to his friends, don’t you know) and Elvis Mitchell (Elvis to his friends, we guess), it’s too late. The shindig is sold out.

Exception: According to event mastermind Lynn McBee, “If someone writes a really big check, we’ll find a way to squeeze ’em in.” Leave it to Lynn to let money have its way.

But if you can’t write that substantial “make-Lynn-happy” check, then DFS President/CEO Tanya Foster advises you to go to the Dallas Film Society’s website to purchase tickets for Get Low. It’ll be shown Saturday morning at Cinemark 17 Theatre. And, yes, Bobby will be on hand to introduce the film.


Thanks To Jan And Trevor Rees-Jones, The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center Is $5M Closer To Becoming Reality

Nowadays financial support seems to be as hard to find as a Cowboys win. But when it happens, it’s the sweet smell of happiness. Last Tuesday the oh-so marvelous fragrance was in abundance as the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center Board of Trustees was celebrating at Ginny and Conner Searcy‘s Park Cities home. How the Searcys did a party after just hosting another event at Three Three Three for the DCAC, one will just have to ponder!

But Tuesday evening was to honor Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones (pictured right with Jan Rees-Jones) for their generous support ($5 million) to the $11 million capital campaign to build a new facility. The new building will be off of Samuell Boulevard with Phase One being 47,861, square feet eventually including another 31.902-square-foot addition.

When you realize that the current facility on Swiss Avenue is only 14,000 square feet, you can understand why Mary Blake Meadows confirmed, “We can service more children” at the new building.

With the Rees-Jones contribution plus $860K from Crystal Charity and others — including

  • $500,000 – $1,000,000 –Crystal Charity Ball, Hirsch Family Foundation and J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation
  • $250,000 – $499,999 — Hillcrest Foundation founded by Mrs. W.W. Caruth Sr.; Roger Kent and Mr. and Mrs. Rick Scripps
  • $100,000 – $249,999 — Dr. and Mrs Kenneth Altshuler, The Baldridge Foundation, Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Meadows, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Olson, Mr. and Mrs. James Pasant, The Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Regard
  • $50,000 – $99,999 — Hawn Foundation Inc., The Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable  & Educational Trust, The George and Fay Young Foundation Inc. and Mr. and Mrs. Conner Searcy
  • $25,000 – $49,999 — Hoak Foundation, Hegi Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Moor; Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Norville, The Rudman Partnership and Mr. and Mrs. Paul F. Tagg,

— they just need $2 million more.

According to Mary, the Rees-Jones Foundation had three giving options when it met including one that was only $1 million. But Jan and Trevor cut to the chase and committed to $5 million.

Perhaps the driving force was the fact that there are 5,000 to 6,000 confirmed cases needing DCAC’s services in Dallas every year. Presently the DCAC is handling 2,000. With the new facility, that number will double.

President Lynn M. Davis said, “This building is desperately needed by the children of Dallas County.”

Trevor (pictured) spoke for Jan saying that their foundation likes DCAC because it’s “trying to help those who are least able to help themselves.” He went on to say that the Rees-Jones Foundation is passionate about abused kids because they’re suffering through no fault of their own.

Chuck Meadows followed Trevor, saying, “The campaign is not over. We’ll try to find 1,000 people to give $1,000 each. We need to expand our base. We have several big ‘asks’ out there.”

Chuck went on to add that his wife Mary got him up at 7:30 in the morning (“kicked my butt out of bed”) to go meet people at breakfast for the cause. Mary was supposed to fade into the sunset after serving last year, but she told him, “No, we’re taking on the capital campaign!”

Also on hand to emphasize the importance of the capital campaign was Dallas Police Chief David Brown (pictured), who said, “This group is flying at 30,000 feet. The Dallas Police Department has worked very closely with them for years. What they’ve done here in Dallas is a model nationally. It’s something to be proud of. They show true compassion for our children. This group is leading the charge to help grow services” for the children.

Dallas Historical Society’s “Awards For Excellence” Embraces Native Born And Born-Again Dallasites

The Dallas Historical Society’s “Awards For Excellence in Community Service” (AFE) may not be the largest gathering inDallas, but it attracts decision-makers of Dallas, both past and present. Why just at Tuesday’s reception for the 2010 event at the Fairmont, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Dr. Gail Thomas (pictured right with Kay Bailey Hutchison) were comparing notes about the October celebration of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Before even locking down the weekend of October 14 for the launch, Gail checked Kay’s schedule to make sure she would be available.

Besides being a past recipient of the AFE, Gail had still another connection to the day’s event — son Stewart Thomas was co-chairing the luncheon along with his wife Michelle and Honorary Chair Mary Anne Cree, the daughter of the late Rosine and Charles Sammons.

Now before you go off thinking that everyone associated with DHS had ancestors who arrived in Dallas with John Neely Bryan, rethink that one. Many of its members and leaders like former DHS Chair Diane Bumpas (pictured) and past AFE recipients Diane Brierley and Ebby Halliday weren’t even born in Dallas. All it takes is an interest in history.

Because this luncheon is known for running on schedule, lunch started promptly because there were a number of awards to give out. After recognizing various supporters, committee members and local community leaders, DHS Exec Director Jack Bunning gave a “state of the union” report of all the activities that had taken place including Phil Collins‘ interview on the Alamo, author Tom Alexander‘s conversation about his book on Stanley Marcus, and the Tom Landry exhibition during the State Fair that alone resulted in more than 100,000 people visiting the Hall of State. He also recognized Tom’s widow Alicia Landry (pictured), adding that due to the success of the Landry exhibition, it would  be relaunched on Thanksgiving weekend in honor of the upcoming Super Bowl XLV.

Then it was time to hand out the awards to the following:

  • Jose Antonio Bowen PhD for Arts Leadership
  • Albert Black Jr. for Business
  • Paula Lambert for Creative Arts
  • Susie and H.B. Bell EdD for Education: Administrative
  • Ed Long for Education: Teaching
  • Joyce Pickering of The Shelton School for Health/Science
  • Rev. Larry James and Rev. Gerald L. Britt Jr. for Humanities
  • The Hillcrest Foundation (Bill Caruth and Harold Caruth) for Philanthropy
  • Laura Estrada for Volunteer Community Leadership
  • Howard Hallam for being the Jubilee History Maker

Highlights of the acceptance speeches included:

  • Jose:  “It you’re a patron of the arts, please stand. . . especially if you go to events you don’t like!”
  • Albert’s (pictured) mentioning his friend Larry Lacerte’s not being present due to illness and Albert’s working with Mayor Tom Leppert to open Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at the old Frazier Courts community of East Dallas, where Albert grew up.
  • Paula: “I’m especially proud because I’m from Fort Worth!”
  • Susie and H.B. acknowledging the people who helped them at “Tables 21, 22 and 23.”
  • The number of hands that went up in the room when asked if Ed Long had taught their children.

To conclude the luncheon, the traditional A.C. Greene toast of champagne was made asking those born in Dallas to stand first, those who were born in Texas to also stand, and finally all who had made it to Dallas as soon as possible to stand.

Bravo, DHS for never getting old, and for just celebrating Dallas’ young roots.

Bushes Take Over Dallas For “A Celebration of Reading”

Dallas was definitely full of “bushes” last Monday. They flew in from Florida, Houston and the outer limits for “A Celebration of Reading.” Why? When Barbara Bush puts on an event for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, the grandkids come a-running. For a brief few hours, Dallasites felt like they were part of a Bush family reunion.

But let’s start at the beginning. No, we already did that with Mandi Bush. Let’s start at noontime.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Locals/authors/former Firsties Laura and George Bush had three generations of Bushes (pictured) plus the evening’s authors in for lunch at their place on Daria. NBC’s Today correspondent Jenna looked svelte. (Gee, don’t they feed gals in NYC?). Mandi was catching the rest up on George P.’s whereabouts (he’s overseas for active duty).

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Wimpy Kid’s author Jeff Kinney (pictured third from the right with, from the left, Donovan Campbell, Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George W. Bush, Leila Meacham and Condoleezza Rice) was sorta overwhelmed: “Here I am eating at the Bushes with Barbara Bush!”

After a brief rest in the afternoon, they headed to an evening of Super Duper Boldfacers at the Meyerson. At a pre-event reception it was a jamfest with Neil Bush and his family feeling right at home with the locals. Over to the side Papa George (aka #41) was seated with Kroger’s Gary Huddleston and adorable wife Becky chatting about Houston-based Pete Roussel,  who was on #41’s staff from GHWB’s days as a congressman to the White House. . .  Mandi was looking terrific as usual and managed to sub in nicely for her husband George P. The girl has never met a stranger! . .  Kids in the crowd were torn between checking with Wimpy author Jeff (“I feel lucky to have had any success in publishing at all”) and having their picture taken with Barbara, who is the picture-perfect grandest mom. . . If you think Barbara is a traditionalist reader, rethink that one. She enjoys her iPad as much as hardbound books. . . In the meantime, Bush grandkids were all over the place making everyone feel like they were a member of the Bush clan. Newlyweds Sandra and Jebby Bush told how they knew each other for three years but didn’t start dating until two years ago. The reason: Sandra was living in London. The twosome got hitched this past May. . .  Ruth and Ken Altshuler found a table in the back of the room with Ken Cooper.

Then seamlessly it was noted that the Bush munchkins quietly headed to the door at the far end of the room, while elder Bushes exited the opposite side of the room. Someone said, “George seems to be slowing down a bit,” noting the cane. A female guest retorted, “That may be true for his walking, but he is still a great hugger and the twinkle in his eye is brighter than ever.”

As the 1,400 found their seats in the Meyerson’s concert hall, Celebration of Reading veterans advised first-timers that they were in for an evening of inspiration, fun and possibly a surprise or two.

(Editor’s note: If you wonder why only 1,400 attended the event when the Meyerson can easily handle 2,062, it’s because the Bushes insist that all have a “light supper” afterwards and the Meyerson can only accommodate 1,400 at the seated dinner.)

The event started right on time at 7 p.m. with #41 being escorted on stage by Mandi. Telling the crowd how the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy had grown, he added, “. . . talk about ‘Mission Creep,’ this is it!” (For you non-politicos, it was a clever reference to #41’s days as president when he explained he didn’t take out Saddam because he didn’t believe in “mission creep.” The twinkle in his eye could be seen from the back of the Meyerson.)

Then a video of a first: “A Celebration of Reading” at sea. It seems that former First Daughter/Sister Doro Bush Koch arranged to have the celebration held on board the USS George H. W. Bush CVN77 on May 1, 2010, with authors like Antwone FisherJames Bradley and Jill Conner Brown.

Immediately following the video, first lady of the evening Barbara Bush entered the stage to a standing ovation. She told the crowd that she didn’t realize until recently that “A Celebration of Reading” was on Facebook (“Betty White has beaten me to it”). On a more serious note, she reported that the foundation had raised $37 million and had assisted 850 literacy programs throughout the country.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

As an example of the program’s effort, Barbara introduced “inspirational reader” Susie Marsh (pictured left with, from the left, Barbara Bush and Susie’s program instructor Melody Barnes), who at the age of 58 returned to school to get her high school diploma. Thanks to the Richardson ISD Family Learning Program, she is not only on her way to getting her GED but she and her 6-year old grandson read to each other.

As Susie hugged Barbara, she may not have noticed that she received a standing ovation from the crowd including Condoleezza, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Nancy and Peter Beck on the front row.

Then everyone settled back for the authors to take their turn at the podium. Introducing each were a different set of Bush grandkids. Jeff said that he was the author who would provide levity, and he did just that. Ending his talk he admitted that when his publisher suggested that he launch his newest Wimpy Kid book on Tuesday, he didn’t realize that #43 would be launching his on the same day. Jeff suggested that for the cost of #43’s book you could get two Wimpy Kid books plus a cup of Starbucks.

Next was Condoleezza Rice. Before reading an excerpt from her Extraordinary, Ordinary People, she told how her mother had been a teacher for Willie Mays. Having grown up in the hotbox of Birmingham, Ala., during the racially turbulent 1950’s and 1960’s, Condoleezza recalled the day of the bombing of the nearby 16th Street Baptist Church. She also told how her mother advised her daughter, “You might not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth’s, but you could be president of the United States.”

Following Condoleezza was Roses author Leila Meacham, whose marvelous southern accent gilded the reading of the book that she undertook at the age of 65. Five years later Grand Central Publishing released Roses and it became a New York Times bestseller. Think of it as a Texas version of Gone With The Wind covering a century of three generations in the Lone Star state.

At 7:54 Dallas native son Donovan Campbell took the stage and the audience with him. Before launching into Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, he took time out to address his father, who was in the audience. With a tear in his eye and a smile on his lips, the son congratulated his father for celebrating his “49th birthday for the 11th time.”  Donovan had the entire audience in the palm of his hand as he described his platoon and their facing “some of the bloodiest battles of the war in Iraq.”

While following Donovan might have been considered nearly impossible, former First Lady Laura Bush took on the challenge with grace and style, reading an excerpt from Spoken From the Heart. While always so proper, Laura provided genuine insight to her being courted by George W. Bush (aka #43). Their whirlwind dating/engagement was the talk of West Texas that the “most eligible bachelor in Midland” is marrying “the old maid of Midland.”

Then she introduced “a special surprise guest” — #43. Welcoming the former president with another standing ovation and cheers, the 1,400 got a sneak preview of the next day’s official launch of his book Decision Points, including:

  • Teasing his mother about the “Celebration” — “Mother, I’m glad you did something constructive.”
  • “If you sense shock tomorrow when this book comes out, it’s because, believe it or not, there are some people in our country who do not think I can read much less write.”
  • On his reason for writing the book — “My goals in writing this book are two-fold. First I hope to paint a picture of what it was like to serve as president for eight consequential years. I believe it will be impossible to reach definitive conclusions about my presidency or any recent presidency for that matter for several decades. The passage of time allows passions to cool, results to clarify and scholars to compare different approaches. My hope is that this book will serve as a resource for anyone studying this period in American history. Second, I write to give readers a perspective on decision-making in a complex environment. Many of the decisions that reach the president’s desk are tough calls with strong arguments on both sides. Throughout the book I describe the options I weighed and the principles I followed. I hope this will give you a better sense of why I made the decisions I did.”
  • “I never had to search for a role model. I was the son of George Bush.”
  • On Barbara teaching her little boy French as she drove him through the desert to the orthodontist in Big Spring: “If only Jacques Chirac could have seen me then.”

Following his talk, #43 took a seat on the front row and joined the rest of the audience in hearing the 80 members of the Children’s Chorus of Dallas beautifully perform “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Like any proper hostess, Barbara thanked all for coming, saying, “I bet you’re a little ‘bushed’ tonight.” Then she invited the 1,400 to a light supper.

As guests found their tables, some noted that a certain area of the lobby looked like a convention of Don Draper hunks. It turned out that when you have two former presidents and two former first ladies, you end up with four teams of Secret Service members. One matron asked her table partner, “Do you have to be good-looking to be on the Secret Service?”

As Barbara chatted with Peter Beck (pictured right with Barbara Bush) and #41 joined Dee and Charles Wyly at their table, guests not only found a perfect dinner but gift bags with two books  plus a copy of the winning essays from the writing contest at Peak Preparatory. (If you’d like to see the essays, follow the jump. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has provided the winning copies.)

On the other hand, the younger first couple made an exit signing books (George W. Bush pictured) as they left. After all, #41 had to rise early the next morning for a book signing at Borders, where people were already lining up to meet Barbara’s oldest boy. [Read more…]

John Larroquette reviews: He’s An AMAZING Speaker

MySweetCharity’s Houston bud Kristi Hoss Schiller just sent the following note about Dallas C.A.R.E. speaker John Larroquette:

“He is an AMAZING speaker — we just had hin at the Houston Council two weeks ago — LOVED HIM!”

Trust MSC when we say that Kristi never ever understates anything.

See you tomorrow morning with Johnny boy at Belo. Coffee is on us!

MySweetCharity Will Not Be Regifting This One

This is a thank you note to the person who gave MySweetCharity a head cold. We didn’t take note of your gift until this afternoon and plan to spend the weekend with it. In doing so, we will definitely not “regift” it for another’s enjoyment.

Now is a good time to remind the MSC community —

  • If you have a cold, stay home and away from others.
  • If you are healthy, stay that way by washing your hands and getting your flu shots.
  • If you have money, invest in Puffs and NyQuil soon.


2010 Black Tie Dinner Guests Were Champing At The Bit

Considered the standard bearer of formal fund raising within the LGBT world, the Black Tie Dinner proved its stuff Saturday night at the Dallas Sheraton. Starting at 5:45 p.m., the backup of cars into the hotel was already looking like a wheeled version of a conga line. Alas, the parking garages attached to the Sheraton were marked “Full” to allow space for the valets, so many chose nearby parking lots and a walk.

But the space issue arose again upon entering the festivities. Like the March of the Penguins, tuxedoes were everywhere, especially in the silent auction arena just outside the Lone Star Ballroom. What else would you expect when you have 3,000 over for a black-tie dinner? Didn’t matter. Everyone was having way too much fun and the congestion just added to the evening’s conversations.

But a few hundred were cubbyholed in private receptions in the Austin Ballrooms. The VIP reception for 500 featured a coolly blue-lit Grey Goose bar with four lines of guests waiting their turn for a libation. In from Washington D.C. was Human Rights Campaign CFO Jim Rinefierd in a red shirt and leather tuxedo with matching tie.

Next door was the Speakers reception for a mere 150. Unlike the free-moving VIP reception, it had the nicety of having Judge Barbara Houser and evening honoree Carol West (pictured right with Barbara Houser) greeting guests at the door.  Part of the room was a photo factory for shooting evening headliners like Gavin Creel and Chely Wright with local celebs. Two photographers with name takers were lining ’em up and shooting them. On the sidelines Mitchell Gold, like a Cecil B. DeMille, admonished, “Only two flashes” per setup.

Another person on the side was Chely’s gal pal Lauren Blitzer (pictured left with Chely Wright), who co-wrote Same Sex in the City.

In the back of the room was a handsome Marine all decked out in his formal dress uniform. Could this be a situation of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? Upon inquiring, the Marine turned out to be Chely’s brother Christopher, who was in from Kansas City with his wife Karla, for Chely’s receiving BTD’s Media Award.

Also on hand supporting family ties were Stephanie Vanderburg and Christine Fischer (pictured right with Stephanie Vanderburg), daughters of BTD Board Member Debra Davis.

Across the way attorney Don Gaiser in a silver-and-black tuxedo jacket was escorted to red carpet area to have his photo taken with the celebs. Buying 10 tables gets you Very VIP service, don’t you know! But the standout in this crowd was Grey Goose’s Claire Winslow (pictured) with her red hair and one-of-a-kind dress and stockings.

Before you knew it, the place cleared out and all headed to the silent auction area to await the opening of the Lone Star Ballroom doors for the night’s dinner.

Now mind you, adding more than 600 people to the already crowded silent auction space might be a problem for some, but for the BTD crowd it was a more-the-merrier scenario. It was a melting pot of all professions, backgrounds and personalities like Messy Panocha (pictured). Let’s face it — the drag diva just stands out in any crowd and loves it with those glittery eyelashes and remarkable hairstyle.

Then there was CPA Mike Larsen (pictured) in his natty kilts, freelance musician Henry McDowell in purple tie (guess he didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t Purple Tie Dinner), and sales associate Marjan in her gold-spangled dress.

Promptly at 7 the doors to the Lone Star opened and the 3,000 filed in for dinner, entertainment and learning more about the beneficiaries and honorees.

If you were among the top-tier guests, you were seated at tables with their own server who took drink orders throughout the night. Shoot, it was like life aboard a luxury liner. No muss, no fuss, just let your server know what you want and it was johnny-on-the-spot. . . drink wise. On the other hand, if you wanted food, regardless of your place in the pecking order, you were limited to salad and a basket of bread until 8:29.

While organizers had held off dinner to allow the speakers and entertainers to be heard over the clatter of dishes, they didn’t realize how really hungry folks could get. This may have explained why so many guests started talking among themselves and checking their smartphones instead of listening to the speakers.

After a brilliant performance by Gavin with the Turtle Creek Chorale, BLT Co-Chairs Ron   Guillard (pictured) and Nan Arnold (pictured) welcomed the group. While marvelous in their efforts to coordinate the event, their calling is not in the world of emceeing. This became apparent when the next speaker Carol West received the Kuchling Humanitarian Award. With zeal, presence and eloquence, she set a pace that would be hard to match. But shoot, she’s a Fort Worth minister and knows how to hold a crowd’s attention!

Next on the agenda was Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese (pictured), who could easily be heard but seemed to change the direction of the evening from enjoyment to political agenda. Perhaps it was the fact that it was now verging on 8 p.m. and the crowd was wondering when the next course would arrive on their tables.

At 8:10 a video was shown but the audio was not stellar quality, thereby losing the attention of many.

But that quickly changed when the list of sponsors was recognized. American Airlines seemed to get the biggest applause.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (pictured) took the podium as the keynote speaker and once again thanked the sponsors and launched into her talk. Perhaps it was the pangs of hunger or the hour, but the attention of the crowd started wandering. With Tammy looking down from eight huge screens surrounding the room, you would have thought she would have commanded the room. But instead many were looking for trays of food that were nowhere in sight and others were checking their smartphones.

The bread basket at one table was making its final pass when a young man, like a starving hero in a lifeboat, gallantly offered the last piece to the rest of the table. When no one took him up on his offer, he grabbed it and apologetically said, “I’m sorry, but I’m so hungry.”

At 8:25 one man could be heard loudly questioning, “Where’s the damned food?” Within four minutes, Tammy concluded her remarks to a round of applause and hopes that food would soon be on its way, but no. Instead the list of sponsors rolled on the screens with a voice reading each one over the PA system. Waiters were standing on the sidelines just waiting for the signal to present the food. As the last of the Single Seat Sponsors was read, the parade of trays started marching from the kitchen. It was then that a voice over the PA system announced, “You must be seated to be served.” Like children attending their first holiday sit-down supper, the guests stayed put.

But then, after the guests enjoyed some mighty tasty steak and creme brulee, it was time for the live auction and happenings that once again allowed the Black Tie Dinner to be a monumental money maker. How much? That will be revealed in December. Check back here for the final results.

Thank You

Today is Veterans Day. Every day should be Veterans Day for the remarkable services they have and are providing our country. If you know a veteran, thank them. If you don’t, go out and meet one. There will a whole slew of them at the Veterans Day celebration starting at 11 at Dallas City Hall.

Advice From Voices For Children About Traffic Issues Tomorrow

If you’re headed to Voices For Children Luncheon featuring Carson Kressley at Union Station or anything in downtown Dallas tomorrow, beware. The annual Veterans Day parade will be taking place at noon.

The good folks are Voices For Children just sent over this advice for their guests —

Please make note that the Veterans Day parade will be held downtown tomorrow, around the same time as the Voices for Children luncheon. Therefore, please allow ample time for your commute to Union Station. We were informed by the city that one lane on Houston Street will be kept open specifically for our luncheon, which will lead you directly to complimentary valet parking at Union Station.  Furthermore, we hired two police officers to direct traffic for luncheon guests.  Please forward this information to your guests.

To view the route of the parade, please click on the following link:  http://www.vetsdayindallas.org/route.htm

Okay, now you’re got the directions, so you just might want to march accordingly.

Yellow And Black Tie Auction Showcased Fun And Fundraising for Methodist Richardson Cancer Center

Folks south of LBJ just don’t realize how much fun the folks on the other side of 635 have. A simply perfect example is the annual Yellow and Black Tie Gala benefiting Methodist Richardson Cancer Center.  This year’s gathering of 500 at the Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel not only raised the bar on partying but it also broke a fundraising record with a projected $325,000.

In addition to the silent auction, the food and festivities, they had Gary Cogill as the emcee and you just know good times are going to take place when the former WFAA-er is in charge. Gary reached new heights especially when it came to the live auction item marked “A Royal Dinner Party.” The package included a three-course dinner of royal favorites for 10 guests prepared by Gary and Chef Darren McGrady (pictured left with Gary Cogill). (If you don’t know Darren, here’s the poop: He used to be the Royal Chef for Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth and is now the chef for local royals Dee and Charles Wyly.) The bidding got so hot and heavy with Gary and Darren at the podium that the boys sold the dinner twice.

Still another fund raiser element was the raffle of tickets to the upcoming Super Bowl XLV. With Super Bowl Host Committee Chair Roger Staubach (pictured left with, from the left, Marianne Staubach and Judy and Max Martin) in the audience with wife Marianne, the drawing was held at the very end of the evening. However, Frank Taylor, who won the raffle, didn’t hear his name called and didn’t realize his good fortune until a friend called him at home to congratulate him.

But the night was not all laughs and bidding. The Methodist Richardson Cancer Center has a very special meaning for many who attend the gala presented by Methodist Richardson Medical Center Foundation and Fujitsu. For instance — this year’s Honorary Chairs Pat Slagel and her husband Richardson Mayor Gary Slagel (pictured right with Pat Slagel) who lost their daughter in 2001 to breast cancer. From the podium Pat told the crowd, “My heart goes out to all of you.”

(Photos provided by Methodist Richardson Medical Center)