A Night To Remember’s Meet And Greet With Jennifer Hudson At The Winspear Was A Warm Get Together For CitySquare

The Winspear green room was more like a hot house on the night of Saturday, September 9. With at least three portable mini-heater blowing away, it would have made an orchid feel right at home.

On the other hand, for guests preparing for CitySquare’s meet-and-greet with A Night To Remember concert headliner Jennifer Hudson, it was a bit toasty.

The reason for the hot times was the songbird’s concern for her voice. And anyone who had heard Hudson’s singing, they would understand and downright defend her need for warmth.

Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

After briefly cocktailing the Hamon’s suit that was truly decked out, the top-drawer types like Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell, Caleb Tam and Vy Duong, Jillian Jaccar Conry and Gerardo Diaz Blanco,  Erica  and Jack Thomason and Gernise and Terry Flowers lined up for the grip-and grin outside the green room. Inside Co-Chairs Wendy Messmann, Sherel Riley and Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins were joined by CitySquare’s Brenda and Larry James.

Sherel Riley, Wendy Messmann and Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins

On cue, Jennifer arrived in a denim shirt over a black top. While her smile was nearly blinding, her skin was what the cosmetic industry only wishes to achieve. She looked so rested and relaxed.

Without hesitation, she walked up to one and all in the room and greeted them. It was almost like she was ready to settle back and spend the evening chatting with them.

Larry James, Jennifer Hudson and Brenda James

But the handlers recognized there dozens of big spenders waiting for a brief howdy-do and a quick photo. Jennifer’s one request as she walked over to the backdrop — “Don’t shoot my feet.” All eyes shot to her feet. Were there extra toes? A tattoo? Nope. They looked as normal as could be. But who cared? It was the face, the smile and the voice that mattered.

And the concert proved that all three were in marvelous shape. For her reward, Jennifer and her crew toddled back to The Joule for a good night’s sleep and knowing that they had raised funds to help combat homelessness in Dallas.

TACA Custom Auction Gala’s Celebration Of 50 Years Of Funding The Arts “Tranformed” Into A Glistening Affair

The TACA Custom Auction Gala celebrating the art funding organization’s 50th anniversary was a time to glisten and shine. And on Friday, September 8, the first black-tie gala of the 2017 fall/winter fundraising season did just that. Only it wasn’t exactly for the reason some might have predicted.

Unlike years past, when it was held entirely inside the legendary Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, the guests discovered as they drove up to the auto courtyard that the gala had taken up more real estate. A large, see-thru tent complete with overhead lights and greenery, bars and a black stage surrounded by tables and chairs had been erected in the courtyard adjacent to the august hotel. Here the cocktail reception would be held, followed by the evening’s program. As for dinner, guests would saunter into the Mansion to dine and wine.

Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart

Linda and Bill Custard

Robyn Flatt and Wilson Tarver

Don and Carol Glendenning

TACA Custom Auction Gala Co-Chairs Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing reported that they were planning on wedding in summer 2018…Breast cancer survivor Linda Custard topped off in snow white hair reported that husband Bill Custard had teased her the year before that, for the first time, he had more hair than she did…Dallas Children’s Theater’s Robyn Flatt was thrilled about the theater’s new mega-sign lighting that took place on Wednesday, August 30. She also added that ticket sales for the annual Cabaret were going briskly…. After checking in outside the tent, guests like Carol and Don Glendenning, Wendy and Jeremy Strick, Laura and Dennis Moon, Lynn and Allan McBee, Lisa and Bill Ogle, Katherine Wynne and John Baer, Jan Barboglio, Barbara and Steve Durham, Stacie and Steve Adams and Mimi and Rich Sterling ambled on in for drinks and the evening’s festivities.

John Baer, Katherine Wynne and Laura and Dennis Moon

Jessica Chandler

Diane and Hal Brierley

When Dallas Theater Center Associate Artistic Director Joel Ferrell called the beautiful people to start the program, the veteran high rollers discovered that things had changed from the past. Instead of having front-row tables reserved for them to raise their bid paddles, it was a first-come, first-sit situation.

Then, as the body count for the sold-out event climbed past 275, the glamorous joint started getting pretty cozy. Thankfully it wasn’t a simmering August heat wave, and the  September evening’s outdoor temperature was still lingering in the upper 70’s. Still, the couple of occasionally open tent doors weren’t letting in much of a breeze. Like Ashley Wilkes, tuxedoed men in white buttoned-up shirts with ties smiled bravely, as their lady friends fanned themselves with their bid paddles like Scarlett O’Hara on the porch of Tara. It wasn’t a question of the portable A/C units not working up to snuff. Someone said there was an A/C unit trying its best in the back of the tent. But like the Titanic lifeboat count, there just weren’t enough of the little blowhards to meet the need as the festivities continued.

Joel got things started by introducing the evening’s Co-Chairs/lovebugs Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing. The former Mansion/current Ritz chef with headset in place kicked things off welcoming the group. But when Wanda tried to provide an added welcome, her handheld mic proved to be a silent stick. Panic on the sidelines kicked in, and event planner Randi Steinhart scrambled on stage handing Wanda another handheld mic. It proved to be suffering from the same “Silent Sam” ailment as the other mic. Giggles arose among the guests. After repeated exchanges of dead mics with similar results and pleading looks at the production table with no results, the laughter had been replaced with awkward smiles. Trooper Wanda saved the situation by simply talking into Dean’s headset.

Celebration

With a working mic in hand, TACA Chair Donna Wilhelm introduced “Celebration,” a dance commissioned by TACA to celebrate TACA’s 50th anniversary and performed by Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Bruce Wood Dance, and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Things were heating up. Now bid paddles were fanning at full pace, as the dancers performed flawlessly. But the icy cocktails were starting to wear off, and the body-heat temperatures table-side were rising.

Donna Wilhelm

Michelle Thomas

Katherine Bull and Jan Barboglio

Instead of going straight to the live auction, Donna returned to the stage and told of her roots in funding the New Works Fund going back to her childhood as the daughter of Polish immigrants. She was followed by incoming TACA Chair Michelle Thomas, who reported, “Did you know?” about TACA. On the front row was one of TACA’s original members Katherine Bull, who could have read chapter and verse about the days of Jane Murchison (Haber), Evelyn Lambert, Virginia Nick and the ladies getting together to raise funds for a new art group — Dallas Theater Center. But there was no mention of them or the TACA roots on this night.

The paddles kept paddling the air like a metronome at presto speed to fight off the feel of perspiration.

Louis Murad and Cyndi Phelps

Finally, it was time for auctioneer Louis Murad to lead the live auction. His aim, he’d said, was to haul in about $250,000. He said it was not going to be a repeat of the 2015 TACA Custom Auction Gala, when he had conducted the lackluster TACA auction in the cool Mansion Promenade. But as starting time neared, some, who knew they weren’t “players” or were starting to succumb to the heat, headed into the cool confines of the Mansion.

Auction sign holder

As Louis hopped on stage, he looked at the crowd of beauts and still felt confident. Two 21st century Austin Powers lovelies walked the stage like boxing ring girls holding signs designating the package for the crowd that was starting to look like a formally attired hot-yoga class. Flutes that had held champagne were drained. Makeup was starting to show premature signs of melting. Slender gals in gowns, who had stilettoed their way over the cobblestone courtyard, were now leaning against the tent’s walls, looking like wilted daisies. One woman at a front-row table stood. Louis asked if she was rising to bid. No, she was headed to the bar for a couple of drinks for friends. Items that had been described as “priceless,” were barely hitting the five-figure neighborhood.

Thanks to Diane and Hal Brierley, the evening’s bidding venture wasn’t a total loss, with their taking home dinner with Dean Fearing and Cowboy greats (Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston and Emmitt Smith) for $32,500. Alas, Louis’ goal of a quarter of a million bucks didn’t hit its target. Including the post-auction, shout-out for funds, the evening’s take wasn’t too much more than $100,000.

One person commented, “Too sober. Too hot. This group is ready for church.”

As crass as this comment was, it was a Reader’s Digest critique. Usually, most fundraisers have the live auction preceded by a cocktail party and a well-quenched dinner. The true experts in the live auction world know that you don’t want the guests to be “too happy” that they don’t have the day-after blues. But you do want them to be lulled into feeling the lift of the paddles is painless. Not the case here. Between the heat and the grumbling tummies, these celebrants wanted to get out of the tent and onto dinner inside the air-conditioned Mansion.

According to one TACA organizer, the thinking was that people wanted the dinner to follow the live auction, so they could settle back and linger, as opposed to hustling to the auction. They also felt that the dance performance would rally the paddles into a frenzy high.

But this POA turned into a perfect storm for Monday morning quarterbacking. Had they held the live auction in the Mansion ballroom, the heat factor would not have kicked in. Had they held the live auction after the seated dinner, there would have been a more festive lifting of the paddles. Had the auction items been curated by a true luxury team like the 2017 Art Ball’s Jennifer Karol and Rajan Patel instead of parceling some items out to out-of-state AmFund, the paddles might have waved like the flags on the Fourth of July. Had the annual farm-to-table package been part of the lineup, even the poorest of the rich crowd would have had paddled up.

Editor’s comment: As the new regime of TACA gets underway for the next 50 years, it appears to still be a project in development. But on this night the celebration of TACA’s 50th anniversary wasn’t quite the bravo production that some had hoped for. MIA were some longtime TACA supporters. According to one source, past TACA chairs had been invited to join the host committee. When one “past TACA co-chair” had received the invite, she responded, “My husband and I don’t support the arts. We’ve never been to a TACA event, so I doubt we’ve ever chaired one.”

Organizers intimated that this would be the last TACA live auction. Perhaps it’s just as well, since the 2017 TACA Custom Auction Gala went out with a whimper, and not a bang.

Kate And Eric Sudol Bring The Third Annual Collin County Heart Ball To The New Omni Frisco Hotel At The Star For Grazing, Auction And Dancing

Eric Sudol has no need for GPS to find his way to the Dallas Cowboys Star Complex in Frisco. As the Dallas Cowboys’ VP of Corporate Partnership Sales and Services, he‘s an old hand for the 91-acre campus that includes the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, an indoor practice field, restaurants, offices and the brand new Omni Frisco Hotel.

Eric and Kate Sudol*

So, when Eric and his wife, Kate Sudol, took over the chair duties for the 2017 Collin County Heart Ball, they knew just the place to hold it. As a matter of fact, the Saturday, November 4, fundraiser for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association will be one of the very first galas at the hotel.

According to Kate, “The Collin County Heart Ball is unique in that you come to one gala and actually experience several of the finest restaurants in the Metroplex at one time. In addition to the spectacular food (Omni Frisco Hotel Executive Chef) creates, Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts and Jasper’s Gourmet Backyard Cuisine are among the eateries that will have tasting stations.”

Beside grazing around, guests will also be able to bid on such things as trips to Telluride and Bimini and dance the night away.

But Eric stressed that the real draw of the night is the cause, saying, “It’s a premier event that is always a lot of fun, but there’s a bigger reason to get involved. The Association is set on improving the cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. They want to do all this by 2020. We’re honored to be part of what is sure to be a historic milestone.”

Ticket start at $250 and can be snatched up here!

* Photo provided by Dallas American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

The Averitt Ladies To Tri-Chair Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s Fashion Notes Luncheon And Style Show At The Fairmont Dallas

 

Susan Averitt Duval, Barbara Averitt and Kendra Averitt*

Dallas Symphony Orchestra League President Mari Epperson has hit a triple play for the Fashion Notes Luncheon and Style Show. To chair the event on Monday, October 23, at the Fairmont Dallas’ Venetian Room, she arranged to have the Averitt females — Barbara Averitt, Kendra Averitt and Susan Averitt Duval.

Sarah Hardin (File photo)

The ladies are carrying on the family’s involvement with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra started by the late Averitt matriarch Beth Averitt. It was just 30 years ago that Susan made her debut at the DSOL’s first Presentation Ball; son Mark Averitt was a member of the Honor Guard; son Don Averitt “graciously greeted guests;” and daughter-in-law Barbara “worked behind the scenes making sure the parties and presentation were flawless.”

Another longtime DSO supporter, Sara Hardin, will serve as honorary chair.

As for the fashions, they’ll be presented by Stanley Korshak and KidBiz. Instead of professional models, the lineup will include “mother/daughter dream teams, past and present DSOL presidents, debutantes, Symphony Assembly members and the cutest DSOL grandchildren.”

* Photo provided by Dallas 
Symphony Orchestra League

2017 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala Decorations Revealed Reflecting Maestro Jaap Van Zweden’s Farewell Celebration Season

Todd Fiscus and Adele Ichilian

Event guru Todd Fiscus had just returned from a break in Mexico. The weeks earlier had had him in Sonoma, Calif., and a ranch in Wyoming and everywhere but Mars. But thanks to NDA (non-disclosure agreements), all he could show for his handiwork was a tan.

Before presenting the sneak preview of the 2017 Dallas Symphony Gala lookey-lookey on Tuesday, August 15, at the Meyerson Symphony Center, he did fess up to Culinaire Catering Director Adele Ichilian about the newest event trend — cellphone check-ins. Seems that folks who are hosting big-time weddings, birthdays, whatevers don’t want to be in the swamp of social media. As Todd put it, social media has become the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat.

To solve the problem, Todd has created cellphone cubbyholes like yesteryear’s hotel key cubicles. Guests hand over their phones before entering the event, receive a receipt for the phone, and pick it up when leaving the occasion. While the guest is partying, Todd has arranged for the cellphones to be charged up.

Made sense. Example: For wedding photographers trying to capture the “money shot” of the newlyweds having that first kiss, the main aisle has been filled with guests’ arms stretching out with cellphones to also capture the moment.

Jana Etheridge and Clay and Lisa Cooley

Michelle Miller Burns and Randy Wilhoit

But on this night, Todd was laid back in shorts at the Meyerson for the DSO Gala décor presentation for guests including Jana Etheridge, Randall Wilhoit and Katherine and Key Coker.

According to Todd, DSO interim CEO Michelle Miller Burns and  DSO Gala Co-Chairs Lisa and Clay Cooley, there were “still a few tables available” for the Saturday, September 16, Gala, which will launch Farewell Celebration Season for departing  DSO Music Director Jaap Van Zweden, who’s decamping to lead the New York Philharmonic.

Therefore the Gala at the Meyerson will have a sort of “grand finale” look and feel, Todd said, with cool emerald greens (from the table linens to the Elephant ears from Brazil!) and malachite reflected throughout.

2017 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala table setting

Joining Jaap and the DSO musicians will be the world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who is always a North Texas music lover’s favorite.

The concert will be preceded by a cocktail reception and seated dinner in the Renaissance Foyer with Honorary Chair Margaret McDermott.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala After-Party seating

As for the much-anticipated after-party, by contrast, it will be a “fun, sexy version of an after-party,” all aquas and hot pinks with a DJ providing the music.  

Tickets for the season’s first formal gala range from concert-and-after-party tickets to full-blown Gala packages.

 

DFW Restaurant Week’s Food And Wine Night Celebrated The Kick Off Of the 20th Annual Fundraiser With Cadillacs, Grazing And Sunshine

Heat and sunshine didn’t dissuade folks from attending the DFW Restaurant Week’s Food and Wine Night party on Thursday, August 3. Taking over the entire One Arts Plaza driveway, food stations were set up along the sides with a stage at the far end facing the mega high rise.

Cadillac owners were pleased to find out that they were due free valet parking courtesy of Restaurant Week Co-Sponsor Dallas-area Cadillac dealers. Only problem arose when the valets couldn’t tell a Cadillac from the other makes.

Then there was trying to get into the party. It required IDs’s and tickets to receive the required wristbands. Some guests though the bracelet translated into free grazing only to find out that all was not gratis. One gal had a mini-sticker shock when she discovered that her adult beverage had a price tag. Oops!

One Arts Plaza driveway

Cadillac on display

As the sun set, the crowds sought the shady side of the driveway or headed into the air-conditioned lobby. Luckily, as the sun set, guests found conditions more user friendly. Still those fountains the center sure did look inviting. But so did the food and those spiffy Cadillacs on display.

Marijke Lantz, Bill Durbin and Susan Arledge

Elise and Daren Martin

Anna and Benson Kurian

Looking cool as a margarita were bare-shouldered types like newlywed Elise Martin with husband Daren Martin, Susan Arledge, Bill Durbin, Marijke Lantz, Anna Kurian with husband Benson Kurian wearing his comfortable Toms, Allyson  Hartenstine, Gable Mansfield, Chase Badzik, Pedro Armstrong and Danielle Abril, who had to borrow a blouse from cohort Carly Mann’s closet.

Allyson Hartenstine, Gable Mansfield, Chase Badzik, Carly Mann, Danielle Abril and Pedro Armstrong

The 20th Annual Restaurant Week officially got underway with a preview weekend on Friday, August 4, with more than 100 area restaurants serving up vittles during its run to break up the doldrums of August and with 20% of every meal going to North Texas Food Bank or Lena Pope!

The Sounds Of Campers’ Laughter And Cheers Filled Callier Center’s Cochlear Implant Summer Listening Camp In July

Imagine a vacuum of sound. At first blush, it may not seem like a big deal. For oldsters, it may mean say, “What did you say?” to a spouse on a regular basis. But real true loss of hearing means that the other senses like sight, touch and taste are ramped up to sensory overload to compensate. Someone appears without warning. A slight pat on the shoulder is a shock.

That’s why cochlear implants have been a breathtaking development for those with hearing challenges.

But the implants are just part of the journey for those with hearing challenges. Especially youngsters going through the usual aging process may feel like they are truly the only ones in this world of audio developments. True, they are unique, but they are not alone.

And that’s why Callier Center for Communication Disorders’ Cochlear Implant Summer Listening Camp from Monday, July 24, thru Friday, July 28, was so important. During this time, 43 munchkins from four to 11 years old and a team of graduate students from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas serving as counselors gathered at Cross Creek Ranch in Parker County to discover that they could play games, scamper through the outdoors, dance, do crafts and just be playmates.

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Despite the 90-degree temperatures, the kids didn’t mind one bit racing with beach balls and trying to captures bubbles.

But the big eye opener was grownup Richard Neely. He had an aura of happiness and success about him. But what got the kids’ attention were his cochlear implants. With his smile and proudly letting them see his cochlear implants, he was a rock star.

Another standout adult was a counselor, who had been one of these munchkins years ago.

Eavesdropping on the activities were the Callier Cares and Chi Omega representative Jane Porter. Callier’s Cochlear Implant Program had been selected to be one of the 2017 Chi Omega Christmas Market beneficiaries.

Jane Porter

John Stuart

Beth Thoele

Tricia George

Bennett Cullum and Tom Campbell

Kristi Shewmaker and Linus Wright

As the Callier Center types like Callier Center Foundation President John Stuart, Bennett Cullum, Callier Cares Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele, Sara Martineau and Tricia George watched, they were amazed that despite the July weather, the campers were in overdrive laughing, teasing and just being kids.

As one counselor smiled looking at the campers running about, “They’ll sleep well tonight.”

For more photos of the Callier Camp, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Americans For The Arts Study Provides Numbers And Facts About North Texas Arts Community’s Economic Impact Using The B-Word

There are those who scoff at the economic muscle of the nonprofit sector. Perhaps it is because they think back to their days when they equated nonprofits with saving pennies for Savings Bonds. However, the nonprofit organizations have become powerhouses of businesses that translate into more than supporting and growing communities. They also provide big bucks across the board.

On Wednesday, June 28, at the Dallas City Performance Hall, the Business Council for the Arts, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and the Dallas Arts District provided numbers and facts that the arts of North Texas alone “generated $1,473,366,015 in annual economic activity.” Check that number again. In addition to the dollars, it also supported 52,848 full-time equivalent jobs and generated $167.2M in local and state government revenues.

The trio didn’t just pull those numbers of their proverbial hats. An “exhaustive national economic impact study, Arts and Economic Prosperity 5,” was conducted by the Americans for the Arts with the Business Council for the Arts gathering the research in this region. The study is conducted to “examine cities, counties and states nationwide every five years. This year, for a regional perspective, six North Texas cities and cultural districts participated with Business Council for the Arts, demonstrating the reach and impact of arts and culture in neighborhoods and communities across the region.”

Katherine Wagner (File photo)

According to Business Council for the Arts CEO Katherine Wagner, “This study shows, in power numbers, just what a critical role arts and culture also play in keeping our national, state and local economies vibrant and growing. Reflecting our population and business growth, our region is now the third largest arts economy in the nation.”

Highlights from the study included the following:

North Texas Highlights

  • The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA came in third, measured against other multi-county regions in the country.
  • The economic impact of arts and culture organizations in North Texas more than tripled between the previously published study in 2012 and the current study – from $428,512,328 to $1,473,366,015.
  • In the region, the nonprofit arts and culture sector equated to 52,848 FTE jobs supported, translating into $1.3 billion in annual salaries.
  • North Texas cultural audience attendance numbers totaled 13,970,000 in 2015, contributing $473,856,433 to the economy.

City of Dallas Highlights

The study found that the City of Dallas, which also participated in the 2010 study, is seeing robust returns from its annual and long-term investment in the arts, including triple-digit growth in economic impact, jobs and audiences, as well as generating even more revenue for state and local government. In FY 2015:

  • Total economic activity tied to Dallas arts and culture was $891 million, up from the $321 million in the 2010 study – a 2.8-fold increase.
  • Dallas arts organizations and audiences supported 33,554 jobs, a nearly 3-fold increase over data collected in 2010.
  • Dallas arts and culture generated revenue of $97 million to local and state governments.

Dallas Arts District Highlights

  • The economic activity of the Dallas Arts District alone has tripled in five years, going from $128.6 million to $395.8 million.
  • The revenue generated for local government from Dallas Arts District arts organizations and audiences was $19 million in 2015.
  • 14,932 jobs are supported by Dallas Arts District arts organizations and audiences.

According to Americans for the Arts President/CEO Robert L. Lynch, “This study demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and helps local communities become stronger and healthier places to live. Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

While these numbers and results are staggering, they are also just a snapshot of one sector within the incredible North Texas nonprofit world.

 

Attorneys Serving The Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon Scored A Summer Hit With Junior Players And “Hamilton”‘s Christopher Jackson

Inside the Hilton Anatole’s Carpenter Ballroom, organizers and VIP guests were starting to arrive before 11 a.m. on Friday, June 23. Even the most “been-there, done-that” boldfacer had a look of anticipation. In an adjacent room, fewer than a handful of chairs were set up for an interview with the keynote speaker for the Attorneys Serving the Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon benefiting Junior Players.

KERA reporter Hady Mawajdeh had all his equipment set up as Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award-winning Christopher Jackson arrived. It was obvious from his height and demeanor why he had scored a Tony nomination for his portrayal of George Washington in “Hamilton.” As Chris settled back in the chair, he proved even more so with his articulate responses to Hady’s questions. Highlights included:

Christopher Jackson and Hady Mawajdeh

  • Junior Players — “They (children) have the distinct perspective of seeing the world as it should be perhaps and as is. Who better to hold up that mirror than the children, especially organizations like the Junior Players, where you’ve got kids from all over the economic spectrum and who are learning what it means to communicate with and express themselves? It’s an organization that can provide a palette for that. There is no higher pursuit in our society than giving kids the opportunity to experience something like that.”
  • The first role —“I grew up with middle-child syndrome. So, acting was pretty much my only way to garner any kind of attention in the house… I participated in every Sunday service every week. So getting up in front of people was never really something I had a hard time with. Pretty much I was the ham. [Laughter]”
  • Career — “A career in the arts is not for everyone. But I would say that 90% of what I get to do is to have fun with my friends. Who doesn’t want to do that for a living? But the same could be said about someone who works in social sciences or teachers or engineers or astronomers. Once you find that passion and a way to it, that’s it right there… For me, it’s as much the pursuit of what I don’t know as it is seeing the finished product on the show or in the song.”
  • Hip Hop — “Hip Hop rap is probably the best form of modern-day storytelling and maybe the latest great, pure American art form… But it depends on what part of the country you come from. Hip hop is very regionalized and that happened very, very quickly toward the end of the ’90s, where every market, every group wanted to have their own sound and created their own sound. The same could be said for rock; the same could be said for gospel music. It’s a testament to how big our country is. And it’s a testament to the different kinds of cultures within our society and there’s room for all of that.”
  • Hamilton — “You’d be amazed how many people have come up to me said, ‘I’m a little nervous about the rap.’ But it’s much like Shakespeare. If you’ve ever seen a Shakespeare play, the first five minutes you have no idea of what’s going on. You don’t know what anybody is saying. You’re not accustomed to people speaking in iambic pentameter. And yet in that first five minutes your ear gets attuned to it and off you go.”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda — “Lin has been regarded as a modern-day Shakespeare in the way he uses verse to communicate the story and I honestly believe that it certainly descends from that.”
  • Sesame Street — “The idea of writing for ‘Sesame Street’ was a dream come true.”

Peter Altabef, Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Christopher Jackson, Jennifer Altabef, Rosaura Cruz Webb and Beth Bedell

Christopher Jackson and Kathleen LaValle

Michael Holmes, Sophia Holmes and Cathleen Holmes

With that the interview ended at 11:10 a.m., as one of the organizers said, “He’s got a long line out there.” They were speaking of the people lined up along the Carpenter Ballroom wall for the meet-and-greet. Without hesitation, Chris posed for a photo with Hady and headed straight to the sponsor backdrop. Chris accommodated one and all including Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Honorary Co-Chairs Jennifer and Peter Altabef, Junior Players Executive Director Rosaura Cruz Webb, and Kathleen LaValle with autographs, cellphone snaps and chats. Ten-year-old Sophia Holmes’ twin sister, Addison Holmes, couldn’t attend, but Sophia had brought along a “Hamilton” book for Chris to sign. After seeing, “Hamilton” in NYC, Sophia fessed up that Chris’ George Washington was her favorite character.

At 11:30 the doors to the Grand Ballroom opened for nearly 1,000 guests including Ellen Magnis, Joanna Clark, Angie Kadesky. Shelly Slater arrived to be prepped for the onstage chat. Had she met him? No, but she had seen him on YouTube.

The Junior Players arrived and approached the production platform rapping, “Hamilton.”

Jeremy Coca in vest surrounded by Junior Players

, who had been in the first Junior Players musical production three years before when he was attending Booker T. Washington, reported that he had seen Chris in “The Heights.”

Rosaura Cruz-Webb told how the night before, when they were setting up for the luncheon, Chris had come down from his room and chatted and charmed them all.

As the guests started to take their seats, Junior Players one at a time popped up throughout the room performing. Seamlessly, they grabbed everyone’s attention that the program was underway. Chris watched with a smile of admiration at the young performers pulling off a perfect launch for the day’s affair.

At 12:06 Shelly welcomed the group and introduced Kara, who was joined by Beth in presenting the ASC Friend of the Community Award to the Hilton Anatole Senior Catering Sales Manager Catherine New, who has orchestrated many of the area’s major fundraisers.

Beth Bedell, Catherine New and Kara Altenbaumer-Price

Following Rosaura’s telling how Junior Players had turned around her life as a young person, a video was shown with the audio ramped up and the house lights so dim that one guest had to use her cellphone flashlight to find her way out of the ballroom.

Lisette Sandoval

As the video ended, a young woman who had been seated at the far end of the head table took her place at the podium. Her name was Lisette Sandoval and she told how it hadn’t been that long ago that she had felt her destiny was to get pregnant by 15 and drop out of school. Instead her brother directed her to Junior Players, where her life took a different road. Lisette admitted that at one point suicide had been an option. What dashed that thought was news that she had been picked for the cast of “Taming of the Shrew.” She is now going to college on a scholarship.

Lisette was followed by Honorary Co-Chair Peter Altabef and a video of Renee Elise Goldsberry, who had originally been slated to be the keynote speaker. When she had to pull out due to scheduling, Renee arranged for Chris to sub in.

Chris started off by admitting, “Good afternoon, my name is Christopher Jackson and I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. I don’t know any lawyer jokes. None of that would surprise or astound you…. I am an artist. A profession that is historically a few rungs lower than a garbage collector, but if all the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players, I beg your patience and indulgence today. I want to sincerely thank ASC for having me here today. Thank you very much. The fact that I have been sweating since I sat down here might be an indication that I am more than a little intimidated being in a room full of people who are clearly smarter than I am.”

Using his own journey from his childhood in Cairo, Illinois, he told of the turning point in his childhood when a teacher handed him a text from “The Crucible,” and invited him to join the speech team. “I don’t what it was that made me said yes, except that perhaps I was so desperate to distinguish myself in some way or the other. I quickly realized that this acting thing was different. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t concerned with what didn’t work. I wasn’t consumed with what I didn’t have. I began to see the world from a character’s perspective and that helped me to develop my own perspective. It was terrifying and exhilarating and it changed my life forever.”

At the age of 17, he moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. In 1997, he was hired to be the understudy for Simba in “The Lion King,” just an hour before the first rehearsal.   

He claimed that if it hadn’t been for that “key”—when he received “The Crucible”—he’d probably be selling caskets in Cairo. Chris was serious. “True story. My family owns a funeral home.”

Chris then praised and encouraged support for the Junior Players for their 55 years of providing a key for thousands and thousands of children “to emerge from utter darkness and seeing an entire galaxy.”

Christopher Jackson

Leaving the podium, he was joined in chairs on stage with Shelly to discuss

  • Getting the role of George Washington — “Lin allowed his imagination to run wild and he saw these characters (in “Hamilton”) in a different way. Lin is one of my best friends in the whole world. I knew very early on that he was on to something because I thought he was crazy. The story is that we were doing a performance of ‘In the Heights,’ and during one of the numbers… he had just come back from vacation and he kinda looked over at me and said, ‘Got the next thing.’ Okay, great! I said, ‘What is it?’ (He said,) ‘It’s about the treasury secretary.’ A few days later, our director Tommy Kail approached me and said, G-dubs!’ I asked, ‘What does that mean?’ ‘George Washington… GW’ I thought, ‘Oh, great! We have shorthand. What does that mean?’ He said I was going to be George Washington. I said, ‘Great! I don’t know anything about George Washington. ‘
  • “Hamilton”’s first preview — “’Hamilton literally began at the White House. Lin was asked to perform a song about the American experience at the Evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word. This was in 2009 and he didn’t want to do something from ‘In the Heights.” He was just getting an idea of what ‘Hamilton’ was going to be, so he wrote what would become our opening number and he performed it. Everybody including President Obama looked at him like, ‘What is wrong with him?’”
  • Bro-hug with the President — It was years later when the cast of “Hamilton” was invited to perform at the White House that following the performance, President Obama gave Christopher a “bro hug.” As Christopher recalled, “Moments like that aren’t supposed to happen to a young boy from Cairo. My grandmother, who marched and was a union organizer and civil rights organizer and a black entrepreneur when it was definitely hard to be that in the South, raised me to understand that nothing was impossible… Always be aware of limitations so you can know how to get past them. She raised me to that moment, but she didn’t dream that moment for me.”
  • As a parent — “I’m really at the point where I’m trying to get my kids to pick their shoes up. I’m trying to get them to handle some light chores. I mean, I don’t want them to live like ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ but they can take the trash once in a while and wash their hair. My kids are Neanderthals. I can’t show them how to feel…but I can show them about justice. And I can teach them about inequality and equality. And I can teach them about respect — all the things that I was given and we were all given when it comes to just wake up in the morning, put your shoes, look people in the eye, be honest, look out for someone who has less than you, take up for the kid who is being bullied, stand up for the weaker one of us. It is all of those principles that I was given and try to live by….”

While summer heat may shoo locals to cooler places, the ASC’s 31st Annual luncheon made staying in North Texas seem like the coolest place in the world, thanks to Chris and the Junior Players.

TACA Custom Auction Gala Item #2 — Dance And Dinner With France’s Compagnie Hervé Koubi

Despite Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s proclamation that music is the universal language, it isn’t the only one. No, siree. Dancing is, too. Through its physicality and motion, it reflects everything from unique cultures to the interpretation of emotions. This second TACA Custom Auction Gala package offers a dazzling opportunity to more than just be an observer.

Dance And Dinner With France’s Compagnie Hervé Koubi*

World-renowned for its prowess and beauty, the male dance company of France’s Compagnie Hervé Koubi is quite simply breathtaking to behold thanks to French/Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi. In 2016 the troupe’s artistry received glorious reviews as well as standing ovations.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi**

The winning bidder of this package will more than attend the TITAS presentation of the troupe in January. They along with seven of his/her guests will arrive at the Winspear before all the hoi polloi. The reason? So, they can have “backstage access for the pre-performance warm-up.”  Afterward the lucky eight will head to the Brierley Suite for a seated dinner prepared by Wolfgang Puck’s folks.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi**

As other members of the audience arrive for the evening performance, the winner and guests will take their places in a private box to watch the performance that will be mesmerizing. And to top off the evening, they’ll join the dancers on stage for a post-performance champagne toast. A simple bravo just isn’t enough, don’t you know.

* Courtesy of TITAS, AT&T Performing Arts Center and Wolfgang Puck Catering 
** Photo provided by TACA

Calvert Collins-Bratton And Vince Bratton Announced Plans For Children At Risk North Texas Chapter’s “A Night In Barcelona” Fundraiser

Dick Collins sat in his den checking his cellphone with his longtime friend Dale Robinowitz, as the entry of his Bluffview mansion filled to capacity with guests on Thursday, June 22. Just proved that everyone hadn’t evacuated the North Texas heat.

Vince Bratton, Calvert Collins Bratton and Stratton Horres

But then, what would you expect when Dick’s blonde daughter Calvert Collins-Bratton and her husband Vince Bratton put out the shout for the Children at Risk North Texas Chapter‘s kick-off party for A Night in Barcelona, which is slated for Saturday, September 23, at Hotel ZaZa?

Standing on the winding stairway, Children at Risk North Texas Managing Director Dr. Charlotte Carlisle welcomed the crowd, including Calvert’s mom Susan Collins, Children at Risk North Texas Chairman of the Board Stratton Horres and his wife Debbie Horres, Maddy Kulkarni, Lee Papert, Angela Nash, Ron Taylor and Timmy Newsome.

Angela Nash and Lee Papert

Timmy Newsome

Children at Risk COO Dr. Katie McConnell told of her days working in the public school system when she encountered children like Umberto, who was facing challenges each day while his mom worked three jobs. It was organizations like Children at Risk that offered programs to assist Umberto.

Charlotte Carlisle

Katie McConnell

Charlotte then told about two major problems that Children at Risk deal with:

  1. Food deserts where there are areas in which children don’t have access to food beyond junk food
  2. Human trafficking — “85-90% of reported child-sex trafficking cases occur to children, who were born in the United States”

After Charlotte handed the program over to Calvert, who described the evening’s festivities, including a raffle for a five-night stay at 5-star Monument Hotel In Barcelona with air fare for two, flamenco dancers, a sangria bar and tapas and a live auction that will include a package to the NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles. VIP ticketholders will attend a pre-party poolside before joining the rest of the guests in the Uptown Ballroom.

A Night In Barcelona

After that buildup, who could resist “a night in Barcelona”?

Among the sponsors that have already signed up are

  • Las Ramblas ($15,000) — Istation
  • Arc de Triomf ($5,000) — Energy Transfer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Methodist Dallas, Wilson Elser, Debbie and Stratton Horres, Shara McClure and Deborah and David Roylance
  • Museum Picasso ($2,500) — UMB, Steve Love, Kate and Eric Sudol and Jan and Ron Taylor

TACA Custom Auction Item #1 — Around The World With Rosewood

Back in 1966 when the late Jane Murchison (Haber), Evelyn Lambert, Virginia Nick and Betty Black Guiberson were trying to raise money for the Dallas Theater Center, they planted the seeds for TACA. To accomplish the fundraising, they held an auction — “it consisted, essentially, of four booths selling exotic food, one at each corner of the brand-new NorthPark center, and a write-in auction in front of Jas. K. Wilson.” By 1968 they had decided to try an auction on television, so they approached Channel 39. It turned out to be a combination of a mega-telethon and “Saturday Night Live” with local unknowns and well-knowns serving as hosts.

Legend has it that originally TACA stood for “TheAter Custom Auction” or “The Auction for Cultural Arts,” but the final representation is “The Arts Community Alliance.”

Over the years, TACA changed directions and expanding its beneficiaries and activities to include the Silver Cup Luncheon, Party on the Green and the TACA Custom Auction that eventually replaced the TV auction. It made sense. Afterall, the garnering of countless items, volunteers and sponsors for the TV auction required a heck of a lot of effort compared to the Custom Auction. This year the collection of TACA Custom Auction Gala items at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek will be limited to just six. Here is the first of the six that will be up for bid on Friday, September 8:

TACA Custom Auction Gala Package #1 – Around The World With Rosewood*

Phileas Fogg and Passepartout would have had absolutely killed for this worldly excursion. Instead of schlepping around the world in 80 days, the winner of this live auction package will experience international luxury ala Rosewood style with a guest. Within 15 days, the twosome will fly American Airlines to the following five Rosewood properties for three-night stays:

Rosewood Phuket**

Rosewood Puebla**

Rosewood Washington**

Rosewood Little Dix Bay**

Rosewood London**

The only downside is that it’s going to spoil the twosome for future trips.

* Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels and American Airlines 
** Photo provided by TACA

The Rustic Is Gonna Be Rocking In September For Voices For A Cause And The 5th Annual Concert For A Cure, But Not At The Same Time

September may be known as the start of Friday night lights, the kickoff of the State Fair and the first hints of fall in the air. But this year it’s gonna be full of singing for nonprofits. Two concerts are being held to raise funds and they’re both gonna be at The Rustic, but not at the same time!

Voices For A Cause*

First will be Dallas CASA’s Voices for A Cause with Signed Out getting things started and followed by country artist Brandon Rhyder as the evening’s headliner starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 14. The benefit concert is being hosted by Dallas CASA Young Profession, whose “mission is to increase awareness for Dallas CASA while providing charitable and social opportunities for people ages 21 to 40.” Co-Chairs Kelcey Hamilton, Reasha Hedke and Dana Swann have arranged for the $25 ticket to include the concert, two drinks and appetizers.

2017 Concert For A Cure**

Two weeks later Leukemia Texas is holding its 5th Annual Concert for A Cure with Honorary Chair/former Dallas Cowboy Marco Rivera and Event Co-Chairs Jenny “New Mom” Anchondo and reality personality/marrow donor Stephanie Hollman. On the performing stage will be Grammy-Award winning Reckless Kelly. Individual tickets start at $75 and include a private VIP reception starting at 7 p.m., hors d’ oeuvres, two drink tickets, open seating and valet parking. But as you know, underwriting brings perks like additional seats with better views, recognition in signage and collateral materials and boasting rights.  

Can’t decide which one? No problemo. Attend both! The attire will be comfortable casual. The throngs of folks will be your type — generous and fun to be with. The causes are both life-changing.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 11th Annual Hold’Em For Heroes

According to 11th Annual Hold’Em for Heroes Co-Chairs Mandy-Lu Ristow and Jo Trizila,

Fall is right around the corner, which means it’s time to put on your poker face and save your seat at the table for the 

11th Hold’Em for Heroes Poker Tournament*

and live auction. Guests are invited to experience three hours of competitive poker playing, while enjoying hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and dinner. Tables are run by professional dealers and re-buys are available throughout the evening. Each player will be given their first set of chips and back by popular demand, there will be a sit and go table for those who want to try again after playing out. The top ten winners will choose between a variety of fabulous prizes from trips to gift baskets to sporting event packages. This year’s event will be held at Brook Hollow Golf Club on Thursday, November 2.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Heroes for Children – a unique nonprofit that provides financial and social assistance to Texas families with children battling cancer.

No one plans for their child to have cancer. A cancer diagnosis is expensive in every way and impacts the entire family. Heroes for Children works to alleviate financial pressure by covering immediate financial needs including paying rent and mortgages, transportation costs to and from treatment, costs of hospital visits and, in some cases, even funeral expenses.

The Hold’Em for Heroes event has gotten bigger and better each year. We rely on generous donors, community partnerships and participants at annual fundraising events including Hold’Em for Heroes to support Texas families with children battling cancer.

Texans have always been known for their generosity, and for this along with the 4,500 families we have served, we are forever grateful. We could not do what we do without the time, talent and treasures of the generous people of Texas – whose hearts are as big as our great state.

To purchase a ticket, sponsor the event or for more information about Hold’Em for Heroes please visit, www.heroesforchildren.org/dallasholdem.

*Graphic courtesy of Heroes for Children

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Cabaret Gala

According to Cabaret Gala Co-Chair Marisa Huckin,

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Have you ever dreamed of hearing Idina Menzel, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand all in one night? This is your opportunity to get your fix for the nostalgia of the golden age of entertainment. The Dallas Children’s Theater is celebrating its 25th annual Cabaret Gala with the Dallas debut of YouTube sensation Christina Bianco. Dallas is truly lucky to host a performance by this two-time Drama Desk Award nominated actress, singer, and impressionist!

25th Anniversary Cabaret Gala*

Treat yourself to an evening of song, surprises, and shenanigans while sipping champagne at your candle lit table. You’ll be among the chicest of guests at The Fairmont Hotel as The Dallas Morning News describes the DCT’s Cabaret Gala as”…arguably Dallas’ coolest arts-related fundraiser!”

And speaking of fabulous attendees, the Cabaret Gala’s honorary chairs are steadfast civic supporters, Deborah and Craig Sutton. They will be joined by their uber talented and acclaimed actor son, Montgomery Sutton, who literally grew up on-stage at DCT. As ongtime supporters of the arts, Deanna DiPizio-Johnson and I are sharing the chairmanship duties for this 25th anniversary event.

Before the show you will have a chance to sip cocktails and buy raffle tickets while being charmed by the melodic voice of Dallas’ own Janelle Lutz. Your raffle ticket entitles you the opportunity to win one of four fantastic prizes included in the 2017 Cabaret Gala raffle. The prizes include luxury accommodation and travel packages to New York City, Cancun, and San Francisco, and a jewelry shopping spree. Travel packages include flight accommodations courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

This intimate and entertaining evening of song and escapade is not too be missed! For reservations or raffle ticket information contact Artie Olaison at 214.978.0110 or go to www.dct.org/gala/.

* Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Theater

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Flora Award Gala

According to 2017 Flora Award Gala Co-Chairs Kathryn Febbroriello, Angela Shank and Amelia Valz,

Angela Shank, Amelia Valz and Kathryn Febbroriello*

We are thrilled to honor three of Texas Discovery Gardens’ longtime supporters with the 2017 Flora Award Gala on Thursday, October 26. Bettye Slaven, Janet Smith and Marilyn Waisanen exemplify the mission of the award, which serves to recognize outstanding citizens who have demonstrated a commitment to community service, natural resource education, protection of the environment and quality of life.

It is our honor to thank Bettye, Janet and Marilyn for their time spent as Board members and volunteers at Texas Discovery Gardens. They have been hands-on for several major garden renovations and new programs that have launched Texas Discovery Gardens into a new era of growth, and all three are avid organic gardeners at home.

Marilyn Waisanen, Bettye Slaven and Janet Smith*

They have also devoted their time to countless deserving organizations in the area including Swiss Avenue Historic District Association, Children’s Medical Center Auxiliary, Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, The Stewpot, Interfaith Housing Coalition, Salvation Army, the Junior League of Dallas, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation.

Bob and Myrna Schlegel (File photo)

Guests to the Patron Party on Thursday, September 28, will get a chance to hear Eva Brandys of Park Cities School of Music on piano at the home of Barbara Hunt Crow. The elegant Flora Award Gala, celebrating its 34th year of honorees and held at Texas Discovery Gardens’ Grand Hall, includes a cocktail hour on the verandah overlooking the organic gardens and featuring Eva Brandys, followed by a black tie dinner and musical serenade from the Steve Bayless Orchestra. Honorary Chairs for the 2017 Flora Award are Myrna and Bob Schlegel.

Tickets for the Flora Award and donations in honor of Bettye, Janet and Marilyn may be purchased at TXDG.org/flora.  Tickets prices start at $300 and tables at $3,000. With questions, please contact Angela Shank at [email protected] or 214.755.0639.

* Photo provided by Texas Discovery Garden

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Jubilee Park And Community Center’s 20th Anniversary

According to Jubilee Park and Community Center’s 20th Anniversary Gala Co-Chairs Lydia and Bill Addy,

Ben Leal and Lydia and Bill Addy*

Jubilee Park and Community Center, a national model for community revitalization and enrichment, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this fall! 

 

To commemorate this milestone, Jubilee will host its first-ever gala on Saturday, November 4, at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Dallas. The black-tie optional evening will include cocktails, a seated dinner, party games, dancing to live music by Dallas’ renowned Emerald City Band, and an oversized surprise unveiled by Jubilee’s Young Friends Host Committee members. 

Jubilee Park is in the short list of organizations nearest and dearest to us. It’s a great example of how partnership and hard work can turn a neighborhood around, and set the standard for other organizations.  We’re excited that our kids, our friends, our friends’ kids, and a whole bunch of great people are coming together to celebrate Jubilee’s 20th anniversary. Jubilee doesn’t usually do these sorts of events, and there won’t be a 21st anniversary gala, so we’re doing this one right.

We remember signing up with other members of St. Michael and All Angels to help build the first two houses in Jubilee Park. We had no idea at the time what the future held for the Jubilee neighborhood, but we couldn’t help noticing the incredible energy, cooperation, and sense of purpose amongst the people of the neighborhood and the volunteers. This can-do spirit on the part of so many people is the reason that Jubilee Park is now a place many are proud to call home. We are honored to be a part of the 20th Anniversary celebration. We are bringing together all of the generations of volunteers and neighbors who have made Jubilee what it is today and we’re just looking forward to a fantastic party!

Proceeds from the gala will help launch a new Specialized Student Support (S3) Program for children with special learning needs. The S3 program will combine teacher training, adaptive technology, specialized curriculum and parent empowerment to make high quality education accessible for more families. The gala will raise $1.3 million to fund the first eight years of the program, building a model for other organizations around the country.

The 20th Anniversary Gala will be held on Saturday, November 4, at 6 p.m. at the Omni Dallas Hotel, located at 555 S. Lamar in Downtown Dallas. Tickets are $250 each; sponsorships begin at $2,500. For more information, visit www.jubileecenter.org or contact Lindsay Abernethy at 469.718.5702 or [email protected].

Jubilee Park and Community Center is a catalyst for community renewal and enrichment to the Jubilee Park Neighborhood, a 62-block area in southeast Dallas. Founded in 1997, Jubilee Park and Community Center helps families and other members of the community identify and access resources that help to provide stability and enhance their quality of life through five pillars: education, affordable housing, public health, public safety and economic development.   For more information, visit www.jubileecenter.org.

* Photo provided by Jubilee Park and Community Center

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Concert For A Cure

According to Leukemia Texas CEO Mandy O’Neill,

Mandy O’Neill, Dr. Maro O’Hanian and Erin Krah*

Over the past several years, Leukemia Texas has been able to fund every, eligible patient aid applicant. That was close to 500 applicants last year battling this devastating disease in Texas, a large number of these from the Dallas area. Their success is because of perseverance, limited expenses and generous donors who believe in their unique motto as ‘the only organization of its kind where funds raised in Texas, stay in Texas!’

Over the past five years, Leukemia Texas has increased their annual revenue more than 250%. As the demand for patient support increases, the need to generate revenue is strong. I’ve continued to keep the tradition of this 47-year-old organization, founded by the Minyard Family (Gretchen Minyard Williams and Liz Minyard Lokey continue to be active board members) by keeping expenses low and strengthening their signature events. The Beatleukemia Ball, Golf Classic and Concert for a Cure all generated record numbers this past year. They have also partnered with the MJ Event bringing in at least $250,000 new net dollars every year.

Concert For A Cure*

With their tremendous growth, and an estimated 3,000+ new leukemia diagnoses across the state, the addition of a third full time staff member is crucial. Leukemia Texas is currently searching for a seasoned Director of Program Development who is well versed in program management and major gift fundraising. Those interested in applying may reach out to Mandy at [email protected].

Their next event is the 5th annual Concert for a Cure to be held at the Rustic on Thursday September 28. Previous honorees include Kelcy Warren, Alicia Landry and Lynn McBee. Join Fox 4’s Jenny Anchondo, Real Housewife of Dallas Stephanie Hollman and former Dallas Cowboy and Hall of Famer Marco Rivera as they celebrate, eat delicious bites and raise critical funds to directly support leukemia patients in our own backyard.

* Graphic/photo provided by Leukemia Texas

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 ReuNight

According to 2017 ReuNight Co-Chairs Jennifer and Richard Dix and Kristi and Ron Hoyl,

Richard and Jennifer Dix (File photo)

Ron and Kristi Hoyl (File photo)

On Wednesday, November 8, ReuNight will be one of the first public events at the newly remodeled Statler. A modern approach to a classic icon, the Statler blends the past with the present. For this reason, ReuNight 2017 will pay homage to important Dallas icons. ReuNight has become an exclusive annual dinner and live auction that attracts respected leaders and philanthropists that raises much-needed funds for The Family Place.

The evening’s format will include cocktails in the hotels’ first-level garden and photo opportunities with the infamous Llinda Llee Llama, the hotel’s living mascot. Guests will then head upstairs for a sumptuous three-course dinner and wine pairings in the grand ballroom complete with table-side cocktail service. A limited, live auction of luxury goods and trips will be conducted during dinner. Afterward, guests will enjoy a lively after party on the pool deck overlooking the Dallas skyline.

Statler Hilton*

Founded by a group of community volunteers in 1978, The Family Place empowers victims of family violence by providing safe housing, counseling and skills that create independence while building community engagement and advocating for social change to stop family violence. As the largest and leading domestic violence service provider, the organization delivers proven programs that address emotional and physical abuse and incest. The Family Place provides free comprehensive victims’ services that prevent violence and fully support women, children and men on their path from fear to safety.

The event is limited to 175 guests so we encourage you to visit www.familyplace.org/reunight to ensure your participation in this unique event.

* Photo provided by The Family Place


MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2nd Annual Art Of Music Gala

According to 2nd Annual Art of Music Gala Co-Chairs David Call and Jordan Roberts,

David Call and Jordan Roberts*

We are excited and grateful to serve as co-chairs for the 2nd Annual Art of Music Gala on Saturday, February 10, at Southside on Lamar Ballroom, benefiting The Warren Center, for children with developmental differences.

Last year’s event was a huge success and we were able to raise over $60,000. With the funds raised we provided scholarships for children with special needs to receive much needed therapy services. Headlining the inaugural event was three-time Grammy winner and saxophonist Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band.

The 2018 Art of Music Gala will be bigger and better than ever. It will include renowned musicians who will compose an original music inspired by this year’s theme of “Wonderland.”

Each composition will then be delivered to a world-class artists who will create an original piece of art inspired by the compositions. The result is a night of celebration and performance where each original composition and its inspired work of art will be unveiled and performed live at the Gala.

Guests will also enjoy a cocktail reception, seated dinner, live entertainment, silent and live auction and creative gallery experiences with local artists.

Melody and Rick Rogers*

This year’s title sponsors are Melody and Rick Rogers

We are inspired by the drive these children have to succeed. We encourage you to join us in helping a child reach their full potential.

Sponsorships and underwriting opportunities are still available.

Table Sponsorships begin at $2,500 with underwriting opportunities beginning at $2,500. For more information, please contact Tara Null at 972.490.9055 or 214.709.8901 or email Tara or visit the website at www.theartofmusicgala.com.

* Photo provided by The Warren Center

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Grow The Grove

According to Grow the Grove co-chairs Muffin Lemak and Susan Palma,

Muffin Lemak and Susan Palma*

The fun has already begun for the second annual Grow the Grove event, happening on Friday, November 17, at 7 p.m. as we work alongside our Honorary Co-Chairs Mary and Mike Terry on this special evening benefiting Cristo Rey Dallas.

 Following last year’s sell-out event, Grow the Grove will take place at the venue sixty five hundred, located at 6500 Cedar Springs Road. The denim to dresses event will include a chef-prepared meal, fine wine, a spirited signature cocktail, live auction and more.

 Proceeds from Grow the Grove will benefit Cristo Rey Dallas, an innovative high school located in Pleasant Grove that offers students who would otherwise not consider private school a rigorous college prep education paired with a valuable work study program.  

The important work happening at Cristo Rey Dallas is making a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of dedicated high school students and their families, as well as the Dallas community as whole through the school’s Corporate Work Study Program.

 We are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate the great success of Cristo Rey Dallas. Grow to Grove will be a night of great fun that supports an even greater initiative—preparing hardworking students to go to and through college!

DeeDee Lee and Janie Condon (File photo)

Mike and Micki Rawlings (File photo)

Claire Emanuelson and Pam Perella (File photo)

Candace and Jim Krause

Grow the Grove host committee members include: Lydia and Bill Addy, Helaine and Dan Blizzard, Becky and Ken Bruder, Susi and Peter Brundage, Jessica and Jeff Burrow, Karen and Mark Carney, Shelly and Tom Codd, Janie and David Condon, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Ola and Randall Fojtasek, Barbara and Brad Fritts, Susan and Mark Godvin, Jane and Greg Greene, Jean and Erik Hansen, Julie and Ed Hawes, Candace and Jimmy Krause, Leslie and Michael Lanahan, Patty and Mark Langdale, DeeDee and Jimmy Lee, Ann and Chris Mahowald, Kiley McGuire, Karla and Mark McKinley, Susan McSherry, Tricia and Bill Miller, Laura and Scott Moore, Michelle Moussa, Angela Nash, Ruthie and Jay Pack, Pam and Gary Patsley, Pam and Vin Perella, Susan and Jon Piot, Micki and Mike Rawlings, Randa and Doug Roach, Shelle and Michael Sills, Mary and Mike Smith, Mersina Stubbs, Beth and Chuck Thoele, Debbie and John Tolleson, Piper and Mike Wyatt and Ana and Jim Yoder.

Patty and Mark Langdale (File photo)

Chuck and Beth Thoele (File photo)

Mersina Stubbs (File photo)

Angela Nash (File photo)

Susan McSherry (File photo)

Mike and Piper Wyatt (File photo)

Michael and Shelle Sills (File photo)

Sponsorships for Grow the Grove begin at $1,600.  Limited tickets will be available closer to the event at a cost of $320 each for preferred seating or $250 each for general admission. For more information, contact Lisa Brunts[email protected] or visit cristoreydallas.org.

Located in Pleasant Grove, Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep provides economically challenged students of all faiths with a college preparatory education enabling them to become men and women of purpose and service. Through a rigorous curriculum, integrated with a hands-on professional work experience, students graduate ready to succeed in college and in life. cristoreydallas.org.

* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron Smith

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Night At The Museum

According to Night At The Museum Co-Chairs Sylvia Cespedes and Meredith Plunkett,

Hernan Saenz and Sylvia Cespedes*

Mark and Meredith Plunkett*

Mirages and mystery games, deception and disguises, camouflage formations, natural curiosities and secret societies. Much like the Perot Museum itself, this must-do event is one of the most interactive and engaging parties of the year. On Saturday, November 11, guests will spend the evening exploring 180,000 square feet of exciting encryptions, deceptive displays, and forensics fun, including:

  • Lie-detector tests
  • Wine tastings
  • Blind food tastings
  • Human mazes
  • Mirrored illusions
  • Game of mystery
  • Baffling botany
  • Handwriting analysis

The event also promises to astound your taste buds with menu marvels such as 3D food printing, quirky cocktails and a mystery food lab, to name a few. On every floor and at every turn, this year’s “Night at the Museum: Intrigue” is sure to have guests questioning reality and asking, “How did they do that?!”

We are thrilled to join our husbands, Hernan Saenz and Mark Plunkett, as co-chairs of this year’s event, along with Honorary Co-Chairs Sharon and Kip Tindell. If you like to party for a good cause, please mark your calendars and sign-up to attend this year’s gala, which runs from 7 p.m. – midnight on all five levels of the Museum. Underwriting packages begin at $2,500 (six guests). Cocktail attire – or your favorite mysterious garb – is preferred.

Proceeds from the annual Night at the Museum gala support the Museum’s mission to inspire minds through nature and science, from on-site and outreach programs for pre-K through 12th graders, to financial assistance that allows students to visit the Museum, regardless of their school’s ability to pay. Underwriting contributions also fund research and collections efforts and help secure top-quality traveling exhibitions.
We hope you will join us for this fabulous event that will help so many North Texas youth get critical exposure to the sciences. For more information, please email [email protected] or call 214.756.5815.

* Photo provided by Perot Museum

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Cattle Baron’s Ball

According to 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill,

Anne Stodghill and Sunie Solomon (File photo)

The Cattle Baron’s Ball relies on the spirit and generosity of the Metroplex to fund the fight against cancer. Since 1974, we’ve raised more than $71 million for cancer research, the majority of which is conducted right here in DFW. True to Texas’ history of rising to the challenge, we’ve become the world’s largest single-night fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

While some might be hand-wringing at the prospect of continuing a legacy of ensuring more cancer research dollars are spent in Dallas than anywhere else in the country, they probably aren’t familiar with the members of the Cattle Baron’s Ball. Fortunately, the Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee is not comprised of the faint-of-heart – as evidenced by the fact that the CBB is the largest single-night fundraiser in the nation for cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

Join the fight and help us continue to make a difference! Cattle Baron’s Ball continues to support the American Cancer Society in the following incredible ways:

  • Provided more than 30,000 services to cancer patients in North Texas
  • Gave 7,414 rides to and from treatment
  • More than 1,500 free wigs were provided free of charge to cancer patients
  • More than 1,000 breast cancer patients were visited by our Reach to Recovery volunteers
  • Helped to enact strong state and local smoke-free laws that protect workers and the public from the dangers of secondhand smoke
  • Connected patients with more than 64,000 different treatment options, through our Clinical Trials Matching Service
  • Found the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer

Brooks and Dunn*

Dust off your boots and join us at Gilley’s on Saturday, October 21, for some serious Texas barbecue, the best silent and live auctions in town, followed by a heart-stopping performance from award-winning country and western entertainers Brooks and Dunn.

Everyone knows someone affected by cancer. From attending the ball to purchasing a raffle ticket, get involved with Cattle Baron’s Ball however you can and help us continue making a difference. 

Visit www.cattlebaronsball.com.

* Photo provided by 
2017 Cattle Baron's 
Ball

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 16th Annual Boots and Bandanas

According to 16th Annual Boots and Bandanas Co-Chair Meg Frainey,

It’s that time again ladies and gents! Grab your Stetsons and get ready to have a boot scootin’ good time in support of campers with disabilities. Camp Summit‘s 16th Annual Boots and Bandanas Benefit Dinner and Auction will be held on Thursday, November 2, at Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Downtown Dallas. You don’t want to miss it! With good ol’ Texas BBQ and entertainment, including live and silent auctions, wine pulls, and live Texas music from Shoot Low Sheriff, it’s sure to be an evening to remember!

Bonnie Webb, Amy Trammell and Brittany Bradberry*

Every year, hundreds of professionals, business leaders, donors, and supporters in the DFW area attend Boots and Bandanas, bringing in thousands of dollars in support of our remarkable campers. All proceeds from the event benefit Camp Summit and our barrier-free camping programs for children and adults with disabilities. The support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers ensures that our remarkable campers will always have a camp to call their own.

We have numerous sponsorship opportunities available, so grab a ticket, reserve a table, or even sponsor our saloon!  Register online to secure your tickets today! Visit the event website at www.campsummittx.org/boots for more information and to complete your online registration. 

If you would like to donate an item for our auction please contact Jeanie Lawson at [email protected] or 972-484-8900 ext. 109.  Small and large items are welcome! If you are interested in volunteering for the event or becoming involved with the event committee, please contact Georgia White at [email protected] or 972.484.8900 ext. 107.

We look forward to seeing you there!

* Photo provided by Camp Summit