Dallas Zoo Residents Are Ready For A Herd Of Visitors For Thursday’s Dollar Day! Special

The Dallas Zoo folks snuck up on a lot of folks. Instead of waiting until August scorches the area, they’re holding the infamous Dollar Day! this Thursday. That’s a $14 saving for adults and a $11 saving for youths and seniors.

Not only is admission going to be a dollar, but the following will be available for a buck each:

  • selected snack items (canned drinks, water, hot dogs and chips)
  • nectar to feed the lorikeets
  • bird food at the Travis and Zach’s Birds Landing

Giraffe (File photo)

And if you want to splurge and look like a big spender, here are some other bargains for this one-day-only special:

  • $2 T-Rex Express mini-train
  • $5 Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail
  • $5 giraffe feedings (and, yes, the giraffes do have long black tongues)

Since parking is going to be $8 and traffic is expected to be limited, try out the DART Red Line.

Hippopotamus (File photo)

BTW, prepare yourself for the Simmons Hippo Outpost. These two are more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

BTW, don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses and cameras.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: 2017 Parade Of Playhouses

According to Dallas CASA Board Chair John Gibson,

John Gibson*

Looking for a cool way to run off some of your children’s energy while also helping a good cause? Grab your kids and head to Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses July 7 through 23 at NorthPark Center.

With 14 perfectly pint-sized playhouses decorating the halls of NorthPark, Parade of Playhouses is the perfect way to let your kids’ imaginations go wild while also learning about children in our community who need help.

For 22 years, NorthPark Center has played host to the playhouses, which are donated by local builders, designers and corporations and available to win through raffle at the end of the 17-day event. What child doesn’t want to imagine his or her own miniature house? This year’s designs include a house in the image of an owl, an activity house with a climbing wall and even a house shaped like a cuckoo clock. House designers and builders pour skill, creativity and love into these unusual creations.

The event benefits Dallas CASA, a nonprofit that provides volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children navigating the child welfare system. Walking the corridors and viewing the playhouses is a great way to start a conversation with your own kids about those in our community who are less fortunate. Children in the child welfare system don’t dare dream of a playhouse with all the bells and whistles. They dream of safe and permanent homes where they are loved.

2017 Parade of Playhouses*

Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses is open until Sunday, July 23, during NorthPark’s hours. Viewing the playhouses is free and raffle tickets to win a playhouses are available for $5 each or five for $20.

All proceeds from the raffle ticket sales help Dallas CASA provide more children with advocates to serve them. For Dallas CASA, Parade of Playhouses has also become a key recruiting and community awareness event. Tables throughout NorthPark are staffed with volunteer advocates and other supporters who can tell you about becoming a volunteer advocate for abused children.

In fact, Parade of Playhouses might be the beginning of something for you to do after summer, too. A training class for volunteer advocates begins Sept. 6, right after the kids go back to school. The first step to becoming a volunteer advocate is attending an information session.

Maybe it’s your turn to dream not about a tiny house but about helping make the world a better place one child at a time.

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Frontiers Of Flight Museum

According to Frontiers of Flight Museum’s Carla Meadows,

Looking for the coolest destination to beat the heat this summer?  Visit the Frontiers of Flight Museum.  You’ll experience the stories of aviation and space flight from the Wright Flight to the one-of-a-kind “Flying Pancake;” the Apollo VII spacecraft, 13 historical galleries, and over 35,000 artifacts; the Living History program and our acclaimed STEM education program. The Frontiers of Flight Museum is the perfect place to explore the history and progress of aviation, as mankind continues to pursue going higher, faster and farther.  

Frontiers Of Flight Museum*

Featured summer events at the Frontiers of Flight Museum:

The Frontiers of Flight Museum, 6911 Lemmon Ave., is conveniently located just north of downtown on Lemmon Avenue at the southeast side of Dallas Love Field Airport, north of Mockingbird Lane. Housed in a modern 100,000-square-foot facility, the Museum provides a focal point to explore the history and progress of aviation. Hours of operation: Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Adults $10; Seniors (65+) $8; Youths/Students (3-17) $7 and children under 3 are free. For more information, visit www.flightmuseum.com

* Photo provided by Frontiers Of Flight Museum

22nd Annual Parade Of Playhouses Is Polished Up And Rocking At NorthPark Center For Dallas CASA

Craig Beneke

It was just a couple of weeks ago in June that af architecture and fabrication’s Craig Beneke got a shout out from one of his 21-year-old twin daughters. It wasn’t for a new car. It wasn’t for a loan. It was for a house. No, not a 2,000-square-foot bungalow in the M Street hood. It was for a playhouse. She wasn’t reverting back to her childhood. Rather, she was hoping that her dad could provide a playhouse for Dallas CASA’s 22nd Annual Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark.

It seems one of the originally signed-up builders had bailed, and there was a need to fill a spot for the annual Dallas CASA fundraiser that would run from Saturday, July 8 through Sunday, July 23.

Playhouse Rock cowbell on a construction work belt

Playhouse Rock sound tubes

Playhouse Rock floor

Not only did Papa Craig answer the call-to-deliver, but he literally hit the nail on the head.  His Playhouse Rock was a musical marvel that would please anyone from Jaap to Jay-Z with a mini-xylophone built into the floor complete with mallets for playing and an assortment of others goodies — rain stick, triangle, sound tubes, etc. There were personal touches, too. For instance, the front door’s cowbell is suspended by his construction work belt.

But being a perfectionist, Craig was eyeballing the hand prints left from the move-in on Thursday, July 6. He was going to do some touch-up, so his Playhouse Rock would be perfect.

Whimsical Cottage

A few playhouses away, Doug Beaty of Beach Sheet Metal was sharing Craig’s dilemma about prints. It seems that the Whimsical Cottage’s copper roof was a fingerprint magnet. Last year, he arrived daily to polish the roof, so it was spotless. He expected to do the same this year. When someone offered to post a sign dissuading people from touching, he scoffed at the idea. He relished the idea that little ones and their parents couldn’t resist touching the shiny roof.   

Cuckoohaus

Paw Rescue

The White Owl’s Den

But those are just two of the 11 playhouses on display. Some have rock walls; some are so cozy; some have interior lighting; some are open and breezy. But they all will be raffled off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 23, in NorthPark’s North Court to support Dallas CASA’s mission “to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children, helping these children gain safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.” If you’re unable to check out the houses, you can still buy your raffle ticket here. They’re going for $5 each or five for $20.

Also, the builders are all vying to claim the title of “Favorite Playhouse.” You can vote by texting dallascasa to 41444. BTW, each vote costs $5.

Check out the Parade of Playhouses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Museum Of Art

According to Dallas Museum of Art Director of Communications and Public Affairs Interim Director of Marketing Jill Bernstein,

Do you want to stay cool and cultured this summer? Then head to the Dallas Museum of Art at 1717 N. Harwood Street in the Dallas Arts District where you and the kiddos can discover 5,000 years of human creativity without getting a sunburn!

Dallas Museum of Art*

Since Tuesday, June 13, there’s been a new experience each day (well except Monday, because we are closed)! Make family connections and memories with works of art as you enjoy story time, guided tours, and drop-in art making. The best part of all, it’s free and fun for all ages from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.!  Art will come alive through hands on gallery activities, workshops, and so much more.

You can even explore the Museum at your own pace with the DMA app. Use the interactive map to locate specific works of art and dive in with themed tours!

Dallas Museum of Art*

This summer, travel around the globe without burning a hole in your pocket at the Dallas Museum of Art. Special exhibitions do require a ticket, unless you’re 11 and under, then those are free as well!

For more information visit www.DMA.org/summer-family-fun. 

* Photos provided by Dallas Museum of Art

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Zoo

According to Dallas Zoo intern Lauren Lombardo*,

The dog days of summer may be here, but the Dallas Zoo knows just how to get families off the couch with a wild outdoor adventure. We’re debuting new exhibits and more than 2,000 animals that are sure to please the whole family. So pack a cooler and join us from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily!

Simmons Hippo Outpost*

Our new Simmons Hippo Outpost features a 24-foot by 8-foot underwater viewing window that’ll bring guests eye-to-nostril with these majestic “river horses” as they swim around their African waterhole. The exhibit is the first major addition to the Dallas Zoo since Giants of the Savanna opened in 2010, and offers an elevated view of our hippos from the Wilds of Africa Safari monorail—trust us, you’re going to want to bring the camera. Catch a daily hippo keeper chat at 2:30 p.m., and you might just see these hefty herbivores munch on a head of lettuce.

You can also find more than 80 large scale photos throughout the Zoo as part of the National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition. These larger than life images are perfect for snapping selfies or striking a pose with your favorite animal. We’re one of only three zoos showcasing this incredible collection of photos by photographer Joel Sartore through Sept. 4.

If that’s not enough, we’re currently in the midst of an adorable baby boom! Little lion cub Bahati and giraffe calf Tsavo are making daily appearances in their habitats. You can see Bahati play with mom Lina and aunt Jasiri in the Wilds of Africa as well as hand feed giraffes at the Diane and Hal Brierley Giraffe Ridge.

Admission is free for children age 2 or under and Zoo Members, $12 for children age 3-11 and seniors over age 64, and $15 for adults age 12-64.

* Much to the disppointment of the staff, Friday was Lauren’s last day at the Zoo 
** Photo provided by the Dallas Zoo

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Klyde Warren Park

Tara Green*

According to Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green,

For the past four years, Dallas’ favorite greenspace, Klyde Warren Park, has provided more than 1,300 free programing and education activities for 1 million visitors each year and every summer the fun gets even bigger. Located in the heart of Dallas, directly between downtown and Uptown, Klyde Warren Park is the perfect place for a day of family fun. All activities at Klyde Warren Park are free thanks to our sponsors and private donations made to the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation.

In addition to the Children’s Park and several splash pads located throughout the park, here are a few activities that you and your family can take part in this summer:

 

  • Dallas Children’s Theater*

    Dallas Children’s Theater Activities (Every 3rdSaturday of the Month from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.) Ages: 4 and up — Bring your drama princess or prince to the Children’s Park for acting games and fun with the Dallas Children’s Theater. Children and their parents can learn acting techniques from Dallas Children’s Theater teachers and participate in mini-performances alongside other participants each session.

  • Kathryn’s Book Nook Summer Reading Club (First Sundays, July – August from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 3 – 10-years old — Hosted by local non-profit Kathryn’s Book Nook, Summer Reading Parties in the Children’s Park at Klyde Warren Park will make sure kids don’t fall into the all too familiar summer-reading slump. There will be read-alouds, games, crafts, giveaways, and performances. RSVPs are encouraged to ensure we have adequate supplies. RSVP by going tokathrynsbooknook.com.
  • Miss Kimberly*

    Music and Stories with Miss Kimberly (Every Tuesday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 0 – 4 years old — Bring the kiddos to a storytelling session in the park every Tuesday! Read along with Miss Kimberly as she features cute stories and fun tunes for little ones. Bubbles, parachutes and games round out this fun and engaging storytime. 

  • Imagination Playground (Every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: Open to all ages —

    Imagination Playground*

    Play, create and let your kids’ imaginations soar at our Imagination Playground! Bring the kids to the park where they can build a new world every time they play using the larger-than-life Imagination Playground blocks. 

  • Family Art Activities with the Nasher Sculpture Museum (Every 4thSunday of the Month from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 3 and up — Experts from the Nasher Sculpture Center will offer family-friendly activities in the Dallas Morning News Reading and Games Room. Learn painting, sculpting and other unique art techniques during this free, interactive demo. Families are encouraged to make a whole day out of it and visit the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center after playing artist for the afternoon.
* Photos provided by Klyde Warren Park

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: After-School All-Stars North Texas’ Rising Stars Luncheon

Jack Betts and Gina and Ken Betts

It was only After-School All-Stars North Texas’ second Rising Stars Luncheon. And like some newbies on the fundraising scene, it can be tough to draw a crowd or get the organization’s message across. But ASAS Advisory Board Chair Ben Lange drafted Gina Betts, whose reputation in local nonprofit circles is daunting. And she proved that her rep is well deserved on Wednesday, May 17.

Dak Prescott and Brad Sham

Joanna Hernandez

Ben Lange

Thanks to “connections,” Ben and Gina arranged to have Dallas Cowboys quarterback wunderkind Dak Prescott on stage for a chat with Dallas Cowboys voice Brad Sham before an SRO crowd including Mark Cuban and Charles Haley at the Dallas Country Club.

But it was ASAS teenager Joanna Hernandez who stole the show and Dak’s heart with her story.

While the post is being prepped, check out the photos  on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Heritage Village

Melissa Prycer*

According to Dallas Heritage Village President and Executive Director Melissa Prycer,

If you have never visited Dallas Heritage Village, Old Fashioned Fourth is a perfect occasion to pack a picnic lunch and bring the family! In fact, for many North Texas families, this annual event has become a tradition. Not only can you enjoy all of the fun fourth activities, the Village’s historic buildings will be open for touring, and costumed interpreters will be on hand to visit about what life in North Texas from 1840 to 1910.  Dallas Heritage Village, one of only five nationally accredited museums in the Dallas area, showcases a Victorian Main Street, a railroad complex, a log cabin, a pre-Civil war home, an 1860’s farmstead with livestock, a 19th century church, schoolhouse and more. 

Dallas Heritage Village*

On this special holiday, families decked out in red, white, and blue, begin coming into the gates around 10 a.m. with picnic baskets, bikes, and little red wagons to spend the day making memories together. The event runs until 3 p.m. with the highlight being the patriotic parade at noon.

Dallas Heritage Village*

In this parade the kids are the stars! However, don’t tell our Mammoth Jack Donkeys that – each year they lead the parade and like to think it’s all about them. For many years Nip and Tuck have led the parade, but they have now relinquished that duty to the young newcomers – brothers Willie and Waylon. Nip and Tuck are OK with that, but they hope you will stop by and take your patriotic pictures with them so they won’t feel left out!  And don’t forget to say hi to the sheep. They tend to get their feelings hurt with all the fuss over those donkeys.

Dallas Heritage Village*

Before marching in the parade, come by the craft station and decorate your bikes, wagons, and even yourself with patriotic items we will provide at no cost. Our Dallas Junior Historians will be hosting the annual carnival again this year, and we encourage you to bring a little extra change to participate – 25 cents for each game or 5 games for a dollar. Games include our famous stick pony race for ages 3-11, “go fishing” for prizes, and bean bag toss. And it wouldn’t be Old Fashioned Fourth without checkers games (stations will be set up to play), horseshoes and graces, as well as a July 4th craft – painting fireworks with cardboard tubes and making Uncle Sam with Popsicle sticks! This year’s guests will also be able to get sneak peek at our exciting new early childhood learning space, which will have a grand opening in September.

Dallas Heritage Village*

Dallas Heritage Village is located in the heart of the booming Cedars area at 1515 S. Harwood, Dallas, 75215, near urban living and restaurants and the popular Dallas Farmer’s Market complex. Admission for Old Fashioned Fourth is $5 for ages 13 and older. Those 12 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.  Visit dallasheritagevillage.org or call 214.421.5141 for more information! We look forward to seeing you soon!

* Photo provided by Dallas Heritage Village

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Arboretum And Botanical Garden

According to Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden Board Chair Mark Wolf,

If the children ask you again, “What are we doing today?,” tell them that you’re going to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden located at 8525 Garland Rd., Dallas, Texas, 75218. It’s open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some nights are open even later including Wednesdays until 8 p.m. No reservations are needed, and there’s plenty to do, every day of the week. You can pack a picnic, blankets, strollers and wagons, and the children will thank you for showing them one of the top “15 Breathtaking Botanical Gardens in the World,” according to Architectural Digest. 

Picture perfection at the Dallas Arboretum (File photo)

Here are highlights, and more information is listed below.

  • ZimSculpt
  • Arboretum After Hours
  • Family Fun Fridays
  • Summer Wine Sampling Weekends (for those 21 and over)
  • Live Music Every Weekend
  • Summer Camps
  • Father’s Day Weekend
  • African Music Fest
  • Red, White and The Blues on July Fourth Weekend
  • Garden Gigs Concerts in July
  • Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden
  • August Dollar Days

Tickets range from $10 and $15 per person, and certain days have discounts (see below). Be sure to check the website, www.dallasarboretum.org and social media for the latest details. See you in the garden!

Cojoined, Victor Matafi*

ZimSculpt: Now thru July 31 — For the first time ever in the southern U.S., the Dallas Arboretum presents the international blockbuster exhibition ZimSculpt, a world-renowned display of modern Zimbabwean stone sculptures.  More than 100,000 guests have visited ZimSculpt, featuring live sculpting demonstrations daily by Zimbabwean sculptors and artists-in-residence, Aron Kapembeza and Passmore Mupindiko. Known as Shona sculpture, these contemporary pieces are carved from various types of serpentine and semi-precious stone, often weighing tons, and can be as large as seven feet tall. This sculpture is the most collected form of African art that can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Rodin Museum and in the homes of the Prince of Wales, the Rockefellers, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover and the late Michael Jackson.

Arboretum After Hours On Wednesdays: Now through October 25 — Bring a picnic, and dine al fresco in one of the prettiest places in Dallas. Every Wednesday, the garden extends its hours to 8 p.m. for families and friends to enjoy a night out. Tickets are buy one, get one free (general admission, only valid at the ticket booth.) 

Family Fun Fridays (Now through – July 28, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Bring the family to the Pecan Grove for a critter-filled petting zoo, incredibly artistic face painting and lively music, every Friday through the end of July.

Summer Wine Sampling Weekends (Saturdays 11a.m.-3 p.m. and Sundays noon-3 p.m., Café on the Green) — New for the summer! Join us for wine samplings. For $10, those 21 years old and older can taste three samples of a specific varietal, with the featured varietal changing frequently. Price does not include garden admission.

Live Music Every Weekend (Saturdays and Sundays, 11a.m.-2 p.m., throughout the garden) — Enjoy different live performances tucked away in various locations through the garden every weekend this summer.

Summer Camps at the Arboretum: Varies weeks — These camps provide children ages 4 years to entering 7th grade with hands-on explorations in nature, science and art to spark imagination and inspire environmental stewardship. Register online.

Red, White & the Blues–July Fourth Weekend: July 1-4  (July 1-4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Pack a picnic, bring the family and celebrate Independence Day. Various blues bands will perform throughout the weekend to provide a cool, relaxing backdrop.

  • July 1: Linny Nance Network
  • July 2: Buddy Whittington Band
  • July 3: Linny Nance Network
  • July 4: Rob Holbert Group

Garden Gigs: July 14-28 — Friday evenings, 7:30-9:30 p.m. — Discover hidden gems-music by local musicians, adventurous choices from food trucks and off-the-beaten path spots in the garden. Admission $10 (non-members), $8 (members) and includes free parking.

  • July 14: Jonathan FoxZach CoffeyBecky Middelton
  • July 21: David TribbleJohn Lefler and CamilleMicah Peacock
  • July 28: Kate Minor, Shayne Green, TBD

Music Performances: Varies

  • Performance by Bandan Koro (July 22, 10 a.m.) — Move to the beat of African drum and dance ensemble on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn.
  • Performance by Kupira Marimba (July 22, noon) — Listen to high-energy, family friendly music from Kupira Marimba on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn.
  • Performance by Zimbabwe Choir, Lover’s Lane United Methodist Church (July 22, 2-3:30 p.m.) — Enjoy the inspiring voices of the Lover’s Lane United Methodist Church Zimbabwe Choir located at the DeGolyer Pergola.
  • Performance by Bandan Koro (July 23, 11 a.m.) — Move to the beat of African drum and dance ensemble on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn.

Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden Activities: All Summer — This eight-acre children’s garden is where science and learning become one. Each learning area teaches science in a fun and interactive way. Try out your experimenting skills in the lab, and learn the parts of a flower in Plants Are Alive, where everything is larger than life. See below for select activities during special days/weekends in the garden.

Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden’s plaza (File photo)

  • Mask Making with the DMA (June 24-25, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Create a mask with the Dallas Museum of Art’s Teen Advisory Council.
  • Craft Corner: The Stars and Stripes (July 1-4, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Entry Plaza) — Stop by the Craft Corner table and create a fun, patriotic craft using the colors of the American flag.
  • Click here for a full list of summer programs for the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden.
  • A Study of Zimbabwe (Horti)Culture (July 15-16, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Come and go workshop.

August Dollar Days: August 1-31 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) — Round up the whole family and come to the Arboretum for $1 main garden admission per person for the month of August.

Discounts: BOGO Wednesdays, which are buy one get one free general admission and include Nature Nights, are available at ticket booth, with a limit of one purchase per person. Senior Thursdays offer discounted admission of $11 for seniors 65 and older and a 20 percent discount in the Hoffman Family Gift Store.

* Photo provided by Dallas Arboretum

MySweetCharity To Launch Mini-Series — “Summer Pitch”

MySweetCharity

North Texas is now at “that point in the summer.” The kids have seen all the movies including the losers. The good old swimming hole is starting to look like it could boil lobster. Summer camp is either in the rear view mirror or still a couple of weeks away.

What’s left for the summer of 2017? Lots!

Thanks to North Texas nonprofits, there are still loads of gotta-dos available. Some are obvious and well known; others are off the traditional radar. But they’re all family oriented and the results of North Texan generosity.

In the days ahead, MySweetCharity is going to run a brief series — MSC Summer Pitch — for these organizations to describe their things-to-do for your consideration.

Why not give ‘em a try and don’t forget to take photos.  

Under A Bright Sun, The Star Shone With Great Taste, Cowboys, Chefs And North Texas Food Bank Fans

After the ups and downs of weather days combining cashmere shawls with Daisy Dukes, Sunday, May 7, was bright, shiny and in the 80s. It was especially shiny at the Dallas Cowboys’ Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, where the North Texas Food Bank’s fundraiser, Taste of the Cowboys, was preparing for 1,000 guests. Presenting sponsor for the event was Caliber Collision.

There had been changes from the past. It was no longer called Taste of the NFL. It was no longer at AT&T Stadium. It was no longer led by he-who-used-to-be-known-as Kent Rathbun, although there was a chap non-cooking on the premises with his family (wife/restaurateur Tracy Rathbun, son Max Rathbun and daughter Garrett Rathbun).

Garrett Rathbun,, Max Rathbun and Kent and Tracy Rathbun

While the Star’s mini-Jerry World is still a project in progress, there was some confusion about where to park and check in. VIPs like Susan and John Farris, Larry James of  CitySquare, current Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick, and former Cowboys star Preston Pearson were to enter for a 5 p.m. start, but evidently some general-admission early birds nestled in a line before their 6 p.m. official get in.

John and Susan Farris

Preston Pearson and Larry James

As signage directed all to general parking a block or so away, smart VIP-ers headed around the corner to the valet check-in. Once on foot, though, the confusion continued. Folks lined up 10 deep to check in, only to finally learn: “Oh, you’re supposed to go outside and the lady there will direct you.” Alas, there was no woman there, so humbled VIP-ers wandered down the walkway like children lost at the State Fair. Soon they discovered an outdoor mini-stadium field surrounded by food stations and topped with a stage with bands performing (the headliner set for 8:30 p.m. was to be Reckless Kelly).

Taste of the Cowboys stage

The good news was that, despite the lack of signage directions, the in-the-flesh NTFB staffers were more than willing to help get things straightened out.

Once inside the air-conditioned lobby between the indoor and outdoor playing fields, there were a Mirmir Photo Booth, a Kendra Scott set-up, and a number of silent auction items.

Dunia Borgia

Aaron Hardwick and Tina Um

Chris Memme

Outside, there sure wasn’t any A/C. But there were a heck of a lot of local chefs cooking up a storm. Dunia Borgia of La Duni Baking Studio had replaced her frozen treats (at last year’s event) with sweet empanadas; Tina Um and Aaron Hardwick were showing off their General Tsao’s Chicken from Howard Wang’s China Grill; and BIRD Bakery proprietor Elizabeth Chambers Hammer, famed for her cookies, cupcakes, and mini-cupcakes, was enjoying the afternoon with Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch. Other eateries represented included Mi Cocina, Seasons 52, Off the Bone Barbeque, and The Common Table. 

Jamie Poper, Jill Bailey, Taylor Wencis and Ben Austin

Blythe Beck

Craig Walter

Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Taste Of The Cowboys

With the sun shining bright overhead, The Star was filled to the brim with food and football lovers like former Dallas Cowboy Preston Pearson and current Dallas Cowboy Travis Frederick on Sunday, May 7 for the Taste Of The Cowboys benefiting the North Texas Food Bank.

Preston Pearson and Larry James

Travis Frederick

While the stations surrounding the field served up everything from from Chef Chris Memme‘s tuna tostadas to Dunia Borgia‘s empanadas, Reckless Kelly was on stage.

Chris Memme

Dunia Borgia

The post is almost complete. But the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery is already served up!

Canine Companions For Independence Graduation At Kinkeade Campus Changed Lives For Both Humans And Their New BFF

Linda and Terrence Marler

May is filled with graduations and that applies to pooches as well as youngsters. On Friday, May 5, Canine Companions for Independence held a graduation ceremony at its Canine Companions for Independence Kinkeade Campus at the Baylor Scott and White Health facilities in Irving. It was overflowing with humans like Jan Rees-Jones with Susan McSherry, Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy Coordinator Linda Marler and her husband Terrence Marler as well as four-legged types.

Before the graduation took place, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade, who had been the driving force for Texas’ only CCI, teased new Baylor Scott and White CEO Jim Hinton, who had just recently arrived in North Texas from New Mexico: “When Jim first got here, he asked me what are those green objects. I told him, ‘Jim, I know you’re from New Mexico, but those are trees. We have a lot of those here.’ ”

Jim and Kristen Hinton and Ed Kinkeade

Following Ed, Jim told the crowd, “I love my wife first, I love my dogs second and I love my kids third and I’m completely unapologetic about that.”

Despite the Hinton dogs still living for the time being in New Mexico, Jim confessed that he does Facetime with them. “The good news is that they recognize my voice and I’m still a little bit of a wag. I miss those dogs terribly. To me this effort is a convergence of two things that I am passionate about: one is dogs and the other one is healthcare, taking care of people. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Judge Ed Kinkeade. It is his vision; it is his passion; it is his unique way that has caused this to exist.”

Jim recalled his attending the previous graduation and “I asked the question that all first-time guests ask, ‘Why are all these Kleenex boxes sitting around?’ And so for the past several months, I’ve been building up this moment with my wife [Kristen] and she is with me today. I’ve noticed that she’s already getting a little teary and we haven’t even started the darn program yet. So, she’s going to be a mess before this thing is over. ”

Luckily, there were boxes of tissues placed throughout the room. Sure, it was Cinco de Mayo to the rest of the world, but it was a parting of relationships for some in the room and for others it was the coming together for a lifelong journey.

Canine Companion for Independence puppy in training

Canine Companion for Independence puppy graduate Dutch II

One group consisted of young Labradors that for two years had been raised through the “awkward years,” thanks to volunteer puppy raisers. These dogs had been loved, hugged and been exposed to the world. Now, they were leaving the comfort of their homes and stepping up to a new level of education that would take place at the facility for months by skilled trainers. Their goal was to become the “companions” for those in need.  

Judy Schumpert and #18

A word about the puppy raisers; they range from all types. Some are families; some are prisoners; and then there was Judy Schumpert, who was turning in her 18th dog and already training her 19th : “I’m either on a mission for God or a glutton for punishment. I’ve got to keep doing it until I can do it no more.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone living, loving and working with a puppy for two years and then giving them up. New puppy raisers Mary Catherine Lombardi and Erica Hotvedt admitted, “When we got started, I think we knew what we were getting into. But I think the final goodbyes are harder than we expected.”  They recognized that their puppy Yoshi III, however, was destined for a truly remarkable role.

That purpose became so apparent when the graduation of the new teams took place. For the past two weeks, the seven humans had arrived and lived at the facility to be matched and trained with their new best friends.

Edgar

Chosen as class spokesperson for the graduating teams, Edgar, with Chase V at his side, eloquently told of the importance of this program for the graduating humans. One was an autistic child, whose outbursts would “calm down immediately” when her pooch, Tess VI, “came to the rescue.” Thomas, whose weakened motor skills caused by cerebral palsy resulted in his dropping things to the floor, had been helped by  Atlas IV retrieving them for him. Wheel-chair-bound youngster Lauren‘s arm was subject to bouts of spasticity and limited control, but when Egan II lay down at her side, it was still and under control. Edgar himself admitted that there were times when he would fall out of his wheelchair and Chase’s bark command would sound the alert for assistance. Thanks to Dutch II, wheelchair-bound Lauren was looking forward to getting out on her own and not being “a burden on my parents.” Sara, who works with first responders in dealing with PTSD, would be assisted in the future by Aiken II, who would be “the non-judging entity in the room that helps the patients relax.” 

From the left: (seated) CCI graduate team Lauren and Egan; (standing) Puppy raisers Andrew, Ella, Mark, Angela and Lauren’s mother

Edgar continued, “These stories are a mere excerpt of what has happened in the past 10 days. Can you imagine what is going to happen in the next 10 years? All of us graduates would like to say thank you for being here today, whether you’re a donor, a puppy raiser, a volunteer. Even if this is your first time with Canine Companions, that’s how it starts. That how you get the ball rolling.”

Summing up the two weeks of team training, he addressed his fellow graduates: “We arrived as seven families, but today we graduate as one. And here we stand on the brink of a 10-year-journey. It won’t always be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. All the troubles that we deal with daily will soon be alleviated by an incredible new resource, my new best friend that is unconditionally at our side just waiting to help anyway they can. Thank you.”

As the new teams headed home for a new life of independence, the new recruits were taken to their CCI spotless digs for the next step in their education to be a life-changing partner for someone in need.   

Lauren and her mother

And that’s why the boxes of Kleenex were throughout the hall.