Grovel Alert: 2017 Chick Lit Luncheon

Let’s hope the Anatole Grand Ballroom has its Spanx on for Friday’s Chick Lit Luncheon. The annual Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser is busting with folks to hear Bethenny Frankel at the podium.

Bethenny Frankel*

According to insiders, there are just a couple seats left. Hurry and get one or two of those last places because ya just know that Bethenny is gonna be quotable and memorable.

And don’t worry about setting Bethenny up on a dating apps blind date. According to her chat with People Magazine, “I wouldn’t have enough time to date online. I thought about it, but I haven’t actually done it because I wouldn’t have the time.”

“If it gets there and it’s a dry country, maybe I’ll think about it — but it hasn’t gotten to that point,” Frankel adds. “At my age I got game, who knew?”

But that was a couple of weeks ago. Who knows? Perhaps Bethenny has changed her mind about online dating.

BTW, ticket sales close Thursday at 5 p.m. Hustle, hustle, hustle!

Just Say Yes’ “Building Bridges” Will Celebrate With Romos, Brown And Chances For Gragg Gems, Royal Dining, Grelle Artwork And More

Tony and Candice Romo*

David Brown*

As if having former Dallas Police Chief David Brown as the keynote speaker and Honorary Co-Chairs Candice and Tony Romo weren’t enough for the 7th Annual Just Say Yes (Youth Equipped to Succeed) Celebration’s Building Bridges,” organizers have put together quite a line up for the Wednesday, April 19th raffle and live auction fundraiser at Belo Pavilion.

Sue Gragg necklace*

For the raffle, it will be “a custom-made diamond necklace by jewelry designer extraordinaire” Sue Gragg. The winner will be able to select their choice of an 18-karat white, yellow or rose-gold necklace. And to add that personalized touch, they’ll have “their name, or a word of their choice, encrusted with diamonds.” If your chance ticket is picked, you’ve got your Mother’s Day gift locked down! The value of the necklace is $1,400 with raffle tickets going for $25 each or 5 for $100. The raffle winner does not need to be present to win, and there is no limit to ticket purchase. Raffle tickets are available here.

There’s an added incentive to buy those raffle tickets online. There will be a drawing prior to the event to have a VIP meet-and-greet photo opp with keynote speaker Brown.  The Photo-Opp winner must be present to win. Each raffle ticket purchase serves as one entry into the contest.

In addition to a silent auction, there will be a live auction including:

Darren McGrady (File photo)

  • A Royal Dinner Party by Eating Royally Owner/Chef Darren McGrady (Value: $5,000) — Chef Darren will prepared a three-course dinner for ten at your home, just like he did for Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana. After dinner, he’ll regale guests with stories about the good old days at the palace.
  • A Week in Kauai, Hawaii (Value $3,000) — With plenty of time to plan, four guests will enjoy the luxury lifestyle at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club’s oceanfront digs from April 14 thru 21, 2018. Whether it’s just taking it easy lounging on the beach or checking out the sites where major Hollywood films have been made, Kauai has everything.
  • Western Artist/Member of Cowboy Artists of America Martin Grelle Artwork — Two pieces of art by the renowned Western art master will be up for bid.
    • The first piece is a 13” by 10” original drawing in custom frame of a Native American on horseback. (Value $3,800)
    • The second is a 33” by 38” giclée of “Prayers of the Pipe Carrier,” which Grelle created a few years ago.  It is an artist personal proof, No. 4 of 5. BTW, the original won the Buyers Choice Award at the 46th Annual Cowboy Artists of America exhibit in 2011. (Value: $1,750)
  • Two-Night Hunting Trip at Giesecke Ranch (Value: $2,500) — For the hunter, the Giesecke Ranch outside of Llano is the perfect place to hunt deer, turkey and wild boar. In addition to having the use of a crew cab pickup, the winner will have ranch owner Dick Giesecke himself assist in finding the spots to explore.

(This offer expires December 31, 2018, and does not include Thanksgiving, Christmas or opening weekend of hunting season.)

Building Bridges*

Regarding this year’s theme — “Building Bridges —  Just Say Yes Development Director Marissa Leach explained, “Just Say Yes is ‘Building Bridges’ this year because we recognize the need for connection. Our youth can set the stage for a stronger connection with each other, their families and ultimately our community. With your support, we can further the Just Say Yes cause by building connection in our youth, ultimately creating long-lasting connectedness within our community.”

While individual tickets are $250, $1,000 will get two tickets plus the photo opp with David B.

* Photo provided by Just Say Yes

Go Red For Women Luncheon Speaker Alison Levine Inspired Guests To Conquer All Challenges Including Heart Disease By Being Relentless

As loads of folks especially ladies attended the health screenings, cooking demonstration and CPR demonstration starting at 10 a.m. at Omni Dallas for Go Red for Women on Friday, February 4, the car cha-cha at the front door grew to bumper-to-bumper around 11:30 for those attending just the luncheon.

Amy Simmons Crafton, Melissa Cameron and Anne Stodghill

In the meantime, the invitation-only VIP reception scheduled for 10:30 was aglow in red thanks to guests in their American Heart Association best like Amy Simmons Crafton and Anne Stodghill, who was in a full-length red coat complete with glitter.

Miller Gill, Rebecca Gill, Mary Parker, Suzanne Humphreys and Joe Parker

Nancy Gopez and Alison Levine

Alas, speaker-of-honor Alison Levine was late in arriving, but once there she was non-stop howdy-doing. Waiting their turn with Alison, Sandi Haddock Community Impact Awardee Mary Parker and her family (son Miller Gill, daughter Rebecca Gill, mother Suzanne Humphreys and husband Joe Parker) posed for a quick cellphoto taken by Open Your Heart Chair and Survivor Nancy Gopez.

By noon the reception area in front of the Dallas Ballroom looked like a poppy field thanks to guests like Sandi Haddock, Kay Hammond, Kit Sawers, Roz Colombo, Gina Betts, Debbie Oates, Christie Carter, Mary Martha Pickens, Lisa Cooley, Ciara Cooley, Tracy Lange, Becky Bowen, Vicki Howland, Ramona Jones and fellas like Ron Haddock and Stan Levenson.

Kit Sawers, Gina Betts and Roz Colombo

Mary Martha Pickens, Ciara Cooley and Lisa Cooley

Thank heaven the chimes rang, the ballroom doors opened and the crowd filled the place.

Stan Levenson

Pat Malambri

Luncheon Chair Michelle Vopni introduced Amy Simmons Crafton for the invocation and Macy’s Dallas Fort Worth District VP Pat Malambri, who told of the longtime association of the retailer with the battle against heart disease in women. He also added that he hoped that many of the guests’ red outfits had come from Macy’s.

Following a brief rest for lunch, American Heart Association Dallas/Fort Worth Executive Director Melissa Cameron presented the Sandi Haddock Community Impact Award to Mary Parker, who graciously accepted the award and scored points with Pat saying, “My dress came from Macy’s.”

Then Melissa presented Open Your Heart Chair/Survivor Nancy Gopez, who asked her pal Mary to return to the podium to share the occasion. It was Mary’s advocacy about heart disease that alerted Nancy to the sign of her heart attack last year.

Mary told the audience that Amy and her AmazingGrace.Life had provided a $25,000 match for any $1,000 contributors.

Beck Weathers

As the ladies left the stage, local mountain climber Dr. Beck Weathers, who barely survived the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, introduced Alison, who gave a polished talk. Somehow, she intertwined her twice quest to conquer Mt. Everest with every day challenges by taking one step at a time and the importance of being relentless. The first attempt in 2002 had been daunting with weeks of climbing back and forth between camps on the mountain to acclimate her body for the climb to the 29,002-foot peak. Toward the final phase, one has to take five to ten breaths for each step. To make it through this part of the climb, she focused on a nearby rock. Once there, she would focus on another rock. The message was to take one step at a time in order to achieve the final goal.

In the end, she and her team had come within 200 feet of the summit only to have to turn back because they were running low on oxygen and supplies.

Alison Levine

As a result of the miss, she learned that failure wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, she and her team survived. If they had made it to summit, they might not have survived the journey down. Still, she had no plans of attempting another run for the summit.

It was her good friend/collegiate All-American soccer player Meg Berté Owen who urged her to try again. It was Meg’s resilience that turned Alison’s decision. It seems that despite her lungs being damaged due to having Hodgkin’s disease, Meg had become an avid cyclist and raised funds to fight cancer. Her death in 2009 as a result of the flu provided the impetus for Alison to take on Everest again. This time she engraved Meg’s name on her ice-ax and took on the challenge one more time. This time as she neared the summit, a storm approached. But Alison just knew she could make it to the top and return safely. Yes, she made it to the top of the world long enough to hold up a T-shirt reading “Team Meg.”

It was a talk that lasted just long enough and yet was both inspirational and refreshing.

Then it was a scamper to the cars, but it ran right on time with a finish time of 1:10.

JUST IN: Jonathan’s Place Adds Tiffany And Mark, Dirk And Jan And Trevor To “A Chance To Soar Luncheon” Namedropping Lineup

Simone Biles*

Boy, talk about name dropping! As if the Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar” luncheon on Tuesday, April 25, at the Hilton Anatole wasn’t gangbusters enough with Olympian Simone Biles as the featured speaker, an impressive array of nationally known locals have been added to the lineup.

According to Jonathan’s Place CEO Allicia Graham Frye, “We are so grateful to Tiffany and Mark Cuban for their continued support of Jonathan’s Place and are very proud to have them serve as honorary chairs for the luncheon this year.”  

In addition to Simone chatting it up with NBC 5’s Meredith Land, the following distinguished Jonathan’s Place supporters will be recognized:

  • Award of Compassion: Dirk Nowitzki (Dirk Nowitzki Foundation)
  • Award of Service: Dillard’s
  • Award of Excellence: Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones (Trevor Rees-Jones Foundation)

Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones (File photo)

While sponsorships are still available, folks who purchase tables at $2,500 will also receive tickets to a VIP reception and photo opp with Simone.

At this date the following sponsors have already signed up:

  • Champion Sponsor: Insperity and Mohr Partners
  • Hero Sponsor: Al G. Hill Jr.
  • Guardian Sponsors: Julie and Scott Bagley, Allison and John Carlisle, Tracy and Ben Lange, Macy’s, Larissa and Mitchell Milby, Kay Sim, Rachel and Brad Stephens, Strategic Dealer Services and Stacey and Reid Walker
  • Defender Sponsors: At Home, Dana and Brad Ayres, Barbie and Bill Borlaug, Keri Brookshire and Susan Mattox, Kimberly and Christopher Cocotos, ConnectThree, Serena Simmons Connelly, Suzie and Bunker Curnes, Mary and Ted Fredericks, Icon Partners, Amy Mahoney and Nikki Wolff, Jenny and Jason Lichty, Alexandra Lovitt, Beth Maultsby and Goranson Bain PLLC, Jennifer and Bradley Norris, Josephine C. Olson, Kerry and Don Peterson, Stephanie and Todd Phillips, Marcellene Malouf and Royal Furgeson, Julie and Eliot Raffkind, Katherine and Eric Reeves, Cordelia and David Rendall, Republic National Distribution Co., Randa and Doug Roach, Southern Enterprises LLC, Verner Brumley Mueller Parker PC, April and John Willingham and Linda and Ken Wimberly

Junior Leaguers Grand Slammed Milestones Luncheon With Awardees Caren Prothro, Linda McFarland And Venus Williams

The Junior Leaguers had pulled out all the guns for The Milestones Luncheon on Wednesday, November 16, at the Hilton Anatole. JLD President Bonner Allen and Luncheon Co-Chairs Amanda Shufeldt and Pat Prestidge had their over-the-top game plan in order, so they wisely booked the Chantilly Ballroom to accommodate the expected 1,500 guests.

Linda McFarland and Caren Prothro

And that game plan was built around some pretty heavy hitters — Linda McFarland would be presented as the Sustainer of the Year and Caren Prothro would receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, which has only been previously presented to Ruth Altshuler, Lindalyn Adams, Linda Pitts Custard and Lyda Hill. Needless to say, honoring these ladies alone could have sold out the luncheon ASAP.  

But then Bonner, Amanda and Pat wanted to complement the awardees with an equally prestigious speaker — tennis legend Venus Williams.

Still the event’s schedule was tight. Venus had to be out of there by 1 p.m. At first blush, it looked a little iffy. The VIP reception for the meet-and-greet started at 10:30 with organizers swearing Venus was “going to be here any minute” because she needed to leave by 11:15. By 10:41, the lineup for photos with the featured speaker was starting to extend beyond the cordoned-off area, but there was no Venus. A woman in white at a side entrance door was stationed to watch for her arrival. Just as the clock hit 10:54, Venus arrived. And it was so worth the wait.

While guests filled out forms, others handed off their purses and stood next to the towering 6’1″-tall tennis player, who was totally charming. She especially like Annika Cail’s necklace. But as every photo was taken, the lineup grew three-fold. Nevertheless, Venus’ posture and smile never wavered and she stayed past the 11:15 deadline.

Linda Secrest and Isabell Novakov

In the meantime, most of the men folk gathered at the other end of the room for coffee. Junior League Ball Chair Isabell Novakov reported that she was right on target for her March 4th fundraiser that will also take place in the Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom. The 55th anniversary gala will “showcase past Balls and bring back elements of our history as we celebrate the JLD’s 95th Anniversary.” Her goal is a whopping $1M.

But back to the day’s fundraiser. Finally, the event could wait no longer and the Wedgwood Room doors to the ballroom opened at 11:18 with guests being encouraged to head to their tables. Still Venus stayed for the final photo that was taken at 11:25 and then headed to the ballroom.

Ten minutes later, Mr. Big Voice was heard advising guests to sit with the infamous “the program will start momentarily.” Only instead of a five-minute warning, it truly was momentarily with the house lights dimming seconds later.

Pat Prestidge and Amanda Shufeldt

Emcee Shelly Slater arrived at the podium, did a selfie and told guests to start eating. After Rev. Stephen Swan provided the invocation, Shelly was back with some “housekeeping tips.” No, not the Heloise type that involved grout cleaning, but how the purchase of the centerpieces would also help get through the valet line faster.

Bonner Allen and Kittye Peeler

At 11:39 Amanda and Pat thanked all for supporting the event and were followed by Bonner and JLD Sustainer President Kittye Peeler, who presented Linda and Caren with their awards.

Just past noon, guests got to their meals. Wise move. That way the clatter of utensils hitting plates would be done when Venus had a chat with WFAA sportscaster Joe Trahan starting at 12:36.

Taking their places in easy chairs on stage, the two talked as if they were in a living room. Sounding at times like a starry-eyed groupie, Joe asked Venus about her relationship with her sister, Serena Williams. While Joe wanted to get into discussing tennis, Venus took a timeout to say “Hi to everyone” and told how much she had enjoyed meeting guests earlier in the day. Looking out into the audience, she added, “You guys looked absolutely fantastic. I want to go shopping with all of you. We’ll do at a later date. Next time it will be Junior League-Neiman Marcus.” Grand slam!

Venus Williams and Joe Trahan

Highlights of the conversation included:

  • Her winning her very first Wimbledon, six to three — “I did?…Okay. My first championship was born out of tragedy a bit.” She explained that back in 1999 when she and Serena were playing the U.S. Open, they were in the semi-finals, so they had the chance to meet in the finals. “I didn’t actually win my match, but I learned so much from that. It made me so hungry.” Off for a number of months due to injuries, she played at Wimbledon, “When I went there, I thought ‘This is my time. I’m the one.’ So, I went to that tournament knowing I was going to win. I’ve got to say that I haven’t gone to another tournament with that same attitude, but it was just like you want to win your first one,  you want to cross over that line and it was just knowing that I was not going to walk away without that title that year.”  
  • What she does when she gets to that match point — “I just press the gas pedal. I love being at match point and at that point I just knew it was mine. It’s a privilege to be at match point. I try to live my whole life at that match point level.”
  • Venus Williams

    Winning the first title compared to subsequent ones — “It always changes. It’s never the same. I wish there was a special equation of ‘Now you do it this way. Here’s your formula. And there you go.’ But it’s not. Sometimes you’re torn; sometimes you’re off; sometimes you’re injured; you’re playing a different opponent; it might be windy; sometimes you’re confident; sometimes you’re not. But it’s never the same formula. I think the next year I played, I ended up playing someone who was an upstart and got to the final. And then, of course, you don’t want to go there saying one of the best players in the world loses to someone you never heard of. It’s a whole different kind of pressure.”

  • Venus’ op ed piece on equal pay for men and women — “I never thought that I was going to be a part of equal rights. It wasn’t something that I was aware of as a young person that women weren’t paid the same as men. I grew up dreaming of winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and didn’t realize that it wasn’t equal until I got there. So, once I got there and I had an opportunity to be part of it, it was like you have to take a stance for something. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation. There was no grand plan, but it’s been wonderful for me because I’ve been able to follow the footsteps of people like Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King and that’s meant so much to me to be able to contribute more.”
  • Lessons that apply both to sports and business — “In sports, there is no win-win. There’s just win. But you figure out how to win. And it applies to teamwork. Of course, within your own organization, it’s about teamwork. It’s about collaboration and it’s also about setting goals and working toward them…That’s why sports is so amazing for young women because it gives them confidence. It gives them goals; it gives them focus. You feel good about yourself and about your body especially in a day when body image is so challenging. Instead of thinking about what you look like, you think about what your body is doing for you. It’s switching the focus…. But you also learn about losing. As much as you want to, you can’t always win. And loss is the biggest single teacher every single time. Even if you don’t want it to be.”
  • Venus Williams

    Her sister Serena — “I would never pass up an opportunity to play with Serena Williams in doubles. You can’t make that work. We love each other’s company.  We always buoy each other up. It’s awesome to play with someone that you feel confident in. Then you can do your job and you don’t have to feel like you have to carry them. You can relax a little bit more. And if you’re playing bad, you know they can carry you and vice versa. It’s an awesome partnership. We wish we could play every tournament because we love that dynamic, but that’s not possible. She’s really fun. I’ll have to bring her next time.”

  • Sisterhood — “A lot of cultures have their own thing about community. In West Africa, they have like a symbol where everyone is pushing everyone up a tree.  So, we’re always pushing each other up. And that part of pushing is also competing, but it doesn’t mean we have to be rivals. We can respect each other as competitors. Just as women, we have to always be supportive of each other because not only are we facing not an equal playing field, we can’t also fight each other. We also have to have that ‘good girls club.’ We have to all be good girls and get on board and support each other. If someone phones asking if you can be here, you don’t need to know why, you just say, ‘I’m there.’ I love to win. It’s fun. I also love to see other people win, other people be successful. I love to see women be powerful. There is nothing more amazing than seeing a powerful woman. It’s intimidating actually to see someone so amazing, so beautiful, so gracious just kicking butt.”
  • Failure — “It’s an important, unfortunately but fortunately, motif in my career. Failure has always motivated me and taught me a lesson. When you fall back down, you’ve got to get right back up again. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is part of your success. If you’re not failing, that means you’re doing too safe or you’re such an expert and amazing that you’re just not human…. The biggest failure to me is not learning from a loss.”
  • Motivation — “The biggest motivation in my tennis career has been my sister outside of mom and dad. I wouldn’t have picked up a racket if it hadn’t been for them. But Serena taught me how to be tenacious and strong. She was just naturally so competitive and so courageous and fearless. And I was, ‘Okay, I’ve got a talent, but I hadn’t grown that heart yet.’ Remember how the Grinch had that little tiny heart? And at the end the heart got big and he became this amazing person. Well, that’s kind of what happened to me in sports. I didn’t push myself enough. You have to throw your whole body even if you’re faced with a firing squad. It doesn’t matter if you go down  on a stretcher, you won the match and die on the spot. But if that’s what it takes, that what it takes.  So, I kind of had to learn that and she showed me that. I’m eternally grateful to her because I would have been a great player who never crossed the line.”
  • Venus Williams and Joe Trahan

    Motivation in business — “My dad always encouraged us to be entrepreneurs. He encouraged us to work for ourselves. He encouraged us to get our education. He said, ‘I’m not raising some athletes here.’ Sometimes we took advantage of that by saying, ‘Dad, we have a lot of homework today.’ He’d say, ‘Okay, then we’ll cut the court short today.’ We didn’t do that too often, or he would have caught on.  He was a Renaissance man. Growing up, we’d be going to tennis tournaments and he’d be playing a tape about foreclosures. We didn’t understand it, but it was a mentality. When you’re eight years old, if you understand a foreclosure you’re probably not doing it again. It just set us up to be confident and to think for ourselves, which is super-important for a female athlete, especially a female tennis player because you’re going pro so young and there are all these outside forces that can stumble you and you can become a statistic really fast. There are also a lot of parents who stumble their own children by not allowing them to make their own decisions and grow up to be independent and strong. Our parents were a keen influence on all of that.”

  • Being in the National Museum of African American History and Culture — “I didn’t know I was in there…. That’s cool. I hope they don’t remove it.” She learned about it when friends sent her a picture of the exhibition.
  • Women in the future — She applauded what has been accomplished by women, and feels that in the future it’s important to have men come on board. “Unfortunately in this world, there is always something to conquer, but fortunately there are groups like the Junior League that are in it to win, and I appreciate your having me here today.”
  • Adversity in her life that she’s grateful for — “Wow! That’s deep. Any challenge, I don’t question it. For me it’s about being able to live with how I deal with it and being able to deal with it on my own terms. And coming out with what I can do to win and being able to regulate it and live with it that way. That’s enough for me.”
  • Her proudest accomplishment — “Two things I would say: Being able to look with no regrets, and also looking back and saying I enjoyed it.”
  • Volunteering in Compton — This past November she and her family kicked off the Yetunde Price Resource Center in Compton, California, for families suffering from violence. Her older sister Yetunde Price was killed in 2003 in a drive-by shooting. The opening and support of the center allows Venus and her family to come full circle. “It was a super healing experience for my whole family to come back to Compton and to do that. We ended up going back to the court that we practiced on a lot. I got so emotional. It was so surreal. When we got there, all those things that happened. I loved that whole experience…Serena talked about the foolish things we did.”
  • Final words — “I love Dallas and thank you for allowing me to be a part of it [the luncheon]. I love the things that you’re doing on all levels. I look forward to the next chapter and coming back if you’ll have me.”

    Venus Williams and Joe Trahan

Finishing up just before 1 p.m., Joe proved to be a typical dad and Venus fan asking for a selfie with Venus for his daughters. Without hesitation Venus flashed that constant smile and accommodated Joe.

Interactive Artist/Activist Candy Chang Blended Art And Healing For Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 31st Luncheon

To compare last year’s Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 30th Annual Luncheon to this year’s was like comparing a trophy wife to a first wife.

Sure, the 2016 version had Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria at the podium, an A+ meet-and-greet structure, life was good and the economy was marching along. But this year’s Annual Luncheon on Friday, October 21, at the Hilton Anatole had a different set of challenges. The economy was antsy; nerves were on edge perhaps due to the political bickering; and frills of the past were toned down to satisfy the need to meet the bottom line.

Dallas Women’s Foundation President/CEO Ros Dawson admitted that they had considered a six-figure type when petite urban artist/activist Candy Chang appeared at a conference that Ros attended. With the July 7th shooting in Dallas and the luncheon Co-Chairs/art champions Joyce Goss and Selwyn Rayzor at the helm, Ros just knew they had a perfect match — their keynote speaker blending art and advocacy together … and an on-target budget.

Joyce Goss, Candy Change, Selwyn Rayzor, Ellenore Baker and Ros Dawson

Joyce Goss, Candy Change, Selwyn Rayzor, Ellenore Baker and Ros Dawson

That tightening of the budget was paramount since establishing the Unlocking Leadership Campaign goal of $50M. It was a daunting challenge to raise that type of money.  Still, thanks to sponsors like U.S. Trust, the DWF mission of investing in women and girls and empowering women’s philanthropy to build a better world forged ahead.

But the day started off with the meet-and-greet in the Anatole’s Wedgwood Room. It had all the signs of being a repeat of last year’s flawless grip-and-grin. There was a cordoned-off area for guests to have their photos taken with Candy. There were cards to be provided to guests as they arrived to hand over when their photo opp took place. There was even the metal ring on which the cards were to be placed to help identify who was in each photo. The only thing missing was the (wo)manpower to make things happen.

Candy Chang and Regina Montoya

Candy Chang and Regina Montoya

Unlike last year’s photo opp, with one person to receive the card at the line up and another to take a handbag to the exit area, there was just one person who stayed at the exit. Some guests made it to the cordoned-off area with cards filled out, but most showed up at the exit with no card. Evidently, the cards were only sporadically being handed out and some folks didn’t realize there was a meet-and-greet taking place. There were times when Candy just stood like the last gal picked at a boy-ask-girl dance. But Candy was a good sport and stayed with a smile on her lips and an artistic tattoo on her right arm.

Just outside the Chantilly Ballroom, the lobby was highlighted by large panels headlined with “A better world is …”  The panels would be put to full use after the luncheon.

In the Chantilly Ballroom, organizers admitted that the luncheon headcount was down from 2015’s 1,800—if you call 1,300 down. But the money count was ahead of plan.

Kaleta Doolin

Kaleta Doolin

Joyce and Selwyn welcomed the group including Dallas Women’s Foundation Board Chair Ellenore Baker, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Paige Flink, Nancy Ann Hunt, Rex Thompson, Robin Bagwell, Wendy Messmann, Regina Montoya and 2017 Dallas Women’s Foundation Luncheon Chair Lisa Singleton, telling them the presentation by Candy would offer hope and healing. They told of the cards at the tables that could be filled out and placed on the lobby’s panels following Candy’s talk. They added that even before the doors of the ballroom were opened, more than a million dollars had been brought in.

After they recognized Honorary Chair/artist Kaleta Doolin, a powerful video was shown about the challenges facing a single mother in need of help.

p1210391Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Paula and Ron Parker and Trea Yip were on stage to stir up the Foundation’s fundraising campaign. Over $30,793,000 had been raised, but they wanted to match the 31st anniversary by hitting the $31M mark. If folks texted to #betterworld, they could make a donation to meet the goal. Immediately cellphones were pulled out on stage and in the audience to provide the funds.

Trea Yip and Ashlee Kleinert

Trea Yip and Ashlee Kleinert

On the screen, the names of donors like Clay Jenkins and Sandra Brown were shown. And while texting may still be like hieroglyphics to some, this one caused consternation even among the savvy types. There seemed to be problem that became a topic during the luncheon.

No problem. Soon Mother Ros was on stage explaining the hiccup. It seems that some folks had put a space between “better” and “world” and heaven knows where the money was going. But not to worry. The DWF braintrust had already taken care of the misdirected funds. With a sigh of relief, the cellphones were out again and successful donations were made. Whew!

Ros Dawson

Ros Dawson

Following a film, Ros invited people to keep talking as she spoke. And that is exactly what they did. Between the chatter and the clatter of the forks on plates, the folks especially in the back of the room missed her telling of the $31K anonymous donation that had just been made in honor of the 31st anniversary, helping the texting amount to $72K at that moment. They also could hardly hear Ros describing the great need to “harness the heart of this community to address the deep divide of race, class and gender.” It was for this need to bring people together that the decision had been made to bypass a big-name celeb and go for a peaceful and thoughtful activist like Candy Chang as the keynote speaker.

As Candy took the stage, the noise level in the room had decreased thanks to the winding down of the meal. With the help of the massive screens around the room, Candy told of her journey as a community activist and artist in New Orleans and the turning point that led her to create an international movement as well as become a TED Senior Speaker. It was the death of “Joan,” who had been so influential throughout Candy’s life. Her death had been sudden and unexpected. Candy went through a period of grief and depression.  She discovered an abandoned house in her neighborhood and decided to use it as a canvas. Painting one of its walls black like a chalkboard, she wrote on it, “Before I die, I want to…” Pretty soon the wall was filled with all types of comments reflecting on the authors’ lives. The wall allowed a coming together of feelings, dreams and concerns among the people. This one wall of words caught on like wildfire throughout the world. Today there are more than 2,000 “Before I die…” walls internationally. Each wall is unique to its own community.

Speaking of her own success, she admitted that she owed it “to the generosity of others who stepped in and caught me at that critical moment when I questioned whether I had the capacity or the confidence to try something new.”

She was especially moved by the day’s program, and hoped that the audience would pay it forward in providing support and empowerment for girls and women on their journeys.

Before concluding her talk, she added that all people have mental health issues like sorrow, anxiety, stress, etc.: “These feelings easily escalate to more intense conflicts like addiction or depression or self-destruction.”  As a result, she created an interactive exhibit in which writers anonymously confessed their feelings. One such confession read: “I’m afraid I’ll die alone.”

This sense of coming together to heal led her to her latest project — Atlas of Tomorrow in Philadelphia.

It is a huge interactive mural with a 6-foot dial which people are invited to spin to possibly resolve challenges or issues facing them. The number on which the spinner stops leads them to one of 64 stories taken from I Ching, one of the world’s oldest books of wisdom. The hope is to provide “a place to pause and try and make sense of our lives together,” according to Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Executive Director Jane Golden.  

But despite the huge project in Philadelphia and the worldly influence, Candy’s message was felt on a smaller plain. As guests left the ballroom, they let it be known that they had gotten Candy’s message by filling the panels in the lobby completing the line, “A better world is…” One read, “A better world is … because of the Dallas Women’s Foundation.”  Said others: ” … full of compassion,” ” … kind,” ” … possible.”  Those panels were not just for show. Their future lay at being positioned throughout the city including at NorthPark Center, Southwest Center Mall, The Stewpot Talent Show at Encore Park and The Stewpot.  

BTW, thanks to texting and generosity, the Foundation hit its $31M mark. Now, only $19M to go!

2016 Cattle Baron’s Ball Made Some Tweaks To The POA Resulting In An Over-The-Top Fundraiser With Dwight Yoakam And Toby Keith

The 2016 Cattle Baron’s Ball redefined the words Texas Proud on Saturday, October 15, at Gilley’s. Despite the MIA of Rogers, Hunts, Simmons and all the legendary names of giving, other philanthropists rose to the occasion of fighting cancer with funding.

Andrea Weber, DwightYoakmam and Cara French

Andrea Weber, DwightYoakmam and Cara French

In spite of Co-Chair Andrea Weber having given birth just two weeks earlier and Co-Chair Cara French having been hit by the making-the-rounds stomach virus, their game plan and committee of 100 rose to the occasion and impressed even the hard-to-impress oldtimers.  

Perhaps it was due to some rearranging of thangs. First of all, the decision was made to have two headliners perform — Dwight Yoakam on the Live Auction Stage and Toby Keith on the Andrews Distributing Main Stage. In the past, the evening had centered around one big name performer like Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney on the Main Stage. This move was smart…very smart.

Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam

Another change in POA was having the VIP party take place in South Side Ballroom with the swells having their own private 30-minute concert provided by Dwight. In the meantime, the general admission types grazed on never-ending vittles, checked out the silent auction and rode the Ferris wheel. One Dwight devotee general admission guest was asked if he was disappointed about missing out on the private performance. His response, after he finished chewing a mouthful of food, was, “Heck, no. We’re having too much fun eating!”

At 7 p.m., the doors to the ballroom were open for all to catch the rest of Dwight’s performance.

Okay, so that’s what was going on publicly. Behind the scenes, just before Dwight went on stage, the VVIPs found themselves queuing up among the catering staff for their photo opp with Dwight. Behind the curtain, all was set up for a quick grip-and-grin including a box for the photogs to use. Seems Dwight prefers that arrangement. One onlooker suggested that it might be due to Dwight’s extra weight. Nah!

As the VVIPs lined up, word was passed that Dwight was present. He accommodated one and all except for one photographer’s request: “Could you raise your hat?” Dwight smiled and said, “No. People don’t want to see my eyes.”

But everybody wanted to see Dwight on stage and he did not disappoint one iota. Playing all his hits—from “Little Ways” and “Fast as You” to “Ain’t That Lonely Yet”—Dwight also performed several songs in tribute to the late Merle Haggard. Thanks to his performance, the energy was in “skyrocket drive.” Even the stuffiest types found themselves being part of the mosh pit.

Hal Brierley, Kent Rathbun, Diane Brierley, Kevin Garvin, Dean Fearing, Nick Barclay and Jim Severson

Hal Brierley, Kent Rathbun, Diane Brierley, Kevin Garvin, Dean Fearing, Nick Barclay and Jim Severson

Amy Turner and Stephen Ratchford

Amy Turner and Stephen Ratchford

It was the perfect warm-up for the live auction that took place almost seconds after Dwight and his crew left the stage. And what a live auction it was.

Hal Brierley hinted that he and wife Diane Brierley just might take a pass on the Smokin’ Chefs’ Silver Anniversary Dinner this year. They had already bought five or six in the past. Diane smiled. Perhaps Hal was doing a fake pass. Indeed! With chefs Kent Rathbun, Dean Fearing, Nick Barclay, Jim Severson, Kevin Garvin, David Holben and Richard Chamberlain on stage, the Brierley got into a bidding war with blonde, turquoise-wearing Amy Turner. Kent and the boys were determined to kick the final tab past the six-figure mark. After a brief huddle, the boys agreed to sell two dinners for $75,000 each. Someone recalled that this solution had taken place in past years, with the two dinners hitting the $100,000 mark.

Lisa Cooley

Lisa Cooley

Last year’s dinner co-winner Lisa Cooley had already won her party night earlier in the auction, by picking up the Texas-Sized Party At Gilley’s for 200, complete with Rivers And Rust, for $55,000. When asked how she planned to use the party time, she held up her two hands flashing five fingers on each. Hello? Come again. She’s going to use it for her upcoming 55th birthday.

Gail and Cliff Fischer

Gail and Cliff Fischer

The Bring Out The Big Guns! Package got a standing ovation, thanks to the presentation by Stand 2 Armory team made up of former Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Green Berets and Dallas SWAT, who would provide a day of shooting all types of machine guns for seven people. Said one of the guys, hyping the package: “Nothing says America more than guns, explosions, and curing cancer!” It went for $82,000.

But the big OMG number of the night was dropped by Cliff Fischer. He hit the $100K mark with a Texas-sized smile for the Steak You Claim On A Night With The Boys…. the boys being Troy Aikman, Charles Haley, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Darren Woodson and the steaks being courtesy of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. Seems that Cliff bought the package last year, held it at his mansion-sweet-mansion, flew in folks from around the country and had one heck of a great time. This time he’s planning on doing it even bigger and better.

The bidding was so impressive that credit card companies were reeling from the numbers coming out of Dallas.

Of course, there was a bargain or two. For instance, Swiss explorer Johan Ernst Nilson told the crowd that the last time his Bhutan Adventure was put up for auction, it went for $170,000. Guess Dallasites aren’t into trekking through “the happiest place on Earth.” It was picked up for a measly $38,000.  

Mary C. Corrigan

Mary C. Corrigan

Andrea Nayfa, Dawn Greiner, Nancy Gopez and Kris Johnson

Andrea Nayfa, Dawn Greiner, Nancy Gopez and Kris Johnson

Brook Hortenstine and Paige Westhoff

Brook Hortenstine and Paige Westhoff

Samantha Wortley and Bina Patel

Samantha Wortley and Bina Patel

And that was just a snapshot of the live auction that ran right on schedule thanks to the Baronesses ringing those cowbells and auctioneers Wendy Lambert and Amy Assiter running a tight ship. In fact it finished early, so the folks could get back for seconds of food or hit the casino games that made Choctaw looked like a bingo parlor.

Luke Lange

Luke Lange

Toby Keith and gals in blue

Toby Keith and gals in blue

That was just enough time to amble next door to the bigger-than-a-small-town tent for Toby Keith on the Andrews Distributing Main Stage. Behind the scenes, the VVIPs lined up for a grip-and-grin with Toby. Despite the line seeming never to end, Toby howdy-ed everyone and even signed cancer-survivor Luke Lange’s cowboy hat.

Just after the last couple posed with Toby and he was headed to the stage, someone noted a couple of Dallas police standing nearby. Shoot! What was one more photo? Toby liked the idea and so did his crew and so did the policewomen. Picture snapped and Toby was on his way.

Like Dwight, Toby didn’t disappoint. It was as if more than 3,000 had all overdosed on Red Bull.

Toby Keith

Toby Keith

Still another change in operation this year was the line of security types stoically seated in front of the stage facing the thousands. This arrangement helped prevent a mosh pit from taking place and blocking the view of the peeps sitting at tables upfront.

And speaking of “change,” the CBB abacuses are still counting up the amount that will be put on the check to support cancer research and development.

2017 CBB Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill have their work cut out for them, and they love the challenge. It’s gonna be hard to improve on this one.

For more photos from the night’s fun(d)raising, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2016 Cattle Baron’s Ball

Toby Keith

Toby Keith

With a few adjustments to the usual POA, the 2016 Cattle Baron’s Ball was a blowout hit for the 3,000+ at Gilley’s on Saturday, October 15. But then how could you miss with Dwight Yoakam kicking things off and Toby Keith keeping the momentum going? Even Mother Nature played nicely, so the view of downtown Dallas from the top of the Ferris wheel was spectacular.

Megan Flanagan, Jamie Jo Hayes, Karen James, Stacey Relton, Merrick Huckin, Annika Cail and Elizabeth Fischer

Megan Flanagan, Jamie Jo Hayes, Karen James, Stacey Relton, Merrick Huckin, Annika Cail and Elizabeth Fischer

No wonder the live auction rocked with those baronesses exercising those cowbells and revving up the lively auction

While the post is being prepared, check out the baronesses and buckaroos at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery

Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon Speaker Ronan Farrow Described Domestic Violence as A Form Of Terrorism Within The Home

Noontime on Tuesday, October 4, had something for everyone. But, alas, along with the plethora of choices, decisions had to be made. For more than a thousand, the answer was The Family Place’s 2016 Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.

After all, Luncheon Co-Chairs Lisa and Marvin Singleton had arranged for an all-star lineup — honorees Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Dallas Cowboys First Daughter Charlotte Jones Anderson and Dallas Police Chief David Brown along with Honorary Co-Chairs Pat and Emmitt Smith and keynote speaker Ronan Farrow.

With that cast of headliners, it was understandable that some didn’t make it. They had very good excuses. Pat Smith was with her dad, who was undergoing surgery, and since it was his last day as Dallas police chief David Brown was back at headquarters spending his last few hours with his comrades.

But the MIAs were hardly noticed in the VIP meet-and-greet with loads of guests including Lynn and Allan McBee (he’s been rehearsing with the Dallas Opera), Ros Dawson, Underwriting Co-Chair Carol Seay and Phyllis Comu who reported that she relieved not to be waking up in the middle of night in preparation for last month’s Fur Ball.

At 11:10 the man-of-the-hour Ronan slipped and looked like any very cool 20-something. But among this stiletto and silk skirt crowd that type of fella couldn’t make it by totally unnoticed, so word quickly made the rounds the “he” was in the room.

Sure, he had famous genes, but on his own Ronan had accomplished so much in his 28 years. Having graduated from college at the age of 15 and was accepted by Yale Law School at when he was 16. He deferred attendance “to work as special adviser to former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.” Ronan did earn his law degree before he was 24. Named a Rhodes Scholar in 2012, he was leaving after the luncheon for Oxford London to defend his dissertation on violence. And that was just a smidgen of his credentials.

Regarded by many within the national media as the spokesperson for the millennial generation, he was asked his opinion if the flood of aging baby boomers might overwhelm the millennials. Without hesitation, Ronan didn’t hesitate and responded, “We don’t have the problems that say China has. There are a lot of parts in the world where there’s going to be this massive imbalance of generations and it’s going to cause all sorts of social tension. I think we’re going to be okay in the United States.”

Marvin and Lisa Singleton, Ronan Farrow, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Marvin and Lisa Singleton, Ronan Farrow, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Ronan Farrow, Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Ronan Farrow, Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Then taking his place in front of The Family Place backdrop, Ronan looked a bit bewildered by the grip-and-grin setup. One photographer had the VIP type shot in front of the backdrop and a second one would have step to the far left to be shot in front of a curtain. The explanation was that a lot of the media didn’t want shots in front the sponsor board. Oh.

At times the meet-and-greet seemed a bit unorganized. Unlike other photo opps where one staffer/volunteer stood at the front of the line advising guests to place their purse on the table and move quickly, this one was a little more casual. While the lineup of guests waiting their turn for a photo with Ronan stretched the length of the room, some were a little surprised to see others standing nearby and hopping into additional photos “with friends.” Wonder if Emily Post had a section on cutting in line?

Nevertheless, Ronan showed his cool factor and good naturedly went with the flow. However, he did perk up like a kid when he saw Charlotte approach. They hugged and he congratulated her on the award. Then they posed for photos with Emmitt Smith adding to the cool factor.

Erin Young Garrett, Cindy North and Angela Batra

Erin Young Garrett, Cindy North and Angela Batra

As the photo session wound down, guests headed to the Chantilly Ballroom. Snapshots around the room: Cindy North was taking a break from being with her dad at UT Southwestern following a double lung transplant. She was lunching with her plan Erin Young Garrett and Angela Batra … 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill reported that they were focusing on the next ten days of supporting 2016 CBB Co-Chairs Cara French and Andrea Weber’s American Cancer Society fundraising on Saturday, October 15, at Gilley’s… and others including Annette Simmons, Anita Arnold, Sandy Chapman, Kimber Hartmann, Kelli and Jerry Ford, Joyce Fox, Sally Hoglund and Distinguished Co-Chair Julie Turner.

Kelli and Jerry Ford

Kelli and Jerry Ford

Annette Simmons and Anita Arnold

Annette Simmons and Anita Arnold

Sune Solomon and Anne Stodghill

Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill

Joyce Fox

Joyce Fox

The guests settled down because they had a full agenda starting off with Lisa and Marvin welcoming the guests, Rev. Abe Cooper Jr. of Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church providing the invocation and a video address by Mayor Mike Rawlings “officially welcoming” and thanking attendees for supporting The Family Place and recognizing the honorees and his hero The Family Place CEO Paige Flink.

Following the video, Paige provided a state of the union for the organization that has been on the forefront of providing assistance for victims of domestic abuse. Among the developments is the new 40,000-square-foot Ann Moody Place that is currently under construction. It has been specifically designed for victims of family violence. Among the many offerings that Paige listed, it was interesting to note that the facility’s ability to accept family pets received applause from the audience. It seems, according to Paige that there are families that will not seek help if it means leaving their pet behind.

Paige Flink, James Dondero and Sally Hoglund

Paige Flink, James Dondero and Sally Hoglund

She then reported that they were in the final $2.8M stretch of their capital campaign’s goal of $16.5M. This news was a perfect lead in for the introduction of Highland Capital Management Co-Founder/President Jim Dondero, who announced “the firm has awarded a $1-million challenge grant to help The Family Place raise the final $2.8 million for its Legacy Campaign in the next six months.”

In other words as Paige explained, Highland Capital Management was offering $1M, if The Family Place could raise $2M. Immediately, Paige told all to pull out their phones and instructed on how to submit their donation. The place looked like a Pokemon Go convention.

After lunch, Paige was back at the podium with ugly statistics about domestic abuse including 158 women killed in the state of Texas. That was an increase of almost 20% over 2015. On the screen were the names of 16 women, who were murdered in Dallas and Collin counties. None of these women had services at The Family Place.

Recent developments by The Family Place have been the opening of a counseling facility in McKinney and on Sunday, October 30, the state’s first shelter for men will be opened. In the past, The Family Place has had to put these male victims of domestic abuse in hotels which was not therapeutic nor cost effective.

In recognition of those making a difference, the awards were presented with Major Alfred Diorio of the Domestic Violence Unit standing in for Chief Brown.

Marvin Singleton, Alfred Diorio and Lisa Singleton

Marvin Singleton, Alfred Diorio and Lisa Singleton

In accepting her award as Texas Trailblazer of the Year, Charlotte eloquently told how the Cowboys and the NFL were taking the situation of domestic abuse to heart. As part of their effort, she has had Paige involved in working with the Dallas Cowboys to “face this issue together.”

It was then time for Ronan to speak to the group and that he did. He started of saying, “I am very, very nerdy.” Highlights of his talk were:

Ronan Farrow

Ronan Farrow

  • His visiting The Family Place that morning and talking with a hotline operator by the name of Maria. She told him that it is sometimes so hard to get callers to openly speak about their abusive situation. “They say they’re only being yelled at, when in fact what’s happening is brutal abuse.”
  • He came to the lunch in two respects: “As a reporter who has tried in earnest to cover this issue and also, of course, I come to you as a sibling and as a son, whose life has been profoundly shaped by family abuse. In both respects I’ve seen two things. One, how far we have come and how the conversation around this issue is changing. And, two, how much farther we still have to go.”
  • Charlotte Jones Anderson: “It is fitting that The Family Place is honoring Charlotte Jones Anderson here today. She has been at the center of the firestorm over the league [NFL]. But she has also been in the transformation of how they approach this issue. I was talking with her about it yesterday and saying that I was going to mention some of my reporting on this. And she told me that, ‘You know the media often exclusively focuses on the negative and not progress being made. I work at basic cable. This is not news to me. She’s right. There is progress.”
  • His own family experiences: “It was also two years ago in that same time frame (during the Ray Rice episode) that my sister Dylan Farrow wrote about her own experiences with domestic abuse alleging that our father Woody Allen had groomed her as a young girl with inappropriate touching and had eventually sexually assaulted her when she was seven years old. It’s a story not unlike experienced by women at the shelter I was at today. Whether you are famous or live a completely private life, whether you are rich or poor, I learned firsthand that this can happen in any family.”
  • The media’s treatment of Dylan’s story: “At the time, many newspapers refused to run my sister’s story. She tried to speak out, but the issue was just too hot and editors told me privately the alleged perpetrator was just too powerful for them to touch it. Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and a longtime advocate for victim’s rights, put it on his blog. Soon afterwards The Times gave her alleged attacker twice the space and a prime position in the print version of their paper. It laid bare just how differently we treat vulnerable accusers, particularly women, as opposed powerful men who stand accused. After she went public, too, my sister faced a campaign of shaming, of character assassination orchestrated by our father’s powerful PR firm. Those around her, my mother, me were tarred as well though we weren’t involved…just easy targets. This is one reason why so many families stay silent for so long. And why so many abuse survivors find themselves left all alone. At the time… I hate to admit it, but I even hesitated and kept as quiet as long outside of a single brief statement of support for my sister. And my sister had to look on as the press quickly swept her story under the rug. She was retraumatized by every lifetime achievement award, every golden profile. But in Hollywood as well something began to change. Just a few days after my sister’s story ran, Gawker used that story as their lead in reviving another set of allegations against another beloved comedy icon, Bill Cosby. What followed were two years of painful cultural re-examination about how we talk about this issue, about how we confront abuse when the alleged perpetrator is powerful. So much so that when the Hollywood Reporter ran the latest of those glowing profiles this year, people were actually angry. The tone changed. Women especially, but increasingly as often men, too. And when the Hollywood Reporter approached me asking for a follow-up assessing the issue as a reporter and as a member of that family, I finally made the tough choice to embrace speaking out about this as well.
  • Current situation: “My sister and my mother still face public shaming. My own Twitter feed is still razed by daily death threats from angry fans. But there is also an outpouring of support by thousands of people saying, ‘I have been there, too. My family has been there, too.’”
  • The future: “There is more to be done, but how far we have come. Domestic abuse is not an NFL problem. It is not a Hollywood problem. It is an American problem. It is a global problem. And it is an urgent one. As all of us in this country lived out the shock and the horror of The Pulse nightclub shootings this past summer, we learned that the murderer had beaten his wife, as had the gunman behind the fatal hostage crisis in Sydney two years ago. In fact 16% of perpetrators in mass shootings between 2009 and 2015 had previously been charged with some kind of domestic violence.
  • Terrorism: “These acts are a form of terrorism. They are the embodiment of the worst and most destructive human impotence to control others through fear and violence. And with other forms of terrorism, allowing this one to fester hurts and threatens all of us. It threatens our cultural integrity, our ability to insure all of our freedom. That’s why I felt I had that obligation to speak here today in support of my own family and to try to keep the conversation going whatever small way I can through my reporting.” But speaking is not enough. We all know that.”
  • The Family Place website: “It is so inclusive. Inclusive of the many LGBTQ youth who face abuse. Of the men who face abuse.”
  • His family: “Rewind for a moment to my childhood. I’m about 12 years old, sitting down for dinner at the family dinner table. To my left are Quincy and Isaiah, African American, both born to drug-addicted mothers in American inner cities. Across from me are Tam and Minh, both blind and adopted from Viet Nam and a teenager in mine, who has been with this family most of her life. She was adopted as a young girl. We are all having a heated debate as is usual the case at the Farrow family dinner table.  And Quincy goes, ‘Well, as a black woman…’ And Minh stops her and says, ‘Whoa, whoa, wait. Quincy is black?’ … Every night was like that. We were a mini-United Nations or, at least, a United Color. Fourteen siblings adopted from around the world and reflecting the world’s worst problems. Siblings with cerebral palsy, with polio, blind, paraplegic, learning disabled. The people I loved most in the world were the people the world left behind. Many had faced years of abuse before I ever met them or they became a part of my family. The kind of abuse that leaves scars physical and emotional that you can never outrun sometimes.”

In closing he told how Maria admitted that hardest things she has to tell a caller, “Sorry, but we’re full.” With that Ronan made one last plea for guests to support The Family Place in providing shelter. “When my mother started adopting kids in the 70s, people called her crazy. When she faced her most vicious attacks after my sister’s allegations more recently, they called our family a commune, a shelter, not a home. But my family was both a home and a shelter. And I am so deeply proud of that. I have been so grateful to have seen the value of giving someone shelter when they need it most. I cannot think of anything more powerful and precious to give someone.

Former First Twin/Author/”Today” Show Jenna Bush Hager Brought The Importance Of Family To Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

Despite a presidential debate taking place the night before, former First Twin Jenna Bush Hager had nary a question about politics at the meet-and-greet for Family Gateway’s “Gateway to Opportunity” on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

One guest at the meet-and-greet in Fair Park II Suite brought a a copy of Jenna’s “Our Great Big Backyard” that she had co-authored with her mom/former First Lady Laura Bush. Another guest also brought her daughter….well, sorta. Seems her daughter wanted to attend but couldn’t. So mom had a head cutout on a stick made of her daughter and held it proudly when she  had their picture taken with Jenna.

As folks lined up to be photographer with the “Today” contributing correspondent, someone noticed that co-author Laura Bush had arrived. Still Jenna was the Bush of the hour.

One event planner admitted amazement how accommodating Jenna was posing for cellphone selfies and flashing a homecoming queen smile for each shot.

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

And since Family Gateway is dedicated to help families, it was a family driven event. Co-Chair Paula Miltenberger managed to get shots of her boys (Bo Miltenberger and Brady Miltenberger), her mom (Dianne Bosler) and hubby (Bay Miltenberger) with Jenna. Co-Chair Tracy Lange also had photos taken of husband (Ben Lange), daughter (Livia Lange) and son (Luke Lange) with Jenna.

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

It was touching to have sisters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr at the luncheon. Their mother, the late Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss, founded Family Gateway to provide “supportive housing, access to early childhood development, after-school tutoring and mentoring” 30 years ago.

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

No sooner was there a last call for a photo with Jenna made, then she left to join the crowd in the Trinity Ballroom. As the guests began to leave the room, some mighty big and fine checks showed up from Matthews Southwest and Sammons Enterprises much to the delight of Family Gateway Executive Director Ellen Magnis.

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Inside the Dallas Ballroom, the guests (Honorary Co-Chairs Tracy and Kent Rathbun, Underwriting Co-Chairs Ciara Cooley and Lisa Cooley, Bela Piertrovic, Bianco Filio, Anne Davidson, Ana Carty, Ruth Altshuler, Lisa Troutt, Michael Faircloth, D’Andra Simmons, Gene Jones, Angie Kadesky, Missy Falchi, Jeanne Cox, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Jack Matthews, Scott Galbraith and Gina Betts with her longtime associate Joan Rose, who is retiring) were taking their places.

Emcee/WFAA co-anchor Ron Corning welcomed the crowd and had Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Susan Robb provide the invocation.

Anne Johnson

Anne Johnson

Following lunch, Ron introduce Family Gateway Chairman of the Board Anne Johnson, who told of a client, who was juggling a job, running a household and raising children. When Anne asked her how she was handling it all, the woman responded, “I’m doing great. I have a plan. At Family Gateway they treat me like an adult with respect. My kids see that and I feel for the first time that like I can do this.”

Ellen told how during the first 25 years, Family Gateway served approximately 55 families annually. Last year, it provided safe housing and services to almost 500 families. Of the families help, most are single mom situations. One of the differences of Family Gateway is that they have all types of families. Some have grandparents, single fathers with children and married couples with children. It will also accept boys of a certain age that most shelters will not take in resulting in the youths to be sent to a men’s shelter.

Ellen admitted that one of the frustrations facing Family Gateway is affordable housing for clients. However, she was pleased…no, more than pleased to announce a partnership with Matthews Southwest to develop such housing providing 336 units near the International Inland Port of Dallas in Hutchins.

Shanjula Harris

Shanjula Harris

As proof of their efforts, Tracy and Paula introduced former client/mother of three Shanjula Harris, who told how she rose from the darkest depths of her life as a mother unable to provide for her children thanks to the volunteers and staff at Family Gateway. She admitted that the hardest part was being scared alone. Thanks to Family Gateway, she was freed of that fear and was no longer alone. Today she has a place for her family, a job that she looks forward to and wants to make a difference in the world. “I hope I am living proof that you have made a difference. For those of you who have been a member of Family Gateway family, thank you for believing in me.”

Following a call to offer financial assistance, MetroPCS Director Ethan Stubbs reported that in addition to be the 2016 presenting sponsor, it had signed up for 2017. In addition to financial support for Family Gateway, they were also rolling up their sleeves to provide hands-on involvement on events throughout the year. He then introduced Jenna and went off script saying that he had put her most recent book — “Our Great Big Backyard” — to the test with his six children ranging from 18 months to 13 years. “We read the book and they stayed engaged the entire time which is not an easy thing to do.”

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

Before starting Jenna admitted that she cries at the drop of a hat. Throughout her talk, she teared up whether it was talking about her children, recognizing Shanjula for her testimonial, acknowledging Annette for creating Family Gateway and thanking those who have followed her lead.

But her message was one of how important the family was and the lessons that are handed down from generation to generation. Just as her grandfather, former President George “Gampy” H.W. Bush had learned about giving back from his mother. “He wrote about it in a letter in 1997, “Early on my mom gave us profound advice. It sounds simple now, but when I became President I knew just how sound it was — “Be honest; tell the truth; be kind.”

This message of compassion and giving back had really hit home with her since the birth of her two daughters — Mila Hager and Poppy Hager. As she recalled how fortunate her own daughters were to have been born with a home, loving parents and grandparents, with warm water for baths and rooms full of books, her voice choked. Her hope was that she could “teach them the luck that they were born, so they can spread luck to other kids who live in the same circumstances.”

At this point, she decided some comic relief was needed and brought the group up to date on her family.

  • “My mom is now commanding the ex-commander-in-chief to pick up his dirty towels and underwear.”
  • “My grandparents — Gampy and Gammy — are doing very well. You may have heard that my grandfather was sick several years ago and was hospitalized. It was actually Christmas Eve and we were in Richmond, Virginia, where my husband’s family lived. If you think this has been interrupted by emotion, you should have seen that meal when my parents called” to get to Houston “to say good-bye.” In the ride to the hospital, they all agreed they were not going to cry. They were going to upbeat. But Jenna, who was six months pregnant, Gampy touched her stomach and whispered, “The circle of life. I can’t wait to meet this baby.” The entire room broke down crying. While the rest of the family was prepared for the worst, Bush matriarch Barbara Bush knew he would pull through. “She’s known as the enforcer in our family. And when she speaks, we listen. She told him about all the things he had to look forward to — two great grandchildren being born, my dad’s library opening here in Dallas — and he had no choice but to live.”
  • Her dad (former President George W. Bush) has been working on his golf game and his art. “I just can’t believe he’s an artist.” According to Jenna, there was a period when he “would only communicate through his art.” He would send a sketch of an airplane saying “Flying to Arizona.” With a twinkle in her eye, she said that “Barbara (Jenna’s twin sister) and I were actually secretly worried about him.” When they would ask what time he would be landing, he would respond with the drawing of a clock. Jenna described that time, “We were playing Pictionary every day.” His art has moved from portraits to pets to landscapes and “now world leaders. If you haven’t seen his Putin, you really should.”
  • Describing her mom, who was seated nearby, she asked if anyone else in the audience had had a librarian for a mother. When one person responded, Jenna said to the woman, “So you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it seems like the fun would just never end.” In working with her mom on a new book about the national parks, Jenna described Laura as “a tedious editor. I don’t recommend you ever sending anything to her unless the grammar is absolutely perfect.”

Getting back to the day’s mission, she recalled how despite having earned her teaching certification, she still wasn’t prepared for 24-nine-year-olds or the poverty in inner city D.C. and west Baltimore… “No class could have taught me what to say to a child who had witnessed a stabbing on the way to school or comfort a young man who learned his father was going to jail. My kids were/are brilliant, but the odds are stacked against them like many of the kids from Family Gateway. They were hungry. Their parents were working multiple jobs to support them. And society in many ways dictates that they won’t be successful and they won’t graduate. I will say, though, that my sixth grade class from the school in Maryland not only all graduated from high school a couple of years ago, but they all 100% got into a college.”

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

In the fall of 2006 Jenna moved to Latin America and met Ana, a 17-year-old single mother with HIV AIDs. She, like Shanjula, talked about being alone and how supportive programs helped her. At the women’s conference, where Jenna met Ana, the young mother grabbed the microphone and said, “I want everyone to know that we are living with HIV. We are no longer dying from it. So, let’s make our lives matter. Let’s live to make a difference. Let’s make our lives count.” As a result, they met throughout Jenna’s nine months in Latin America resulting in the book, “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope” and her job with NBC’s “Today” show.

Ron returned to chat with Jenna and opened with, “So who do you think won last night’s debate?” (Laughter) Jenna responded, “I don’t think my mic is working.”

Jenna Bush Hager with "the boys"

Jenna Bush Hager with “the boys”

  • Young volunteers — When asked what got her into this service mode, she responded that it was by her parents’ example. Jenna then pointed out impressed she was by the “little boys,” who had been helping at the luncheon.
  • Teachers — She stressed the importance of today’s teachers and how they do much, much more than fulfill the requirements. “Show the teachers in your community that their job isn’t necessarily ‘cute,’ but it’s hard and it’s really, really important.”
  • Her job on “Today” — She was originally to cover education seven years ago, but it’s evolved to all subject matters. “Tomorrow I’m interviewing Reese Witherspoon.”
  • Cellphones — “It’s not just our kids looking down. Parents need to put their phones down and listen to their kids.”

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld Wasn’t The Only Entertainment Legend In The House For CitySquare’s “A Night To Remember”

It seemed like there were a lot of last minute arrivals at the Winspear on Saturday, September 10. And unlike the usual opera lovers and Broadway aficionados, this crowd was a more comfortably dressed type in jeans, sneakers and adorable sundresses. But it was CitySquare’s “A Night To Remember” with a double dose of comedian Jerry Seinfeld on stage. Yes, the first show had been a sell-out before the starting gun was even triggered. But somehow Co-Chairs Cindy and Scott Collier, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Kara and Ross Miller and Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins and Brandon Hawkins managed to get a second show at 9 p.m. and it was a done deal immediately, too!

Ross Miller, Scott Collier, Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Touchsteon-Hawkins and Wendy Messmann

Ross Miller, Scott Collier, Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins and Wendy Messmann

While the Winspear looked as filled as the State Fair’s Midway with photo booths, promos for the Del Frisco’s 5K Walk and Run and lines for the beverage bars, there were two behind-the-scenes activities underway.

One was in Hamon Hall, where in years past there had been a very seated dinner for patrons. Instead it was a filled-to-bulging-capacity cocktail party with curtained off arrangements of couches, open bars and music. It was here that the patrons learned that an incredible $1.3M had been earned so far by the event. Still they were hoping to top that marker by the end of the evening.

The other event was far more limited to the very top supporters. To gain access was harder than getting into a speakeasy next door to the temperance league. Once you passed muster, you were led down a long hallway leading to the bowels of the Winspear. Behind glass doors was a receiving room. Initially, there were just a handful of staffers and a man in a suit and tie. He was small in stature, but unbeknownst to others he was a giant in the entertainment industry. But more about him later.

As 100 people lined up on the other side of the glass door, Seinfeld entered the room. In a beautifully tailored suit and tie he introduced himself to the photographers and discussed the plans. It was obvious that he was an old hand at meet-and-greets and immediately agreed to the POA and set up. The little man stood on the sidelines. This was definitely not his first rodeo at grip-and-grinning, nor working with Seinfeld. But still he took everything in, monitoring the situation like a mother hawk watching her chick.

Jerry Seinfeld and Brenda and Larry James

Jerry Seinfeld and Brenda and Larry James

Jerry Seinfeld and Farrai and Steve Smith

Jerry Seinfeld and Farrai and Steve Smith

Jerry Seinfeld and Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

Jerry Seinfeld and Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

Jerry Seinfeld and Kara and Ross Miller

Jerry Seinfeld and Kara and Ross Miller

Then the doors opened and the crowd including Brenda and CitySquare’s Larry James and Farrai and Steve Smith queued up for a howdy-and-handshake with Seinfeld. The comedian was smooth and gracious. He directed a couple of dozen arrangements, positioning the female guest in the middle between him and her escort. Nick Sowell admitted that he was more than nervous in meeting Seinfeld. But it happened so fast that the jitters didn’t have time to cause a problem.

Bailey Balderson, Ella Jay, Merritt Jay, Jerry Seinfeld, David Siburt, Tyler Gaylor, Katie Siburt and Hanna Pool

Bailey Balderson, Ella Jay, Merritt Jay, Jerry Seinfeld, David Siburt, Tyler Gaylor, Katie Siburt and Hanna Pool

When a gaggle of kids arrived for a group shot, he shook each one’s hand. He advised an adorable blonde tyke to provide a firmer handshake. When an extra photo was taken of the kids, the little man urged the photographers to move on.

When the final photo was taken, Seinfeld bid farewell and disappeared through a door. No muss, no fuss.

Sunie Solomon

Sunie Solomon

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert

Emilie Gioia, Jane Rozelle and Bob and Kathleen Rozelle

Emilie Gioia, Jane Rozelle and Bob and Kathleen Rozelle

Out in the lobby as notice was alerting the full house to move into the hall, guests like Sunie and Steve Solomon, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Jane Rozelle with her bud Emilie Gioia, and Jane’s folks Kathleen and Bob Rozelle arrived.

As Seinfeld took the stage for the first show of the night, raising the roof with laughter, the behind-the-scenes story was starting to sink in. The diminutive gent was far more than a friend accompanying the legendary comedian. He was George Shapiro, whose life and input in the entertainment industry was the type that others just imagine or dream of experiencing.

George Shapiro*

George Shapiro*

Sure, his uncle is Carl Reiner and his cousin is Rob Reiner, but George was his own man. He was the wizard behind the showbiz curtain.

After graduating from the New York University, he and his childhood best friend Howard West got jobs in the William Morris mailroom. As George told Deadline Hollywood,“We were best friends and partners since we were 8. Old people don’t usually remember things so well, but I still have a vivid memory of him sitting alone in the schoolyard on his first day at P.S. 80 in the Bronx. I asked him to play basketball, and we just stayed as friends. We went to the movies every Saturday, we read comic books together and we chipped in to buy one car, a 1940 Olds called the Cream Puff. It needed a lot of work — that’s why we had to work so hard as busboys and waiters, always together.”

Soon George worked his way up to being an agent. One of his early assignments was to accompany a young singer to the Ed Sullivan Show. The singer was Elvis Presley.

Eventually he and Howard headed to Los Angeles and broke off on their own forming Shapiro/West Productions resulting in Emmys, Peabodys and Golden Globes.

As Jerry Oppenheimer said, “It was in Hollywood that Shapiro made a name for himself, ‘handling deals for Steve Allen; introducing new talent like Bill (Jose Jiminez) Dana, overseeing the creation of ‘That Girl,’ the long-running Marlo Thomas sitcom and discovering a range of talent from Jim Nabors to Andy Kaufman.”

It was in 1980 that George and Howard took in a show at The Comedy Store featuring a young comedian. The two were immediately struck by the youngster’s talent. Yup, you guessed it. The comedian was Jerry Seinfeld. The trio hit it off. So much so, they ended up becoming the executive producers of “The Jerry Seinfeld Show.”

After nine years on air and still growing in popularity, the network approached them with a deal that would result in $5M per episode for 22 episodes. Despite the mindboggling offer, Seinfeld wanted out. According to George, the trio went for a walk in Central Park and Jerry explained, “You know, as a standup comedian, you know, you feel you’re getting a standing ovation. And that’s the time to leave. You don’t want to stay on stage too long. You don’t want to stay on like another fifteen minutes so they say ‘Oh he was good but he was on a little long.’ My deepest gut, you know, is to leave now. Despite the offer and everything else.”

The final show aired on May 14, 1998, with an estimated 76.3M viewers (58% of all viewers that night) making it the fourth most watched regular series finale in U.S. TV history.

That was 18 years ago. But on this night the friendship and loyalty between Jerry and George was still as strong as ever with the 62-year-old comedian dazzling the audience and the 80-something George standing watchfully on the sidelines. The only thing missing was Howard, who had died this past December.

Just sometimes the action behind the curtains is as entertaining as the one onstage.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

Children’s Cancer Fund’s “An Evening In Oz” Broke All Previous Records With Cancer-Fighting Kids And Celebrity Escorts

Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley

Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley

Unlike years past, this year’s Children’s Cancer Fund annual fundraiser for Children’s Health took on a different spin on Friday, April 22. Instead of a luncheon, Event Co-Chairs Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley moved it to nighttime with “An Evening In Oz” as the theme. And the only thing missing was the horse of a different color! And the decision to move it worked, because the evening’s net … oops, can’t reveal it because the board is keeping that number under wraps. Still word has it that it was a record breaker.

But from the beginning of the night, it was obvious that more than Dorothy’s red slippers had been clicking for wishes to come true. As the girl from Kansas and her pals welcomed more than 900 guests at the Anatole, the munchkin artists and models were hunkered down in the Wedgwood Room with makeup being applied, hair curled and partying. In the meantime, the older high-paying kids were in the Peacock Room for the VIP meet-and-greet with Honorary Co-Chairs Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach.

Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Tin Man

Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Tin Man

Over to the side, Marianne Staubach reported that they had just returned from Disneyland with daughter Amy Mentgen and her kids. She admitted that after making the rounds of the park with the grand-kids, the adults were worn out.

Bela Pjetrovic and Chase Cooley

Bela Pjetrovic and Chase Cooley

In another part of the room Bela Pjetrovic and mustachioed Chase Cooley were being congratulated on their recent engagement. Has a date been set? Nothing definite yet, but April 2017 is looking good. And speaking of mustaches, Cooley dad Clay recalled that when he and wife Lisa met, he also had a mustache and long hair.

Another dad in the crowd was Ben Lange, sans son/T-shirt entrepreneur Luke Lange, who was at Benihana for a birthday. The mention of Benihana set off a memory for Clay, who remembered how in the early days, Chase’s birthdays were celebrated there.

All too soon the VIPs adjourned to join the hundreds of others checking out the silent auction in the Chantilly Ballroom reception area just as the ballroom doors were opened.

Missy Chami and Anne Davidson

Missy Chami and Anne Davidson

Inside the ballroom, it appeared as if the Emerald City of Oz had indeed taken up residence, with a stage for the Emerald City band at one end and the presentation stage with runway at the other. All around were tables with folks like presenting sponsor Anne Davidson, Cindy Turner, Suzy Gekiere, Patti Flowers, Tanya and Pete Foster, Mary Meier, Betty Turner and Mary Poss.

Serving as background for the stage were mega scenes straight from “The Wizard of Oz,” including the yellow brick road leading through the field of poppies to the city of Oz.

First on stage were Roger and Troy, joined by Lisa with Emme Nees and Giora with son Jack Barker. The exchange between Rog (this was his 28th CCF appearance) and Troy (it was his 20th) proved their ongoing commitment to battling children’s cancer as well as their mutual respect and friendship for each other.

Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

Following Lisa’s and Giora’s personal testimonials about each of their reasons for undertaking the fundraiser, Tom Gilchrist sang a capella the Lord’s Prayer. (Quipped Roger afterward: “I’d trade my Heisman for a voice like that.”)

Under the direction of special events producer Rhonda Sargent Chambers, not a moment was lost for the fashion show of Dillard’s kiddo clothes. As Rog, Troy et al left the stage, emcee Scott Murray arrived at the podium to introduce the Children’s Cancer Fund artists and their celebrity escorts including

  • 6-year-old Cooper Dorr with Roger
  • 10-year-old Hayden Ritchie with Troy
  • 12-year-old Mercedes Howdeshell with Tara Pavlock and Ashleigh Panelli
  • 9-year-old Myles Allison with Jason Garrett
  • 13-year-old Carsyn Sapp with Sunny Malouf
  • 7-year-old Corbin Glasscock with Terrance Williams
  • 5-year-old Kamryn Rakestraw with Jim Stroud
  • 11-year-old Maxwell Matlock with members of the Dallas SWAT
  • 5-year-old Reese Skelte with “Dorothy”
  • 11-year-old Keamus Bryant with Medieval Times Red Knight
  • 8-year-old Trip Rowley with Brandon Carr

Unfortunately, 5-year-old Flick Blevins was under the weather and couldn’t make the event. In his stead, Dallas Fire Department #19’s Jerry Hooker, Michael Wolfe, Derrick Brouhard and John Keeler walked the runway holding his photo.

At this point, Scott introduced KDFW’s Clarice Tinsley to introduce the other cancer-surviving children and their celebrity escorts, including:

  • 13-year-old Andrew Russell with Kaitlyn Wade
  • 16-year-old Sabeen Wazir with Jake Pavelka
  • 6-year-old Jackson Houser with Morris Claiborne
  • 6-year-old Rina Cantrell with Jane McGarry
  • 15-year-old Saket Ashar with Dr. Ted Laetsch
  • 9-year-old Laura Beth Rote with Brianna Kiesel
  • 10-year-old Brady Pampilonia with Kliff Kingsbury
  • 9-year-old Julissa Garcia with Jocelyn White
  • 11-year-old Juan Lopez with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and Rowdy
  • 7-year-old Jordan McDowell with Miss Texas America
  • 16-year-old Averi Moya with Mitch Gaylord
  • 10-year-old Julia Brown with Amy Vanderoef
  • 12-year-old Christian Arroyo with Byron Jones
  • 9-year-old Lynette Quintana with the Pink Heals Firefighters
Andrew Russell and Kaitlyn Wade

Andrew Russell and Kaitlyn Wade

As 18-year-old Kaitlyn Wade escorted child artist Andrew Russell, Marianne recalled how, years ago, Rog had escorted the pretty blonde on the runway when she was presented. Yes, she had conquered leukemia, but her story of challenges hadn’t end there. After winning the battle, she was the victim of a drunk driver. As the result of the horrendous car accident, 9-year-old Kaitlyn “spent two months in a coma and six months at Cook Children’s before she could return home.”

But on this evening, the emphasis was on the current crop of cancer-conquering kids as they mugged, twirled and charmed their way on the catwalk. Blonde Brill Garrett cheered each one like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Okay, so maybe she had an extra whoop when husband Jason took his turn in the spotlight with Myles Allison.

All of this was building up to the live auction. Troy won the trip to the Masters and learned from Rog all the perks associated with the package. Jana and Mike Brosin won the artwork created by CCF Gala artists and Christopher Martin.

To the delight of many of the ladies in the audience, Jake “The Bachelor” Pavelka was doing double duty. In addition to walking the runway, he also was part of the “Dancing With The Stars” package. Shoot! They could have auctioned off pictures with Jake and won a passel of dough, as lady after lady wanted a quick cell-snap with the cutie. But it was Tracy and Ben Lange who won the package. So, watch for them during Season 23 that is scheduled to air this fall.

As soon as the live auction ended, the focus shifted to the other end of the ballroom, where Emerald City took over to get guests on their feet and dancing the night away.

For more pictures from “An Evening in Oz,” check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Reception Warmed Up The Crowd With Auction Items—And Leigh Anne Tuohy—For Rainbow Days Fundraiser

It was a chatty, optimistic crowd that gathered Thursday, April 14, at the offices of Thompson and Knight for the Pot of Gold Patron Reception. And, why not: ticket sales for the 19th Annual Pot of Gold Luncheon scheduled for the next day were at 630, and counting. The luncheon, which benefits the Rainbow Days nonprofit, had a new venue, the Omni Dallas Hotel, after being at the Hilton Anatole for 18 years. Bids for the luncheon auction items were being taken online for the first time, and already more than $19K worth had rolled in.

Catherine Rowsey, Leigh Anne Tuohy, Nicole Williams and Jon Langbert*

Catherine Rowsey, Leigh Anne Tuohy, Nicole Williams and Jon Langbert*

Perhaps best of all, the luncheon’s special guest speaker, Leigh Anne Tuohy, had shown up for the Thompson and Knight do—much to the delight of the 75 guests. Tuohy, the inspirational matriarch for the book and movie about her family titled “The Blind Side,” posed cheerfully in one corner for photos, even though her life was in overdrive (it seems her daughter Collins Tuohy, who was here in January for Soup’s On, was getting married the following weekend).

Cathey Brown*

Cathey Brown*

After Rainbow Days founder and CEO Cathey Brown welcomed patron reception guests like Lynn McBee , Juliette Coulter, Chris Kay, Don Krasen, Auction Co-Chair Jon Langbert, Rainbow Days Board President Greg Pascuzzi and Fred Rowsey —Cathy called the gathering “the party before the party”—Luncheon Chair Catherine Rowsey and Auction Co-chair Nicole Williams took over and thanked the event sponsors, including Jim McDonald from top sponsor Pacific Union Financial.

Greg Pascuzzi*

Greg Pascuzzi*

When the short program was over some of the guests returned to their sipping and chatting, while others made a beeline for the back room, where several of the auction items were on display. The auction, sponsored by Thompson and Knight, would feature items worth more than $70,000, including a golf trip to Pebble Beach, a stay and dinner at the Rosewood Crescent, tickets to the Mesquite Rodeo, and a custom dinner and wine for four at Sevy’s Grill.

* Photo credit: Rob 
Wythe/Gittings

NBC Today’s Hoda Kotb Became Everyone’s Ultimate BFF At The First Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon

Let’s be brutally honest. The very sound of Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon creates images of sitting up straight and being rather solemn. Start to rethink that idea. On Tuesday, April 1, Interfaith Housing Coalition somehow managed to launch its first ever Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon fundraiser without a hint of huffiness or starch. The result was standing ovations (no surprise) and a vast majority of LWL (Ladies Who Lunch) critiquing the event as, “This was the best one ever!”

Darn it. They may have been right.

However, it didn’t exactly appear to be any different than most lunches initially. The reception started with a chill in the air because of the late season drop in temps and the energetic A/C in the Dallas Country Club lobby and ballroom. For once, the lobby fireplace looked like mittens on a snow day.

Kevin and Marybeth Conlon, Robyn and Don Conlon, Megan and Keith Conlon and Jennifer and Joe Clifford

Kevin and Marybeth Conlon, Robyn and Don Conlon, Megan and Keith Conlon and Jennifer and Joe Clifford

And some folks admitted that they didn’t spot many of the usuals. But that changed with the arrival of Honorary Chair Robyn Conlon and her clan (husband Don Conlon, son Keith Conlon and his bride Megan Conlon and son Kevin Conlon and his wife Marybeth Conlon) and Co-Chairs Amy Hegi and Libby Hegi and their crew (parent-in-laws Jan and Fred Hegi and Amy’s husband/Interfaith Board Member Peter Hegi and Libby’s husband/Interfaith Board of Directors Chair Brian Hegi).

Sure, in the crowded lobby, the predictable “oops” of trays of wineglasses on the floor created a cozier condition, but that was relieved by the ballroom doors opening for the sold-out event.

Beth Thoele and Caren Kline

Beth Thoele and Caren Kline

Cara French

Cara French

Still it took time to settle the guests like Nancy Carter, Linda Secrest, Claire Manigold, Beth Thoele, Caren Kline, Cara French, Connie O’Neill, Jennifer and Joe Clifford, Patti Flowers, Libby Hunt, Louise Backa, Alicia Wood and Tiffany Divis in their seats, and there was “no Hoda” in sight. The “Hoda” was Emmy-award-winning NBC Today’s Co-Host Hoda Kotb, who was to be the keynote speaker. Gee, did she miss her flight that morning from NYC to DFW? Nope! She finally appeared all in white and briefly took her place next to KXAS’s Meredith Land, who was the day’s emcee.

Kimberly Williams, Jan and Fred Hegi and Louise Backa

Kimberly Williams, Jan and Fred Hegi and Louise Backa

Hoda had hardly put her napkin in her lap than she was working the room like a presidential candidate while others ate. It was easy to note her latest table visit by the whoops and hollers arising around the room. As if the stop-and-chat wasn’t enough, she earned major points by posing for group photos at the tables. Even the most proper types dropped their forks, jumped up from their chairs and gathered around the Hoda for a group photo.

One of the chaps in the crowd looked mystified by this excitement. But he also admitted that he usually was at the office when Hoda and her co-host Kathie Lee Gifford were exchanging news of the day. But he soon learned the reason for this gal-pal rally.

Meredith Land

Meredith Land

Even when Meredith came to the podium to get things goings, Hoda continued her “table service.” As Meredith introduced the Hegi co-chairs, a cheer erupted from the back of the room as Hoda hit another table.

Amy and Libby thanked all for attending and pointed to Robyn especially for her support. Then Amy told of her first encounter with Interfaith and homelessness. It was Christmas when she was a youngster and her mom bundled the kids up and delivered a Christmas tree to help settle a family in their new home. When Amy asked why the family hadn’t brought their own tree from their old home, her mother explained there had been no old home.

Interfaith CEO Kimberly Williams explained the mission and announced that they had tweaked the organization’s name just slightly. From this day on, it would be known as Interfaith Family Services. But its mission to “empower families in crisis to break the cycle of poverty” would remain the same.

Shemika Hopson

Shemika Hopson

To provide a firsthand report on how Interfaith had made a life-changing difference, Kimberly had Shemika Hopson come to the podium and tell her story.  The diminutive mother perfectly blended humor, confidence, gratitude and a don’t-say-no spirit that hadn’t been heard in a while. She had been living in a car with her two kids, but thanks to the guidance and support by Interfaith, she had grown emotionally and financially resulting in her buying her own home and landing a job and promotions.

In addition to a standing O, Shemika hardly returned to her chair before Hoda was there with her arms around the young mother. Her talk could have easily ended the program and it would have been the kiss of success for the first-time fundraiser.

Hoda was up next and admitted that it was gonna be tough to follow Shemika, but she shouldn’t have been concerned. If anything, Shemika and Hoda were the perfect pairing.

Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb

Immediately Hoda took a panoramic photo of the sold-out crowd. Then she explained that Kathie Lee had been on vacation for the past week. Hoda then recorded the guests saying with big smiles, “Welcome back, Kathie Lee.”

After putting her smartphone down, Hoda told how she got her start as a TV reporter. Blending a perfect balance of self-deprecating humor and stellar storytelling, she took the audience through her countless rejections, embarrassments and OMG success of her life. In landing her first job, she borrowed her mother’s car and told how she was going to Richmond, Virginia, for a job interview knowing that it was hers. When she arrived at the station, she looked around and decided where she would sit and which fella she would date. The news director looked at her tape for less than a couple of minutes and told her that she wasn’t ready for his station, but he did know a news director in Roanoke who might have an opening. A bit surprised but determined, she set off to Roanoke to meet the news director with the same results — not quite ready. Her thought was “Who in the hell is not ready for Roanoke?” But he told her about still another news director in Memphis who might hire her, but he was flying out the next day, so she had to hurry over to Memphis to catch him. Same thing happened there. This happened more than 22 times as she drove from station to station and city to city feeling more defeated each time. Somehow, the way Hoda told the story, everyone in the audience identified with the feeling of rejection but laughed with her in recalling the journey.

Really discouraged and tired after ten days of rejection, she found herself lost in Mississippi and spied a sign promoting the local CBS station — “Greenville, our eye is on you.” She took it as a sign, walked into the station and presented her muchly rejected tape to WXVT TV News Director Stan Sandroni, who admitted that just the day before he had been the sports director. He told “Hilda” to come on in. As he watched the tape, Hoda was shocked to see him “watch the whole, terrible, horrible tape to the end.” He told her, “Hilda, I like what I see.” She was shocked and said, “You do?” He hired her, giving her the first chance in her TV reporting career. “This guy, Stan Sandroni, changed the course of my life.”

Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb

Later in her days at the station, Stan came into the newsroom and asked, “Who has a blazer?” Hoda volunteered that she did. He said, “Oh, good, you need to anchor the news because Anne [the female anchor] was sick.” She had never anchored, but she knew there was a teleprompter and it was a one-anchor newscast. She looked at the teleprompter that read, “Good evening, I’m Hoda Kotb. Anne Martin is out sick.” The red light went on. The guy cued her. She said, “Good evening, I’m Anne Martin.” The rest of the show was downhill — “When I mess up, I keep on messing up. I can’t stop it. It was like I was riding the toboggan down the mountain screaming.”

She knew she was going to be fired the next day, so she headed to the grocery in search of comfort food. Instead in the ice cream aisle, “A woman comes over and she looks crazy. Her hair was all crazy and she had one or two teeth and she goes ‘Oh, my God, I just seen you TV and I am so sorry for you.’”

The next day Stan said he had seen what she did and it was pretty horrible, but “Anne’s sick again,” so he gave a second chance.

Years later after winning awards and climbing the TV news ladder, the folks at 30 Rock asked the on-air talent to bring someone to Studio One A who changed the course of their lives. Hoda’s pick was Stan. He walked in and said, “Oh, my God, Al Roker! Matt Lauer!”

Hoda’s message to the audience: It only takes one person to change your life.

Editor’s note: What Hoda didn’t tell the audience was Stan died less than 18 months ago at the age of 64 from a heart attack.

She then told of a state trooper who dropped everything during the Katrina evacuation to locate a child who had been placed on a bus without his mother. They were reunited in Houston.

It was also during Katrina that she was in a car sweating through her clothes and her producer told her to change her shirt to do a stand up. She took her shirt off and “was sitting there in her soaking wet bra talking to myself, talking to God. And just at that exact same moment, a bus pulls up right next to me. I looked up and there are these guys on the bus and they started banging on the windows and saying, ‘Hey, news lady, we see your titties.’ I so needed that.”

And then there was the meeting with the intern when a phone call came in from her doctor telling her that she had breast cancer. It was obvious the news was not good. Not knowing what the doctor had told Hoda, the intern asked if she wanted to be alone. Hoda said yes. But before the intern left, she asked for a favor. Hoda agreed, thinking it was to exchange numbers or take a picture. The intern asked if she could hug Hoda. “I remember looking at this kid, who knew nothing about me. But that was exactly what I needed right there and right then. This kid just wrapped her arms around me and I was like crying into this intern’s arms and she left probably wondering, ‘Who’s the crazy?’”

Following her breast surgery, Matt Lauer called her with an assignment to go to Ireland. It was pretty soon after the surgery, but her doctor gave her permission. She admitted that she felt very vulnerable and on the way home she wasn’t feeling very well and was having second thoughts on whether it had been a good idea to have taken the trip. Next to her on the plane was a man, who asked, “How are you doing?” Despite Hoda’s obviously wanting to left alone, he continued trying to strike up a conversation with her. Eventually he got his way and they started talking. He asked, “What is that on your arm?” She explained that it was compression sleeve due to a procedure. He persisted asking her what kind of procedure. She finally fessed up that she’d had breast cancer and hoped that he wouldn’t get off of the plane telling people that he’d sat next to a girl who had had breast cancer. To that he asked, “What is wrong with you? Breast cancer is just a part of you. It is like going to college, getting married or working at NBC. Let me give you some advice and you can go to sleep.” He then gave her some advice “that I never forgot, ever. He said, ‘Don’t hog your journey. It’s not just for you.’ Right, Shemika?”

Linda Secrest and Claire Manigold

Linda Secrest and Claire Manigold

All eyes in the ballroom went straight to Shemika.

“He said, “Think how many people you can help right now. His name is Ken Duane.” That conversation put her on the road to promoting breast cancer awareness and taught her three things:

  1. Life has margins. There is a beginning and end, so she stopped wasting time. “I hold so tightly to the things I love and got rid of the things that I didn’t love. So, now I’m divorced.”
  2. If you survive anything big and you’re still standing at the end, then you get four words: “You can’t scare me.”
  3. The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life.

In closing, Hoda told of a random act of kindness. She got in the elevator at her apartment building and there was “this girl who looks kind of weird with an Oscar the Grouch hat pulled down.” She also had a box of cupcakes that Hoda asked about. The girl told her they were salted caramel. Hoda remarked that they smelled great and the girl told her that they had come from the bakery in Brooklyn, “30 or 40 minutes away.” The girl departed and that was it, or so Hoda thought. The next day the door man handed over a box that someone had left with a note that read, “Hi, I was the girl wearing the Oscar the Grouch hat and I met you in the elevator. You were admiring my cupcakes, but they were both spoken for. I had a little extra time, so I went to Brooklyn and got you two more.”

Hoda said, “Can you believe she did that? That’s a random act of kindness that can change your life. Now, that girl in the Oscar the Grouch hat doesn’t know that I told her story at a great speech in Dallas.”

Despite the clock in the ballroom ticking, no one wanted her to stop. Hoda was their new, absolutely BFF. And what does an audience give their BFF speaker? A standing O.

Amy Hegi, Hoda Kotb and Libby Hegi

Amy Hegi, Hoda Kotb and Libby Hegi

Later at a meet-and-greet that took place just before 2 p.m. in the Founders’ Room, Hoda hadn’t changed one iota. When she spotted the Louboutin fringed stilettos on Megan Conlon, she couldn’t contain herself. It was discovered that the shoes had been a V-day gift to Megan from her husband Keith. Upon seeing the national TV celebrity’s excitement about the footwear, Conlon brother Kevin told Keith that he was getting the other Conlon men in trouble — “I just got Marybeth flowers.”

Hoda Kotb, Don Conlon and Megan Conlon

Hoda Kotb, Don Conlon and Megan Conlon

PS — Hoda was schedule to be the commencement speaker at Tulane University Saturday, May 14, but some students circulated a petition saying, “Given the amount of money, work and passion we have poured into our educational careers at Tulane, we think we deserve better than this. Hoda Kotb is hardly an inspirational figure, and despite the fact that she has had a successful career in journalism, we feel that we deserve a more recognizable and more prominent figure than her.”

Days later the petition was replaced by one supporting the choice. So, Hoda is still on for the event and who knows? Perhaps if those naysayers open their ears and minds they just might discover that Hoda is that person of change in their lives.

Fashion Guru Tim Gunn, Who’s In ‘Awe’ Of Dallas Women, Attracts Huge Crowd To CPD’s 10th Anniversary Chick Lit Luncheon

Anyone doubting the popularity in Dallas of “Project Runway” co-host/producer Tim Gunn should have checked out the scene at the Friday, April 1, Chick Lit Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole. The event benefiting Community Partners of Dallas and featuring the author and TV star drew a crowd of 1,100—up from the annual luncheon’s 650 or so that it’s usually drawn at its longtime venue, Brook Hollow Country Club.

This was Chick Lit’s 10th anniversary luncheon, but surely the huge crowd wasn’t due only to that? “I give credit to our chairs—and to Tim,” CPD President and CEO Paige McDaniel said before the luncheon at the VIP reception in the Anatole’s Stemmons Ballroom. “All girls like fashion, and he’s just … well, when Joanna [Clarke, CPD’s development VP] and I used to talk about guests at our fantasy dinner party, we each had two people in common: Tim Gunn and Jesus!

“So, it was easy this year,” McDaniel went on. “Everybody wanted to come.”

Tim Gunn, Lara and Robert Tafel*

Tim Gunn, Lara and Robert Tafel*

At that moment, the star of the day was demonstrating his charisma across the room at the step-and-repeat, where guests were lined up to meet Gunn and have their photos taken with him. Among them were Elizabeth Gambrell (she’s a CPD director), Anne Stodghill, Dee Simmons, D’Andra Simmons, and Lara Tafel, who was once again the luncheon’s presenting sponsor along with her husband, Dr. Robert Tafel.

Megan Flannagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo and Samantha Wortley*

Megan Flannagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo and Samantha Wortley*

Jennifer Evans Morris, Krissy Turner and Lauren Reed*

Jennifer Evans Morris, Krissy Turner and Lauren Reed*

Soon Dr. Bob joined his wife for a photo with Gunn, who promptly remarked on the doctor’s colorful pocket square. The TV star pulled the handkerchief out of Tafel’s suit coat, demonstrated another way to fold such an adornment, and then stuffed it back into Bob’s breast pocket—much to Bob and Lara’s delight.

Soon enough, the 1,100 guests including CPD Board Chair Krissy Turner, Jocelyn White, Lee Bailey, Lisa Cooley, Faisal Halum, Holly Davis, Lori Williams, Alissa Gearing, Jennifer Evans Morris, Lauren Reed, Megan Flanagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo, Samantha Wortley, Katherine Coker and Simona Beal began making their way into the Imperial Ballroom upstairs.

Kristi Hoyl*

Kristi Hoyl*

Nancy Rogers and Brian Bolke*

Nancy Rogers and Brian Bolke*

Luncheon Chair Kristi Hoyl made the welcoming remarks, thanking the Tafels, Honorary Chair Brian Bolke, Underwriting Chairs Cindy Stager and Jill Tananbaum, and Paige and Joanna (“they are angels walking on the earth”). Then Kristi brought up Rev. Elizabeth Moseley from Highland Park United Methodist Church, who delivered the invocation. (Rev. Moseley, BTW, was introduced as a “minister of discipline,” rather than with her actual title, “minister of discipleship.” Hmmmm. Maybe Queenie needs to hire a minister of discipline for misbehaving elves.)

Paige McDaniel and Jill Bee*

Paige McDaniel and Jill Bee*

After lunch was served—a delicious Mediterranean chicken salad and a strawberry “Happy Birthday” cupcake—videos were played honoring Jill C. Bee with the 2016 Partners for Children Award and the Tafels, who were presented with the 10th Anniversary Champions of Hope Award. Then Paige took the stage, telling how all the guests had “agonized over our outfits” trying to impress Gunn, before launching into a tearful talk about children who’d been helped by CPD, like two toddlers nicknamed Princess and King. Paige gave way to Bolke, who introduced the featured speaker as one of two people who’ve had a profound recent influence on the fashion world (the other, he said, was Sarah Jessica Parker of TV’s “Sex and the City”).

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Tim Gunn*

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Tim Gunn*

With that, Gunn—a former chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne Inc. who’s written four books—mounted the stage along with Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, who would interview him. Kim began by asking the fashion guru what led him to write books (his latest is titled “The Natty Professor: A Master Class on Mentoring, Motivating, and Making It Work!”). Gunn, the son of an FBI agent, grew up with words and books, he replied, and developed an interest in fashion history as an academic at the Parsons School of Design. “Most of the books [about fashion] are giant snoozefests,” he said. He set out to take a livelier approach, crediting the success of such works as “Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible and “Gunn’s Golden Rules in part to his editor and co-writer, Ava Calhoun.

Kim asked next what’s behind Gunn’s “kind but firm” approach to young designers on Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” now entering its 14th season. “I can’t want you to succeed more than you do,” Gunn said he tells the fledgling designers. In lieu of direct criticism he peppers them with questions about their design choices, hoping they’ll eventually see what he sees. What’s his favorite of Gunn’s “golden rules”? “The world owes you absolutely nothing!” he replied quickly. “Even though young people don’t like it. … We each have to make our own way and establish our value.” Gunn also explained his “TEACH” philosophy with students and mentees, using an explanation for each letter in the acronym: Truth-telling; Empathy; Asking lots of questions; Cheerleading; and Hoping for the best.

Tim Gunn*

Tim Gunn*

Prompted by his interviewer, Gunn said that when it comes to fashion, “I’d rather work with women than with men. Women are more open to experimentation, and men are so ridiculously intractable. I’ll tell them, ‘Good heavens, it’s a shirt. Put it on!’ ” He also complimented Dallas women on their fashion sense, adding, “I’m in awe of you! … I’d like to take you home with me!” Expanding on fashion in general, he said most people wear their clothes too big. (“Never use the phrase, ‘I only dress for comfort’ with me,” he said. “If you want to feel like you’re in your pajamas, don’t get out of bed.”) He also ripped the current “athleisure” trend including yoga pants, tights, and leggings worn as pants. “It’s an excuse to be a slob,” he said, calling leggings “a form of underwear.”

Wrapping up with a few questions from the audience, Gunn was asked his advice for budding designers. Since designers are barometric measures of our culture, he answered, they should watch TV and movies, read blogs and newspapers, and “assimilate it all” in order to “have a point of view and know who you are. [Knowledge of] construction is important, too,” Gunn said in conclusion, “as are perseverance and tenacity.”

The thunderous applause from the big crowd that followed was a testament to the fashion guru’s tremendous popularity, as mentioned by Paige at the VIP reception. But so, too, was the long wait for their cars that some in the huge crowd had to endure in the lengthy valet line. Although the luncheon wrapped up by about 1:15, some 50 guests were still standing outdoors in the cold breeze, scanning the horizon hopefully for their vehicles, nearly an hour later. There were just too darn many cars, it seems, for the valets to easily handle.

* Photos provided by Community Partners of Dallas

Michael Young And Talmage Boston Hit One Out Of The Park For Communities In Schools Dallas Region

Even if you didn’t know the difference between a home run or a runner in your stocking, you would have loved being at the Communities In Schools Dallas Region’s Line Drive Luncheon on Wednesday, November 4 at Edison’s. Part of the reason was having attorney/baseball historian Talmage Boston chat it up with former Texas Ranger great/present Texas Ranger staffer Michael Young. Here’s a report from the field:

Baseball season may be over, but Texas Rangers fans rallied at Edison’s for lunch with Mr. Ranger himself, Michael Young. Young was the guest speaker at the 2015 Line Drive Luncheon, where he appeared with moderator Talmage Boston to “talk baseball” and raise money for Communities in Schools Dallas Region, Inc. (CISDR).

Guests arrived at 11:30 for a VIP Reception in the Bentley Room, where they lined up for exclusive photo ops with Young. From there they moved into Edison’s Gatsby Room for a silent auction, raffle and an All-American Ballpark Buffet featuring Eddie Deen’s freshly grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, served with sweet potato fries, baked beans and plenty of “fixin’s.”

Anne Lindsey Hunt, Michael Young and Davin Hunt*

Anne Lindsey Hunt, Michael Young and Davin Hunt*

The program started at noon with CISDR Board Chair Karl Schmalz and President & CEO Dr. Judith Allen-Bazemore. Dr. Allen-Bazemore thanked the previous year’s Line Drive Luncheon Chairs, Pam and Philip Bush, and introduced Anne Lindsey and Davin Hunt, Co-Chairs of CISDR’s Adopt An Angel holiday giving program. After a brief video about the problems facing today’s at-risk youth, Michael Young and Talmage Boston took the stage for an informal discussion about the Texas Rangers in both the on- and off-season, as well as Young’s life as a father and his advice for kids who want to make it to the Big Leagues.

“Play other sports,” he said. “Don’t just play baseball.”

Talmage Boston and Michael Young*

Talmage Boston and Michael Young*

When asked if he played other sports as a kid, Young said that he played them all: football, basketball, etc. He encouraged the athletes of tomorrow to broaden their horizons, so that they can find out what they’re best at.

Soaking up Michael Young’s life advice were nine students from T.J. Rusk Middle School in Dallas. The students sat up front with guests from Presenting Sponsor Alon USA. At the end of the luncheon, they joined Impact Texas host “Hondo” Robertson to draw raffle winners. CISDR Board Member Lou Ann Richardson won the “Surf & Turf” dining package, and promptly donated it to the students’ chaperon, CISDR Site Coordinator Tambara Pope.

Hondo Robertson, Rusk Middle School students and Judith Allen-Bazemore*

Hondo Robertson, Rusk Middle School students and Judith Allen-Bazemore*

The 2015 Line Drive Luncheon was made possible by Alon USA, Briggs Equipment, the Lawrence B. Dale Family Foundation, Dr. Bonnie Martin & Associates, Claire and Talmage Boston, Lou Ann Richardson, Flowserve, Ernst & Young, Pam and Philip Bush, and Petty & Associates. Part of CISDR’s ongoing 30th Birthday Celebration, the Line Drive Luncheon will be followed up with the Dream Achievers Luncheon featuring Caroline Rose Hunt, taking place on Thursday, February 11, 2016, at the Dallas Arboretum.

For additional information about Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc. and its role in educational reform initiatives, please refer to the organization website at www.cisdallas.org. Visit CIS National at www.communitiesinschools.org to find other Communities In Schools locations.

About Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region

Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc. (CISDR) is a nonprofit organization that provides campus based integrated academic and social support to students deemed at-risk per Texas Educational Agency, in partnership with local school districts. Since 1985, the mission has been to surround students with a community of support and empower them to stay in school and succeed in life. The local CISDR program can be found on K–12 campuses in 12 school districts in Dallas, Collin, Ellis, Hunt and Rockwall counties.

* Photos provided by Communities In Schools Dallas Region

Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Sold-Out Luncheon With Eva Longoria Proved Inspiring, Successful And Almost Too Popular

Once again North Texas was warned that a slug-athon of rain was on its way on Friday, October 30. Sounded a bit like the locusts and plague were the follow-up acts.

Both the Dallas Women’s Foundation and The Dallas Opera First Night heeded the warning. But perhaps they should have compared notes with the Cattle Baron’s Ball chairs, who are old hands at end-of-the-world weather conditions.

The DWF rearranged arrival for its 30th Annual Luncheon by moving the valet check-in to the more protected area. However, the expected 200 attendees for the 10:30 a.m. meet-and-greet with speaker Eva Longoria in the Grand Ballroom seemed to have double that number. Someone muttered that it appeared that some guests decided to bring their own guests to the by-invite-only reception. With the lineup spilling into the lobby, organizers cut off things off because after all there was a sold-out luncheon to get underway.

Luckily, the grip-and-grin organization was one of the best seen in these parts. Before guests got their time with Eva, their names were written down on a card and placed on a ring, so names and photos would fall in order. Then a staffer would take the guest’s purse to a table on the other side of the sponsor backdrop, while the photo was being taken. As the guest exited, the purse was on a table ready to be picked up and the guest was on their way to join the masses.

Itty-bitty Eva was a real trooper. All in white, she greeted the non-stop parade of guests with a picture-perfect smile. She barely had time to take a sip of coffee in between handshakes and smiles.

At 11:20 the last photo was taken and Eva was whisked away via the hotel’s back hallways.

DWF President/CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson gave a great welcome address announcing that it was the largest luncheon crowd in the DWF’s history. Ever gracious, Ros paid tribute to her predecessors Becky Sykes and Pat Sabin. Too bad one table of gals decided to chatter through her talk. Some of the folks at nearby tables looked a bit peeved that the girl-talk was clashing with Ros’ talk about DWF’s having given back more than $30M to Dallas women and girls in the past 30 years. They would have learned about the DWF’s Bridge Project that is helping women with childcare, so that a good chunk of their salaries isn’t eaten away.

Keith Banks, Eva Longoria and Ros Dawson

Keith Banks, Eva Longoria and Ros Dawson

She finished up saying that the luncheon at that point was at the $1.1M mark and the hope was they would break the previous $1.2M record.

Just a couple of minutes before noon, luncheon was served including salad (chopped romaine, black bean and corn relish, tortilla strips, cotija cheese and tomatillo vinaigrette), entrée (achiote grilled chicken breast with peach chutney, cilantro rice, broccolini and carrots with jalapeno corn muffins and baguette) and dessert (special anniversary Stout Chocolate, Red Velvet and Maple-Caramel Cream cupcakes).

Just 20 minutes later a video was shown with the message “Stronger Women, Better World.”

Ron and Paula Parker, Michael and Jane Hurst and Stacey and John Relton

Ron and Paula Parker, Michael and Jane Hurst and Stacey and John Relton

As the lights came up, the eight co-chairs — Jane and Michael Hurst, Paula and Ron Parker and Stacey and John Relton appeared on stage wearing capes. Each took a part in telling the audience that for a $90-donation, guests could get a cape, too. As women gathered donations, the co-chair kept a stream of talk going to encourage the crowd. Michael warned: “The collectors are not leaving empty-handed.” Stacey suggested they can use the cape to shield the rain. Another added the cape would be a perfect Halloween outfit.

At 12:36 p.m. U.S. Trust, Bank of American Private Wealth Management President Keith Banks admitted that while the teleprompters were pretty cool, he was going to rely on his notes. He told how U.S. Trust has recognized the importance of women as decision makers in today’s financial world. To assist them the institution has held seminars for women in Haiti, Japan and other nations. Another program has set up online mentoring for women.

Keith then introduced Eva, admitting a guy thing: “I still don’t get the Carlos thing.” This comment was greeted with laughter. He concluded, “I’m feeling quite inadequate, so I’m going to get off the stage.”

At 12:45 p.m. the actress/activist/business woman walked on stage and said, “I’ve been and will always be a Dallas Cowboy fan.”

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria

She told how being one of four girls in her family, she was surrounded by amazing role models. “I saw it all around me.” Her oldest sister Liza’s developmentally disability led to her mother’s becoming a special education teacher.

Recently Eva introduced Liza to Eva’s new boyfriend. Liza’s response: “Another one?”

Eva recalled years ago when their mother bought Lisa a letter jacket that someone stole. Eva was furious. When her mother asked Liza if she knew who had stolen the jacket, Liza said, “No, but they must have been cold.” That reaction replaced Eva’s anger with admiration for Liza’s compassionate outlook.

Eva then admitted that many women don’t have the support that she experienced in her family. The result of this lack of support results in women still suffering from lower wages than their male counterparts. She admonished the men and women in the room that the success of the U.S. is tied to the success of women.

In achieving success in the film and TV industries, she came to the realization that she wanted to help others, but “I knew I could do anything, but I couldn’t do everything.” Her decision was to focus on Latinas.

In discussing the importance of mentoring, she admitted that it depended on the conditions. Recalling how she had wanted to be an engineer, she shadowed a male engineer. That convinced her that she didn’t want to be an engineer. With a smile, she added, “I should have shadowed a woman engineer.”

Her Eva Longoria Foundation has helped women entrepreneurs and schools in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, her hometown. She attributed her ability to achieve her goals to research providing the focus and to the selection of the right projects.

Giving a tip of the hat to the DWF, she said that’s why she likes DWF and its theme of “the ripple effect.” Then she apologized to the teleprompter crew for going off script.

At 1:03 p.m. she was off to a waiting black SUV in the Tower’s porte-cochere. Others, however, weren’t so lucky in getting their rides. Those who had decided to self-park, hit the road painlessly. For those who used the valet, it was another story. Hunkering in the Tower’s porte-cochere with the wind blowing, women who had been energized at the luncheon about leadership  found themselves having their names hollered by valets like naughty children. But with a full crowd of guests waiting, the wind howling and cars running, a raised voice was necessary. Perhaps the hotel that is so popular for fundraising should consider having a PA system installed to share the information that a car is ready to be picked up. If that’s too costly, how about a megaphone?

True, some of the gals slowed up the driveway doing girl talk. But many couldn’t see their cars arriving due to the crowd teetering on the curb.

According to sources, the hotel was prepared for 600 cars to be in need of valet for the 1,800 attendees. They even drafted some extra help from Gold Crown. Still, guests took on a bunker mentality, congratulating each other when they finally saw their car on the drive.

Celebrating Women Luncheon Had Surprise Announcements And Joan Lunden Sounding The Alarm About TNBC

Of the 1200 gathered in the Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom for the Celebrating Women Luncheon, the overwhelming majority was female. Well, duh! The event benefited Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s efforts to “to increase awareness and generate funding for breast cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.”

Robin Robinson, Nancy Carter, Joan Lunden, Beth Layton, Vicky Lattner, Joel Allison

Robin Robinson, Nancy Carter, Joan Lunden, Beth Layton, Vicky Lattner, Joel Allison

But before the ballroom filled, a private meet-and-greet with keynote speaker Joan Lunden took place high atop the Anatole in Ser with downtown Dallas serving as a glorious backdrop. Unlike years past when the pre-luncheon took place in the Wedgwood Room, this one had levels and tables for guests like Margo Goodwin, Di Johnston, Emilynn Wilson, Tucean Webb, Caren Kline, Barbara Stuart, Lindalyn Adams, Robyn Conlon, Pam Perella, Lyda Hill, Connie Yates and Isabell Novakov to wait in line for their photo opp with Joan and/or just have a cup of coffee and Danish.

Margo Goodwin, Caren Kline, Barbara Stuart, Robyn Conlon and Pam Perella

Margo Goodwin, Caren Kline, Barbara Stuart, Robyn Conlon and Pam Perella

Celebrating Women dance performance

Celebrating Women dance performance

All too soon, the group moved to the Chantilly Ballroom for the fundraising lunch. Following  a dance performance, Luncheon Chair Nancy Carter with her underwriting Co-Chairs Beth Layton and Vicky Lattner by her side told why she had taken on the responsibility of putting the event together. It was her two friends/breast cancer survivors Sue Porter and Debbie Snell, who co-chaired the luncheon years ago. Upon learning their stories and involvement and treatment at Baylor, Nancy decided that she had to raise funds and awareness.

Heather Washburne, Al Hill Jr and Elisa Summers

Heather Washburne, Al Hill Jr and Elisa Summers

Jim and Mary Lentz, Jim Joyner and Alan Miller

Jim and Mary Lentz, Jim Joyner and Alan Miller

Kenny and Lisa Troutt

Kenny and Lisa Troutt

Despite the perception of breast cancer as a “woman’s disease,” there was a strong and influential contingent of men at the tables, including Toyota’s Jim Lentz with his wife Mary Lentz, Hill family patriarch Al Hill Jr. with daughter Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne, Honorary Co-Chair Kenny Troutt with wife/Honorary Co-Chair Lisa Troutt and NM VP Kevin Hurst, who heard former “Good Morning America’s” Joan Lunden describe the past year of battling breast cancer and not just any old breast cancer. It was the Isis of breast cancers — triple-negative breast cancer (aka TNBC). Not only is it an extremely aggressive cancer, but it is not easily detectable due to breast density and not responsive to the traditional treatments.

Time and time again following the luncheon, even the most savvy women ‘fessed up they had no idea that breast density posed a problem for diagnosing this killer cancer.

Evidently, Joan’s talk was more than heard. It made a profound impact on both the women and the men. That night at a gathering of influencers, Kevin was heard describing the evils of the disease to a woman who hadn’t attended the lunch.

Robin Robinson

Robin Robinson

Another highlight of the luncheon was the announcement of $1.25M by the Andy Horner family and the men and women of Premier Designs to support Hope Lodge on Baylor’s campus. As Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson revealed that gift that arrived the day before, he pointed to a table of women just to the left of the stage. Were they the benefactors? No, they were Premier Designs employees who had conquered breast cancer, and they admitted they were proud and surprised about the announcement.

Robin also remembered a dear friend of the Baylor Foundation  — AT&T’s Cathy Coughlin, who spearheaded the campaign against texting while driving. She also served as the most successful Celebrating Women corporate underwriting chair in 2011. The 57-year-old marketing executive died of pancreatic cancer this past April. In her honor, AT&T made a donation to Celebrating Women.

Joan Lunden

Joan Lunden

BTW, Joan was a knockout. The daughter of a cancer surgeon who died in an airplane crash when Joan was just a youngster, she had picked up the banner and is carrying on inspired by her father and her own journey.

Need proof? Get her book.

Funny aside: When her co-author had her mammogram, she asked the clinician about her breast density. The exasperated staffer said, “Ever since Joan Lunden wrote about breast density, every woman wants to know her breast density.”

Robin Robinson, Debbie Oates, Elizabeth Selkirk, Bruce Selkirk, Ben Selkirk, Christie Carter and Susan McSherry (File photo)

Robin Robinson, Debbie Oates, Elizabeth Selkirk, Bruce Selkirk, Ben Selkirk, Christie Carter and Susan McSherry (File photo)

BTW, it was just two years ago that Bruce Selkirk established the Amy T. Selkirk Fund at Baylor in the name of his late wife Amy Selkirk, who was diagnosed with TNBC. The fund was to support a breast cancer vaccine trail led by Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy, the Celebrating Women Endowed Chair in Breast Cancer Research at Baylor, and Dr. Karolina Palucka, a researcher at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research.” It’s already paying off for Baylor clinical trial patients like Mary Morton and Deanna Bernhagen, who are participating in the current trial. Amy may have been a victim of TNBC, but thanks to her husband the crusade is being carried on inspired by her.

Cattle Baron’s Ball Baronesses Cowboy(ed) Up To Take Cancer Down With A Ripped Tim McGraw Up On Stage

The weather was the definition of perfection for Cattle Baron’s Ball — Cowboy Up, Take Cancer Down — on Saturday, October 3. Sure, there were those who made frowny faces that the American Cancer Society fundraiser hadn’t been held in the wide-open spaces of a local ranch or Southfork. But then again there were the wise ones, who painfully recalled the CBB’s of 2009, 2012 and 2013, when it looked so slice-of-nice great just days and even hours before only to face Texas-sized mud baths with boots heading to Deno’s for rehabbing. No, better to err on the safe side of cantankerous Ma Nature.

Then there was the live auction. In years past, it had been a vault of special items that seemed to grow in a never-ending number. This year it was decided to do only 19 packages. Gee, why? The live auction had been a major money-generator and they were cutting it down to less than two dozen. Yipes!

But once the caravan of Ubers, limousines, and Texas three-row gas guzzlers pulled up for the VIP reception, it became apparent that woes and throes had been replaced with fun and fundraising. Baroness Katy Bock was bound and determined to capture the scene on her cellphone. Seems in the past she had no proof of what her memory recalled. On a wall along the official entrance were mini-platforms with boots and plaques representing all the past CBBs.

Aaron Einhouse

Aaron Einhouse

Starting at 6 p.m. Aaron Einhouse and his band were on stage in Gilley’s South Side Music Hall for the Group 1200 Media VIP Patron Party. The crowd dined on Mesero Restaurant goodies and Sprinkle mini-cupcakes and downed them with grown-up and G-rated beverages courtesy of Andrews Distributing, Bacardi USA/Grey Goose Vodka, Jackson Family Wines and Coca-Cola.

John and Mary Martha Pickens, Steve Moore and Tia and Shel Wynne

John and Mary Martha Pickens, Steve Moore and Tia and Shel Wynne

At first, CBB Co-Chairs Mary Martha Pickens and Tia Wynne were on hand to welcome all, but then they seemed to get swallowed up in the crowd. One of the folks in the crowd was Steve Moore, the former CEO of the Country Music Association.

Outside four of the Baronesses made sure that only VIP’s got in. If ever the TSA needs advice on security, they should ask the CBB-ers. There were tickets, wristbands, lanyards and all types of paraphernalia to get guests in to the right spots throughout the night and to get the much-coveted favor bag. As a crowd checked in, one fella was seen walking straight in. This would not do. Seven-month-pregnant Baroness Bina Patel took off like racehorse out of the gate. She returned reporting that the chap was a Gilley’s staffer.

Ellen Winspear and Tiffany Divis

Ellen Winspear and Tiffany Divis

Kimberly Casey and Lynn McBee

Kimberly Casey and Lynn McBee

Jerry Jones Jr and Lori Jones and Jennifer and Richard Dix

Jerry Jones Jr and Lori Jones and Jennifer and Richard Dix

Others who made it through the check-in included Nikki Webb, who was solo on arrival. Husband Crayton Webb had to drop the kids off at their grandparents and would be joining her later…It was girls’ night out for Tiffany Divis and Ellen Winspear. Ellen said that husband Don Winspear was home trying to recover from the Longhorns’ walloping by Ellen’s TCU Frogs (50-7) earlier in the day…Leather was the favored texture of the night according Kathleen Hutchinson, Dawn Greiner, Lisa Ogle, Kris Johnson, Lora Farris, Elizabeth Fischer, Sherwood Wagner, Sunie Solomon, Jennifer Dix and Lori Jones… Boot-scooting babes were KXAS Anchor/CBB emcee Deborah Ferguson, Lynn McBee with her sister Kimberly Casey, and Natalie McGuire… Using silver for their accessory du jour were Luane McWhorter, Lisa Cooley and D’Andra Simmons…On the other hand, turquoise was represented Gail Fischer with her brother John Corder, Vicki Chapman, Barbara Daseke, Elizabeth Tripplehorn Laurenzi, 2016 CBB Co-Chairs Cara French and Andrea Weber and Callan Harrison…The breezy look was accommodated by Jonika Nix and Marybeth Conlon in their cut-out outfits.

Aaron and Luane McWhorter and Lisa and Clay Cooley

Aaron and Luane McWhorter and Lisa and Clay Cooley

Jonika Nix

Jonika Nix

Marybeth Conlon

Marybeth Conlon

An hour later the rest of the 3,000 cowpokes and cowpretties arrived via the main entrance on Lamar via shuttle buses and drop-and-drive wheels. And, no, they didn’t just stand around looking adorable. There was plenty to do including the Deloitte Silent Auction Lounge and the American Airlines Silent Auction venue, as well as the Southwest Bank Big Board. Raffle tickets were being sold everywhere. For vittles, G Texas Catering had buffets and food stations everywhere. And, of course, there was the MetroPCS Ferris wheel with a perfect view of downtown Dallas.

As for music, Ray Johnston and his band were performing on the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch/U.S. Trust Live Auction Stage. As guests started gathering in the South Side Ballroom for the live auction, Ray shifted to cover songs. Despite the setup of tables and hightops, some guests decided to snag chairs and to push tables together to accommodate their passel of pals.

Doak Lambert

Doak Lambert

Just a bit past 8 p.m. auctioneers Wendy and Doak Lambert kicked off the live auction with baronesses ringing cowbells and whooping it up, as the Lambert crew bird-dogged bidders. One of the killer items was an age-old fav — the Chefs’ dinner with musician Sam Moore providing the tunes. With chefs (Richard Chamberlain, Dean Fearing, Kevin Garvin, David Holben, Kent Rathbun and Jim “Sevy” Severson) on stage along with Sam, a bidding battle got underway between Hal Brierley and Clay Cooley. Just when it was looking like a nose-to-nose showdown, Kent suggesting raising the price to $70K and the dinner for 30 could be had by both Hal and Clay. The marketing mastermind and the car czar smiled and took Kent up on the offer.

Doak Lambert, Kent Rathbun, Wendy Lambert, David Holben, Kevin Garvin, Jim Severson and Sam Moore

Doak Lambert, Kent Rathbun, Wendy Lambert, David Holben, Kevin Garvin, Jim Severson and Sam Moore

But as the last few items went up for bid, some heavy hitters (the Brierleys, Natalie and Mike McGuire, and other $50,000+ type sponsors) exited Gilley’s proper. What gave them away were simple green paper wristbands. They headed for an ultra-exclusive meet-and-greet with the evening’s headliner Tim McGraw. Still, others wearing the super-special wristbands like the Cooleys opted to stay seated, so they could continue bidding and building the ACS coffers to amazing heights that amazed even CBB vets despite the limited number of items. Even Nancy Rogers had a hand in the fundraising, despite not being present. She and husband Richard Rogers were in Paris, but Nancy had her right-hand gal Kris Johnson picking up the Dallas Mavericks Rally on the Road package.

Despite the reduction in live auction items, the numbers were rocking in and organizers were raising eyebrows. Hey, maybe this shorter list wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Backstage, all went according to plan. McGraw’s peeps checked out the lighting for the photo opp, carpeting was laid in front of the wood backdrop and the warning was given — one photo per group. The photo session would last 10 minutes and there were about 50 guests to photographer. Green-wristband guests were advised — no purses, no cellphones, no shillyshallying.

Before the guests were ushered in one group at a time, a fellow walked by the photo staging area. Wearing torn jeans, an open shirt and cowboy hat, he smiled and said “Hi” to the people setting up the carpeted flooring and lighting. One person nudged another, “Was that Tim McGraw?” Yup. Not only was he just laid back, he was 40 pounds lighter and as toned as a stallion thanks to CrosFit workouts and the Paleo diet.

Natalie McGuire, Tim McGraw and Mike McGuire

Natalie McGuire, Tim McGraw and Mike McGuire

Tim McGraw and Kris Johnson

Tim McGraw and Kris Johnson

Diane Brierley, Tim McGraw and Hal Brierley

Diane Brierley, Tim McGraw and Hal Brierley

Tim McGraw and Sam Moore

Tim McGraw and Sam Moore

 

 

 

Despite a couple of folks (let’s not be tacky and mention names) talking it up with Tim more than their allotted 20-second allowance, it came off. But word had it that the group had oozed their way into the grip-and-grin despite no green wristband. Even more interesting was that those oozers wanted their $15,000 back because their table wasn’t close enough to the stage.

Regardless, Tim was all smiles and so were the handlers. One photographer asked a McGraw associate, “Are you okay with our work?” He answered, “Yes, indeed, and thank you for asking.”

After the last photo was taken and the people were escorted out, McGraw headed to a table aside the McGraw bus to sign posters and collectibles. Then he nonchalantly moseyed over to the crew at the base of the stage to check things out. Everything was just fine and dandy. This definitely was not his nor his crew’s first rodeo.

When the herds of folks gathered in the tent across the lane from Gilley’s proper, there were three sections. The highrollers were at tables closest to the Andrews Distributing Main Stage. A third of the way back were tables for the next tier of spenders and the final group was placed toward the back of the tent. KXAS Deborah Ferguson did the welcome and introduced Mary Martha and Tia, who thanked one and all.

Over on one side of the stage just beyond sight of the audience, there were four precious chairs. Two had been won by the Brierleys and the other two by Cary Maguire for $37K per pair. Talk about uber front row seats!

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw

Still better yet was Tracy and Ben Lange’s placement. Sure, they and their kids had front row table seats for the concert. Okay, so Ben had to ask event staffers to hold back the mosh pit participants, so they didn’t block the view of the seated guests. But Mama Lange and her daughter weren’t gonna use their seats that long. Dad had won the live auction item of being serenaded on stage by Tim. Somehow, the Langes managed to have both Tracy and their daughter join McGraw on stage. Tim not only didn’t mind, he really got into it with the Lange gals dancing up a storm with him. Wouldn’t have surprised anyone if McGraw took them on the road.

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw

While the majority of the crowd went wild with the concert, others bailed because there were just too many folks. Even some in the high-roller tier headed out early because the sound was just too dang loud.

Behind the scenes, the CBB-ers were arranging post-concert meals for the McGraw crew and Tim himself. The crew just wanted pizza. As for CrosFit Tim, he wanted steamed vegetables and grilled chicken. No problem. Just past midnight restaurateurs Al Biernat and Brad Fuller delivered the goods plus a bottle of wine and a coconut cream pie at a private jet waiting for McGraw. Nice thought, but Tim gave up drinking eight years ago and coconut cream pie isn’t part of his Paleo diet.

20th Annual Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon Kicked Off Legacy Campaign With A Nice Gift From The Moody Foundation

The Family Place’s 20th Anniversary Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon on Thursday, October 1, was filled with awards, announcements and even hints about “The Empire.”

As 800+ guests like Jonathan Martin, Anne Dyer, Di Johnston, Lauren Gayle White, Kern Wildenthal, Stephanie and Travis Hollman with Carol Seay gathered in the Imperial Ballroom, the program had a slow start-out-of-the-gate. While locals were seated and chatted in overdrive, emcee Clarice Tinsley had to delay getting the program underway because keynote speaker Marisa Tomei hadn’t arrived in the ballroom.

Carol Seay and Clarice Tinsley

Carol Seay and Clarice Tinsley

Di Johnston and Lauren Gayle White

Di Johnston and Lauren Gayle White

The petite Academy Award winner had spent time posing for photos with top underwriters and sponsors. In between the photo session in the Carpenter Ballroom on the ground level and joining the hundreds in the third-level ballroom, Marisa swapped her comfy flats for highest heels.

Michaela Dyer, Marisa Tomei and Layne Pitzer

Michaela Dyer, Marisa Tomei and Layne Pitzer

Luncheon Co-Chairs Michaela Dyer and Layne Pitzer welcomed and thanked key folks like Honorary Chair Debbie Taylor and awards were presented to the following:

Nancy Nasher

Nancy Nasher

  • Nancy Nasher — Texas Trailblazer
  • Bob Miller — Real Life Hero
  • United Way — Advocacy Award
Bob Miller, Lisa Miller and Shirley Miller

Bob Miller, Lisa Miller and Shirley Miller

Unfortunately or fortunately, scholarship winners Erin Baptiste and Julissa Figueroa were not able to attend. They were at college studying.

After lunch (zucchini and saffron vichyssoise with grilled gulf shrimp, crispy chicken breast on a bed of sautéed kale with herb pistou, tricolor marble potatoes, haricot vert and roasted pearl onions and red grape tomatoes) the chat took place between Marisa and Clarice. Unfortunately, the audio in the ballroom made hearing the conversation a bit of a challenge for some in the room. In addition to talking about her stage and film projects, Marisa told of her experience in directing “Half the Sky” about a young girl working through the oppression that women face in Ethiopia.

But there was no doubt that Clarice is a fan of “Empire,” which Marisa has recently joined. Despite her best efforts, Clarice couldn’t pry plot developments out of Marisa. But she did hint that her character’s name — Mimi Whiteman — should provide food for thought and she did love Mimi’s clothes being chic.

IMG_8755 Paige FlinkBut the big news of the day was The Family Place’s launching a $13M capital campaign — The Family Place Legacy Campaign – Building Hope for the Future — for a 40,000-square-foot Central Dallas Counseling Center. The new facility “will allow The Family Place to house expanded victim counseling services and its administrative offices in a location easily accessible by bus and rail. This includes providing space for domestic violence victims and their children to receive therapeutic counseling and case management, as well as the Dignity at Work job training program that assists in financial empowerment, the Be Project youth bullying and violence prevention education program and an on-site children development center.”

With a big old smile, The Family Place’s Paige Flink then revealed The Moody Foundation was kicking in $5M to get things going. As a thank you, The Family Place will name the facility “Ann Moody Place,” after Moody Foundation Executive Director/Trustee Francie Moody-Dahlberg’s mother.

One message that got across was the importance of purple for Family Violence Month. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing purple nail polish as the color of the month on gals like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and even fellas. In a month that has traditionally been pink for breast cancer awareness, the two colors have come together for health and wellbeing.

Meals For The Minds Luncheon Speaker Carrie Fisher Provided Food For Thought About Mental Health

Once again Thursdays proved to be the appetizer for the weekend ahead. While the Kappa Alpha Thetas were listening to Kira Plastinina, it was a luncheon across town that created talk for the evening fare and put WFAA’s Ron Corning’s emceeing talents to the test.

It was the Meals for the Mind lunch that created the tasty talk. In the Imperial Ballroom, formerly known as the Khymer Ballroom (and before that as the indoor tennis courts), the Metrocare Services fundraiser had all the looks of the normal luncheon with celebrity guest speaker and silent auction. But instead of taking place at Belo Mansion as in years past, it was moved to the Anatole due to the expected turnout. The reason for ramping up was keynote speaker Carrie Fisher, who was known as “Star Wars” Princess Leia, Paul Simon’s ex, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, an accomplished author and for having bipolar disorder.

Still, the Meals For the Mind organizers stayed tried-and-true to their roots by having cakes on tables for the silent auction.

As guests perused the cake collection, Carrie was kept under wraps and word was passed — her contract forbade any photos, including cellphones, or recordings.

Carrie chose not to join the table of VIP’s and continued to stay out of sight until she was introduce by Ron. She was escorted on stage by her French bulldog, Gary, that she describes as her therapy dog. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the podium, the pooch decided to relieve itself unceremoniously and then barked his unhappiness at being there.

Carrie proceeded to speak for 40 minutes. One person described the presentation as “rambling” and talking to herself.

When Carrie then opened the venue to a Q&A session, she decided to step out of her shoes and venture out among the crowd. Ron, realizing that idea might not be the best use of Carrie, approached the podium for a mic to wander the audience himself for questions. Carrie’s comment? She called Ron a pervert. He, in turn said, “Carrie, it’s so nice to meet both of you.” As he did his “Phil Donahue” wandering through the audience, organizers suggested that Ron might want to wind things up. Announcing to guests and Carrie that this was the last questions, Carrie, instead of thanking him, again called him a “pervert.”

Luncheon organizers then passed the word that the post-lunch photo shoot of sponsors and Carrie would not occur. Carrie’s assistant asked Ron to meet with Carrie privately, at which time she apologized for calling him a “pervert” (twice).

One guest, who spoke for many in the audience, sympathized with the situation, saying, “If you didn’t realize the challenges of mental health and the need to help those suffering from it, then today was a true display of why Metrocare is so needed.”

Indeed, Carrie’s behavior only put a spotlight on the issues that Metrocare Services deals with 365 days a year.

Zoo To Do Party Animals Licked The Hands That Fed Them, Dipped In The Pool And Gave Zoo To Do Patrons “The Eye”

North of LBJ, Dallas honcho-types looked more like Justin Bieber groupies on Tuesday, September 15. The reason: the Dallas Zoo residents were garnering cellphone salutes at Barbara and Don Dasekes’ home overlooking a woodland for the Zoo To Do patron party.

Dallas Zoo Ambassador Kruger

Dallas Zoo resident Kruger

Dallas Zoo Ambassador South American three-banded armadillo

Dallas Zoo resident South American three-banded armadillo

Dallas Zoo Ambassador alligator

Dallas Zoo resident alligator

In one room was Kruger the owl giving everybody “the eye.” In another was a South American three-banded armadillo that unlike its Texas relatives can roll up in a shell looking like a blonde coconut. As the littler alligator was brought in, one gal commented, “I’ll never buy another pair of alligator shoes.”

Kathy and Richard Holt

Kathy and Richard Holt

Joan Walne

Joan Walne

Michael Meadows

Michael Meadows

Cindy Gummer

Cindy Gummer

Kathy and Richard Holt were still trying to acclimate to the Texas heat after returning from the Russian River with its cooler temps…. Joan Walne was solo. Husband Alan Walne was out of town, but she wasn’t going to miss seeing the zoo ambassadors…While leopard prints were the design of the night, Jennifer Houser wore a pair of red heels with gold cheetah heads on them. She had planned to wear them last year when she co-chaired Zoo To Do, but something came up. So, she pulled them out for the 2015 patron party along with her cheetah necklace and faux leopard print jacket. BTW, no one was so tacky as to wear real furs or leathers.

Winspear

Winspear

Winspear and Alyssa

Winspear and Alyssa

As the crowd grew including Diane and Mike Gruber, Diane and Hal Brierley, Gregg Hudson, Michael Meadows and Jennifer and Doug Houser, inside the Dasekes’ teak house word was passed that the “main man” was on his way for a see-and-shoot opportunity. It was two-year-old cheetah Winspear, complete with his own personalized harness and entourage of handlers. Before making his way through the house to a table on the back deck, the two-legged guests were held at bay. While the humans looked in awe at the lean, spotted big cat, Winspear strolled through, nonchalantly hopping up on the table for photo opps which were countless. Despite wishing, no selfies were allowed for guests with the Winspear.

Though cheetahs are typically shy, Winspear proved that he had adjusted to the limelight. He also had learned how to get treats from his “assistants.” With guests aiming cellphones at him, he turned his head away. Chief handler Alyssa pulled out a treat and placed it strategically on the table so he faced the guests. After devouring the treat, he gave Alyssa a lick, purred and posed for the cameras. Then he turned his head away again, resulting in a second treat for Winspear and another photo opp. In other words, Winspear has got his handlers trained.

It was then time for Winspear to retreat to his “green room.”

Chuck Gummer

Chuck Gummer

Before the next zoo ambassadors appeared, Zoo To Do Co-Chairs Cindy and Chuck Gummer with their kids and kids-in-law announced they were aiming to meet last year’s fundraising total of $1M. Already just from underwriting, they’d passed the $700K mark and Chuck said they still had the live and silent auctions to go on Saturday, October 17, at the zoo. With a twinkle in his eye, Chuck suggested that the “man cave” that was in the auction lineup was really something to consider.

Penguins taking a dip

Penguins taking a dip

The Gummers’ comments were brief because the next team of Dallas Zoo residents were waiting in the “wings.” These two had required some preparations for the Daseke household. They were African penguins. The idea was for the penguins to splash around in the pool overlooking the backyard. However, penguins and chlorine-treated pools don’t mix. So, Barbara had the pool drained and refilled with spring water. When she asked her pool man how much it would cost to do such an operation, he said he would do it for free, if he could bring his son to see the twosome. Barbara laughed, saying that she would have had them come regardless.

Well, the penguins took to the Daseke pool like ducks to water. They showed off their various swimming strokes — splashing, submarining, breast strokes, etc. Barbara walked to the edge of the pool looking like she was going to join them.

Genesis Annual Luncheon’s Maria Shriver Encouraged Guests To Drop Negative Influences And Strive To Be Themselves

The Genesis Annual Luncheon kicked off the Mother’s Day week festivities a tad bit early. But then it’s never too early to celebrate moms. So, it was no surprise that more than 1,600 high-heeled types included moms and their kiddos (Micki Rawlings and son Gunnar, Lisa Ogle and mom Nina Thornburgh, Marianne Staubach and her daughters, Nancy Ann Hunt and daughter Ashlee Kleinert and her daughter Connie Kleinert, made their way to the gargantuan Trinity Ballroom on Tuesday, May 5.

Ashlee Kleinert, Nancy Ann Hunt, Connie Kleinert and Mackenzie Meyer

Ashlee Kleinert, Nancy Ann Hunt, Connie Kleinert and Mackenzie Meyer

Micki Rawlings and Gunnar Rawlings

Micki Rawlings and Gunnar Rawlings

As they strutted on their way, they passed by the Wedgwood Room where featured speaker Maria Shriver posed for photos with VIP guests. Each one she greeted with a handshake and “Hello, I’m Maria.” She handled each meeting like the seasoned trooper she is, including the woman who bear-hugged her.

Pio del Castillo, Jan Langbein, Maria Shriver and Crayton Webb

Pio del Castillo, Jan Langbein, Maria Shriver and Crayton Webb

Eventually the action moved to the Trinity, where it was hard to find a single empty chair. Maria was joined tableside by Luncheon Chair Kathy Helm. At nearby tables were Nancy Rogers, Michael Flores, Olivia Kearney, Holly Deason, Shelly Slater, Ros Dawson Thompson, April Box Chamberlain, Katie Pedigo, Joyce Lacerte, Pio del Castillo, Amy Turner, Julie Hawes, Rev. Sheron Patterson and Claire Emanuelson. Congratulations were being distributed to the various fellows in the crowd like newlyweds Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner and WFAA’s John McCaa, who had just earned his doctorate in philosophy.

Michael Flores and Nancy Rogers

Michael Flores and Nancy Rogers

Josh Ragsdale, Sheron Patterson, Kathy Helms, John McCaa and Ashlee Kleinert

Josh Ragsdale, Sheron Patterson, Kathy Helms, John McCaa and Ashlee Kleinert

Before Maria was introduced, The Dallas Morning News and its series “Deadly Affection” were recognized with the Jane Doe Award and Genesis Women’s Shelter Jan Langbein emphasized that the work against domestic violence was more necessary than ever.

Josh Ragsdale and Kathy Helms

Josh Ragsdale and Kathy Helm

Then HeRO Board President Crayton Webb gave a stirring talk on how men…real men are more than “gentlemen…they are “gentle men.” He then introduced W.H. Adamson High School football coach and athletic coordinator Josh Ragsdale, who was presented the HeRO Award. In his brief acceptance speech, it was obvious how this man who works with young men on the football field was chosen. Through his efforts, he has inspired more than just the Adamson athletes to take a pledge to be against domestic violence. His message has spread throughout the country. In addition to having twin daughters, he and his wife Amber are expecting a son, who will have an excellent role model.

Maria Shriver and Jeff Brady

Maria Shriver and Jeff Brady

Before settling into the comfy chairs on stage, Maria addressed the group, telling about her visit the night before at Genesis. Through talking with the clients of the shelter and hearing their stories, she told guests “these women deserved respect and not shame.”

Highlights of her chat with Jeff Brady included:

  • At the age of 8, she hated Dallas. And due to what had happened in Dallas (the Kennedy assassination), she was not changing her mind. At the age of 40 — 32 years later — she realized that she didn’t want to drag negative influences along her journey of life. One of those items was that hatred that had resulted from family feelings. So she visited the Sixth Floor, the grassy knoll and returned to the Sixth Floor for a prayer. Her hatred was transformed to understanding and liking Dallas. In fact, one of her closest friends, Jan Miller, lives in Dallas.
  •  Jan Miller and Maria Shriver
    Jan Miller and Maria Shriver
  • When asked if she would have gone into journalism today, she said she had been asked that before and had to think about it. Her answer? She would probably go into sports because so many things were initiating from it.
  • Maria told how the previous weekend she had turned down the sound on the broadcast of the Floyd MayweatherManny Pacqiao fight much to the chagrin of her sons. She explained that they needed to know about Mayweather’s history of domestic violence. Maria went on to say she was not ruining their evening, she was instructing them.
  • Jeff Brady and Maria Shriver
    Jeff Brady and Maria Shriver
  • Upon hearing about Dale Hansen’s outgoing personality and his taking a vocal stand against domestic violence, she said she wanted to meet him.
  • Maria admitted to a personal problem when she has been hit by mistaken identifications like “Are you Caroline Kennedy?” Other times she was asked if she was indeed Maria Shriver. At one point she just denied being Maria Shriver. One person said they didn’t think she was Shriver because “Maria Shriver is fatter.”

In conclusion she shared a lesson that she had learned over the years of being associated with well-known parents and other family members — do not compare yourself to others but to strive to be yourself. And Maria has indeed mastered that lesson.

More photos are available at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Academy Award-Winning Kevin Costner Flutters Hearts At New Friends New Life’s Wings Luncheon

Think back. Remember that fellow. When was it? Junior high? High school? He was that one with the smile that blended sincerity, mischief and adoration. It was the innocent twinkle in the eye and that smile that convinced your mom that he was the one. It was that touch of naughtiness that had your dad on all-force alert. You didn’t care. He was just so darn adorable. If he had foibles, you could rehab them.

But there was more to him than the look. It was the fact that music had a different sound when you thought of him. It was that blue shirt that he wore. It was that intoxicating scent that arose when he was near. It was that connection look that he would give you that made you electric.

Come on. You wrote about him in your diary and/or you told your ultimate BBF. Now, you’re remembering. Sure, that diary has been lost ages ago and your BBF is more concerned nowadays with her gray roots than your memories. But he still remains in your memory eyes as a star burst.

Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner

Well, on Friday, April 10, his prototype was there in the flesh and proved to be just as adorable as you remember. In your memories, you’ll have to supply the name. But on this day, he was Kevin Costner.

Even before the VIP reception was to start at 10:30, parking lots were filling to the max with NFNL volunteers driving ladies in stilettos from the satellite lots to the Hyatt Regency. One driver was just plain grateful that the predicted rain had held off.

Knowing that the New Friends New LifeWings Luncheon” VIP was to take place at 10:30, countless socialites turned up for the VIP reception acting like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert. Instead of squealing, there were cellphone salutes. Ah, shoot! The gals all knew better, but as one Hyatt Regency staffer summed it up perfectly, “I’ve seen him on TV for years, but I want to see him in person just once.”

For those who had attended the night-before reception and dinner, they stood in the background knowing they had already had their moment with Kevin. A scant few were showing off their fuzzy photos of Kevin.

Kevin Costner surrounded

Kevin Costner surrounded

The meet-and-greet was packed with more people than normally attend a full-blown fundraiser. Despite the stage, Costner insisted on standing at the stage’s base to get to know the guests. Instead he was totally surrounded by the mass of women and few were giving up their spots. You just know you’ve hit the honey pot when even the most proper media types smile like giggly school girls pulling out their cellphones for a hopeful shot of the man.

At 11 Luncheon Chair Jeanne Johnson Phillips raised her voice at the mic beseeching the crowd to release their hostage.

Kevin Costner speaking at meet-and-greet

Kevin Costner speaking at meet-and-greet

Reluctantly they did, trying to grab just one more selfie-on-the-fly as he headed to the stage. His briefs remarks were kind. He said how he appreciated the ladies wanting to take their photo with him. Then he was whisked away through a back door.

By 11:15 the crowd of 1,500 inside the ballroom had grown, including Holly Reed, Claire Emanuelson, Pam Perella, Debra Nelson, Di Johnston, Mary Jalonick, Carol Seay, Gerald Turner, Jill Smith and Bobby Lyle. Video cameras on extension poles scoured the room for faces. It wouldn’t have been surprising to have seen a drone do a fly-by.

At 11:20 an unknown voice announced that the program would start in 10 minutes. The voice returned at 11:35 announcing the program would start in five minutes. This time it had a slight edge as it was heard to say, “Please take your seats.”

At 11:40 the color guard appeared at the side of the stage. Still people just stood chatting. At 11:41 the unknown voice put out the final call: “Ladies and gentlemen, PLEASE take your seats. The program is about to begin.” The guests followed the voice’s instructions this time.

Despite assurances that she would not be attending, former First Lady/Honorary Co-Chair Laura Bush entered the room from the side of the stage with Honorary Co-Chair Ruth Altshuler and the two took their seats at a front-row table. Secret Service folks suddenly popped up around the room.

Following a video, Dallas Police Chief David Brown arrived at the podium with the color guard. Following his providing the invocation, one of the flag guard shouted a command for the guard to move on. David said, “Yeah, I forgot he was in the Marines.”

A second video was shown and awards were presented to Sabre, the Letot Girls’ Residential Treatment Center and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s human trafficking team.

At 11:54 Jeanne thanked everyone for being patient with the parking and for coming. It was the largest attendance ever for the group. She then went on to say that the problem of human trafficking is “one of the worst situations in the city. “

Four minutes later another video was shown reporting that Texas is second in sex trafficking and 400 teens are on the streets of North Texas each night.

Chris Kleinert

Chris Kleinert

At noon, Chris Kleinert announced that a men’s advocacy group had been launched and he would be chairing it.

As guests finished their meals and tables were cleared, music created by Kevin played in the background.

At 12:15 a new unknown voice — a female voice — announced the program would continue in 10 minutes. A man warned the hotel staff, “You guys have to be out of here in one minute.” A minute later the male unknown voice told people to take their seats, since “the program is about to begin.” Lights dimmed.

KTVT’s Karen Borta was at the podium and welcomed Gary Cogill to the stage where two chairs were placed. Gary was soon joined by Kevin for a chat.

Kevin Costner and Gary Cogill

Kevin Costner and Gary Cogill

With a comfortable style and boyish charm, he touched on a variety of subjects. Highlights of the conversation included:

  • A movie that had a profound impact on him as a youth was “Giant,” especially the scene in which the Rock Hudson character loses a fist fight to the owner of a diner over serving Hudson’s Mexican daughter-in-law. In American movies at that time, Rock Hudson was not supposed to lose a fight. Kevin admitted that this situation confused him. “My hero was on the ground…As a young man, I was embarrassed that he lost.” What impressed Kevin the most was the Elizabeth Taylor character saying to Hudson, “You never stood taller.” It was at that young age of 9 or 10 that Kevin decided that’s the kind of person he wanted to be.
  • “Women are the ones who say, ‘We have enough. We need to take care of others.’”
  • His parents came from Oklahoma. His grandfather was 19 and lost everything during the Dust Bowl. “Maybe this isn’t the right place to say this, but he (his grandfather) married his 14-year-old sweetheart. (Laughter rose throughout the room, as Kevin looked around sheepishly)…and they were in love until the day they died.”
  • Having been brought in a conservative blue-collar family, Kevin’s father wasn’t too thrilled to learn that his son intended to become an actor. Years later, after achieving success in acting, Kevin told his father he was going to direct. His father’s response: “Ah, Jesus. That acting thing was going so good.” When Kevin decided to venture into music, the last person he told was his father.
  • His storied encounter with Richard Burton, who supposedly inspired him, “wasn’t that big a deal.”

    Kevin Costner

    Kevin Costner

  • In making “JFK,” Kevin recalled, he remembered one story that might be interesting since Laura Bush was present. “She doesn’t know anything about this…When I was making ‘JFK’ with (director) Oliver Stone in this beautiful city (of Washington, D.C.), Oliver was very agitated all the times. And he said that I should play Bush. I told him I don’t know him. I’d never met him.” Still, Stone pushed and pushed. Finally on a Sunday Keven was going to watch the Baltimore Orioles play in Washington, D.C. He ended up working out with the team, playing shortstop with Cal Ripken. Cal’s father even pitched to him and he hit a home run out of Memorial Stadium. “I was having this fantastic day. Then I went into the locker room and I was going to go out and watch the game. A phone call came and it was the president of the United States. It was George H.W. Bush and he said, ‘Wanna play golf?’” Kevin was escorted to the golf course and they had shoes for him. On the way he admitted that he hadn’t eaten, so a sandwich was ordered. As he arrived at the place, he got out of the car with sandwich in his mouth while trying to put on his shoes. Kevin ended up being on the president’s team, along with Andre Agassi. At one point he swings and the ball goes somewhere, with the Secret Service finding it. As they approached the 17th hole, they were being beaten badly. “George said that if we get this, we’ll tie them.” Kevin couldn’t figure how that could happen, but it did. “So now the day’s over and I’m gonna say ‘Goodbye.’ George said, ‘Wanna come to the White House?’ I said my pat answer: ‘Yes.’ So, we got on to the helicopter and received the Marines salute. My brother was in Vietnam in ’67 and ’68, so that means something to me…So, we went into the White House and the President said, ‘Do you want to go for a swim?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And there was nobody in the pool except me.” Afterwards they played horseshoes and had dinner with Barbara. As Kevin left for the evening, the President told how he was going to Moscow the next day and how he was going to deal with the situation. Kevin was amazed at how generous the President had been with his time and thought, “I was just going to play baseball today.” The next day, Kevin went to work and Oliver came into the makeup room saying, “I went to your buddy’s house yesterday…I got a chance to tour the White House, but they didn’t show me the good stuff. I didn’t get to see the pool. There was a guy swimming in the pool.”

    Kevin Costner and Gary Cogill

    Kevin Costner and Gary Cogill

  • “My journey as an actor has been magical.”
  • On “Bull Durham”: “It’s about men and women trying to get together. We can’t get along, but we have to.”
  • Westerns: “I always think sitting in the dark watching westward expansion in this country, thinking about the people who settle Texas and wondering, ‘Am I that tough?’ When a western is done really well, you create the architecture for the moment where actually as a man that if you want to be really honest with yourself, you go, ‘I don’t know what I would have done.’”
  • “I still have another western in me. It’s about 10 hours long.”
  • On “Dances With Wolves”: Years after the movie came out, he had finished a long day at the studio and was headed to his car when he heard a woman’s voice call his name. He was tired and continued walking, pretending that he hadn’t heard her. Again and again she called his name. He stopped and turned around. She described the ‘Dancing With Wolves’ scene in which Kevin had kissed his Indian love upon being reunited, and said it had meant so much to her. Then she told him that her husband was missing in action. She longed to have a similar reunion with her husband. In the following days Kevin arranged to have that one scene sent to her.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary: In conquering Mt. Everest, Hillary fell and was held by the strength of a single man, sherpa Tenzing Norgay, whom he didn’t even know. In deciding whether to proceed up the mountain or retreat, the sherpa said, “Do you hear that?” Hillary said he heard nothing. It was just the howling of the wind and the rain pounding. The sherpa replied, “It’s the mountain. It’s the summit. It’s calling us.” Kevin said, “To this day, no one knows who stepped first on the top of Everest. It’s kinda cool. Cause it’s not about who gets the credit. They needed each other. I think the summit is calling this room. It’s calling Texas because Texas is always up for a fight. These numbers that were done so beautifully in this film bother me. I can tell they bothered the room. We just can’t depend on Ray (Hunt) and Nancy (Hunt). They depend on us. So we’re kind of in this together.”
  • Kevin in raising his children told them every day, “You’re special, but it doesn’t make you better than anybody.”
  • On his daughters’ suitors: “I tell them that I am the first man to lay hands on my daughters. My daughters know what a man’s hands feel like that love them. Some of these young girls have not have had hands on them that have told them they were special. They have not had hands on them that love them, so they know the difference.”
  • Music: He had loved music as a kid, but put it aside until his wife asked why he hadn’t pursued it. The reason: one person who critiqued his music “was very cruel to me” when Kevin was in his 20’s. So, he dropped it. His wife persisted for two years, very gently. Finally, she “sat me down and asked me two questions, ‘Are you happy when you’re making music?’ ” He said, “Yes.” She then asked, “Do you think people in front of you…not this guy writing…but the people in front of you are happy?” And he said, “Yes.” She said, “What could be wrong with that?” He realized that it was such a “simple release for me.” He’s been playing for the past nine years.

As the hundreds made their way to their cars, Kevin headed to Ardmore to join his band Modern West, the Jeff Allen Band and Rich O’Toole at Heritage Hall that night.