ReuNight’s Four-Legged Guest Of Honor Stole The Fundraiser’s Limelight At The Statler And Nary A Person Minded

Just as temperatures and rain were dropping, the fundraising season had hitting an all-time high on Wednesday, November 8. As one vet put it, “Tonight I just have too many fires to put out and it’s cold and wet.” Still that person made the time for The Family Place’s ReuNight at The Statler.

Instead of having a fashion designer like last year’s Donna Karan, the guest-of honor was The Statler mascot llama that could only stay for cocktails.

Thanks to the chill and wet stuff, plans to have the cocktail party and meet-and-pet with the llama were moved to the lobby on the ground level below the ballroom. It didn’t bother the two- or four-legged critters at all.

That person with the fires to put out even made time to have a photo taken the ears-up llama that was picture perfect every time.

Kristi Hoyl and Jennifer Dix

Ron Hoyl, Amy Turner and Richard Dix

ReuNight Co-Chairs Kristi Hoyl was receiving non-stop congrats on her new role at Baylor Scott And White Health…Co-Chair Jennifer Dix was the ultimate hostess greeting guests with a hug…Co-chair Husbands Richard Dix and Ron Hoyl were the supportive and adoring husbands… Speaking of dutiful husbands, Allan McBee hit the couch as soon as he escorted wife/Texas Trailblazer Lynn McBee into the reception. Allan was waylaid by a years-old knee injury that may require revisiting.

JB Hayes and Robert Weatherly

Allan McBee

The arrival of the Jones clan rallied the photographers with Gene Jones and Charlotte Jones Anderson and Shy Anderson being flashed like the llama in the back of the room.

Kristi Hoyl, Jennifer Dix, Paige Flink, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Gene Jones

Ahead of schedule, the crowd including Caren and Pete Kline, Pam and Vin Perella, Mersina Stubbs, Angie and Kevin Kadesky, Amy Turner, Shelle and Michael Sills, Niven Bannister, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Cindy Stager, Neil Patel, Tim Adair, Cara French, Heather Randall, Tia Wynne, Mary Martha Pickens, Brooke Shelby, JB Hayes, Robert Weatherly, Tucker Enthoven with mom Julie Ford and Lisa Ogle, moved to the upper level ballroom which Kim Bannister’s design was simply captivating with columns showcasing the ReuNight icons (Charlotte Jones Anderson and Shy Anderson, Gene and Jerry Jones, Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis Kirk, Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger and T. Boone Pickens).

Neil Patel and Tim Adair

Kim and Niven Bannister

ReuNight ballroom

After dining and bidding on a few luxury packages, they danced into the night with the Jordan Kahn Orchestra on stage.

More than one guest worried about the llama’s stress level as the ever-changing guests and camera flashes. Not to worry. As the final photo was taken, the llama sauntered out the front door like any pooch on a evening walk, as a pizza delivery fella walked in with box in hand for a hotel guest.

For more photos of the llama and other pretties, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 ReuNight

JB Hayes and Robert Weatherly

The llama of honor was picture perfect on Wednesday, November 8, at the Statler for The Family Place’s ReuNight. After standing for more than an hour, its ears were still standing straight up and it never shied away from the camera flashes and the guests taking selfies.

Kristi Hoyl, Jennifer Dix, Paige Flink, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Gene Jones

And when the chimes called the guests upstairs for the seated dinner and live auction, the step-and-repeat, four-legged star made a brief exit out the front door passing by Honorary Co-Chairs Gene Jones and Charlotte Jones Anderson on their way in.

While the rest of the soiree write-up is being prepared, check out the llama and faces at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

1,300 People Had A “Hinge” Experience By “Connecting” With New BFF Jamie Lee Curtis At The Celebrating Women Luncheon

Editor’s warning: This post is a very long one, but it’s worth the read. So, settle back to find out why the 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon was one of the most memorable get togethers of the year.

It depended on your age when it came to Jamie Lee Curtis. Those with decades on their meters remembered her as the darling daughter of Hollywood’s golden age couple of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. Then there was the generation that immediately thought of her being terrorized in “Halloween” and “Terror Train.”  Others recalled her as the “bod” in “Trading Places” and “Perfect.” And, yes, there’s a current generation who have read her 14 books to their children.

The question at the Baylor Health Care System Foundation‘s Celebrating Women Luncheon was, “Who really is Jamie Lee Curtis?” That’s because Jamie (“Just call me Jamie, not Jamie Lee”) was going to be the featured speaker at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, October 26.

Before heading down to the VIP meet-and-greet in the Anatole’s Wedgwood Room that Thursday morning, Jamie showed the first signs of how the day would go. She told an event staffer that she was wearing no makeup and had done her own hair. But if they wanted someone to do her makeup, it was up to them. No need; Jamie was just fine in her own skin. Earlier someone had asked if she wanted to review the questions that would be posed to her in the chat with Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson. Nope. She would just take them as they came.

Vicky Lattner, Nancy Carter, Emilynn Wilson and Di Johnston

Before she entered the room, the crowd including Kristen Hinton, Norm Bagwell, Barbara Stuart, Carol Seay, Jimmie Westcott, Lisa Cooley, Tanya Foster, Aileen Pratt, Kate Swail, Pam Perella, Leslie Diers, Debbie Robinson, Polly Tadlock, Fredye Factor, Sarah Losinger, Debbie Oates, Christie Carter, Julie Ford, Rich Enthoven, Trisha Wilson, Tiffany Divis, Jennie and Stuart Reeves, Caren Kline and Dallas Morning Newsies Deborah Fleck, Selwyn Crawford and Mike Wilson was happily chatting and drinking coffee. Only a handful of people were getting in line for the grip-and-grin. That would quickly change.

Barbara Stuart, Carol Seay and Jimmie Westcott

Like a quarterback preparing for the big game, Jamie checked out the setup and approached the event photographer and suggested a place where she would stand with guests. As another photographer took a photo from the side, Jamie called the second photographer over and gave instructions to shoot directly in front of her. It wasn’t an order. She was advising the team on a game plan that would seamlessly score success. 

Even the guests became part of the team effort. Jamie would talk with each one and make sure that all were picture-perfect. When Gretchen Minyard arrived for her photo, Jamie adjusted the flower on Gretchen’s jacket. One young woman quickly put the finishing touches on her own makeup as she went through the line. She was thrilled for the photo opp. From the big smile in being photographed with Jamie, no one could tell that she had just had her first round of chemo the day before. Linda Custard, who had successfully gone through a year of treatments, had a special glow about her as she and Jamie embraced.

Linda Custard and Jamie Lee Curtis

Lindalyn Adams and Jamie Lee Curtis

After having her photo taken with Lindalyn Adams, Jamie called time-out and went to the side of the staging area to talk with Lindalyn, who had initiated Celebrating Women 18 years ago.

Now, the guests were starting to take notice and lined up for their picture with Jamie. A handful of guests stood back, saying they weren’t all that interested in a photo with Jamie. That would change. Soon enough the line was winding past the stanchions, and in the line now were those who’d said earlier they weren’t all that interested in a photo with Jamie.

Observers started taking note of how in each shot, Jamie would hit her mark with her legs crossed at the ankle, confidently hold her head high, smile with lips together and have an expression on her face as if she was truly proud to be in the picture. Her arms would adjust a bit with each photo, but they never struck the “sorority girl” pose.

Peggy Riggs, Jamie Lee Curtis and Leonard Riggs

Aileen Pratt and Jamie Lee Curtis

Selwyn Crawford, Deborah Fleck, Jamie Lee Curtis and Mike Wilson

When the final photo was taken, one of the photographers approached her and thanked her for her earlier direction, adding that each photo had turned out great. Jamie smiled with a twinkle in her eye and said, “I knew where the lights were.”

Dennis Bassler and Connie Yates

Nancy Dedman and Jill Smith

As the doors opened to the Chantilly Ballroom, the 1,300 guests like Tom Thumb President Dennis Bassler with Tom Thumb First Lady Connie Yates, Sara Martineau, Vicki Chapman, Joan Eleazer with daughter Layne Pitzer, Debbie Raynor, Nancy Dedman, Jill Smith, Gene Jones, Anita Arnold, Al Hill Jr., Linda Perryman Evans, Jan Langbein, Leslie Gosnell and sisters Nancy Marcus and Nelda Cain were taking their places. Before things got underway, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell stood behind Jamie, who had taken her place at the table next to Honorary Co-Chair Leonard Riggs. The Powells had their cellphones ready to snap a photo with her. When Jamie realized the situation, she stood up and took hold of the phone for a selfie with the girls.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell

Soon, the program was underway with London Hibbs entering the center aisle singing “Heroes” and joined by dancers en route to the stage.

London Hibbs and dancers

They were followed by Event Chair Tucker Enthoven, who welcomed the guests and told how the monies raised at the luncheon stayed in North Texas. To emphasize the point, she told of 43-year-old attorney/wife/mother Carolyn Brown, who just the year before had been diagnosed with stage III tripe-negative breast cancer.

Carolyn Brown and her team of health care providers

Following a video about Carolyn’s journey, an army of 20 men and women lined up along the back of the stage. Through the group entered Carolyn, who explained that these people had been the ones who had taken her through nine months of surgeries, chemo and radiation, resulting in her being cancer-free. 

Ola Fojtasek and Tucker Enthoven

Following lunch, Tucker returned to the podium with her Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek, who acknowledged Lindalyn, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation staff, the committee, presenting sponsor Tom Thumb and the mega donors. Ola then got the activity meter raised, explaining that at each table there was one program that was marked for the holder to receive an $80 gift certificate for Kendra Scott. 

Jim Hinton

Tucker thanked Honorary Co-Chairs Peggy and Leonard Riggs, announced a matching challenge of $25,000 and introduced Baylor Scott And White Health CEO Jim Hinton. Jim told how his life had been influenced by the women in his life, including his daughter, 12-year-old Nora Hinton, who the morning after the recent presidential election announced that she could still be the first female president. He emphasized the importance of the Celebrating Women Luncheon by announcing that, over the past 18 years, it had raised more than $30M, and more than 100,000 women had been screened last year at the Darlene Cass Imaging Center.

Following Jim, Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson introduced Jamie for a chat on stage. It would be a chat to be remembered.

Before getting started, though, Jamie addressed one part of the audience. “I was raised well. Not really, but I was raised semi-well. I actually made them move the chair so my back wasn’t to you. But I apologize that my back is to you, and I will try to pin it like a Rain Bird.”

Jamie Lee Curtis and Robin Robinson

Who is her hero? Robin asked. “I am almost 60, and I have spent a lot of time in ballrooms sitting around tables of 10 with well-heeled, well-dressed people like yourselves advocating for causes in ways to come together to raise money for important causes,” Jamie replied. “And I have seen myriad ways that these are done. I have never in my life seen a more moving example of what this is, the reason we are here, than that team of people coming up on the stage. I’ve done a lot of these and I think that’s why that challenge grant … and I hope we make it … I’d like to see a show of hands of 25 people in this room who will give a thousand dollars with me.* I want it right now. 25 people to give $25,000. [Hands went up throughout the room.] I want to know that $50,000 extra was raised in one minute for the work of those people who stood here for her and work for people you will never know. There is no more important thing for us to do today than to support them. I’m just privileged to be here.” 

Hands raise for the challenge

Did you have a cancer scare? Robin then asked Jamie. “I did, and in coming here I recalled it,” she answered. “My memory of it was the wait in that room for the diagnosis. Either an all-clear, which was my case, or the diagnosis of breast cancer and then the eventual treatment plan and care team stepping in. And what I remember about it, and the reason why I try to stay active, is that moment of feeling alone, even though my sweet husband Christopher [Guest] was sitting with me. It is a profound moment of truth. I was prepared for it. And as I got the ‘All clear’ from it, I was grateful to my doctor who found it. It was not noticed on the mammogram. It was not noticed radiologically. It was done from palpitation, by actually laying on his hands. I’m incredibly luck, but I’ll never forget that moment.”

In receiving the tough news from your doctor, Robin asked next, do you want her to ask how your life is going, or do you want straight talk? “Me? I’m coming up, if I’m lucky enough, on February 3rd of next year, I’ll be coming up on 19 years sober from drugs and alcohol,” Jamie answered. “In my opinion [addiction] is hereditary—my dad, my mom, my brother. And [for me] it was an opiate addiction. It was a small plastic surgery moment that led to an opiate addiction. It is no accident today that we have an epidemic in this country. I’m in recovery, and I want it as straight as you can give it to me. I’m as straight a person as it is. I want no subterfuge. I want it unvarnished. I want you to tell me the truth. I try to live an incredibly truthful life.”

How do you select the causes that you support? Robin asked. “I think like all the rest of us, I get touched by something,” Jamie replied. “As it is with breast cancer, it is a concentric circle in our lives. There is no place that I would go in the world and not come in contact immediately with someone either recovering from breast cancer, undergoing treatment or they have a sister or mother with breast cancer. I was in Los Angeles at a surprise wedding. I was seated at a long table, as we all were.

“I was chatting with three people across the table, and the woman seated directly across from me was from Italy. Lovely. I found her charming. And then another woman introduced herself and said that she and her husband were from Dallas. I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to Dallas in four days.’ She asked why and I said, ‘I’m going to speak at the breast cancer luncheon connected to Baylor.’ And she said, ‘Oh, those are my people! You’ll meet my oncologist.” She’s a 15-year survivor. And then the woman directly across from me, the one from Italy, said to the woman, ‘I just had a double mastectomy.’ Here we were a triangle. Three women connecting about breast cancer at a surprise wedding. To me the reason we’re here is to connect. We are not here to do anything but connect.”

Jamie Lee Curtis

Then Robin asked, “What got you into acting?” “It was an accident,” Jamie said. “There is a book that I love, ‘Special Topics in Calamity Physics,’ by Marisha Pessl. In it there is this great quote. She says you know, most people think life is all about like where you go to school, what degree you get, what college you get into, who you marry, what your first job is, what your starting salary is, blah, blah. She said, and I roughly quote, ‘It’s not. Life hinges on a couple of seconds you never see coming, and what you decide in those seconds determines everything from then on. And you’re not going to know what to do until you’re there.’ That’s my life.

“I was a D+ student, who got into the only college where my mother was the most famous alumnus. I majored in track. I was a non-student. I could barely spell ‘student.’ I came home for Christmas and ran into a guy who was a tennis teacher at my friend’s court and he said, ‘Hey, Jamie, I’m now managing actors, and they’re looking for someone to play Nancy Drew. Why don’t you go up for it?’ I was like ‘Okay.’ I didn’t get it, but then I ended up literally signing a seven-year contract with Universal Pictures (because they used to have contracts then). My point is that I went over to my friend’s house and a tennis teacher said, ‘Hey they’re looking for actors,’ and the next I knew I quit school and I connected in the exact same way the rest of my life.

“I never thought I would write a book in my life. As I mentioned, my SAT scores—I proudly say this for all you underachievers out there, you could be up here with your—excuse my French, your shitty SAT scores! My four-year-old daughter walked into my room one day and said, ‘When I was little, I used a diaper. But now I use the potty.’ And she walked out of the room. I just thought that was hilarious. I wrote down on a piece of paper, ‘When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.’ I wrote the list of things that she couldn’t do and could do and at the end I wrote three things,

  • When I was little, I didn’t know what family was.
  • When I was little, I didn’t know what dreams were.
  • When I was little, I didn’t know who I was, but now I do.

 

“When I was finished writing that, I was sobbing and I realized I could write a book. Though I never dreamed I’d write a book, I sold it that day to a publisher in New York, and it was the first of 14 books I’ve written for children. I say it because the last thing in the world I thought I would do is write a book, and yet a book popped out.

“I’m going to tell you one more thing about life hinging on seconds you never see coming. It was 1984. I was single, sitting my apartment with my friend Debra Hill, who is no longer here, and I was getting ready to do the movie ‘Perfect.’ I opened Rolling Stone magazine. There was a picture of three guys with their arms around each other like guys do with shirt sleeves. There was a guy on the right who had a face like this [she made a funny face]. And I said to Debra, ‘I’m going to marry that guy.’ She said he was Chris Guest. I called his agent the next day, who told me he knew I was calling about Chris Guest. Debra had already called. He never called me.”

Jamie went on to tell how she continued with her life, and was even dating a fellow. After taking him to the airport one day, she drove to West Hollywood for dinner with Melanie Griffin and her husband Steven Bauer. A couple of tables away, Christopher was sitting there. Recalled Jamie: “He looked at me and went like this” [she shrugged her shoulders and made a face]. She responded in a similar fashion. As he got up to leave, he repeated the expression, to which she once again responded in the same way. The next day he called her, and they were married four months later.

Did you have mentors who helped you focus on what is important? Robin asked. “No. I’m not going to lie to you,” Jamie replied. “My mother was a surviving woman. She had a rough life. But she was a very grounded human being, and I credit her with a lot of the way I walk through the world. To be perfectly honest, mostly men hired me. It was because the business that I was in was predominantly male. Over the years I’ve partnered with women. My editor is a woman.”

Then came the moment that would become “the talk” for days to come.

Robin asked how she used her platform to address the issue of people using power over others. Looking at the floor clock, which showed that the time for their conversation was running out, Jamie said, “And that’s the real time we have left?”

Replied Robin: “I’ll tell you when we’re finished.”

Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie said nothing. To the delight of the 1,000+ women in the room, she just held her index finger up and looked out at the audience as if to say, “Did he really just say that?”

And she let that expression and silence sit there for what probably seemed like an eternity for Robin. The oxygen in the room had been replaced with laughter.

With perfect timing, she said, “We need to talk. You’ll tell me when I’m done? I was merely trying to play by the time rule. I saw that the clock was running out. I was just asking … you’re blushing.”

The laughter only grew, and it was suspected that Robin was wishing that he could have taken back his “hinge” moment.

But like a great conductor, Jamie brought the room back to the serious subject that Robin had introduced. “What is happening today has been happening since the beginning of time,” she said. “And it always takes show business to be a catalyst for change. In recovery, I always knew that someone super-famous was going to have to die from an opiate overdose, before we changed the way we thought about opiates. Prince, a brilliant artist, was a fentanyl addict and he died from that. And now we change the rules. Now the president is convening a whole epidemic group to combat this.

“Sexual harassment and abuse have been in play since men in power have been in place. Through every generation, every business, every field, every color—there is no boundary. It’s just the nature of the beast, and it is a beast. And we are taking a look at it through the lens … pardon the pun … of Hollywood.  And it is going to create transformative change. It is going to take a little time. It is going to be a very challenging time for all us to look deep in ourselves and really figure out how we feel about it.”

She predicted that, as a result, more women would be put in positions of leadership.

Robin then said, “With your permission, I have one more.” Laughter.

Jamie answered, “That was flirting.” More laughter. “Yes, dear.”

His final question was, “What was the best moment of your life?”

She replied that it was being an adoptive mother of two children, Annie and Thomas. The moment was when, at 12:58 in the morning, Annie’s birth mother had called to say that she had given birth. Said Jamie: That was the “most transformative moment in my life. It began what has continued to be the greatest thing I will ever do in my life besides being sober. It is to share a life. It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It has made me look in the mirror more often about myself. It has brought us a lot of grief in our family, and a lot of healing. A child wants connection. They don’t want stuff. They want people to lean in and look at them and hear them and cherish them. The modern world makes that very difficult. We all have to work very hard to counteract that. ” 

Thanks to Jamie, 1,300 people experienced hinge moments allowing them to connect with a very special cause and person.

So, who was Jamie Lee Curtis? On Thursday, October 26, she was the BFF for more than 1,300 people—and she’s welcome back anytime she wants.

Check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for more pictures from the luncheon.

* Follow up on the match challenge: Jamie’s invitation for people to join her in meeting the match not only met the goal, it surpassed it resulting in $60,000 from the challenge. And, no, the Celebrating Women organizers had no idea she was going to ask people to join her in donating $1,000.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon

Guests at Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Celebrating Women Luncheon on Thursday, October 26, at the Hilton Anatole had more to celebrate than raising mega funds for breast cancer. They discovered a new BFF — guest speaker Jamie Lee Curtis.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell

Lindalyn Adams and Jamie Lee Curtis

While some admitted that they had had no preconceived ideas about the day’s program chaired by Tucker Enthoven, they left the event delighted with Jamie’s honesty, openness, humor and range of subject matter. In fact, one luncheon-attending vet claimed that not since last year’s Hoda Kotb and Tim Gunn appearance had they been so impressed with a presentation.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Robin Robinson

The post is being prepared, so check out the pictures on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Aileen Pratt and Jamie Lee Curtis

Peggy Riggs, Jamie Lee Curtis and Leonard Riggs

Tucker Enthoven, Jamie Lee Curtis, Robin Robinson and Ola Fojtasek

PS — For those who are aficionados of the art of posing for photographers, check out Jamie at the grip-and-grin session. Observers noted how she always stood erect with her head up, looked at the camera straight on, never struck the “sorority-girl pose” and crossed her legs at the ankle in every shot. If you get a chance, just try to strike the “Jamie pose.” It’s a balancing act, but it works.

Despite Ma Nature’s Threatening With Weather Woes, Cattle Baron’s Ball “Shot For The Stars” With Paddles Waving And Guests Partying

Las Vegas oddsmakers thought they had all their bets covered on Saturday, October 21. The Astros were facing off against the Yankees in the 2017 American League playoffs, and the 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball was facing incredible odds to raise bunches of money for cancer research.

While the Astros won the pennant in Houston and prepared to meet  the L.A .Dodgers in the World Series, the CBB-ers were also rising to the occasion at Gilley’s Dallas. With all types of ugly weather once again threatening to create a Debbie Downer predicament, CBB Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill prepared for battle, making Eisenhower’s D-Day playbook look loosey-goosey.

Steve and Anne Stodghill and Sunie and Steve Solomon

The layout had been redesigned from past CBB gatherings at Gilley’s to address any possible stormy outburst. And as the days got closer and a norther started ambling its way southward, tents sprung up like bluebonnets in spring. Even the brief crosswalk between Gilley’s proper and the football stadium-size tent for the Brooks and Dunn concert was encased. Only the Ferris wheel lay bare.

Ferris wheel

But then, the Baronesses were old hands at dealing with Ma Nature, and Sunie, Anne and their committee members were prepared to take the old wet gal on. One longtime CBB vet was amazed at how seamless the evening went. The POA was created to be flexible, just in case an “Oops!” situation arose. And it did—but more about that later.

While the very fashionable types sported everything from suede skirts to custom boots, the accessory du jour was made of paper. No matter the amount of turquoise worn, it was the color of a guest’s wristband that established their pecking order. Talk about a caste system! It not only determined when and where a guest could venture, but it also reflected your exact ranking of table assignments at the Brooks and Dunn concert—if you scored the limited meet-and-greet with the duo.

Alison and Mike Malone and Hallie Lawrence

John Buchanan and Ken Paxton

Dwight and Claire Emanuelson

Andrea Weber, Mary Parker and Olivia Kearney

Rhonda and Fraser Marcus

Barbara and Don Daseke

Stubbs and Holly Davis and Kent Rathbun

Phil White and Danice Couch

Alex Laurenzi

Tom and Amy Hughes and Pam and Vin Perella

As guests like Ken Paxton (who was attending his first Cattle Baron’s in six or seven years), Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Pam and Vince Perella, Rhonda and Fraser Marcus, Angela Nash with Billy Martin Jr., Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Olivia and Jeff Kearney, Barbara and Don Daseke, Bethany and Stephen Holloway and past CCB chairs (Olivia Kearney, Jennifer Dix, Cindy Stager, Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Parker, Amy Turner, Katherine Wynne, Tia Wynne, Kristen Sanger and Brooke Shelby) partied in the main ballroom, some super VIPers waited for their meet-and-greet time with Winston and Strawn Live Auction entertainer Pat Green.

Among them: Co-chair Husbands Steve Solomon and Steve Stodghill, longtime friends who passed the time bantering about their outfits (Stodghill bought his tricked-out C&W jacket at Manuel’s in Nashville, it seems, while Solomon joked that he got his duds at Neiman’s). Stodg also revealed that his Winston and Strawn law-firm pals had bought five tables for the big party.  

Terra Najork

Steve Lamb, Pat Green and Deborah Ferguson

Katie Layton, Megan O’Leary, Paige Westhoff, Andrea Nayfa, Pat Green, Diana Hamilton, Terra Najork, Katy Bock, Nancy Gopez

That’s when the “oops” happened. As it turned out, the Pat Green meet-and-greeters waited … and waited … and waited. Seems that Pat had gotten a late start and then had been stuck in traffic. Not to worry, though. Food and beverages were brought in, creating a mini-party, as calls were made checking on Pat’s progress. Once he finally appeared, though, things went perfectly, with Green apologizing to each of the guests as their photos were taken. “It was the craziest thing in the world, trying to get here,” he explained to anyone who would listen. Who couldn’t forgive the baby-faced blonde? In the meantime, Pat’s wife, jewelry designer Kori Green, made her way to Jacqueline Cavender’s table for the performance leading up to the live auction, which would have a different feel tonight.  

Jacqueline Cavender and Kori Green

Pat Green and Steve Stodghill

As the two Co-Chair Hubby Steves introduced Pat to the audience, Pat came up behind Stodgie and wrapped his arms around the attorney. At points throughout his performance, Pat managed to not only play his guitar and sing, but to pose for selfies with loving admirers on the floor. He also chided the crowd at one point: “It’s Saturday night, and you don’t have to apologize until tomorrow. You all sure are quiet Christians! I guess for the Brooks and Dunn show, you’re gonna be hammered!” Pat even spied his Cavendar pals and thanked them for supplying his evening’s entire wardrobe—right down to his undies.

Kevin Kuykendall

Annika Cail

Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi

No sooner had Pat left the stage than it was time for the live auction to get underway. Some longtime observers were concerned. After all, stalwart paddle-hoisters like Nancy Rogers, Diane and Hal Brierley and Lisa and Clay Cooley were MIA, due to out-of-town ventures and other commitments. Not to worry. Such names as Wagner, Kuykendall, Fischer, Turner and Maguire not only filled the void, they raised eyebrows. One CBB vet stood in amazement as uber-bidding took place.

An auction package of a trip to Umbria and Florence to create custom porcelain place settings for 16, plus dinner afterwards at Truluck’s Dallas for 20, was won by Sabrina and Kevin Kuykendall for $100,000.

Kevin and Sabrina Kuykendall

Gail and Cliff Fischer

When the poker game with former Dallas Cowboys went up for bid, Cliff Fischer put on his best poker face, waved off auctioneers and watched the bidding proceed. He had snapped it up last year for $100,000 and was playing hard-to-get. Just as the bids slowed to a standstill, Cliff raised his paddle to snap it up for $75,000.

Cary Maguire wheeled up to the Deason table on the front row with his posse just long enough to have the last paddle standing for the Las Vegas package that included a concert with Reba McIntire and Brooks and Dunn for $50,000. No sooner had he signed on the dotted line than the Maguire entourage was gone.

Steve Stodghill and Todd Wagner

Amy Turner

Todd Wagner took home the Indie package for $41,000 and Amy Turner picked up the Chefs’ dinner for a nice round figure.  

A last-minute add was artwork by Ronnie Dunn, who appeared on stage to discuss his artistic venture. Art-loving Steve Stodghill couldn’t resist and snapped up Ronnie’s piece for $14,000.

Like clockwork, the live auction ended and the thousands headed to the big tent. For a handful of super-duper VIPs, it was backstage then for the meet-and-greet with Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn. As per the routine of most grip-and-grins, guests are photographed sans purses and other distractions.

Ronnie Dunn, Anne Stodghill, Sunie Solomon, Kix Brooks and Steve Solomon

But on this occasion, there were the exceptions. Barry Andrews proudly hoisted a Miller Lite. Who could blame the Miller distributor, who had once again sponsored the Miller Distributing Main Stage presented by Miller Lite?

Mike McGuire, Ronnie Dunn, Sophie McGuire, Natalie McGuire, Barry and Lana Andrews and Kix Brooks

Ronnie Dunn, Kinky Friedman, Nicole Barrett and Kix Brooks

And then there was this one fella who couldn’t be separated from his stogie. His name was Richard Friedman, but he’s more commonly known as Kinky Friedman. Perhaps he hadn’t been told that the fundraiser was benefiting the American Cancer Society?

Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn

No sooner had the photo session ended than it was time for Sunie and Anne to greet the more than 3,000 guests from the stage, announce the winners of the raffle, and get the concert underway with salutes to the military. And, what a concert it was! As two-steppers flocked to the front of the stage, Brooks and Dunn pumped out hit after hit: “Brand New Man,” “Red Dirt Road,” “Lost and Found,” “Play Something Country,” “Neon Moon,” “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” “Husbands and Wives,” “My Next Broken Heart.” Suffice to say, the big crowd got their money’s worth—and more. 

In the distance, meantime, Mother Nature was holding off. She was either was on her best behavior, or flat scared that Steve Stodghill would sue her for tortious interference. Regardless, as if perfectly planned, the heavens opened up and the rain started pouring down just as the final shuttles were hauling guests back to their cars at 2 a.m.

Yup, this year the CBBers had a game plan ready to take on all challenges. And the plan worked out just beautifully.

For a look at the festivities, check out the 90 pictures at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Houston Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson Stars At Dallas Habitat For Humanity’s Inaugural Dream Builders Dinner

When 400 people turned up for Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity‘s inaugural Dream Builders Dinner at Belo Mansion on Thursday, October 19, Mary Martha Pickens and her husband, John Pickens, were among them. Longtime active Habitat supporters, the Pickenses brought a whole table-full of their Bible-study pals from Highland Park United Methodist Church with them.

Philip Wise*

Which made sense, because the church’s Carpenters for Christ group was one of the evening’s award recipients. The other was Philip Wise, one of the co-founders of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity and also one of the HPUMC members who helped establish Carpenters for Christ. But hey, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The fundraising dinner, put on with the help of co-chairs Diane and Mike Gruber, Jennifer and Tom Karol, and Lynn and Allan McBee, was intended to be “an evening of inspiration for the future, and gratitude for those who have helped us reach this stage over the past 30 years.”

Tom and Jennifer Karol, Allan and Lynn McBee, Deshaun Watson and Diane and Mike Gruber*

It also turned out to be something of a farewell party for Bill Hall, Habitat’s local CEO. Hall announced surprisingly that he would be “closing out my time at Habitat” after 13 years. During his brief remarks, Hall sketched out an ambitious goal for the Dallas chapter: building 1,600 new homes by 2021—almost as many as the nonprofit has put up in total over the last three decades.

The evening’s hands-down star attraction, though, was Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. The NFL’s leading touchdown passer this season posed happily for photos during the meet-and-greet, then was interviewed onstage by broadcaster Brad Sham, who’s known as “The Voice of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Brad Sham and Deshaun Watson*

Raised in a Habitat home by a single mother who worked two jobs, Deshaun said home ownership had changed his life. It was the lifeline that pulled his family out of poverty, giving him the chance to thrive. He also described the impact his mother had on him, even as a football quarterback: “It starts with my mom. I’m observant. I can see how different people move in [different situations]. I’m a conservative guy. … Whatever happens, good or bad, you’ve got to shake it off and go on the next thing.”

Another thing his mother taught him, Deshaun told Brad, was that “it takes a long time to build a legacy. But it takes just one false step, one move, to bring it down.” By the end of the evening, few believed Deshaun would be having that problem anytime soon.

Editor’s note: Roughly two weeks after his appearance in Dallas, Deshaun reportedly suffered a season-ending knee injury during a Texans practice.

* Photo provided by Habitat for Humanity

 

Treasure Street’s “Color Me Texan” Co-Chairs Niven Morgan And Shelby Wagner Were Bullish On Breaking Records

Before the longhorn steer set hoof on the grounds of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for the annual Treasure Street fundraiser, the numbers were already boding “record breaker”on Thursday, October 19, with way more than 1,000 in attendance. Think 1,300 coming together to “Color Me Texan.”

Shelby Wagner and Niven Morgan

The bovine was the photo opp of the night with all types lining up for a selfie. However, the snap of Co-Chairs Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner got stalled. Niven was searching the grounds for his presentations notes. In the meantime, Shelby looked picture perfect despite Niven’s claims that earlier in the day Shelby had been hauling hay for the event set up.

BTW, this wasn’t Niven and Shelby’s first involvement with Treasure Street. As Shelby put it, “Niven’s been supporting Texas Scottish Rite for years.”

Niven added, “We were just flattered that they asked us to chair Treasure Street.”

Greiner Arts Academy Middle School Mariachi band

The organizers were also smart. This year’s outdoor fundraiser took over the parking lot at the corner of Oak Lawn and Maple. Almost immediately upon leaving their cars, guests were greeted by the 18-piece Greiner Arts Academy Middle School Mariachi band.

Treasure Street hay bar

Following the path to the check-in, they discovered the steer and a micro-version of Cattle Baron’s Ball with food stations (Campisi’s, Haystack Burgers and Barley, Matt’s Rancho Martinez, Parigi and Paul Martin’s American Grill), a stage for Emerald City, towering bars made of bales of hay and tall tables and chairs. And on this night, there was no need for a tent. The sky was perfect.

Janice Provost

Pretty-in-pink Janice Provost womaned her Parigi station and reported that the previous weekend’s Dining On The Prairie Dinner Series for Trinity Audubon had been a grand success despite the challenges of limited facilities.

At 7:30 America’s Got Talent electric violinist Svet surprised the audience by performing.

As for the live auction, it lived up to the record-breaking feel of the night with the tennis package with John Isner going  for $12,500 and the John Lannom terrain-hunting buggies going for $45,000. The results? Thanks to the silent and live auction, the total haul of the night was more than $1.2M.

Gerry Fronterhouse and Annette Simmons and Kathy and Rodney Woods

Others in the crowd were Honorary Co-Chairs Ginny and Randy Bailey, Annette Simmons and Gerry Fronterhouse, Mark Edgar, Ann Davidson with Mark Porter, Carolyn and Karl Rathjen, Carol Seay, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, and Kathy and Rodney Woods.

Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Celebrated The Close Of Family Gateway’s 30th Anniversary Year With Laura Bush Recalling A Little Boy Left Behind

Family Gateway’s CEO Ellen Magnis had a real challenge on her hands. Last year’s Gateway To Opportunity kicking off the 30th anniversary of the organization had really been a hit with Jenna Bush Hager on stage in a chat with WFAA’s Ron Corning in the Trinity Ballroom. The blonde former first twin had also scored points at the meet-and-greet in the Fair Park Room, where she even offered to do selfies with VIPs.

Betty Schultz, Laura Bush and Paula Miltenberger

But this year’s luncheon was to be the grand finale for  the 30th anniversary year of the organization for homeless families established by the late, former Mayor Annette Strauss. Ellen with Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz came up with quite a recipe for success. The speaker would be former first lady Laura Bush and the honorary co-chairs would be Annette’s daughters, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr. Was it a success? Evidently so, judging by the turnout that doubled the crowd from the last year and necessitating the move from the 15,418-square-foot Trinity Ballroom to the 31,733-square-foot Dallas Ballroom.

Janie McGarr, Nancy Halbreich, Penny Tower Cook, Laura Bush, Jeanne Tower Cox, Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt and Christine Schuepbach

All was set for the Thursday, September 7th luncheon with a couple of unforeseen oop’s. But what’s an event without a little challenge. For the meet-and-greet, the floorplan diagram had been created like an architectural work of art. No detail had been left out. Only problem arose when the organizers arrived to find that the Omni crew had done their own interpretation that was nowhere near the diagram. After requests to follow the original POA, Omni managers sheepishly arrived to say they didn’t have enough poles and curtains to satisfy the requirements. Seems there were two other events going on and they just ran out. Quickly, the Gateway team and the Bush folks redesigned the plan to achieve their goal with the limited resources.

Rachael Dedman and Vicki Chapman

Lee Ann White, Michael Faircloth and Gene Jones

Despite starting a few minutes later that planned, the meet-and-greet went so smoothly that it finished on time with all being photographed with Laura including Jeanne Cox, Rachael Dedman, Michael Faircloth, Gina Betts, Alison Malone, Tracy Lange, the Tower sisters (Jeanne Tower Cox and Penny Tower Cook), Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt, Christine Schuepbach, Lynn McBee, Becky Bowen and Underwriting Co-Chairs Lisa Cooley and daughter Ciara Cooley. The only one who wasn’t photographed with the former first lady was Ellen. Seems that she was in the lobby helping the check-in staff that had been flooded by the number of guests like Gail and Gerald Turner, Vicki Chapman, Gunnar Rawlings, Lee Ann White and Gene Jones checking in. But that situation was resolved, too.

Gerald and Gail Turner, Alison Malone, Ciara Cooley, Lisa Cooley and Becky Bowen

Promptly at noon, following KDFW’s Clarice Tinsley‘s welcome and Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Paul Rasmussem’s invocation, Ellen briefly told of Gateway’s partnering with Matthews Southwest in the creation of a complex in Hutchins with 336 units for families seeking affordable housing. When a client first works with Gateway, their case manager’s first goal is get them in housing and then to work with them on education completion, job training, financial literacy, parenting education and self-care. But she added that part of their mission was to learn and apply new strategies.

Following a video, Paula told how she had gotten involved with Gateway. It was three years ago and her plan had been to keep her boys occupied. Instead she learned the need for solutions. The boys, on the other hand, suggested that they just have the homeless move in with them.

Robert Munoz and Deanna Reyna Munoz

Deanna Reyna Munoz then provided a testimonial, telling how her mother was 16 when Deanna was born. Her father was incarcerated. That’s when they found Family Gateway and for the first time she had her own room, bed and closet. The Gateway staff then helped her mother change into a responsible person resulting in her having her own home. Deanna became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. She got a job at the Dallas Cowboys and “bought her own home with a pool and married her boyfriend (Robert Munoz) of 10 years. My success stems from the tools provided by Family Gateway.”

That powerful presentation was followed by auctioneer Wendy Lambert’s shout out for funds with a goal to match $225,000. This awkward segment tends to cast an aura of guilt in the room among those who don’t rise to occasion. In this case, the results hauled in $154,000. Or so folks thought as they finished up their meal. But post-event checks and online donations, the challenge was met!

It was now time for the main act with Presenting Sponsor MetroPCS District Manager Brad Pott’s introducing Laura.

  • She started off by thanking all for supporting Family Gateway and provided an update on the Bushes. When Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coat, Barbara and George H.W. Bush were safe and sound in Maine, where Barb is no longer walking the shores with her dogs. Instead she’s rolling around in a golf cart with the pooches following.
  • George W. Bush’s painting has resulted in 98 wounded warriors being subjects, a book “Portraits in Courage” and displayed at the Bush Center.
  • Laura and George W.’s names as grandparents — “It’s like choosing a name for a cat.” George suggested that his grandchild just call him, “Sir.”
  • Laura Bush bobble head doll — A friend gave it to her and reported that “It was on the clearance shelf.”
  • Tabloids — “My daughters were getting engaged to persons I had never heard of.”
  • 9/11 — She was sitting in Ted Kennedy’s office.

Then she tied her talk back to the subject of the day — early childhood care can change the cycle of poverty. Among the 400 families served by Family Gateway last year, there were 900 children.

Laura recalled that long before her husband was governor of Texas or president, she had worked at an inner-city school in Houston and discovered a remarkable level of poverty. Such conditions result in one in three young people dropping out of high school each year, with single-parent families becoming the norm and one or both parents in jail.

When she had completed her work at the school, she decided to take some of her students to AstroWorld. In picking them up, she arrived at one house where the student came to the door in his underwear. His mother never came to the door to provide permission for him to join the group. Before Laura left, she gave the tyke a long hug.

As Laura concluded her talk at 1:04 p.m., she admitted that she often wondered what happened to the youngster. Was he still alive? Did he have a family? What had happened to him over the past decades? She said the challenge is not to forget that little boy or any of the children in need of compassion and assistance.  

First Ladies Of Children Charities Fundraiser Were Feted And Photographed At The Annual Former Crystal Charity Ball Chairs’ Dinner

Clay and Lisa Cooley

It was the gathering of vets on Wednesday, May 24, not the military type, but rather the fundraising variety. As the golf carts sped guests from the street past the tennis court, the bridge, the fountains and the manicured grounds of Lisa and Clay Cooley‘s estate, the occasion was the annual former Crystal Charity Ball chairmen’s dinner. Each of these gals had headed the CCB in providing more than $137M for Dallas County children’s charities since its founding in 1952.

The evening Chair Jennifer Dix had earlier in the day had all the furnishing in the sunken living room overlooking the lush lawn, pool and creek removed. Flawlessly, roundtables were put in place complete with place cards and centerpieces by Garden Gate.

As guests arrived via the mini-limos, they were directed for a couple’s photo shoot and then past the open kitchen and the formal dining room to the great room, where a mammoth table was set up with a feast of food. And that was just for the cocktail party.

Cynthia Mitchell, Bob and Jill Smith and Gloria Martindale

Becky Bright and Rob Adair

Margo and Bill Goodwill

Barbara Stuart, Tincy Miller and Bette Mullins

Tucean Webb

Caren Kline

In between takes, the talk was about  Cynthia Mitchell’s pooch having to possibly have eye surgery following a mishap at the groomers… Nickey Oates arriving sans 2009 Chair/wife Debbie Oates, who was grandma sitting… 1976 Chair Lindalyn Adams was a no-show due to a fall.

While this crowd of former chairs, their spouses/dates, the 2017 CCB executive committee and representatives of the evening’s sponsors from Bank of America, US Trust Private Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch, could have easily spent the night ooh-ing and ah-ing the Cooley estate or just catching up, they finally took their places with pianist Tommy deSalvo playing the Star Wars theme.  

Pam and Vin Perella

After 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella welcomed the crowd, she invited the guests to settle back and enjoy the evening. But just as servers starting placing plates on the tables, Pam flashed her Mary Tyler Moore smile and asked the former CCB chairs — Christie Carter (2016), Michal Powell (2015), Caren Kline (2013),  Aileen Pratt (2012), Connie O’Neill (2011), Cynthia Mitchell (2010), Gloria Martindale (2008), Debbie Snell (2006), Jill Smith (2005), Margo Goodwin (2004), Karen Shuford (2000), Becky Bright (1999), Tincy Miller (1997), Barbara Stuart (1994), Tucean Webb (1992), Linda McFarland (1979) and Sally Bos 1960) — to gather in front of the mansion’s fountain in the driveway for the annual group photo. (Bit of CCB historic trivia: When Sally Bos chaired the 1960 gala, she was still in college.)

 

Linda McFarland, Debbie Snell, Tincy Miller, Margo Goodwin, Jill Smith, Sally Bos, Caren Kline, Christie Carter, Gloria Martindale, Cynthia Mitchell, Michal Powell, Aileen Pratt, Tucean Webb, Connie O’Neill, Karen Shuford, Becky Bright and Barbara Stuart

In front of the fountain, the photo was taken and the ladies returned to their chairs for a Cassandra dinner of baby green salad with madeira port poached pear, goat cheese, celery and honey pearls; pan-seared beef tenderloin, twice backed potato, crispy onions and saved Brussels sprouts; and warm gala apple crisp and cinnamon ice cream.  

More photos of the evening can be found at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Crystal Charity Ball Former Chairmen Dinner

The evening of Wednesday, May 24, couldn’t have been more perfect for the dinner honoring annual Crystal Charity Ball former chairmen at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s estate. To accommodate the 60 guests, 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella and Dinner Chair Jennifer Dix replaced the furniture in the formal living room with round tables topped off with tablecloths, place settings and floral arrangements.

Clay and Lisa Cooley

Pam and Vin Perella

But before dinner was officially on, the group photo of the past chairs took place in front of the fountain in front of the mansion.

Linda McFarland, Debbie Snell, Tincy Miller, Margo Goodwin, Jill Smith, Sally Bos, Caren Kline, Christie Carter, Gloria Martindale, Cynthia Mitchell, Michal Powell, Aileen Pratt, Tucean Webb, Connie O’Neill, Karen Shuford, Becky Bright and Barbara Stuart

Interesting side note: one of the past chairs was a junior in college when she chaired the Dallas County children’s charities fundraiser. Which one? Not to worry. The answer will be in the post that is being prepared. In the meantime, check out the guests at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott And Joanna Hernandez Demonstrated The Importance Of After-School All-Stars For Middle Schoolers

Settle back: This post is a long one, but it’s worth it.

If Dante Alighieri was updating his “Purgatorio,” he surely would have added Middle School to his Divine Comedy. Even the most blemish-free runway model recoils when recalling those days between elementary and high school. Teachers serving time in classrooms during this tenure should receive combat pay. Kids on their way to adulthood via the way station of puberty are being hit by their physical changes as well as peer pressure. Parents who years ago changed their babies’ diapers and made their peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches are transformed into Golfimbul on steroids.

Needless to say, this period of life is trying to say the least. But more about this later.

Brad Sham and Charles Haley

Rising Stars Luncheon organizers were looking a tad bit nervous around noontime on Wednesday, May 17, in the entry of the Dallas Country Club as they gathered for the After-School All-Stars North Texas fundraiser. Keynote speaker/Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was 20 minutes late. Dallas Cowboys voice/the day’s emcee Brad Sham assured them not to worry. Dak was probably stuck in the traffic lineup of vehicles on Mockingbird waiting to turn into the club.

In another area of the DCC, Dallas Cowboys vet Charles Haley was having a great time with the Brad.

Cliff Fischer, Dak Prescott and Charles Haley

Ken Schnitzer and Dak Prescott

Lee Bailey, Gina Betts and Tracy Lange

Bailey Lange, Livia Lange and Dak Prescott

As the lineup of 100 guests including Luncheon Chair Gina Betts with husband Ken Betts and son Jack Betts, Lee Bailey, Lisa Cooley and daughter Ciara Cooley, Tori Roark, Tiffany Divis, Tanya Foster, Lange kids (Bailey, Livia and Luke), Gregory Dunbar, Nancy Gopez, Shannon and Ted Skokos, Roz Colombo and Cliff Fischer surged to more than 200 for the meet-and-greet in the Founders Room, Dak’s handlers seamlessly moved him from the porte-cochere entrance to the grip-and-grin via the kitchen.

Shannon Skokos, Dak Prescott and Ted Skokos

Nancy Gopez and Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott and Stuart Macatee

Tori Roark, Dak Prescott and Ciara Cooley

Tanya Foster, Dak Prescott and Tiffany Divis

Emerging from the hallway, Dak registered a momentary look of surprise at the number of smiling faces. Taking his place in front of the ASAS sponsor board, he met his adoring fans of all ages. It should be noted that as the line continued to grow, Dak only took a two-second break for a gulp of water.

With each new BFF, he flashed that trademark Dak smile.

Arriving with his mom, Jonika Nix, Cash Nix was a standout wearing a Cowboys #4 jersey.

Cash Nix, Dak Prescott and Jonika Nix

Just as Dak was about to make his getaway for the ballroom, Cliff Fischer and Charles Haley arrived for a photo. And, of course, Charles just couldn’t contain himself trying to give Dak a smooch. Doing a great dodge, Dak moved just out of lip shot.

It was interesting to note that one of the last to appear was Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with son Jake Cuban. While Mark waved off a photo with Dak, he smiled on the side as the football player had a photo taken with Jake.

Fredye Factor, Dak Prescott and Haden Wolf

Inside the ballroom, it was a battle royale for guests taking selfies with Dak and Cubes. Poor guys hardly had a chance to eat. Speaking of which, it should be noted that the room had a larger showing than usual of young males. It seems that ASASNT Advisory Board Chair Ben Lange‘s blonde wife Tracy Lange had picked up on the abundance of little girls attending the “A Place to Soar” luncheon featuring Simone Biles. So, realizing that parents and grandparents like Fredye Factor might want to have a similar turnout of little boys for Dak, they prepared a menu just perfect for that age group: chicken fingers and French fries. And to be perfectly honest, there were many an adult who eyed the fingers and fries enviously.

Chicken fingers and fries

To keep the program rolling, Gina announced at the podium, “Please keep eating while we’re talking.” With that, silverware hit the plates. Gina explained that presenting sponsors Nancy and Richard Rogers were unable to attend because they were house moving.

She described the raffle prizes: First prize was a signed jersey by Dak, while the second prize was a trip to L.A. to player poker with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his friends. Upon hearing the latter, Dak piped up that he wanted a raffle ticket. 

Gina then got to the meat of the fundraiser: helping middle schoolers who get out of school in the afternoon and go to empty homes because their parent or parents are probably at work. Said Gina: “There is no one to greet them; no one to make them a sandwich; sometimes there’s no TV; and there’s certainly no one there to encourage them to do their school work.”

That’s where ASASNT comes in, Gina added. Between 3 and 6 p.m., “when those children would be on the streets hanging out with their friends or people they shouldn’t be hanging out with, instead they stay after school, where a volunteer comes and helps them with their homework, gives them education and then they get to do something fun.”

ASASNT Executive Director Marissa Castro Mikoy recalled how the year before, this luncheon event had taken place at Arlington Hall with about 100 guests. Today, the room was filled with more than 300 people. Speaking of numbers, she reported that, within Dallas County, more than “125,000 kids go home after school unsupervised. Only nine out of 42 DISD middle schools had any type of onsite after-school programs.” In addition, Marissa reported that “Dallas County has the fourth-highest juvenile crime rate in Texas.”

Joanna Hernandez

Following a video, ASASNT Program Manager Tori Schwarzlose introduced ASASNT 9th grade student Joanna Hernandez, who smartly did a shout-out to ASASNT JCPenney Signature Sponsor for her outfit. She then launched into a talk about her mom, who was from Waco, and her dad, who hailed from Mexico. They instilled in her the fact that they wanted better things for her. She admitted that “school wasn’t really hard for me and I like to read and really worked hard for my classes,” but what was challenging for her was “fitting in. In middle school, people are so quick to judge and I hated that. I felt like the loner in the corner, but when I started seventh grade, it sucked … really.” Joanna hit a chord that the majority in the room shared laughing with her.

But then her laughter and smile turned to the reality of the situation: “I wasn’t the only one dealing with the pressures. But it truly affected me, making me want to stay in my room and believes the lies. I used to come home every day after school, stay in my room, lock the door and wouldn’t let anyone talk to me or tell them how I feel. Mostly I was in a place where I wanted to hurt myself because of the words and actions of other people.” But eighth grade changed things, thanks to her learning about an after-school program. She asked her friends if they would come with her and they said, “Sure.” The first day they showed up for tryouts, “it was all the popular kids, and I felt so out of place. So I sat in the  back of the corner alone as always.” That changed when Tori came in, sat down and began talking with Joanna. 

That was the turning point. Joanna started making friends and having new experiences, like learning how to cook, DJ music production, and coding. Thanks to her teacher, to Tori and to others in the ASASNT program, Joanna admitted that she feels like they are family.

In conclusion, Joanna said that ASASNT can “help other students like me look at themselves differently and gain confidence. I am so grateful for this opportunity [from the] All Stars.”

Joanna knocked it out of the park. She had something that even the most polished professional speakers often lack: she spoke from the heart and from experience. The audience of all ages including Ben and Dak showed their appreciation.

Ben Lange

Dak Prescott

She was followed by JCPenney Executive VP and chief merchant/ASASNT Board Member John Tighe, who made a brief shout-out for financial support and introduced Brad Sham.

John had no soon taken his seat than Brad unleashed an announcement that he was deviating from the script. That statement from the podium naturally sends event planners into a brain frenzy. They realize that they have lost control and are now at the mercy of the man with the mic power.

Luckily, the man was Brad. He started off saying, “First of all, that was a very understated ask.” Then he asked Joanna to stand. Whoa! Things were really going off script. Sham was supposed to introduce Dak and settle down in a couple of chairs for a chat. Instead he was scrambling things up and had everyone’s attention.

“I want everyone to look at her. [Laughter, as Joanna shyly rose from her chair as bewildered as the guests]. I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry. She’s not a statistic; she’s not a number; she’s a real human person, whose life has been enriched and therefore is going to have the opportunity to enrich her community because of After-School All-Stars. Now, there’s no one over 18 in a sports coat or a tie, who ought to walk out of here today without giving some money to this organization. You care about these kids. Look around the room at these young people. These are people. These are the people who are going to be in charge in before long. We’d better help them. It’s our responsibility. It’s your responsibility.”

He then told Joanna that she could sit down, but he would ask her back on stage soon. He then asked the board members to raise their hands because he wanted to make sure to make eye contact with them about what he was going to say. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be here today. I’m here for two reasons, maybe three. The first one is that my very good friend and your fellow board member Barry Greenberg asked me to be here. Barry Greenberg has a birthday today and his butt is not here. He’s in Hawaii. I would like you to have him hear about that at the next board meeting. He didn’t mention that when he set me up to do this. The second thing is all he had to do was tell me a little bit about After-School All-Stars and I’m in. I talked to Marrissa and you hear the passion.”

Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from the conversation by Sham and Dak, but if you have the time, you might want to check the video below. Like the old saying goes, “A picture (or in this case a video) is worth a thousand words.)

Sham then explained how Dak’s presence had been the clincher for his being part of the program. With Dak sitting directly in front of the stage staring at Sham, Brad said, “He is who you want him to be. I think he’s going to be a pretty good quarterback. He’s already pretty good. He’s had a pretty good year and I think he’s going to have a tremendous career. Preferably what you want him to be is a really good quarterback for the Cowboys. But when you’re a quarterback for the Cowboys and pretty good, you then have to be more than that … and he is. Like two other guys before him under whose shadow he played because of their accomplishments … more than two but two in specific … you want those guys to be who you want them to be. Watch Dirk run up and down the floor and you say, ‘Please let him be that good as a human being’ and then you find out that he is. Dak Prescott is who you want him to be and he’s only getting started. He’s a remarkable young man.

“Here’s another example. Joanna, may I ask you to come back up here? [As the youngster made her way through the crowd, there was a rumbling of people wondering what Sham had planned.] While you were watching Joanna, I had my back to the podium, not intentionally … just how it worked out. I was watching Dak watch Joanna. And here’s why Dak Prescott is who you want him to be. He listens. When you talk to him, he listens. He cares about what you say. He was listening to Joanna. He was nodding at points of affirmation that resonated with him that you’re going to hear about in a minute.”

Then the veteran sportscaster turned to Joanna, saying, “The reason I asked you to come back up here is that though I’ve only known him a year, I think I know him well enough now to know that he wants is his picture with you. So, ladies and gentlemen, Dak Prescott.”

Needless to say, that impromptu intro nailed it, and Joanna and Dak were photographed.

The first question from Brad to Dak was, who were Dak’s role models? “My brothers and my mother were most important,” Dak replied. “To me the thing that resonates to me about such a school program is time. A lot of us don’t come home to parents. My mom was always at work. But I had two brothers who were five or six years older than me and that was who I had to look up to, to watch after me. But there was still time. You may think 10 or 15 are good ages, but we need something to do with our time. Something to better ourselves more than just the sports, the video games until mom gets home to cook for us because you get tired of Ramen noodles all the time. There are so many bad things and wrong decisions that you can make from 10 to 15. A program like this that is putting the kids in the position to get extra hours of studying and taking up new tasks, making new friends and coming out of their shells, doing something that makes you a better person and more interesting within yourself.”

While his brothers weren’t able to finish school, Dak learned from this and committed to getting an education. He admitted that he was one of the few fortunate enough to have people in front of him to tell him the right thing to do and to lead him in the right direction. He emphasized the need for ASAS because others aren’t as fortunate—or have brothers who might lead them in the wrong direction.

The subject then turned to Cowboys and football.

  • What does he do after his work day? “I’m a big video gamer. If I’m not doing something for the community, I play video games and hang out with a couple of buddies. I may try to find a pond to go fishing. I fish for anything. If there are fish in the sink, I’ll try to catch them. I’ve been trying golf lately, but I’m not into golf. I’ve taken it up, but it’s very frustrating.”
  • What was it about football that hooked you? He would go to his brothers’ little league games. “I guess I knew I was good at my first practice. I was in third grade, so I was eight years old and skipped the whole flag football.” It helped that he had played with his older brothers who had never taken it easy on him. “When I played people my age, it was a little bit different.”
  • When did the idea of being a quarterback come into play? In sixth grade, he was a linebacker. Then his brother taught him how to throw the ball.
  • Where did the leadership come from? “That came from my older brothers allowing me to always be around their friends, not really thinking about age at any point. They let me feel that I could play football and hang with them.”
  • How is his life different today compared to a year ago? “Completely.” While the way he thinks of himself and the way he goes about his work haven’t changed, “My platform has. A year ago no one would dared to have had me come up here and talk.” He said the greatest thing is that it has allowed him to tell his story and inspire others.
  • Was he disappointed to go in the fourth round of the NFL draft? “Yes. To sit there and wait two day, three days and wait … Yeah, it puts a chip on your shoulder, thinking there are 134 people that are better than me. I just have to go out and prove myself every day.”
  • Is he at the place where he can go into Jason Garrett‘s office and say what type of draft picks he wants? “No, I’m not there yet.”
  • During one of the games he was caught on camera finishing a cup of water and missed throwing it in the trash. He immediately got up and put it in. What were you thinking? “I wasn’t thinking. I was thinking, ‘How did I miss that shot?’ He was amazed that that video had garnered such attention, when it seemed like the natural thing to do.
  • Have you picked the brains of Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman? He’s spoken with both and shared text messages with Troy.
  • He’s creating a foundation called Fight, Finish and Faith. Where did that come from? When his mother passed away, the preacher told how she had said that Fight was for his elder brother Tad, who had fought for his family and the things he believed in; Finish was his brother Jace, who was there until the end; and Faith was Dak, because he believed in making a difference in the world.
  • “What was your favorite play this season?” a youngster wearing a Jason Witten jersey asked Dak. Dak said it was the one where Jason made the touchdown.
  • What was the lesson that Jason taught him at the first practice camp? Dak threw the ball to Witten, who didn’t extend to catch it and let the ball fall right in front of him. “He showed me what it takes to be in this league,” Dak said. Yes, Jason could have caught that ball, but to make it in this league Dak has to be precise and not expect the receiver to save him.
  • Why are you going to be better this year? “Hard work. Study as much as I can, get better with my teammates and just be ready to go. Get better as a team.”

As checkbooks were pulled out, Sham finished with, “Dak is what you want him to be.” And thanks to ASASNT, Joanna will be what you want her to be, too.

Annual Genesis Luncheon Keynoter Arianna Huffington Made A Wake-Up Call For Digital Intervention

Some of the digitally connected folks looked a bit squeamish at the Genesis Luncheon on Monday, May 15, in the Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom. It wasn’t that keynoter Arianna Huffington created a great divide like Bethenny Frankel. Rather, the former grand dame of internet news outlet The Huffington Post was telling the crowd to cut the cord, or at least the wireless connection with their cellphones, tablets and laptops. It was like the head of Alcoholic Anonymous extolling the virtues of sobriety to the National Association of American Wineries. But more about that later.

Before the luncheon got underway, the meet-and-greet with 100 very special guests like Luncheon Co-Chairs Nikki and Crayton Webb, Gail and Gerald Turner, Pat Schenkel, Greg Nieberding, Melissa Cameron and Gail Davis got underway in the Wedgwood Room at 10:45.

Gerald Turner, Arianna Huffington, Pat Schenkel and Gail Turner

Melissa Cameron

Gail Davis

Right on schedule the doors opened to the gorgeous ballroom filled with huge arrangements of pink, white and red roses, hydrangeas and cherry blossoms, white tablecloths and pink napkins and a stage with a side backdrop of pink and red surrounding the main screen, with Genesis encircled by a heart. On the stage were two chairs in the center with a podium to the side, setting the scene for what was to come.

As guests like Ashlee Kleinert, Ken Altshuler, Nancy Best, Ros Dawson Thompson and Paige McDaniel took their seats, a man arrived who was immediately surrounded by folks wanting to have their photo taken with him. The gentleman was the man of the hour — HeRO Awardee/former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. When asked if rumors about his new book “Called To Rise” were true, that pre-release sales were skyrocketing, he smiled and said, “I hope so.”  

Crayton and Nikki Webb

Immediately signaling that the luncheon program was underway was a recitation by three Lakeview Centennial High School Young students enrolled in Young DFW Writers that was followed by Crayton telling how one in four women would face physical violence at some point in their lives. He stated that until that situation of abuse ends, “We have Genesis.” To carry on the support of Genesis, he reeled off the various raffle items available and then introduced Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson to provide the invocation.

Following lunch, Nikki and Crayton arrived on stage to introduce various dignitaries, thank the luncheon committee members and recount stories of women who’d told them just that morning of being in abusive relationships. Adding a touch of humor and “Aw,” Crayton told how Nikki had said 18 months ago that, in addition to their three sons, she’d like to have a fourth child. To this Crayton responded, “I hope you and your next husband will be very happy.” As laughter filled the room, Crayton added, “But I’m still here.” The fourth child ended up being a little girl they name Lucy, who also brought a renewed concern and determination to the couple in helping women in danger.

At 12:20 p.m. Genesis Women’s Shelter CEO Jan Langbein, whose dress matched the day’s pink, white and red floral setting, told the audience that the Junior League of Dallas had received the Jane Doe Award the week before at a private reception.

Jan Langbein, Arianna Huffington and David Brown

Then she introduced David Brown, emphasizing his support of Genesis’ mission in fighting abuse against women. As he approached the stage to officially receive the HeRO Award, the room erupted in cheers and a standing ovation. David once again proved his skill at addressing the crowd and told how as a youngster he had witnessed the devastation of drugs and violence within his community. This experience resulted in his committing himself to public service. As he explained, if you do something for other people and expect something in return, then that is a business deal. But if you do something for other people who cannot return the favor, it a true reward.    

At 12:27, Jan then introduced Arianna, telling of her many accomplishments including being the author of 15 books, the most recent being “The Sleep Revolution.”

Arianna Huffington

With a Greek accent that at times made her sound like Zsa-Zsa Gabor, Arianna recognized Jan (“What a force of nature!”), Nikki and Crayton and Genesis Senior Director of Development Bianca Jackson, before revealing that she indeed did have a Texas connection — her former husband, millionaire Michael Huffington, had been born in Dallas. She recalled how, years before, she had served on the board of Points of Light, and Genesis was one of the organizations spotlighted.

While some guests may have expected her to talk politics, they were sorely disappointed. Nary was a Republican, Democrat or Whig mentioned.

Okay, so she did recall Madeleine Albright’s saying, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support women. But I think there’s a special place in heaven for men who support women.” The first sentence caused some guests to think that it was going to be a political ride, but the follow-up sentence quickly put that idea to rest.

Instead of controversial issues dealing with politicians, she sounded like a tent preacher on the subject of improving one’s well being. Her epiphany took place in 2007 when she collapsed and passed out due to sleep deprivation.  When she regained consciousness, she found herself in a pool of blood, with a broken cheekbone and a cut over her eye. It was literally a wake-up call. She asked herself, “What is life about?” In the past it had meant 18-hour days striving for money and power. But now she was re-examining her definition of the “good life.” Her answer was to put the priority on taking care of one’s self. As an example, she recalled the age-old oxygen mask theory.

Feeling so strongly about her discovery, she left The Huffington Post this past August and launched Thrive Global to encourage people to “look up from our phones and take care of ourselves, our loved ones and our community. Otherwise we’re in serious trouble.”

Arianna Huffington

She wondered aloud how the assembled group would handle time away from their cellphones, laptops, etc. Ironically, just as Arianna was encouraging guests to take a “digital detox,” guests in the room were seen snapping shots of Arianna on their cellphones and checking their watches about appointments.

Touching on the importance of giving and connecting with the community, Arianna said that Genesis was doing just that for women and their families.

On the lighter side, Arianna recalled how God created the world in six days and “she” rested on the seventh. Her point was that rest is vital to well-being.

After her talk at the podium, she was joined on stage by WFAA’s medical reporter Sonia Azad at 12:46 p.m., where they chatted about how people could indeed take better care of themselves through meditation, yoga, fly fishing and brushing off the problems of the day in the shower. All of those activities required leaving distractions like cellphones elsewhere. “We need to disconnect from our phones.”

Arianna Huffington and Sonia Azad

To emphasize the point of ending the digital addiction, she asked how many in the audience slept with their cellphones on their nightstands. This statement resulted in a chatter at tables and hands raised throughout the room. One guest sheepishly ‘fessed up that he did, “But I use it as an alarm clock.” Without hearing the comment, Arianna had evidently heard that one before and was prepared: “You can buy an old-fashioned alarm clock.”

Arianna Huffington and Sonia Azad

Feeling so strongly about this situation, Arianna’s Thrive Global has created a “phone bed,” so the phone can recharge on top of a satin-clad mattress outside of the bedroom.

When asked by Sonia about her advice to her daughters, Arianna told how her daughters were well “aware of the dangers of becoming addicted to social media presence in our lives.” She went on to say that the main goal for countless engineers at the social media companies is to feed this addiction.

Admitting she has an Instagram account, she reported how just that morning she had received a note asking if she would like to know each time someone likes her post or follows her: “That sounds like hell.”

As the guests waited for their cars following the luncheon, one person was overheard laughing that AT&T was not a luncheon sponsor.

Bethenny “Skinnygirl” Frankel Served Up One Of The Season’s Most Talked-About Presentations At The Annual Chick Lit Luncheon

On Friday, April 21, the annual Chick Lit Luncheon became the scene of two social earthquakes that split the Anatole’s Grand Ballroom. But more about that later. First, let’s set the scene.

Cristal Champagne

To kick off the Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser, the VIP reception was held in the Plum Blossom Room and, thanks to hosts Nancy and Richard Rogers, guests celebrated with Cristal Champagne. At the opening there were grand silver punch bowls filled with the elite champagne bottles chilling in ice. By the time the chimes called the guests to the luncheon, only a trio of partially filled bottles remained.

Tricia George, Paige McDaniel, Gail Fischer and Mary Martha Pickens

Lara Tafel

Nancy Rogers and Bethenny Frankel

Alas, keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel didn’t enjoy the bubbly, thanks to a non-stop of step-and-repeat photo session with folks like Co-Chairs Tricia George and Mary Martha Pickens, Presenting Co-Sponsor Lara Tafel, Honorary Chair Gail Fischer and daughter Elizabeth Fischer, Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Bela Pjetrovic and her sister Sabina Pjetrovic, Dee Simmons and daughter D’Andra Simmons Lock, Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin, Cheryl Joyner, Tiffany Divis, Claire Emanuelson, Christie Carter and Cindy Turner.

Tiffany Divis and Bela Pjetrovic

D’Andra Simmons Lock and Dee Simmons

Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin and Cheryl Joyner

As the guests literally filled the grand ballroom, Bethenny was whisked off to a private spot for some quiet time. But little did anyone know that in the hour and a half to come, the grand ballroom would be the scene of two distinctly different attitudes.

Some claimed it was a generational separation. One guest snorted, “It’s those millennials!” Another declared the other side of the great divide to be behind the times. It was just that “the times they are a-changin‘” for the decade-old luncheon featuring authors.

The old days of the Chick Lit at Brook Hollow with pecan crusted chicken and G-rated speakers like Stacey Ballis, Julia Reed, Gigi Levangie, Allison Winn Scotch, Emily Giffin and Jen Lancaster were in the rear-view mirror.

Last year’s move to the Anatole with Tim Gunn charming one and all in an on-stage chat had shifted the program to a new level. It was like moving from grade school to high school, from Shirley Temples to Cosmopolitans or from Boy Scouts Camp to Quantico.

But when the announcement of Bethenny’s being the keynoter came, lovers of reality TV were ecstatic. For them, it was like having the Pope serve mass at the local parish. For those who only considered the word “Bravo” to be what was said after a stellar performance, Bethenny was a rather unknown commodity. Didn’t matter. The Chick Lit Luncheon had always been fun and a fundraiser for a good cause.

Still, there were warnings that Bethenny might raise some eyebrows and that the uneducated might need to be forewarned and study up on the Skinnygirl.

Despite warnings that Bethenny was not your same-old, same-old, CPD loyalists signed on. In the meantime, new world reality TV lovers bought in with hopes of a “tell-it-like-it-is” presentation.   

So, what happened? Well, the first “earthquake” took place before Bethenny ever arrived on stage.

Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Ella Bitzer and Tricia George

To kick things off, CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel presented the 2017 Partners for Children Award to Mary Ella Bitzer representing The Bitzer and Needleman Families and Peacock Alley. Unfortunately, whether it was due to poor acoustics or to all the chatter in the room, the presentation seemed to take place without much fanfare.

Faith Johnson

When Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson provided the invocation, she was heard throughout, thanks to the lack of talking. But the chitchat kicked back in once Paige returned to the podium, and the first of the divides created a Grand Canyon among the guests. Looking like unhappy emojis, some strained to hear Paige, while others held steroid conversation to such a point that even those frowny-faced guests close to the stage had to rely on lip reading to “hear” Paige talk about the importance of the organization’s annual Christmas toy drive and how Peacock Alley had supported it. Some tried to silence the chatterboxes by clanging their silverware on their glassware, but even that couldn’t be heard above the racket. Perhaps the talkative guests had never attended a fundraiser before?

What made it more obvious was how the room went into a vacuum state of silence after Community Partners of Dallas Board Member Greg Nieberding introduced Bethenny and she arrived on stage. How quiet? At one point in her talk, a cell phone in the room rang and Bethenny interrupted her talk saying, “Somebody need to take a call?”

The svelte brunette, who had risen to fame thanks to reality TV and her “Skinnygirl” business empire, was both charming and disarming. On one hand, she couldn’t have been more upbeat and complimentary about North Texas women and the CPD. She even did a shout-out to “my friend Fancy Nancy Rogers” at a front row table with pals Dallas Snadon, Leisa Street, Michael Flores, Cindy Rachofsky and Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner.

Dallas Snadon

Lori Jones, Nancy Rogers and Cindy Rachofsky

Leisa Street and Michael Flores

Shelby Wagner and Niven Morgan

On the other, she raised even the most heavily Botoxed brows with comments about “guano” (she didn’t use that word) and describing rich Dallas women as having Texas tea flowing from a particular body part (she put it much more colorfully). If you don’t get it, ask one of the thousand-plus who were there. They’re bound to recall the exact words.  

Some of the highlights of Bethenny’s talk included:

Bethenny Frankel

  • After having a rough childhood, she focused on “breaking the chain” in raising her daughter. She was not going to be “chained” to what others thought or what she had experienced as a child.
  • Finding balance in her life being a mother and a businesswoman.
  • Everyone has a great idea, but it’s the execution that matters, she said. Too often they get bogged down with the business plan or other aspects. “I would have never gotten into the liquor business had I known.”
  • Stay focused on your goals and don’t “look at the other lanes… I do my own thing.”
  • “25 years ago I was a bartender and had no idea I’d end up being an alcoholic… just kidding… I would end up founding a liquor company.”
  • She has founded an organization called “B Strong” to help women in crisis. “As women, we make a lot of decisions out of fear.”
  • “You can’t be pretty, tan, have sex, rich and sleep…I’m not tan, I don’t have sex and I’m  rich, but not like Dallas rich…. What the hell was I talking about?”
  • The night before on “Real Housewives of New York,” Bethenny had been confronted by another housewife over how she was dealing with her 6-year-old daughter about the fact that Bethenny had done a nude scene 27 years ago. “I just sat there and just took it and just said, I have no shame in my game. This is who I am. This is my past and I was an actress and I needed the money and I’ve done so many things in my life that got me to where I am, so I think that’s part of my owning it.” She went on, saying how “crazy it was for women trying to tear each other down.”

    Bethenny Frankel

  • “The least favorite element [of being on a reality show] is you get mired in something that you don’t even care about…You can’t believe that people can be so nasty and malicious. I think it’s a comedy. I see it as a satire. You can’t believe how fake people are. It’s amazing. You look around and any five people. You believe they are totally normal. ‘She’s so down to earth; she’s  so normal.’ She’s ‘guano‘ crazy!”
  • “I want to give you one tip. It’s changed my life. At night before you go to bed, for like five to 15 minutes, put in as much hot water as you possibly can in your bathtub and just your feet—not your whole body—in Epsom salts. It’s like a drunk. I don’t know what happens. I used to take something to sleep, but this knocks you out. It’s like detoxing and it’s crazy and it’s the simplest and oldest thing and has changed my life.”
  • Being an entrepreneur “is really hard. You’ve got to be out there. But it’s good. It’s like the ocean. It keeps changing and moving all the time.”
  • “I’m really a homebody. I like being with my daughter.”
  • When asked what the one thing she keeps in her refrigerator to make a meal, Bethenny responded, “I’m a big fan of the freezer. I travel so much that when I get home there’s always a frozen organic broccoli.”
  • Kale — “You can’t walk on the street without being assaulted by kale. I want to meet the kale publicist. What’s so great?”
  • The future for Bethenny — “I’m focused on this charity [B Strong]. I’m able to help women. Now that I’m not struggling and white-knuckling it anymore, I want to inspire women.”

Bethenny lived up to her honest, no-holds barred comments about her life, both past and present. She was true to herself. Some loved her words; some were perturbed by her presentation. Hey, when you go to a Mexican food restaurant, you can’t expect meat loaf to be the featured item on the menu.

2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee Had A Stiletto Workout Before Checking Out Fashions With Designer Nicole Miller

Those Cattle Baron’s Ball gals really are in shape. And they proved it on Thursday, April 12, at the three-story Saint Rocco’s in Trinity Groves. The occasion was billed as the Spring Luncheon with designer Nicole Miller and her spring line on hand thanks to Amanda Shufeldt, but it also turned out to be a workout of the stiletto-loving ladies.

Nicole Miller

Isabell Novakov and Nancy Gopez

CBB Isabella Novakov self-parked because she didn’t have tip money. Besides it was a pretty day, so she walked across Gulden Lane to the restaurant. Others opted for the valet and were directed to the third level for an open-air reception. One or two chose the lift; others took the stairs.

Anne Stodghill

Sunie Solomon

After a half hour or so of catching up, Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill said it was time to head downstairs for the annual group photo. The early birds went one floor down to the dining room set up for lunch and the fashion presentation. They were told that they had jumped the gun and hadn’t gone down far enough.

2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball committee

As the valets looked on wide-eyed, thinking that the herd of women were coming out the door en masse for their cars, they appeared equally relieved when the parade of ladies headed around the corner of the building. They strolled around to the front of Rocco, where photographer Holt Haynsworth was ready with a ladder to shoot the gaggle of gals. When the last snap was taken, the ladies headed back to the restaurant hiking up the stairs to the dining room.

After a report by Sunie and Anne about the status of their fundraising to fight cancer, they recognized the past chairs who were jammed together at the front row table. One past chair, like others, was not all that happy. It seems that she had called the CBB office that morning to inquire how many past chairs would be at the lunch. The staff reported two. The real number resulted in the past chairs drafting a second table for their number. No problem. The past chairs are troopers and can handle any situation.

Then it was announced that lunch would be served, followed by the fashion presentation. Somehow signals got mixed and the CCB ladies, who were to model the clothes, left their places. Nicole registered a look of something’s not quite right. Less than two minutes later, the models returned to their seats to await the post-lunch fashion show.

Only problem was there was a delay in removing the salad plates, placing the lunch plates, and serving of the bowls of pasta to be passed around.

Brooke Hortenstine and Olivia Kearney

Lisa Shirley and Marybeth Conlon

In the meantime, it was time to play a favorite indoor game of “Catch Up.” Brooke Hortenstine was heading out of town to the family ranch to celebrate her birthday and re-educate her horseback-riding skills… Model Marybeth Conlon was using a shawl to either keep her warm or to minimize the low cut of her Miller gown…. American Airlines flight attendant Mary Parker is a pro when it comes to flying. She’s been through all types of weather conditions and knows the importance of safety in the air. So, why was she all smiles about her leaping from a plane with eight of her buddies (Tanya Foster, Louise Griffeth, Jenna Jackson, Lynn McBee, Mary Meier-Evans, Mary Martha Pickens, Lisa Shirley and Amy Turner) over Whitewright on Wednesday, May 3*? It was a challenge — Birds Eye View Bombshells— to raise $10,000 each to support wounded veterans and first responders.

* That date was changed to May 15, due to windy weather.

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.

Crystal Charity Ball Newbies Were Brunched With Their New Best “Friends” At Robyn Conlon’s New Home-Sweet-Home

The last day of January could have easily been mistaken for a day in April. The sun was shining just right. The temperatures started off in the 60s and hit the high 70s. To start the day off, the Crystal Charity Ball new members (Meredith Beebe, Dianne Laroe, Kim Quinn, Lisa Singleton, Shannon Thompson, Dee Velvin and Candace Winslow) headed to Robyn Conlon’s new digs on Beverly for a get-to-know-you brunch with CCB Chair Pam Perella and her committee chiefs.

But before the newbies arrived, a photo opp of the committee was herded into the living room for a group photo. And not just any old photo.

From the left: (back row) Elizabeth Gambrell and Anne Besser; (front row) Cheryl Joiner, Leslie Diers, Kristina Whitcomb and Pam PErella

Backstory: In keeping with the CCB tradition, the year’s chair selected two themes — one for the December ball and an internal working theme. For Pam, the internal theme was favorite television programs. For Pam herself, it was “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” For the new members, it was “The CCB Bunch,” as in “The Brady Bunch.” And for her committee, it was “Friends.”

So, with “Friends” in mind, the committee was positioned on the couch like Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross.

Tucker Enthoven,Claire Emanuelson, Lisa Longino, Susan Farris and Barbara Stuart

As soon as the final photo was snapped, the committee returned to the entry hall to greet the newbies and others like advisor Caren Kline (also on the Children’s Health Quality Board), frosh class advisors Tucker Enthoven and Susan Farris, Beneficiary Selection Chair Lisa Longino, Children’s Book Chair Elizabeth Gambrell, Silent Auction Co-Chairs Anne Besser (just selected Theta of the Year) and Cheryl Joiner, Decoration Chair Claire Emanuelson, Membership Chair Barbara Stuart, Contribution Ticket Co-Chairs Cara French and Mary Martha Pickens, Post Ball Arrangements Co-Chair Susan Glassmoyer and Public Relations Chair Pam McCallum, who had just gotten a new puppy.

From the left: (back row) Dee Velvin and Dianne Laroe; (front row) Lisa Singleton, Shannon Thompson, Kim Quinn, Candace Winslow and Meredith Beebe

As the new kids on the block arrived, they were ushered into the dining room for their individual photos to be taken by Melissa Macatee (aka Barbara Stuart’s daughter) and then directed to the staircase for a group picture or two or three. After having more photos than a college graduation, the ladies took their places for the program and brunch.

Then like sorority pledges, each of the new members was called up as their list of accomplishments was reeled off.  This was followed by the committee members taking their turns explaining their various roles.

For the vets, it was a familiar ritual and a great get-together. But as Pam recalled her frosh year 10 years ago, the get-to-know-you event could be overwhelming. On the other hand, it was just part of a great first year of making friends and raising funds for the area children’s charities.

For more photos of the ladies who brunched, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

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

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

It Was All Painted Hands On Deck For Hyundai Hope On Wheels Presentation For Children’s Medical Center Foundation

The cancer-battling kids at Children’s Medical Center are such incredible troopers. Having faced daunting treatments, loss of hair and being hooked up to mobile IVs, they take it all in stride. With their families at their side, they trust the wisdom and advice of their doctors and the team of healthcare providers without hesitation.

But on Friday, September 2, a handful of the young patients were wondering if these wise professionals had gone a bit batty.

But more about that later.

Brent Christopher and Kern Wildenthal

Brent Christopher and Kern Wildenthal

With chairs in the Butterfly Atrium filled, Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher welcomed all to the Hyundai Hope On Wheels presentation that included area Hyundai dealers and former Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Kern Wildenthal. Brent reported how in the state of Texas, one in five children diagnosed with cancer is treated at Children’s.

Stephen Skapek

Stephen Skapek

Division of Pediatric Hematology-oncology chief/Dr. Stephen Skapek told of the advances that were being made at Children’s in partnership with UT Southwestern, thanks to generous financial support. Proudly he showed off his “lab coat of Hyundai” honor that he keeps hanging in his office.

Then Hyundai South Central Regional Manager Tom Hetrick told how this event “was the best part of [his] job.” Since 1998 Hyundai nationally has provided a total of $115M to pediatric cancer research. This year the goal was $13M, with $150,000 provided by local Hyundai dealers for Children’s.

Tom Hetrick

Tom Hetrick

This year’s contribution will support the work of Dr. Kenneth “Kenny” Chen, who gratefully thanked the Hyundai team and told how 40,000 children are annually diagnosed with pediatric cancer and one in eight will not survive. He added that “only 4% of the national cancer budget goes to childhood cancer research.” It was just four years ago that Kenny and “his colleagues at Children’s Medical turned surgically removed kidney tumors — once threats to life — into new sources of information on cancer. They sequenced the genes of dozens of tumors.” Thanks to the $150,000 grant from Hyundai, Kenny will be to build on their discoveries.

This undertaking is especially important to pediatric cancer research. The 44 genes were from Wilms tumors, “a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children under the age of five. Also known as nephroblastoma, Wilms tumor is the most common cancer of the kidneys in children. Studying mouse models and human cells. Kenny plans to investigate whether using drugs designed for adults that put microRNAs back into cells can stop or even reverse Wilms tumor cell growth.”

Kenny then introduced “the main event”: 12-year-old cancer patient Jack Maurer, who had a Wilms cancer tumor removed surgically in 2007, came to the podium. With his mother Amy Maurer smiling on the front row, the brown-haired Coppell seventh grader, whose tumor may have been one of those used in the program, briefly told the group about his stay at Children’s and thanked the Hyundai dealers for their donation. He added later, “It’s neat to think I might have been part of that. It’s like I left a legacy at the hospital that took care of me.”

Following a standing ovation, Hyundai Van General Manager George Donaldson admitted that Jack was “a tough act to follow for sure,” but he rose to the challenge saying, “This is not a day about selling cars or promoting our businesses. This is an issue that is truly at the core of who we are… We are proud to be part of this community and even more proud to have an institution like this one serving our children every day. Children are our future. They should have a chance to grow, play and learn in a world that is cancer-free. This is why we are so committed to this cause. It is for the kids.”

Following a photo session with Hyundai fellows, the Children’s team of professionals and kids all were invited upstairs to the driveway. While the adults knew what was going to happen, the kids were a bit mystified. They knew it had to do with a car and something about paint.

Once in the driveway, they spied a white Hyundai with colorful mini-hand prints. Then they were ushered to a table with bowls of paints. Once there, the adults painted the kids’ hands with the paint and had them hand-print a large piece of paper. Hmm, this was so not the usual “adult-approved” situation.

Mackenna Rodolph

Mackenna Rodolph

Then they were taken to the white Hyundai and told to go at it. Frisco third-grader Mackenna Rodolph was the first and laughed as she was actually urged to lay her red-painted hands on the vehicle. She was soon joined by eight-year-old Conner Sides, five-year-old Tatum Teague and Jack.

Hyundai dealers and from the left Jack Maurer, Tatum Teague and Mackenna Rodolph

Hyundai dealers and from the left Jack Maurer, Tatum Teague and Mackenna Rodolph

As if that wasn’t a little unusual, the kids also were pointed to hand-print Kenny’s pristine white lab coat. One kiddo looked at the adults as if to ask, “Are you serious?” But once again the adults and Dr. Chen were all beaming as the kids got handy.

Tatum Teague, Mackenna Rodolph, Kenny Chen, Conner Sides and Jack Maurer

Tatum Teague, Mackenna Rodolph, Kenny Chen, Conner Sides and Jack Maurer

The children decided that they weren’t being punked and got into the occasion, sporting colored hands and smiles. It was a day when the best cancer treatment was kids mixing it up with paint.

Still another photo session was set up with the Hyundai dealers in front of the car. But they wanted the children in the photo. As one of the dealers put it, “This is about the kids.”

As for Jack, he was destined for even more to celebrate his conquest of cancer, thanks to the Hyundai locals. They had arranged with Children’s to have Jack throw out the first pitch at Sunday’s Texas Rangers’ game against the Houston Astros to commemorate Children Cancer Awareness Month.

Except For A Few Tardy Escorts, La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Went Off With Perfect Bows By the 2016 Duchesses

It was the last black-tie hurrah of the 2016 spring season. While temperatures proved summer was indeed setting up residence, La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas types were dressed to the nines on Saturday, June 18. The honoree of the day should have been the person who created A/C.

At 5:40 p.m. as family and friends gathered in the Chantilly Ballroom’s lobby, the ballroom itself was a flurry of activity. All the staging was nicely in place. Two large screens faced each other from the far side of the ballroom. A multi-tiered stage with columns and a huge fan featuring the six flags of Texas served as the backdrop. Across the way at the back of the room was a stage for the band, a dance floor and platforms for videographers and production crews. In a corner to the side of the stage was a small stage for the presentation band and a mic for the speakers.

But the videographers, bands and speakers were not to be found at this time. No, it was time for the official photographs of the Duchesses and their escorts. As the Duchesses stood to the side of the stage, the escorts assembled on stage for the first photo of the night. Well, most of the escorts that is.

Like a vet wrangler of cats, photographer James French stood on a ladder hollering orders first to the group of escorts on stage. “You on the top row on the end. No, the top row. Yeah, you. Step down.”

Finally all with gloved hands clasped standing like a team of football players in white tie, the photos were taken.

La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas escort

La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas escort

Then it was time for the photo of the couples. That’s when the problem was discovered. Standing among the couples were a handful of beautiful Duchesses without escorts. An adult shouted to one of the girls, “Where’s your escort?”, as if the Duchess has hidden him in the storage room. The Duchess raised her shoulders and motioned with her hands, “I don’t know.”

Before that reality hit home, three white-tie escorts came bounding in the room and hustled to the ladies in waiting. As French and the rest of the advisors did a quick check, they realized they were still three escorts short. As if on cue, the last three rushed into the ballroom, just as French realized that the “done” escort photo was going to have to be “redone.”

2016 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses and escorts

2016 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses and escorts

Finally the group photo, the Duchesses photo and the redo escort photo were done. French hustled off hollering to the escorts, “If you’re going to have a family photo done, go now.” Escorts scampered.

La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses

La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses

By 6:16 p.m. the ballroom was now devoid of Duchesses, escorts, and French.  In their place were servers setting up tables. One organizers was heard to say, “Get ready for round two.”

In the meantime the crowd in the lobby had become a selfie extravaganza. While some might think it was due to the overload of collegiate types home to support their former classmates, the adults were into the memory-making photography, too. One leggy young thing with a thigh high slit sprinted across the lobby on nose-bleed stilettos like a gazelle to greet her pals.

Chris O'Neill, Isabel O'Neill, Connie O'Neill, Pierce Allman and Jack O'Neill

Chris O’Neill, Isabel O’Neill, Connie O’Neill, Pierce Allman and Jack O’Neill

La Fiesta Co-Founder Pierce Allman was with Connie and Chris O’Neill talking about their son, Jack O’Neill, escorting his granddaughter Allie Beth Cowan. All-dolled up Gala Co-Chairs Elizabeth Gambrell and Rebecca Gregory didn’t show any signs of having coordinated the day’s preparation. Others in the crowd included Linda Shiffer, Karen Young, Catherine Magee, Mary Kumpf, Jillian Daber, Cecily Work, Duchess mama Mary Humphreys Parker, Amy Hughes, MaryMichael McCartin, Emily Anwar, Lily Cockerell, Arden Wynn, Leah Lambert, Regan Tate and Brooke Wilson.

Catherine Magee, Mary Kumpf, Jillian Daber and Cecily Work

Catherine Magee, Mary Kumpf, Jillian Daber and Cecily Work

Erin Egan, Elizabeth Cooper, Megan Giotes, Tate Giddens and Ellie Gosnell

Erin Egan, Elizabeth Cooper, Megan Giotes, Tate Giddens and Ellie Gosnell

Mary Humphreys Parker, Leah Lambert, Regan Tate and Brooke Wilson

Mary Humphreys Parker, Leah Lambert, Regan Tate and Brooke Wilson

Soon the signal was given that the main event was getting ready to start. Running a couple of seconds late, the lights in the ballroom dimmed at 6:45, the A/C cranked up, so even the wooliest tuxedoed guest would feel right at home and the crowd of guests moved into the ballroom.

The doors opened and initially only five or six senior types ventured in, but within minutes they were followed by a flood of guests making their way to their assigned tables for dinner and applauding. Watching the various generations of guests make their way into the ballroom, the questions of heels was noted. Some guests took long strides and looked like they had been born in stilettos. Others looked like they’d had their feet bound as they hobbled their way to their tables.

But these guests weren’t finished chatting. At 6:52 “the voice” over the PA asked guests to “take their seats. The program will being in 15 minutes.”

As some heeded the call, it was noted that the video crews were outnumbering the still photographers.

Three minutes later “the voice” warned “the program will being in 10 minutes.” Still the guests had a lot of hugging and talking to do and one couldn’t really blame them. After all, some of these collegiate types hadn’t seen each other since graduating from high school last year.

But “the voice” was not to be ignored. At 6:59 sounding like a call to arms, “the voice” announced for guests “to take your seats. The program is about to begin.” No more of the minute countdown. The time had come and there was no turning back.

Well, that may have been well and good, but the masses kept pouring in and not settling down to business. Over the PA, “Chicago That Toddlin’ Town” played. Interesting choice.

Uh, ho. At 7:04 the doors closed, the music stops and still a few stalwarts keep standing and talking. “The voice” returns. His credibility is on the line. He repeats that the program is about to begin. There’s just the slightest tinge of a sounding like a father, who isn’t falling for his kid’s excuse for being past curfew. This time the message came across and seats were almost filled. Alas, at 7:07 he gave it one final effort. Evidently there were a number of people with hearing challenges.

But at 7:08 the stage lights came up and the last standing guests were seated. The main doors of the ballroom opened and the escorts marched in and onto the stage. Yes, all the escorts were accounted for. They were followed by six beautifully dressed folklorico dancers, who performed flawlessly on stage. After all, this year’s them was “Viva La Fiesta! — Celebrating The Splendors of Mexico.”

Kaitlyn Gamster

Kaitlyn Gamster

Following very brief remarks by La Fiesta Chairs Eloise Meachum and Missy Rothwell, the presentation was underway. First there was the presentation of the escorts, who disappeared off stage. Then eight escorts returned to places on the multi-tiered stage. The first Duchesses were individually escorted centerstage by their fathers and joined by their escort. Each Duchess represented a unique duchy (i.e. the Duchess of Monarch Butterfly, the Duchess of Cinco de Mayo, the Duchess of Palacio de Bellas Arts, etc.) with her gown reflecting her theme. Following the Duchess’ bow, her father presented her with a white rose and she rewarded him with a kiss on the cheek. As the father left the stage, she Duchess and her escort returned to the escort’s place on the tier. Despite having 40 Duchess presented in five groups, it all came off flawlessly.

Chronicling moments was potential Duchess-to-be Kaitlyn Gamster with her cellphone.

The finale had all 40 Duchess and their escorts on stage for a standing ovation. Then they promenaded down the runway to the dance floor for the first of many dances to come.

For more photos of the Duchesses, their escorts and the whole goings-on, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. Be prepared because there are a heck of lot of ’em.

Roger Staubach And Troy Aikman Get Together With Children’s Cancer Fund Kiddos For Photo Session At Children’s Medical Center

So, the Dallas Cowboys may be staying put for the upcoming Super Bowl. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the team has a pretty nice spot in the upcoming draft. They also still have Cowboys legends like Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman living in the hood and supporting the North Texas community. One of their favs is the Children’s Cancer Fund.

As a matter of fact, the two Super Bowl quarterbacks were at Children’s Medical Center on Tuesday, January 12, just after lunch. The reason wasn’t to talk sports. As co-chairs of the 2016 Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, Rog and Troy were there for a photo session with some of the CCF children to promote the Friday, April 22, fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole.

Lisa Cooley, Roger Staubach and Giora Barker

Lisa Cooley, Roger Staubach and Giora Barker

While Event Co-Chairs Lisa Cooley and Giora Barker looked quite adorable in their Louboutins, the boys were equally fashionable. Roger noted Troy’s “new look suit.” Troy responded that it was indeed a new suit. In his navy blue suit, Rog shrugged, admitting that wife Marianne had “wanted me to get a new suit.” Still a Heisman trophy and Super Bowl ring trumps any fashion trends.

Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman

In a wink Troy had been herded to the corral of sports photographers and KDFW’s Mike Doocy to give his opinion on the upcoming Super Bowl, while Roger happily stayed put with Lisa and Giorga. Across the room from the lights and cameras, the CCF kids were busily at a table with crayons and paper. They seemed sorta nonplussed by all the commotion. Perhaps they knew their moment in the spotlight was just minutes away. Besides, they were the heroes for all those in the room. They were the ones battling cancer.

For Lisa and Giora, the evening fundraiser is very personal. Giora’s son Jack Barker had conquered T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia thanks to Children’s. It was back in 2010 that Jack had been one of the CCF kids.

On the other hand, while none of Lisa’s three kids had had cancer, Children’s resources and compassion had seen the Cooley family through life-threatening issues with each of the now-healthy children. As she watched the CCF children at the table drawing, she shook her head imagining what the kids and their families had been going through.

Maxwell Matlock, Kern Wildenthal, Trip Rowley and Stephen Skapek

Maxwell Matlock, Kern Wildenthal, Trip Rowley and Stephen Skapek

In the middle of the room, Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Dr. Kern Wildenthal and Chief of the Pediatric Hematology-oncology Division at UT Southwestern Dr. Stephen Skapek were chatting. Stephen admitted that thanks to fundraising efforts like CCF, incredible developments had taken place in cancer research. Having studied at Duke and Harvard, he seemed a bit humbled by the developments in battling cancer. He attributed it ti the combination of funding, technology, research and dedicated professionals.

Children's Cancer Fund group photo

Children’s Cancer Fund group photo

Someone directed Troy and the videographers that the CCF kids had finished their drawings, and it was time for the photo session to take place. Photo setups were created with all types of combinationa — Roger and Troy; Roger, Troy, Lisa and Giora; Roger, Troy, Lisa, Giora and the kids; Roger, Troy, Lisa, Giora, the kids, Kern and Steve; etc. By the final round, the kids were ranging between blasé to scene stealing.

Hayden Ritchie and Troy Aikman

Hayden Ritchie and Troy Aikman

It was then that the duo were able to have some one-on-one conversations with the kids.

Next Roger and Troy took their places at a table to sign all types of paraphernalia. An old hand at autographing footballs, Roger suggested that the supplied pens were not quite meeting the need. Immediately a search was out to find just the thing—a Sharpie.

BTW, with the theme for the evening fundraiser being “An Evening In Oz,” guess what will be the featured entertainment. Yup, Emerald City. Natch!

Tickets for the event are $300 per person, but a table of ten can be had for $2,750!