Cattle Baron’s Ball Patrons Were Sipping, Supping And “Shooting For The Stars” At Gail And Cliff Fischer’s Estate

Gail and Cliff Fischer

Gail and Cliff Fisher opened their estate for the Cattle Baron’s Ball patron party on Wednesday, October 4. With a moon overhead that looked like it had been provided by a movie studio, the grounds were filled with bare-shouldered gals and gents in jacket sans ties. This was a CBB business casual type event.

While some lounged in the covered terrace that was an outdoor dining room complete with bar and kitchen and chatted and cocktailed around the pool, others remained inside in the cool of the Fisher air conditioning.

Sure, the temperatures weren’t in the 90s, but the humidity was in overdrive. One guest was heard to say, “Someone shipped in Houston humidity.”

Lisa Ogle

Boyd and Wendy Messmann

Those braving the outdoor humidity included Lisa Ogle with glasses on and selling raffle tickets. Across the way, husband Bill Ogle told Wendy and Boyd Messmann that he had told Lisa to sell, sell, sell those raffle tickets. Otherwise, Bill was going to buy what she didn’t sell. This announcement launched a conversation about seasonal sales. One time a year it’s Cattle Baron’s raffle tickets; another it is Girl Scout Cookies. The very mention of cookies opened the debate of which cookies were the favorites. Top contender among the three were Tagalongs and Samoas.

Andrea Weber, Lee McDonald, Emily Billingsley and Nancy Gopez

Isabell Novakov

Paul Goelzer and Sunie Solomon

Indoors Nikki and Crayton Webb were telling friends that they were still adjusting to their new roles as part of Sunwest Communications… Lawrence Bock, fresh from New York, told how his operations had had a glitch with no internet or emails for two days. Did he find it freeing? Heck, no!… Others looking cool and chic were 2017 CBB Chair Sunie Solomon, 2018 CBB Chair Katy Bock, a passel of past CBB Chairs (2016 CBB Chair Andrea Weber, 2014 Co-Chair Cindy Stager, 2012 Co-Chair KJ Sanger, 2009 Chair Katherine Wynne, 1974 Chair/Co-Founder Jacque Wynne), Nancy Gopez, Dawn Greiner, Isabell Novakov, Lee McDonald, Emily Billingsley, event underwriter Sewell’s Daniella Giglio comparing notes with Neiman’s Marjon Henderson, Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell (according to Elizabeth, as soon as she finishes the Crystal Charity Ball Children’s Book, her sights are set on co-chairing 2018 La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas with Anne Besser) and late arrival Kent Rathbun, who admitted that after this past year he’s truly appreciative of “just being here.”

Cindy Stager and Dawn Greiner

Marjon Henderson and Daniella Giglio

Kent Rathbun

Eric and Elizabeth Gambrell

2018 Crystal Charity Ball Claire and Dwight Emanuelson (his iPhone had run out of steam to show the trout that didn’t get away) were laughing about his 30th anniversary gift — a Christofle framed photo from a vacation scene. Claire suggested that perhaps the photo selection should be reconsidered. Just minutes earlier, Dwight had pulled a Goldilocks with one of the Fischer’s little benches. While Piper Wyatt and Claire were seated on the couch in front of the fireplace, Dwight took his place on a little bench that broke, landing Dwight on the floor. After uber apologies from Dwight to Gail, the bench went into rehab.

Anne Stodghill and Juli Harrison

Just when the crowd could grow no more, all were called outdoors for welcomes and announcement about the Saturday, October 21st fundraiser at Gilley’s for the American Cancer Society. As 2017 CBB Co-Chairs Anne Stodghill headed outdoors in the steamy surroundings, someone asked her if the talk was going to be lengthy. The red-haired Stodghill in a gold dress and matching shoes didn’t hesitate. “I’m wearing a leather dress. It’s going to be very short.”

BTW, Anne’s day had started off with a bit of a surprise. Seems one of the Stodghill cats had gifted her by dropping a dead frog on her iPad.

More photos can be found on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball Patron Party

Gail and Cliff Fischer

Lisa Ogle

With the moon overhead and the weather simply perfecto at Gail and Cliff Fischer’s estate, it was the ideal occasion for the 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball patron party on Wednesday, October 4. Thanks to a touch of humidity in the air, ties were mostly left at home and bare-shouldered sundresses and dangling earrings were the look du jour. A favorite pastime was the buying of  raffle tickets for the upcoming Saturday, October 21, fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Cindy Stager and Dawn Greiner

Boyd and Wendy Messmann

Andrea Weber, Lee McDonald, Emily Billingsley and Nancy Gopez

The only “oops” of the night was one guest taking a seat on a little bench. While that moment and others are being written up, check out the pixs at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show Ponied Up With Fashions, Awards And Laughs Thanks To Chair Beth Thoele

Beth Thoele and Angie Kadesky

There are those rare people in fundraising who literally break the ice much to the delight of others with their oops and refreshing spontaneity. On Tuesday, October 3, Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele rose to the pinnacle of those ranks of endearment.

Initially, it was a challenge with the weather. One guests swore, “Houston shipped their humidity up here.”

Equest team

Still, the ladies marshaled on as they checked in at the club’s porte-cochere just past the Equest mini-ambassadors, Cisco and Dare, and the dapper riders on their steeds. While the equine set was quite content on the club’s lawn, the guests like Equest Board of Directors Chair Andy Steingasser, Sarah LosingerCara French, Melinda Rathke, Nuz Morshed, Allison Presser, Stacey Walker, Emilynn Wilson and Joanna Clarke discovered rows of beverages awaiting them. One gal announced, “There’s a mimosa with my name on it.”

Inside the club, the ballroom was filling to the max with the likes of Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Angie Kadesky, Equest Executive Director Lili Kellogg, Sarah Losinger, Lisa Cooley, Linda SecrestJennifer Dix, Pam Perella, Leslie Diers, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Amy Hegi, Libby Hegi, Leigh Anne Haugh, Jennifer Swift and Vicki Howland.

Nuz Morshed, Melinda Rathke and Allison Presser

Leslie Diers, Pam Perella, Christie Carter and Claire Emanuelson

But according to schedule, the infamous voice over the PA system stressed the need to get guests in chairs, which this crew did.

Considered the little sister of the Crystal Charity Ball (perhaps that’s because so many past chairs, presidents and attendees are CCB-ers), there was a certain panache in the air.

Robyn and Don Conlon

Unlike the week-ago KidneyTexas Runway Report with celeb emcee Ron Corning with a glittery crutch and KLUV’s Jody Dean raising funds with a live auction, this one is traditionally as proper at your grandmother’s thank-you notes. Instead of a live auction or the fearful shout-out for funds, there is just a certain simplicity that keeps things a-going.

Reins of Hope scarf

 After Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Angie Kadesky introduced Tova Sido for the invocation, Beth arrived at the podium to present Honorary Chair Robyn Conlon with her husband Don Conlon at her side and daughters-in-law Marybeth Conlon and slowly-becoming-blonde Megan Conlon.

Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne

Beth then announced that a one-of-a-kind scarf had been created by Katherine Coker celebrating Equest and would be on sale at the lunch for $150. She then introduced Mother of Equest Women’ Auxiliary Founder Louise Griffeth, who reported that despite last year’s anonymous matching offer, they were gearing up to top that number for the Equest Hooves for Heroes and other programs supported by Equest. The 2017 Equest Awards for Community Service Co-Honorees/sisters Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne were presented Tiffany boxes by a couple of hunky dressage-attired fellas.

But this year there was an unplanned twist. It was Beth. Sure, she had a script, but it didn’t always go as planned. For instance, in announcing that she was handing over the “reins” to 2018 Luncheon chair Heather Randall, she said, “Good luck.” But there was a slight tone in Beth’s voice that resulted in the crowd busting out in laughter. Beth quickly recovered saying that she meant really, sincerely good luck. The laughter only continued.

Veronica Beard fashion

Hadleigh fashion

Lela Rose fashion

Escada fashion

Etro fashion

Market fashion

Carolina Herrera fashion

Then it was on with the show with fashions from HP Village merchants Veronica Beard, Hadleigh’s, Lela Rose, Escada, Etro, Market and Carolina Herrera. Naturally, the willowy, poreless models were upstaged by the adorable munchkins in Hadleigh’s fashions.

The show was well edited with HP Village merchants videotaping their merchandise on the catwalk.

So as the guest adjourned to their tables, what was the talk of the day? St. Valentine’s Day Luncheon Co-Chair Nancy Gopez was receiving congrats on moving the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North Texas fundraiser to NorthPark Center… Table talk was about what TV shows were being watched — “Game of Thrones,” “Rain,”  etc. ….Tanya Foster was snapping shots of The Garden Gate centerpieces with a spanking new iPhone 8 Plus. Seems husband Pete Foster was using Tanya as sort of a guinea pig and was holding out for the iPhone 10… Lisa Ogle was writing a check for a scarf or one of the centerpieces…Mary Meier-Evans had to duck out early and get back to work at Sons of the Flag.

Despite all the festivities and laughter, no one knew that in the days preceding, red-haired Beth had been masterfully juggling another life issue… her mother-in-law had been in hospice and died the weekend before. But that is Beth. She champions on with compassion and without a glimmer of self-pity.   

For more photos of the fashions and faces, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show

Beth Thoele and Angie Kadesky

During the fundraising luncheon circuit, some guests get jaded by the very scripted and rehearsed speakers at the podium. On Tuesday, October 3, at Brook Hollow Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Style Show Chair Beth Thoele received great vibrations as her refreshing and off-the-cuff remarks broke the guests into smiles, chuckles and one really big laugh.

Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne

Robyn and Don Conlon

Following Beth, the awards presentation of the Community Service Award to sisters Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne and recognizing Honorary Chair Robyn Conlon, the runway was filled with an array of Highland Park Village fashion curated by fashion producer Jan Strimple.  

Veronica Beard fashion

Hadleigh fashions

Lela Rose fashion

Escada fashion

Etro fashion

Market fashion

Carolina Herrera fashion

While the post is being prepared, check out the peeps and fashion at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Sold-Out Alert!: Kappa Kappa Gamma Tablescapes 2017

Mary Hubbard, Lori Martin and Beth Dike (File photo)

A couple of MySweetCharity favorite words were just reported — Sold out! And they were just reported by Kappa Kappa Gamma Tablescapes 2017 Co-Chair Mary Hubbard. The Tuesday, October 17th luncheon and talk at the Dallas County Club by the incredible Mark D. Sikes is at total capacity.

However, Mary has good news for anyone who is sick and tired of Monday night TV watching that, “We don’t really have a max attendance for [Tablescapes by] Candlelight, our evening event on Monday…at least not yet! We have sold far more tickets for that than in recent years…”

In other words, if you want to graze- and gaze-around the killer tables decorated by professionals and very-talented-should-bes, get your ticket for Monday night’s festivities here!

BTW, this year’s fundraiser benefits Akola Project, Camp Summit, Cristo Red Dallas College Prep, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support, Seniors Pet Assistance Network, Town North YMCA, Visiting Nurses Association/Meals on Wheels and Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation.

Word has it that another cold front will be in town Monday, so it will be ideal weather to inspire planning for holiday entertaining.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: KidneyTexas Inc.’s Runway Report

While the Tootsies fashions took centerstage at the KidneyTexas Inc.Runway Report on Tuesday, September 26, at Brook Hollow, the scene stealers were stories of people like KidneyTexas Inc. President Andrea Alcorn‘s mother, McKamy Tiner, Luncheon Co-Chair Christine Martin and a young fella named Vinny Trezza and his mother Melissa Trezza, whose lives have changed thanks to research and treatments for the disease.

Andrea Alcorn

McKamy Tiner

However, it must be admitted that the closing fashion on the catwalk that reflected the event’s theme of “Transforming Lives” definitely got reactions from those in the audience.

Enhanced Rob Bradford gown

Susan Russell and Christine Martin

While the post is being finished, check out the fashions and faces at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Flamenco Dancers Kicked Up Their Heels To Benefit Children At Risk’s “A Night In Barcelona” At Hotel Zaza

Evidently Calvert Collins-Bratton and Vince Bratton have some pull with Mother Nature because the evening of Saturday, September 23, was just made for their “A Night in Barcelona” at Hotel Zaza. Benefiting Children at Risk, the festivities started off with a reception around the pool complete with flamenco dancers and then moved indoors for a delicious dinner. Here’s a report from the field:

Becky Hollands and Alex Abraham*

The evening began with a VIP poolside reception at the always fabulous Hotel Zaza. Chairs Calvert Collins-Bratton and Vince Bratton visited with guests who included Eric and Kate Sudol, former Dallas Cowboy Timmy Newsome, Stratton and Debbie Horres, Richard Collins, Steve Love, Susannah and Chris Watt, Ron Taylor, Michael Zangoei, Shara McClure and couture designer Becky Hollands.

Flamenco dancers*

Carole and Scott Murray*

Guests enjoyed the picturesque views of the Uptown Dallas Skyline before moving to the ballroom where they were swept into “A Night in Barcelona.” Guests were dazzled by flamenco dancers, bright colors and tropical breezes. Hosted by Children at Risk, this annual fall soiree benefits the children and families of North Texas.

Bob Sanborn*

Once in the ballroom, guests were welcomed by emcee Scott Murray who kept the event lively throughout the evening. As guests dined on grilled hanger steak, shellfish and vegetable paella with baby zucchini, and corn pudding, Children at Risk President and CEO, Dr. Bob Sanborn, and North Texas Managing Director, Dr. Charlotte Carlisle, shared highlights of how the nonprofit works tirelessly to ensure Texas children and families have access to healthy food, quality public education, evidence-based parenting programs and a safe environment free of traffickers.

Charlotte Carlisle*

After a delicious dessert of cinnamon-dusted churro with chocolate dipper and salted caramel pastry cream-filled profiterole and coffee, the Live Auction heated up. The exciting 2018 All-Star Game Package, including tickets to the Slam Dunk and 3-Point Shooting Competitions, and the NBA Legends Brunch, was won by Kyle Jennings; and a Romantic Stay in historic Jefferson, Texas, at the House of the Seasons, one of the Great Homes in Texas, plus dinner at Stillwater Inn and 2 pairs of hand-made slippers from Hadleigh’s, went to Dr. Martin Koonsman. Another big hit was the Aruba Vacation Package which included 5 nights in a beautiful five-bedroom, three-bathroom beachfront home on Malmok, just yards away from one of the most acclaimed snorkeling beaches on the island, and a pair of airline tickets. Pam Humphrey was the lucky winner.

Tom Lewis, Susan Sanders, Calvert and Vince Bratton*

Tom Lewis won the raffle, a 5-day trip to Barcelona, including airfare for two and five nights at the luxurious 5-star Monument Hotel located in the heart of Barcelona on the famed Paseo de Gracia.

The night ended with Dr. Sanborn and Dr. Carlisle thanking the 200 plus stylish guests, and wonderful sponsors and donors for their generosity to Texas children, before inviting everyone to kick up their heals with the Flamenco dancers.

Runway Report Patrons Were Feted Where Penguins Once Partied

While Runway Report Honorary Co-Chairs Linda and Steve Ivy were world traveling and Co-Host Don Daseke was elsewhere doing deals, Co-Host Barbara Daseke carried on for the KidneyTexas Inc.‘ Runway Report patrons in the Daseke home-in-the-woods. It all took place on Thursday, September 21, in celebration of the “Transforming Lives Fashion Show And Luncheon” on Thursday, September 21, at Brook Hollow Golf Club. In addition to checking out the teak-wood mansion, guests were able to start bidding on the live auction items and raffle goodies. Here’s a report from the field:

Barbara Daseke, Christine Martin and Susan Russell*

Barbara and Don Daseke opened their fabulous home for the Patron Party honoring KidneyTexas Inc.’s The Runway Report Transforming Lives Fashion Show and Luncheon on Thursday, September 21, a wonderful treat for all!

Someone said the last time they were there for an event, there was a cheetah in the backyard and penguins in a pool. All of that is true! It happened when the Dasekes hosted an event for the Zoo To Do benefiting the Dallas Zoo, caretakers from the zoo brought some of the zoo’s residents for a road trip to the Daseke’s to meet and mingle with the upscale crowd. As longtime supporters of the Dallas Zoo, Barb and Don are chairing that event this year on Saturday, November 4.

Dee Lincoln and Jan Strimple*

Dustin Holcomb and Nerissa von Helpenstill*

KidneyTexas Luncheon Co-Chair Susan Russell and her husband, Don, joined Luncheon Co-Chair Christine Martin in welcoming friends, supporters and patrons in for the celebration. Enjoying the sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and artful scenery were Over the Top award honorees Dee Lincoln of Dee Lincoln Prime, who sponsored the wines this evening, and Nerissa von Helpenstill and Dustin Holcomb from Tootsies that is also the fashion show sponsor. And the word is out, the ever-fashionable Jan Strimple, fashion show producer, has a special surprise up her sleeve to be showcased at the fashion show on Tuesday.

The Sue Goodnight Service Award recipient Natalie Taylor was there, along with the award’s namesake, Sue Goodnight, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.  

Natalie Taylor and Di Johnston*

Renee and David Winter*

Former Luncheon Chair Renee Winter and dear friend Pam Brock brought in orchids which will be featured as the luncheon’s centerpieces. Dr. David Winter, Renee’s husband, caught up on news with friends Dr. Warren Katz and his wife. Special thanks to Gold Crown Valet for sponsoring valet services for this and all of KidneyTexas’ special meetings and events.

The 2017 KidneyTexas beneficiaries include:

  • Parkland Foundation: $30,500 for kidney dialysis unit;
  • Baylor Health Care System Foundation: $30,000 for a five-year study of kidney transplants;
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center: $29,925 for kidney related research;
  • Children’s Medical Center Foundation: $20,500 for hemodialysis and blood pressure machines;
  • Camp Reynal: $19,500; and
  • Texas Health Resources Foundation: $14,214for a hemodialysis machine
* Photo credit: Dana Driensky

Bidding Gets Underway Tonight For Tuesday’s KidneyTexas Inc.’s Runway Report Live Auction

The Runway Report’s “Transforming Lives”

KidneyTexas Inc. is trying something new this year for its Runway Report live auction. Instead of waiting until the luncheon for the bidding competition to get underway, Luncheon Co-Chairs Christine Martin and Susan Russell have arranged for the bidding to start tonight at the Patron Party. There will be bid sheets for the guests with the final rally for the goods taking place at the luncheon and fashion show at Brook Hollow on Tuesday, September 26.

Linda and Steve Ivy (File photo)

So, what’s on the auction bloc? To start with, Honorary Co-Chairs Linda and Steve Ivy have dug into Linda’s fabulous collection of Judith Leiber handbags and donated one of the pristine purse that is valued at $4,000.  

Other items include the following:

  • “Dreamy Blue’s,” a 24” x 36” abstract landscape by Georgeana Ireland valued at $3,000. In addition Georgeana is donating 10% of any of her paintings including her custom commissioned orders purchased until Sunday, October 15, to KidneyTexas Inc. And there’s still more. Ethos Contemporary Art Gallery will also donate 10% of its sales to KidneyTexas Inc until October 15.
  • A party at Mr. Mesero on Henderson for 50 guests complete with margaritas and loads of food valued as priceless. After all, how can one put a price on a great time with 49 pals?

Jody Dean (File photo)

Ron Corning (File photo)

Running the auction Tuesday will be KLUV’s Jody Dean with WFAA’s Ron “Crutches” Corning as emcee.

But if you can’t make the patron party or the luncheon, there’s always the raffle that includes:

A Michele stainless steel case with diamond dial watch (value: $1,695), a Bachendorf’s gift card (value: $1,000), a 11” x 14” family portrait by Robin Jackson Photography (value: $500), a Charlie and Co. package including haircut and blowout with stylist and color consult and take-home product (value: priceless), a Sallio Bistro gift card (value: $200), a Sevy’s Grill gift card ($150), an Al Biernet’s gift card (value $100) and an Al Biernet’s North gift card (value: $250).  

Raffle tickets are going for $50 per and three for $100.

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.  

Mary Kay’s Annual Suits For Shelters Kick-Off Party Brought Out The Pink With A Surprise Reward For Attending Domestic Shelters

Barb Podbelsek may have looked like your typical shopper returning a purchase on Thursday, July 13. After parking her car across the way from Bachendorf’s, she carried a red jacket on a hangar to Tootsies. Oh, but rethink that one. Barb was taking her gently worn jacket to a private get-together at Tootsies. The jacket was to be part of the annual Suits for Shelters program that provides professional attire and accessories for women in area shelters.

Barb Podbelsek, Jana Jones and Theresa Powerski

As Barb handed over the jacket, domestic violence experts like Genesis Shelter’s Jan Langbein and Bianca Jackson, Attitudes and Attire’s Annabelle Baxter and The Family Place’s Melissa Sherrill, Mary Catherine Benavides and Shivangi Pokharel Perkins were on hand.

Mary Catherine Benavides, Shivangi Pokharel Perkins and Melissa Sherrill

Alas, this clothes collection kick-off was to be the last one for Shivangi. She was headed to Charlotte, North Carolina? The reason? Her husband’s job.

Speaking of The Family Place MIAs, CEO Paige Flink was nowhere in sight. Seems she was taking a break in West Virginia with husband Randy Flink.

Nikki and Crayton Webb

Cynthia Izaguirre and models

Mary Kay Inc. VP of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Crayton Webb scoured the crowd for his wife, Nikki Webb. Perfect timing. She was just walking in as the 100 guests like Jana Jones, Theresa Powerski, Jennifer and Aaron Tobin, Tracy and Abe Minkara, Teresa Flores, Anne Crews, Diana Franzetti, Nancy Thomason, Michaela and Trey Dyer, Ashley Montgomery Lyon, Nancy Gopez, Cindy and Brian Hanson, Amy and Chase Laws, Hadley and Travis Galt, Colleen Jamieson, Bill Bernstein, Genevieve Peterson and emcee Cynthia Izaguirre headed upstairs for the evening’s program hosted by the Tootsie’s crew including Nerissa von Helpenstill, Shelley Land and Dustin Holcomb.

Nerissa von Helpenstill, Shelley Lander and Dustin Holcomb

Crayton admitted that in the days ahead, he would be doing heavy-duty babysitting for the four little Webb-sters. The reason? Nikki is co-chairing the Junior League of Dallas’ Milestones Luncheon on Friday, November 17, at the Hilton Anatole with Co-Chair Jennifer Scripps. Decked out in white, Nikki reported that in addition to Linda Perryman Evans receiving the Sustainer of the Year award, the speaker will be Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer. That’s all Nikki could reveal as she and Clayton hustled upstairs for the evening’s program.

Ryan and Maleiah Rogers

As Mary Kay Ash grandson Ryan Rogers tried to juggle his microphone and a glass, wife Maleiah Rogers was the dutiful wife, walking over and relieving him of the glass. After Ryan told of his grandmother’s longtime concern and support of women in domestic violent situations, he asked all to toast the work of those in domestic-abuse efforts. But just as he realized he had nothing with which to toast, Maleiah was back on the spot returning his glass.

Speaking of Ryan and Maleiah, they looked rather flawless. When asked their secret, they chimed in — Mary Kay products! Maleiah reeled off the whole product line and finished it with Smooth-Action Cellulite Gel Cream. One woman upon hearing that last one nudged her gal pal and said, “Then I want a bath tub of the stuff. Just look at her.”

Ryan also reminded the guests that the next week would be the national gathering of Mary Kay associates.

According to Crayton, roughly 30,000 of them would be assembling in Dallas for the four-day convention, providing the city with “two to three times the economic impact of Texas-OU weekend.”

When it came to the evening’s highlight, there was a problem. The big draw of the night was the raffle item donated by the Rogerses — $5,000 to the domestic violence group chosen by the winning ticket holder. Alas, Piers Hurley was the lucky winner, but he just couldn’t pick just one. Leave it to Maleiah and Ryan to come up with the perfect solution: “All event program beneficiaries (Attitudes and Attire, Brighter Tomorrows, Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support, Hope’s Door New Beginning Center, Mosaic Family Services, The Salvation Army DFW and The Family Place) in attendance at the event would receive $5,000 donations to help support their work and help survivors of domestic violence!”

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Cabaret Gala

According to Cabaret Gala Co-Chair Marisa Huckin,

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

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

25th Anniversary Cabaret Gala*

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

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

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

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

* Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Theater

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Fashion Show

According to 2017 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Fashion Show Chairman Beth Thoele,

Beth Thoele (File photo)

Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship was founded in 1981 and was the first riding center in Texas for children and adults with all types of physical, cognitive, emotional and learning disabilities. One of the organization’s most important sources for funding is the annual Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Fashion presented by Highland Park Village.

We have selected “Reins of Hope” as this year’s theme for the luncheon that will be at Brook Hollow Golf Club on Tuesday, October 3. The event will include presentation of the Equest Award for Community Service to Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne whose family has been longtime supporters of the organization. In addition, Equest stalwart and philanthropist Robyn Conlon is serving as honorary chairman and will be recognized for her contributions to the community.

Elisa Summers (File photo)

Heather Washburne (File photo)

Robyn Conlon (File photo)

Jan Strimple (File photo)

The day’s activities will include a runway fashion show produced by the renowned Jan Strimple, featuring clothes from Highland Park Village retailers, seated luncheon and raffle.  We will reveal the participating fashion partners in early September.

Help us empower, enrich and educate through horses by visiting www.equest.org.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Cattle Baron’s Ball

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

Anne Stodghill and Sunie Solomon (File photo)

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

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

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

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

Brooks and Dunn*

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

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

Visit www.cattlebaronsball.com.

* Photo provided by 
2017 Cattle Baron's 
Ball

JUST IN: Texas Fav Pat Green To “Shoot For The Stars” For Cattle Baron’s Ball On The Winston And Strawn Live Auction Stage At Gilley’s

There’s been a question floating in the Cattle Baron’s Ball universe — Who will be on the Winston and Strawn Live Auction Stage at Gilley’s on Saturday, October 21?

Pat Green (File photo)

CBB Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill have finally provided the answer. It will be the troubadour of Texas, Pat Green. It seems like he’s been everywhere lately, but Sunie and Anne managed to lock him down to get the tempo in overdrive and the arms warmed up to raise the paddles for the live auction of luxury packages that will follow his concert.

After the bidding workout, the crowd will mosey on over to the Texas-sized tent for a concert by Brooks and Dunn.

All types of underwriting opportunities are available now, but they’re stampeding out of sight. As for the individual tickets, they go on sale on Friday, September 1.

BTW, don’t forget to buy your tickets for killer raffle items. After all, it’s time for a new set of wheels from Park Place, a $10,000 debit card from PlainsCapital Bank, a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady Datejust 28 from Eiseman, a $10,000 shopping spree at Highland Park Village, or a dreamy three-night stay at Chileno Bay. Wouldn’t it be a little piece of heaven to win all the raffle items? Buy your outfit at HP Village, drive to the airport in your Park Place wheels, lease a private jet with your debit card and show off the time to all the other guests at Chileno Bay. Talk about “dreaming as big as Texas”! If you want to get a head start on the herd, you’ll need to call CBB offices (214.443.9222) or corral one of the Baronesses because you can’t buy raffle tickets online. Boo-hoo.

Family Gateway’s Raffle Offers Courtside Seats, Movie Audience VIP Status And Fashionable Designs And Pampering

Talk about variety! That’s exactly what the Gateway to Opportunity raffle line up offers to benefit Family Gateway. There are just five items, but run the gamut from sports to self-indulgence. Here is the lineup:

Abraham Salum (File photo)

Michael Flores (File photo)

Michael Faircloth (File photo)

  • Start off the evening with Abraham Salum’s team preparing dinner for four of you at Salum’s. But make it early because you’ll want to get to the Mavericks game at American Airlines Center early to watch the teams warm up from your two courtside seats and two additional nearby seats. Thank heaven, you’ll have limousine transportation, so you can wear yourself out urging on Dirk and waving on the Mavs Fancam.
  • Who needs a media room when you have a Studio Movie Grill Black Card for two for a year? Just imagine, you’ll be able to skip the hassles of buying tickets and settle back to watch the latest movies. Let’s see. If you and a bud go every day for a year, that would run you between $4,380 and $7,665. Pass the popcorn, but don’t pass up this opportunity.
  • Your fav follicle engineer at Truvy’s Beauty Shop is gonna be heartbroken if you win this item — $1,000 gift certificate for services at the Michael Flores Salon at Neiman Marcus Downtown. Ah, the stories you’ll be able to tell your pals about being glamorized by Michael Flores and his team. Think of it a little like dining from soup to nuts. Instead it will be a feast from roots to pedicure.
  • What’s better than a nip and tuck? Jewelry. It lasts forever, don’t you know. And this 18k rose-gold amethyst pendant necklace with diamond accents designed by Lisa Nik for Bachendorf’s will simply dazzle your neckline. And to show off this dazzler valued at $3,360, what better place than Javier’s, where you’ll have a $200 gift certificate for top-shelf margaritas with Grand Marnier, Fajitas De Cabrito and Flan Al Kahlúa.
  • Is there anything more embarrassing that showing up at a black-tie gala only to see you gown on someone else? Ah, but this item can prevent that from happening thanks to Dallas’ one and only designer extraordinaire Michael Faircloth. The man with notches on his belt for dressing some of the best dressed and a former first lady will create a suit or dress valued at $4,000. And if you’ve ever experienced a Faircloth creation, then you just know Cinderella would have replaced her fairy godmother with Michael.

Going for $50 a ticket, Luncheon Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz have arranged an extra incentive. If you buy five tickets, they’ll throw in an additional one gratis. And if you’re gonna be out of town and unable to attend the luncheon featuring Laura Bush at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Thursday, September 7, not to worry. Paula and Betty will let you know which package you won.

Mary Kay Foundation’s Suits For Shelters Kick-Off Party At Tootsies Proves That It Pays Off To Show Up

With the sizzling heat growing, there is a hesitation to venture out of one’s air-conditioned comfort zone, even it if means just moving from the office to the car to the destination.

But for some domestic abuse nonprofits, it paid off big time in the pink.

But first let’s back up. Tootsies hosted The Mary Kay Foundation’s annual Suits for Shelters kick-off party on Thursday, July 13. Despite June being tepid, July was making up for lost time in the temperature department. Still, the place filled with supporters of the program including some of the domestic abuse nonprofits that would benefit from the clothes collection.

Ryan and Maleiah Rogers

Despite the decision not to have a fashion show, the raffle commenced. It was an unusual raffle. One of the prizes would have the winner go home with just great feelings. Their win would be deciding which domestic abuse nonprofit would receive $5,000 thanks to Maleiah and Ryan Rogers (aka Mary Kay’s grandson).

But when Piers Hurley’s name was called, he couldn’t pick just one recipient.

Leave it to Maleiah and Ryan to come up with the solution. They decided that each of the seven nonprofits in attendance would be awarded $5,000 each. So, those walking away in a daze with $5,000 were Attitudes and Attire, Brighter Tomorrows, Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support, Hope’s Door New Beginning Center, Mosaic Family Services, The Salvation Army and The Family Place.

See, it does pay to show up!

Speaking of which, it also pays to contribute to the clothes collection. In return for the donation, the donor will receive a $25 gift certificate from Tootsies. But better hurry, because the Suits for Shelter program ends on Friday, August 4.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: 2017 Parade Of Playhouses

According to Dallas CASA Board Chair John Gibson,

John Gibson*

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

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

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

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

2017 Parade of Playhouses*

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

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

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

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

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA

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

Craig Beneke

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

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

Playhouse Rock cowbell on a construction work belt

Playhouse Rock sound tubes

Playhouse Rock floor

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

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

Whimsical Cottage

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

Cuckoohaus

Paw Rescue

The White Owl’s Den

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

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

Check out the Parade of Playhouses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 22nd Annual Parade Of Playhouses

Playhouse Rock

The White Owl’s Den

The 22nd Annual Parade of Playhouses started its march this past weekend through NorthPark Center to fund Dallas CASA, come rain or shine. One of the adorable mini-mansions didn’t even exist until a couple of weeks ago, and it came about thanks to a daughter’s call to a dad. And, boy, did pop come through!

Paw Rescue

Whimsical Cottage

Before heading over to NorthPark to see them up close and personally to examine the detail and craftmanship, check out the 11 houses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. But you’d better hustle, because they’ll be raffled off on Sunday, July 23.

Cowbell on a construction work belt

Cottage light

In the meantime, the post about the dad is being finalized. Stay tuned.

JUST IN: Mosaic Family Services’ Champion Of Human Rights Award To Be Presented To Brittany Merrill Underwood At 8th Annual Gala

Mosaic Family Services 8th Annual Gala Co-Chairs Ashley Anderson Smith and Nusia Sookarow have just announced that Akola Founder/CEO Brittany Merrill Underwood will receive the Champion of Human Rights Award on Friday, October 6, at sixty five hundred.

Brittany Merrill Underwood*

Steve Kemble (File photo)

According to Ashley, “Brittany Underwood and Akola have transformed the lives of thousands of women and children around the world. We are thrilled to honor her as a Champion of Human Rights. We hope the community will join us in ‘Raising the Stakes’ as we raise vital funds to support Mosaic Family Services and our mission of providing a safe haven for survivors of human rights abuses.”

Past recipients of the award include Councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates, Libby Spears, Abi Ferrin, Judge Roberto Canas Jr., Jan Langbein, Paige Flink, Luis C. deBaca and Lauren Embrey.

Along with Steve Kemble serving as emcee, Susan Posnick will be the honorary chair for the “Night in Monte Carlo”-themed fundraiser that will include cocktails, dinner by cn catering, a silent auction, a raffle, a casino and music by DJ LC.

Mosaic Family Services “is a safe haven for survivors of human rights abuses, including domestic violence and human trafficking. The multicultural staff at Mosaic supports, educates, and empowers more than 25,000 people each year through direct services and outreach. Refugees and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence receive shelter, legal representation, counseling, access to health care, and support services in more than 30 languages. Every year, Mosaic House provides emergency housing to hundreds of women and children fleeing domestic violence and human trafficking.  They are the only shelter in North Texas providing comprehensive services to multicultural survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.”

The goal is to hit $200,000, so purchase a ticket here!

* Photo provided by Mosaic Family Services

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.

8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show Tickets And Raffle Chances Just Went On Sale For The Elisa Project

Tickets have just gone on sale for the 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show benefiting The Elisa Project. Chairing this year’s runway action is Whitney Kutch, with Rhonda Marcus and her daughter Emmy Marcus serving as honorary co-chairs.

Whitney Kutch (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

Sponsored by Lisa Cooley, the event will take place at Tootsies on Saturday, September 16. Things kick off at 10 a.m. with Mimosas and Munchies followed by the fashion show featuring local celebs modeling Tootsies fashions.

2016 Esteem Fashion Show*

Established in 1999, The Elisa Project has a mission of helping “increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body images” for young people and adults.

This year’s raffle will include Elizabeth Showers jewelry and a gift card from Tootsies.

Tickets are available now with VIP seats going for $75 and students/standing placement available for $20.  

* Photo credit: Thomas Garza

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

Jack Betts and Gina and Ken Betts

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

Dak Prescott and Brad Sham

Joanna Hernandez

Ben Lange

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

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

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