Dr. Charles Sterling To Receive 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award At Illuminating New Perspectives Dinner

It was 40 years ago this month when a plane with an Uruguayan rugby team aboard crashed into the Andes. In freezing conditions and learning through radio transmissions that rescue was doubtful at best, 16 of the 45 people survived for 72 days thanks to their fitness and, eventually, cannibalism.

Nando Parrado (File photo)

One of those survivors was a 22-year-old Nando Parrado, who eventually wrote Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home. Recently Nando attributed his surviving the ordeal to Dr. Ken Cooper, who saved his life because he [Nando] was so well-trained in the Cooper fitness methods.

In addition to Nando bringing his amazing story to the “Illuminating Perspectives” dinner on Tuesday, October 23, at Belo Mansion, Dr. Charles Sterling will be presented with the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Dr. Sterling is the founder of FitnessGram, the program being used to assess the physical fitness of students in more than 67,000 schools in the U.S. It used to be known as the President’s Fitness Test back in the ’60s, but has been updated by the Cooper Institute. In addition to Dr. Sterling receiving the award, the dinner will “celebrate 30+ years of the FitnessGram’s continuous use in encouraging healthy behavior in schoolchildren.”

Benefiting the Cooper Institute, the dinner that will honor Nando’s friends, Margot and Ross Perot, is being chaired by longtime Cooper enthusiasts Pam Denesuk, Barbara Durham and Carol Seay.

Grovel Alert: Flora Award Dinner

Barbara Hunt Crow

The Flora Award’s black-tie dinner at Texas Discovery Gardens on Thursday, November 1,  honoring Barbara Hunt Crow is in a “grovel status” for tickets.

The Gardens themselves are such a treat and treasure, but the idea of dining there and honoring Barbara has created the almost-sold-out situation this soon.

In addition to being heavily involved with Texas Discovery Gardens (volunteer, donor, board member and chair), she has been hands-on with the Junior League of Dallas, Crystal Charity Ball, Cattle Baron’s Ball, Dallas Woman’s Club, SMU-in-Taos, the Godbey Lecture Series, the Dedman College at SMU and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

According to Flora Award Chair Marilyn Waisanen, “Barbara demonstrates through her deeds what it means to give back to your community. The staff and board at Texas Discovery Gardens are especially appreciative of Barbara’s commitment to our mission of environmental education.”

Benefiting the Texas Discovery Gardens, Flora Awards have been presented in the past to Ellen and John McStay, Ebby Halliday Acers, Peggy and Carl Sewell, Dee and Charles Wyly, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

One of the fav spots at Texas Discovery Gardens is the Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium, where they daily release butterflies at noon.

For information on the few tickets left, call Sarah Gardner at 214.428.7476, Ext. 230, or email [email protected].

Photo provided by Texas Discovery Gardens

Pat And Emmitt Smith Along With Hard Night’s Day Help MakeAWay Charities Raise Funds

If you loved the Beatles or better yet Dallas’ own Hard Day’s Night, then you’ll want to put a hold on Saturday, October 27. The HDN foursome will be appearing at the Westin Galleria to benefit MakeAWay Charities.

Pat and Emmitt Smith (File photo)

The ever-gorgeous Pat Smith and her dancing husband Emmitt will be the honorary chairs for this fundraiser that “has helped over 1,000 families in need of a helping hand to get by in hard times.”

If MakeAWay is new on your non-profit lists, makes sense. Established by Kathy and Mike Hayes, it’s only a couple of years old and was founded to directly assist single-parent-headed families in distress. They provide “direct assistance to these and other hard-working families in financial catastrophe so the families can stay intact, in their own homes, and out of debt and poverty.

“Without the assistance of MakeAWay Charities, those families would have been facing a devastating foreclosure, missing school and medical appointments due to unreliable transportation, and putting single parents in a position where those who depend on them most are put at risk due to inability to pay rent, an electric bill, or for a car repair.”

Starting at 6 p.m., the 60’s themed “Get Groovy With MakeAWay” presented by Generational Equity will include dinner, dancing and, of course, auctions (silent and lively) for everything from Gringo boots, a Cowboys helmet donated and signed by Tony Dorsett to a trip to Paris hosted by La Madeleine founder Patrick Esquerre.

Rob Lowe’s Message At Celebrating Women Luncheon Proved Even More Powerful Than His Good Looks And Charm

One of the team putting on this year’s Celebrating Women smiled Thursday. Not only were they having the largest attendance ever (1,400+), they were predicted to break records in the money-raising arena for the 12-year-old fundraiser against breast cancer. She wondered aloud — “Is it because we’re having a male speaker? Or, is it because the speaker is Rob Lowe?” Really? The Lowe-mentum officially got underway Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY

The usually sedate street in front of Claire and Dwight Emanuelson‘s mansion was cordoned off into a one-way street. Just 15 minutes into the cocktail reception for the Celebrating Women patrons, it seemed like all 175 guests were Johnny-on-the-spot. Valets had lined the street and the adjoining ones with all types of luxury vehicles. It was obvious that no one was going to be late for this one, except perhaps the guest of honor. While a handful of guests (mostly men) stood in the marvelous backyard, the majority (mostly female) stayed inside to greet the star/author/breast cancer activist.

While waiting for him, stories and sightings were revealed regarding Rob and his jewelry-designing wife, Sheryl. Earlier in the day she’d lunched with the Lowes’ Santa Barbara neighbors Annette Simmons and Bea Wallace at the downtown Neiman’s Zodiac Room, following a personal appearance downstairs with her collection. The Sheryl Lowe Designs was slated to be at the downtown store until 2013, but since they were in town. . . why not? One of the categories is called “Maria,” after Sheryl’s good buddy Maria Shriver.

And guess who dropped by to join the gals for lunch. Yup! Mr. Blue Eyes.

A touch of trivia: While Rob is quite adorable — blue eyes fringed with legions of brown eyelashes — he’s also totally gray follicle-wise. Has been since he was 24.  Ah, shoot, who cares? Cary Grant, Anderson Cooper, George Clooney and so many painfully gorgeous men have gotten better and better looking as they grayed.

Emilynn and Claude Wilson, Melissa Macatee and Barbara Stuart

Barbara Stuart and dotter Melissa Macatee, who chaired the luncheon when the late Rue McClanahan spoke, were chatting with Emilynn and Claude Wilson. Seems Melissa’s 17-year-old son loves “Parks & Recreation” in which Rob has appeared. . . Mary Anne Cree, who was one of the recipients of this year’s Circle of Care Award, sat near Dan Busbee, and said she just hoped she wasn’t in the way as the crowds grew and grew in the living room, where the microphone was stationed. It was obvious from the placement of the mic that this was the most likely place to guarantee a look at Rob.

Jan Miller and Sheryl Lowe

Finally at 6:44, the guest of honor arrived in the doorway with his wife Sheryl and friend Jan Miller. At least it looked like he walked in. From the sudden explosion of people filling the entry hall, it was hard to see exactly what was going on. But then the smile and blue eyes appeared surrounded by a gaggle of very happy ladies.

Rob Lowe and Claire Emanuelson

As he slowly . . . very slowly made his way down a couple of steps to the living room, he was introduced to Baylor Health Care System President/CEO Joel Allison and Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Rowland “Robin” Robinson. Being the smart gentlemen they are, they immediately made sure that Rob met the right women — luncheon Co-chairs Pam Busbee and Pam Perella and Lindalyn Adams.

Pam Busbee, Rowland Robinson, Mary Anne Cree, Joel Allison and Pam Perella

As Joel pointed out, Lindalyn was the “visionary and soul and integrity of this luncheon. . . I said to her, ‘Let’s own October’ — and we have.”

But before the very short program had a chance to use the mic, Rob was led to the backyard by host Dwight through a gauntlet of guests, who just wanted a quick smartphone photo with him. Dwight wanted to show the Emanuelsons’ outdoor entertainment area to Rob. Looking around the pool, outdoor kitchen and game room, Rob was pretty well impressed with the surroundings.

Talking with some of the guys, Rob asked about the Cowboys chances. The feedback was unanimously not favorable.

Hillis Emanuelson, Rob Lowe and Michael Crow

Then out of nowhere came the Emanuelson son, Hillis. and his bud Michael Crow, with hockey sticks for a photo with Rob, who played a hockey player in “Youngblood.” On the way back to the main house, Rob told Dwight about his own sons. It seems that one of them was applying to Washington and Lee. Dwight looked startled. Did Rob know that Dwight not only graduated from W&L (he didn’t mention that he was a magna cum laude grad with a double major in economics and French), but he is also on the W&L board of trustees.

Then it was back to the house and the short program in which Joel told the group, “You know, (this luncheon) is getting like Six Flags. It just gets better and better each year.”

Then Robin admitted to the room overflowing with guests that he and Joel were pretty aware that the man of the hour was indeed Rob. All eyes didn’t turn to Rob. They were already focused on him. Then Robin added that Rob was here with his lovely wife, who had disappeared in the mob. Looking into the mass, Rob immediately found her and pointed her out.

Annette Simmons

Since the next day was full of activities, the Baylor folks kept the remarks short  and the program ended. Arriving just as the program ended were Annette and Harold Simmons, who took the Lowes to dinner at Cafe Pacific. The rest of the herd descended upon the NM buffet in the dining room.

THURSDAY

Never has a VIP reception had so many guests show up so early. The infatuation with Rob Lowe was now in its second day and it was showing no signs of dimming. Even the most sophisticated socialite made no excuses for wanting to meet him. His book signing at Jan Miller’s and Jeff Rich’s had confirmed Rob’s youthful good looks and genial personality were cosmic.

Quequeing up for a photo opportunity

At one end of the Wedgwood Room was a small stage for Joel, Robin and representatives from Plains Capital and Tom Thumb to speak. At the opposite end of the room was a backdrop for photos to be taken with Rob. It was four across and longer than the lineup for Santa at NorthPark.

Just as the speakers started to talk, Rob entered via the service entrance in the back of the room. Without a word said, eyes went from the stage to the back of the room, where he tried to blend in. No way. They ushered him to the foot of the stage.

As soon as the speaker finished, the photo session started. One veteran mumbled, “There’s no way they’re going to finish taking pictures of all these people. Maybe they should just do a group photo.” Ain’t no lens big enough.

But the Baylor team knows how to run a tidy ship, and the photo session ended with a couple of minutes to spare.

Quickly the group joined the rest of the 1,400 in the Chantilly Ballroom as the doors opened at 12:32 p.m. Eithin 11 minutes, the guests were in their chairs and the Pams were at the podium. Pam Busbee had been worried about the two teleprompters. Last year they had stopped, causing a bit of frustration for the speakers. This time Pam had a backup plan in hand. . .  literally.  She had vowed to write notes down on her hand. Smart gal.

Caren Prothro

After introducing Honorary Chair Caren Prothro, the Pams had Pat Smith, who lost her mother when Pat was 22, give the invocation. Of course, the beautiful wife of Emmitt Smith was not going to let this gathering of 1,400 potential voters go without a pitch for her husband in the “Dancing With The Stars” competition. Then she proceeded with the invocation.

Rowland “Robin” Robinson and Pat Smith

The Pams weren’t about to let guests just start chowing down on parsnip-apple soup en croute, panko crusted breast of chicken served with assorted fall greens, candied pecan goat cheese wafer and spicy cheese straw with sherry Dijon vinaigrette and a chocolate hazelnut cake with praline chocolate crunch. Nope, they asked guests to look at their programs, or rather the back of the program. The ones with a butterfly appliqué were the lucky ones who would receive a “Go Girl” ring designed by Dian Malouf.

While everyone ate and chatted, Rob opted just to chat. Smart fella. When your face is going to be on three mega screens, you don’t want to worry about the possibility of a stray piece of lettuce or something lodging among your ivories.

After lunch Joel announced that Baylor had been selected as not only the location of the newest Hope Lodge but also as the regional headquarters for the American Cancer Society. This remarkable announcement was greeted with applause. Baylor has indeed been busy this past month with the official naming of the Baylor T. Boone Pickens Cancer Center across from the Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center.

Mary Anne Cree, David Bratton and Heather Kreager

Speaking of the Sammons, Robin presented the Circle of Care Awards to Mary Anne and the Men and Women of Sammons Enterprises, Inc., represented by David Bratton and Heather Kreager.  For newbies, breast cancer survivor Mary Anne is the daughter of the late Charles Sammons, who was a truly remarkable man. Ironically, Mary Anne learned that she had cancer in the diagnosis suite that she and her husband dedicated in the name of his late wife, who died of breast cancer.

Then Robin shifted gears with a video on 25-year-old Crystal Griffith, who is going through treatments for breast cancer. Following a video on a very articulate Crystal, Robin seemed to tear up as she updated the audience that she had spoken with her the day before and she was facing still more treatments. Mary Ann claimed that her father would have teased her that just because you provided the funding for such an effort, you didn’t have to try it out.

Rob Lowe

Once again, Robin changed gears again and introduced Rob. During his 18-minute talk, he told how he had lost his great-grandmother, his grandmother and even his mother to breast cancer. His grandmother Peg Hepler, had been “a big influence in my life” He told how they would read Peter Rabbit and she would serve him a drop of Sanka in his milk, so it looked like they were having coffee together. “That dates me. I’m 100 years old. (Laughter) . . . Today I’m still a fan of Peter Rabbit but a bigger fan of caffeine. Grandma, Starbucks thanks you.” And yet when she was diagnosed with cancer in the 70’s, the whole family was scared because in those days it was “considered a death sentence.” Her example of how she handled the grueling treatments (a radical double mastectomy and countless rounds of chemo), inspired him to take on the battle of creating awareness of the disease.  “She and her doctors were early warriors in the cause that brings us together today,” he said.

In honor of Peggy, Rob became the first male spokesperson for the National Breast Cancer Awareness Day in 2001. In one single day $7.5M was raised for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Rob Lowe

But he was frustrated in trying to get the word out about the importance of getting mammograms. He thought the message was “a no brainer.” He wondered if the message was really needed anymore. After all it was so obvious.

And, yet despite his efforts, he was shocked to learn “in 2006 my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She’d never had a mammogram.. . . How did this happen? It was devastating.”

[Editor’s note: Barbara was actually diagnosed in early 2003.]

When she died just eight months later just after Thanksgiving in 2003, it broke the hearts of her entire family. So much so that Rob’s eight-year-old son, John Owen, cried so much he threw a rib out.

Rob summed it up by saying, “Today we know that a cancer diagnosis is not the end. It is the beginning of a journey that has the potential to be transformative, enlightened and heroic.”

By transformative, he said that so often when he meets cancer survivors, they admit that they are different people and that they see life from a different perspective.

Despite his initial anger at his mother’s not being diagnosed earlier, he learned that the quality of time was more important that the quantity of time.

He finished by embracing the guests saying, “All of us here today are family. We are joined by a common experience, our shared humanity and the daily we face in the war on cancer. . . . We celebrate our loved ones who have given us so much and sometimes leave us with so much. We celebrate the doctors, the nurses, the health care providers of all stripes, as well as the unsung heroes that keep our big hospitals running, for those who clean and cook. We honor those who tirelessly work and look for funds like all of you here today to keep the lights on and to keep the labs running. . . . There’s so much to be done for so many. And for some time is truly of the essence. But we are a nation that has always been capable of leading the way of great accomplishments. The tools for tremendous achievement are in our DNA. The powerful strands of intertwined sacrifice, commitment, hope and love all shared friend to friend are handed down family to family. . . Together we can make miracles.”

Rob Lowe

No, his talk was not long, but it was personal, thoughtful, articulate and to the point — much to the relief of veteran luncheoners, who too often feel like they’re being lectured.

Everyone left at once

By 1:21 the valets were being hit by hundreds and hundreds of guests trying to depart. The problem with such a luncheon is that patrons usually come solo, unlike evening events where each car has two people.  If only it had been announced that anyone who stayed might have a chance to talk with Rob, it would have slowed things down immensely. . . but then Rob would have never been able to return to Cafe Pacific for lunch.

A Dirty But So Necessary Job

That cold front that hit Dallas a few days ago served as a reminder for one of these. It’s a dirty job, but a much needed one and someone has to do it.

Go ahead and get one. You’ll make the Dallas Fire Department happy.

Dwell With Dignity’s Thrift Studio Is Busting With Furniture And Goodies For Everyone Until November 30

The Design District is sorta intimidating to the average Josephina. Yeah, there’s the Moth and the Oak Dallas, but some of the streets are confusing to navigate for a first-timer and there’s the fear of rejection for a novice not being accompanied by a professional decorator.

“Paoli” white leather chair ($575)

But until Saturday, November 30, a Brigadoon-like shop will be open to one and all and chock full of all types of furnishings (pillows, couches, armoires, beds, desks, leather chairs) and styles (vintage, contemporary, charming, edgy, new and gently experienced) that are being replaced around the clock.

Pooch favors donated by Wisteria

Whoa! What is this? No. MySweetCharity has not gone a la D Home. But the Thrift Studio, which is benefiting Dwell With Dignity, opened Thursday with a sneak preview party complete with dogs as favors. No, don’t worry. The pooches were not real, live, but rather the “statuesque” type that requires no shots, no feeding and no walking.

Vignette by Peacock Alley

Ah, the findings inside were simply remarkable. In addition to the fabulous and diverse room stagings by Cynthia Collins, Breckinridge Taylor, John Pfifer Marrs, Laura Lee Clark, Lisa Luby Ryan, Stella Dallas and Peacock Alley, there was a whole backroom stocked with such things as a camel-back couch ($295), a writing desk secretary ($425), and a French antique armoire bar ($2750).

Camel back couch ($295)

With all these bargains, the question arose — “What if all these things sell over the weekend?” To this Dwell With Dignity Founder Lisa Robison answered that there were warehouses of furnishings ready to be moved in.

Pine hutch ($1,875)

It’s a win-win-win situation. Area designers and furnishing experts have donated furniture to be sold. Some of it is absolutely brand new with an ever-s0-slight blemish. Others are items that just no longer fit the needs of the owner.

The proceeds of these sales go to Dwell With Dignity, which in turn uses the funds “to help families escape poverty and homelessness through design. One household at a time.”

Lisa Luby Ryan, Lisa Robison and Kim Turner

Lisa started DWD after working in the design world for years. She realized, “If we can change a person’s surroundings, we can change their outlook on life. Exposing children (especially) to a nurturing home environment, that includes good design and art, can inspire a standard of living that will carry over to future generations. Exposing parents to this same environment will allow them to see the positive impact it has on their family; inspiring them to maintain a standard of living they can be proud of and thrive in.”

Her drive was so strong that her husband gave her the “nest egg” to start the DWD foundation in April 2009. Pretty soon a former El Centro classmate, Kim Turner, learned of Lisa’s mission and got involved.

Makes perfect sense. Just as the area chefs use their talents to help feed those in need, so the design community has pooled its resources to help provide an environment that is comforting and beneficial.

Now, three years later the Thrift Studio’s goal is to raise $120,000 before it disappears.

BTW, you do not need any special paperwork or escort to look and shop. It’s totally open to one and all Tuesday thru Saturday (10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 5:30 p.m.). Don’t be surprised if you find yourself stopping by daily. It’s not addictive; it’s ever-changing.

From Zoo-To-Do Patron Party To ‘Splaining To The Boys In Blue, Wolfie Was The Party Animal Of The Week

Wolfie

Please pardon Wolfie. The 11-year-old Maine Coon has been a bit of a party animal of late. While Rob Lowe was just a couple of blocks away for the Celebrating Women patron party, Wolfie was Hef-style cool and laid back Wednesday for the Zoo-to-Do patron party at his relatively new digs that he shares with Brett and Lester Levy.

Art in dining room

Still boasting that “new-house” fragrance, the 11,00-square-foot mansion is filled with amazing art. In fact at one point, one guest mistook Wolfie as an objet d’art as he lounged on the coffee table. Not to worry. He put up with more strokes than a kayaker’s paddle. Nothing bothered him. Not even when John Kiser stuck his name tag on Wolfie’s head. Luckily, that situation didn’t last long enough to bother the cat that Lester had gotten as a kitten from the SPCA for Brett when they were dating upon the death of her previous cat.

But Wolfie wasn’t the only animal of note on this night. In fact, the whole purpose was a zoo full of critters and how the Dallas Zoological Society is growing funds to support them. According to Dallas Zoological Society Development VP Nancy Sausted, the fiscal year just completed was a record breaker with $1M coming to the zoo and the aquarium.

Lester and Brett Levy and Shelly and Tom Codd

Benefiting the DZS, Zoo-to-Do Event Co-chairs Shelly and Tom Codd are expecting nearly 650 guests at the November 3rd fundraiser, where guests will be able to “graze” around in the Giants of the Savanna exhibit courtesy of 25 area chefs. For those who like to bid, there are the silent auction and the live one with trips, an evening in the Giants of the Savanna. . . in the Fig Tree and a safari of Dallas’ best restaurants.

Hal Brierley

Among the 90 patrons was Hal Brierley, who was headed to attend the vice-presidential debate the next night. . . Another guest was Dr. Lynn Kramer, who heads up the veterinary and animal welfare operation at the zoo. He may one of a few in Dallas who has a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He was quick to point out that he doesn’t show or hunt his pooch. He just lets it lie around and enjoy being a pampered pet.

Dr. Lynn Kramer, Richard Geiger and Michael Meadows

But hey! This was an animal-loving group who associate the world “wild” with the zoo residents, not with partying.

Wolfie

However, according to the chap who purchased the Levy’s former residence, the next night was a different story. Wolfie had his paws full when Brett and Lester hosted the launch party for Kimberly Whitman‘s and Hilary Kennedy‘s new talk show. Seems Dean Fearing, Johnny Reno and their Lost Coyote band’s playing by the pool was one thing, but when Johnny Law took over the entertaining, it was so loud . . . how loud was it?

Yup, Wolfie had some explaining to do to the boys in blue.

Dallas Children’s Theater’s 20th Anniversary Cabaret Gala 2012 Got Bergl-ed By Songbird Emily

Pity the poor folks who wrote off 20th Anniversary Cabaret Gala Saturday night at the Fairmont’s Venetian Room because they thought it was going to be a wrinkled songstress crooning tunes from a bygone era. Lucky were those who were charmed, tantalized and blown away by cabaret singer/comedian/vixen Emily Bergl benefiting the Dallas Children’s Theater.

Emily Bergl

Word had been filtering down via word of mouth and internet that Emily was part of a newer wave of cabaret performers. Imagine Tinker Bell figure, Bette Midler sass, Lady Gaga brass and Marilyn Monroe flirt. Now, you’re thinking Emily.

The New Yorker who was familiar to many in the audience from her days on “Desperate Housewives” sang, mugged collapsing on stage, ventured out into the audience and unlayered her wardrobe throughout her performance. Yee-haw!

NOTE: For a review of the show, check out The Flash List.

Robert Wilonsky, Margaret Keliher, Mary Wilonsky and Lester Keliher

The evening started off with a cocktail reception in the lobby outside the Venetian Room. It was an interesting blend of Cabaret Gala vets (Barbara Brice, Kent Perkins, Carolyn Lupton and Mayo Crum) and youngsters (Margaret and Lester Keliher, Mary and Robert Wilonsky, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Julianna and Chris LeBlanc, Ailsa Hurley, Julie Lloyd and Heather Hayes and Jeff Roberts ).

Yvonne Crum, Jeff Roberts and Heather Hays

Once the doors opened to the Venetian Room, guests were more than pleased to see a receiving line. Oh, one of those? What’s so great about that? Well, it was short, just two people, but what a pair: local resident/”Laugh-In” vet Ruth Buzzi and Dallas Children’s Theater/Gala Producer Artie Olaisen.  These two alone were worth the price of the ticket. No wonder the receiving line didn’t move like a horse race at Lone Star Park! When someone asked, “How many people ask you where your purse is?,” referring to her “Laugh-In” role,  itty-bitty comedienne Ruth responded, “If I had $1 for everyone. . . not $5. . . ”

Once inside, guests took their places at tables decked out with plates of bite-sized appetizers and desserts and flutes of champagne. In the center of each table was a bucket with reinforcements for the flutes.

At a front-row table was Kate Kuether, who just moved to Dallas from New York, where her accomplishments included appearing as Meg in “Phantom of the Opera.” She and husband John, who was also a “Phantom” vet, are now associated with Park Cities Dance.

Before Emily with her pianist G. Scott Lacey and Daniel Fabricant on bass/ukulele were introduced, Gala Chair Yvonne Crum (this is her fifth time chairing the event) and Marisa Huckin welcomed the group and thanked special friends (i.e. underwriters, sponsors, donors). Marisa told the audience “I’m only here because glasses would have spoiled Yvonne’s outfit!”

Artie Olaisen, Yvonne Crum, Marisa Huckin and Ruth Buzzi

Then it was time for the raffle drawing. For that Artie held the glass bowl with tickets and Ruth did the drawing. When the name was drawn for the trip to Santa Fe, there was a brief eyebrow raising among Artie, Marisa and Yvonne. Then they announced, “Ruth Buzzi!” Without missing a beat, Ruthie mugged, “I’m going to Santa Fe!”

Artie then took over the mic, introducing Emily. When he recalled having met her last year in New York, it was pretty darn obvious that he was smitten as he described her as “a bubbly, exquisite person. . . fresh, fun, sexy … [with] a smart way with a song.”

Emily Bergl

All of those points came out the moment the blonde arrived on stage in a soft lavender floor-length evening gown. As she sang “I’ll Take Manhattan,” “Mad About The Boy” and others, one song had Emily on the floor, saying, “That’s the first time I’ve ever been on the floor in Dallas, and it may not be the last.”

After another song, a member of the audience was heard to say instead of “Brava,” “Yee-Haw!” Immediately, Emily with an eyebrow raised responded, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard ‘yee-haw’ at one of my cabaret shows before.”

Introducing another song, she described it as being from the 1920’s and 30’s, “when ladies wore gloves, men wore hats, and people had the attention span to listen to entire f*****g songs.” Warned you that she had some Midler in her.

Emily Bergl unzipping

As Emily continued her repertoire including “It Had To Be You,” “Ten Cents a Dance,” “Crying,” “Material Girl” and others that included eliciting audience participation, layers of her dress seemed to disappear until she was down to a flesh-colored body suit. One of the layers was caught by Yvonne, who put it on for a brief stint on stage with Emily.

Hollywood Floral arrangement

At the very end of the performance, Emily thanked Hollywood Floral for the big floral arrangement saying “EB” in the entry to the Venetian Room.

Brought back for an encore, she finished her stage performance with Mama Cass’s “Dream A Little Dream Of Me.”

Cabaret may seem like something from the past, but it’s the perfect venue for an entertainer like Emily, who thrives in an intimate setting to the delight of the audience.

Don’t Tell Until Thursday Noon — American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge Is Coming To Baylor University Medical Center

Anyone who has been part of the ordeal of cancer knows the shock, awe and reality can be as devastating as the disease. There is the “This can’t be happening” tide of emotion that initially strikes. Then there is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the journey of tests and treatments up ahead. And before any of this starts, there is the realization that the past life of normal has been totally uprooted by the future of no norm.

For a patient and his or her family who live near a medical center, making the trip to the hospital is wearing, but still they know home and friends are nearby. Think about that person who lives 50 miles away or more. And if they’re seeking a stellar treatment center with the country’s top specialists, they may be coming from hundreds of miles away.

One reality facing the long-distance patient is, “Where can we stay for a possibly prolonged period of time?” And then there are the expenses of such a place. The costs, even with insurance, of the treatments are hard enough to take on, but relocating the patient plus any family members is additionally daunting.

Such challenges should not be on the “gotta handle list” for a person facing cancer.

That is where the beyond-great news comes in.

As part of the Celebrating Women luncheon at the Hilton Anatole Thursday, it will be announced that the American Cancer Society has selected Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas as the site of its newest Hope Lodge.

“The goals of Hope Lodge Dallas are to allow patients to have a comfortable place to stay, to promote recovery by providing a safe and emotionally supportive environment, and to ease the extraordinary financial burden cancer places on families,” said Maria Clark, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society.

The facility, which will be built on a 1.5-acre plot of land donated by Baylor, will provide “free accommodation for 50 patients and their caregivers [on a first-come, first-serve basis] who travel more than 50 miles one-way to Dallas for treatment. The lodge also will serve as the regional headquarters for its founding organization, the American Cancer Society.”  

“Baylor and the American Cancer Society have a long-standing relationship,” said John McWhorter, president of Baylor Dallas. “With this new endeavor and collaborative partnership, our goals and vision for the future are in further alignment with one another, and we feel that anything is a possibility.”

Treating more cancer patients than any other North Texas hospital, Baylor has become one of the country’s leading centers for cancer treatment thanks to its facilities and staff like Dr. Alan Miller, chief of oncology and director of the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. Why, in 2011, “more than 6,000 patient encounters with cancer patients who traveled more than 50 miles for their care” took place at Baylor.

“To have a Hope Lodge in the Dallas community can help reduce or eliminate some of those fears for our patients,” Dr. Miller said.

So, when the announcement is made at the luncheon, act surprised, because no one is supposed to know.

Baylor’s Celebrating Women Luncheon 2012’s Patron Party Had The Pams Smiling With The Low(e)ly One

Rob Lowe, Pam Perella and Pam Busbee

At the Celebrating Women Luncheon 2012 patron party tonight at Claire and Dwight Emanuelson‘s estate, Luncheon Co-chairs the Pams (Pam Busbee and Pam Perella) enjoyed one of the perks of all their efforts — being joined by luncheon speaker Rob Lowe.

Never have so many women showed up for a patron party.

And, yes, he is as nice as he is handsome. And his beautiful, blonde wife Sheryl is simply wonderful. More deets to follow eventually.

See you at lunch with the girls and Rob to raise funds to fight breast cancer.

Perot Museum Of Nature And Science Gala Tickets Are Going, Going, Nearly Gone

Ross Perot Sr. (File photo)

Stamp anything with the name of “Perot” on it and you just know it’s going to break from tradition. First, the announcement comes that the 180,000-square-foot Perot Museum of Nature and Science was ahead of schedule and going to opening Saturday, December 1. Ahead of schedule? Seriously? Yup!

Now, the posh November 17th gala, “Discover the Perot” that Kelly and Brock Compton are co-chairing with Sally and Forrest Hoglund are honorary co-chairing is approaching a “It’s too late” status for tickets. And don’t go a thinking, you can buy just one ticket. No. All that’s left are packages of 10 going for $2,500.

In addition to being with some very swell types, you’ll get one of the first looks and wander of this world-shaking museum two weeks before the rest of the world. Word on the street is that the world is going to be visiting the museum in the days and years to come.

Share-A-Date: Chick Lit Luncheon

Mersina Stubbs (File photo)

Friday, April 5: Okay, so the name of the 2013 Chick Lit Luncheon author isn’t going to be announced until Thursday, November 29. But you do need to know the date and that Lisa Singleton will be chairing the Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser at Brook Hollow Golf Club.

Another piece of news is the recipient of the annual Partners for Children Award. It will be Mersina Stubbs.

Mersina is a busy gal. In addition to being honored, she’s also co-chairing Legends 2012 along with husband Phil and Betty and Michael Bullington. This St. Paul Medical Foundation fundraiser is going to feature Burt Bacharach at the House of Blues on  Saturday, October 27.

AND Mersina is also co-chairing the November 16th Art of Film with Jennifer Houser.

Enough, all right, all ready! Perhaps this post should have been titled, “Keeping Up With Mersina.”

Round Robin: Les Femmes Du Monde, TACA Silver Cup Announcement And TREC’s “Giving Gala”

Once again Thursday proved to be a test of making the rounds at Dallas area fundraisers. Here’s the rundown of what happened where with whom.

LES FEMMES DU MONDE PATRON PARTY

Nancy Cain Marcus

The cars were backed up in the driveway at Nancy Marcus’s fabulous estate Thursday for the Les Femmes du Monde patron party.  When you’ve got a draw like Les Femmes’ 2012 Woman of the Year/Trinity Trust President/Executive Director Dr. Gail Thomas, you’re going to have an amazing turnout.  Of course, just having the Thomas clan is sizeable. This time it was Gail in a marvelous taupe and brown Ralph Lauren cocktail jacket with  husband Bob Thomas, daughter Electra Harelson, son Stewart Thomas and daughter-in-law Michelle Thomas. Dotter Tori Mannes was on her way.

Michelle and Stewart Thomas, Gail and Bob Thomas and Electra Harelson

Bob was sporting a black splint under his jacket after a fall on Monday. Initially they thought he’d broken his arm, but after a second look it appeared that it was a nasty sprain. So, don’t be surprised if he opts for not shaking hands at the Tuesday night Les Femmes du Monde dinner at Belo Mansion.

While some thought Gail would take the year off after the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, they totally misjudged Gail. She’s been concentrating on getting work started on the conversion of the Continental Bridge into a pedestrian bridge. Construction gets underway in December.

Martha and Bob Gillikin

Speaking of her Trinity Trust mission, folks like Martha and Bob Gillikin and River Rat Ramrod Tierney Kaufman were on hand to honor Gail.

Talk of the night varied from the presidential debate the night before and the cold front preparing to invade Dallas this weekend.

TACA SILVER CUP ANNOUNCEMENT

Nancy Carlson, Roger Nanney and Peggy Sewell

The art lovers, both visual and performing types, gathered at Jennifer and John Eagle‘s home to learn who the 2013 TACA Silver Cup recipients would be. As reported earlier, they will be Peggy Sewell and Roger Nanney.

As guests drove the circular driveway, they couldn’t help but notice the :Ode to Matisse” sculpture by Tom Friedman in the elevated round grassy terrace. Jennifer revealed that, yes, it was made of steel but wrapped in roasting pans.

Maxwell Anderson and Jeremy Halbreich

With a “lifeguard”” posted on the dining room island warning guests not to fall in the pool/moat, everyone stayed dry. A couple recalled post occasions when an “oops” took place. Jeremy Halbreich told of a very very “proper” local attorney who was one of the Eagle pool victims.

Lee Papert, Jennifer and Doug Houser

Dallas Film Society’s Lee Papert was poolside with Jennifer and Doug Houser, who will be chairing the November 16th “Art of Film.” And who will be this year’s headliner guest? Even the threat of a splash in the pool couldn’t pry the news out of Lee, but he did reveal that Elvis Mitchell would be returning as the interviewer.

In the back of the Eagle home, John told Maxwell Anderson of the two eye portraits by John Holt Smith of his daughters Amanda, 15, and Alexandra, 28. When a nearby portable keyboard was draped with a sheet, John kidded that it was another piece of the family collection.

Actually, it was part of the surprise entertainment. TACA Executive Director Becky Young had arranged for members of the Turtle Creek Chorale to stand around and down the home’s spiral staircase and serenade the group.

Since TACA Chairman of the Board was unable to attend the event, Chair-elect Nancy Carlson took over the microphone to announce the recipients. She admitted that she had to refer to notes, since the accomplishments of both were so lengthy.

The lunch is at the Hilton Anatole on February 22, and chaired by perfectionists Jan Showers and Sharon Young.

THE REAL ESTATE COUNCIL’S “GIVING GALA”

Live auction for playhouses

Unlike Cattle Barons, The Real Estate Council‘s “Giving Gala” held its own in dealing with the weather. There was no rain nor mud, but there was wind and a lot of it.  How strong was the wind in the Hilton Anatole Sculpture Park? The huge screens on either side of the stage rippled throughout the speeches and the live auction of “pint-size playhouses” that sold for scads of money. At one point the lips of one poor woman in the video looked as if she was going to kiss the entire front row of tables in one massive sweep.

Pint-size Playhouse

The mini-mansions were built by members of TREC for the sole purpose of raising funds for the TREC Foundation. As each went up for bidding, so did the bidding with the Mousetrap going for $4,000, Jenga for $4,500, Jumanji for $7,000 and Candyland for $12,000.

Mark Gibson

Even headliner Chris Cagle came on stage early and got into the auction action: “If this goes for $5,000, I’ll take a picture in my underwear and my boots. … I’ll do the double-check dance.”

It went for $5,500 to TREC Chairman Mark Gibson, who was front and center but took a pass on the underwear, boots and double-check dance.

Chris Cagle

Then Chris and his crew took hold of the stage and the party continued into the night raising loads of money for The Real Estate Council Foundation’s good works in four key grant areas–housing, education, job creation and the environment.

Charles Cameron Sprague Community Service Presented To Lyda Hill And Ute And Rolf Haberecht

Dr. Charles Sprague was a big man, both physically and in his impact on UT Southwestern Medical Center. Sure, he was the son of a former Dallas mayor, but he had worked hard to succeed on his own all his life. In early years, he was captain of both SMU’s basketball and football teams. Then he went on to earn his medical degree at UT Medical Branch in Galveston. Following a “stint in the Navy and service in the South Pacific,” he headed to New Orleans  to start his medical career. Why not Dallas? Well, one suspects he wanted to be his own man and not the son of the former mayor.

It was in New Orleans that he conceived of an idea — the construction of a new medical school and university hospital campus away from downtown New Orleans. But Tulane’s governing board found it too risky.

Kern Wildenthal

But his vision was just what UT Southwestern wanted and needed. According to his successor, Dr. Kern Wildenthal,  “He [Charles] had an instinctive vision of what was required to move the institution to greatness and an ability to persuade everyone he dealt with of the importance and value of his goals. He was the classic example of the right man for the right job at the right time.

“Dr. Sprague’s integrity and trustworthiness were absolute. He inspired and enriched the lives of all of us who had the privilege of working with him and learning from him.”

To honor his years of service, the Southwestern Medical Foundation‘s Community Service Award was renamed the Charles Cameron Sprague Community Service Award in 1996.

Ruben Esquivel

And while Charlie died in 2005, hundreds of his old friends from medicine (Dr. John Warner, Dr. Daniel Podolsky, Dr. Ken Altshuler and Dr. Phil Evans) and life (Cissy and Plack Carr Jr., Jess Hay, Ruben Esquivel, Jan Black and Carla Bass) were joined by friends and

Louise Eiseman

families (Caroline Rose Hunt, Nancy and Herbert Hunt, Mary McDermott Cook, State Rep. Dan Branch, James Huffines, Kim Wargo and Louise Eiseman) of the award recipients Lydia Hill and Ute and Rolf Haberecht Wednesday at the Hilton Anatole.

Lyda Hill

When asked what she planned to say in her acceptance speech, Lyda said, “I’m going to use it as a chance to speak up and thank UT Southwestern. Not enough people do that. Especially the media, if you know what I mean!”

According to a quick check with others at the event, Lyda was a part of the majority in that feeling.

Alayne Sprague

Following dinner, Southwestern Medical Foundation Chairman of the Board Bill Solomon recognized many outstanding people in the audience including Charles’ widow Alayne Sprague, who was accompanied by Cheri Zettel. The two women met when Charles was in need of hospice care. Cheri admitted that she was nervous when she interviewed with the legendary Spragues to provide the hospice care. Later she would find out that the Spragues had been worried that they might not meet up with her approval. Thanks to this meeting, Charles’ final days were eased and Alayne learned the value of hospice care and has become a major advocate for this much needed service in the transition of life.

In describing UT Southwestern, Bill said, “This institution truly is second to none. No other medical school has had as many as four Nobel Laureates.”  He went on to say that UTSW trains and produces more doctors than any other institution in Texas.

Kathleen Gibson

With the recent retirement of Kern as the foundation’s CEO/President, Bill officially introduced Kathleen Gibson, who succeeded Kern on March 1. She’s got her work cut out for her. During his tenure, Kern took the foundation from $40M to $100M+.

In presenting the awards, it was revealed that all three had requested that Kern make the presentation.

Lyda was up first and in typical Lyda fashion announced that she had just had her 40th annual physical with Dr. Ken Cooper. She recalled that back in the 70’s, his “aerobics” program wasn’t so well respected. Today it’s not only lauded, he’s working with UTSW — “We’ve come a long way, baby.”

Lyda then joked about a study that’s been undertaken to prove “that dark chocolate is good for you. My friends thought I’d probably funded the research.”

Getting serious, she pointed out that UTSW has 11,000 employees and is an economic driver for Dallas: “UTSW has total integrity. .  . We are lucky in Dallas that we have Southwestern Medical Center, and that it’s here for us.”

Ute and Rolf Haberecht

Following Lyda was Rolf, who spoke for himself and his wife, about his years working at the Texas Instruments, where he rose through the ranks from a junior engineering job to corporate VP “responsible for the company’s worldwide semiconductor operations.” Through such leaders as Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott, Cecil Green and Patrick Haggerty, Ute and Rolf were inspired: “Erik Jonsson told us all that we have a responsibility to give back to the community.”

Friends And More Friends Are Plotting, Preparing And Partying For The Wilkinson Center’s 30th Anniversary Gala

The Wilkinson Center has been on a roll. No, take that back. It’s been in avalanche mode. The reason is that it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary of working with the poor of Dallas. It’s hard to imagine that it was back 30 years ago that Munger Place United Methodist Church’s Rev. Clayton Lewis started a neighborhood food pantry to help the poor in the area. Little did he, or really anyone else, suspect those early efforts would result in serving over 15,000 yearly nowadays.

With all that work, it’s about time to have a major party and raise money.

Because the center’s efforts impact people of all ages, it literally has friends of all ages, who have been busy plotting, planning and partying in preparation for the 30th Anniversary Black and White Gala on Saturday, November 3, at Dallas Contemporary.

First, there are the Friends of Wilkinson Center. In addition to providing hands, feet and hearts for the center, they’ve held Tinsel & Dreams since 2005. Featuring table-top Christmas trees created by designers, celebrities and businesses, the event has provided $785,000 for Wilkinson, along with countless hours of volunteering.

Millie Winston

In fact, they’ve gotten so good at putting on fundraisers, Friends’ President Emily Dunn and the Leadership Council decided to put on the gala with Millie Winston serving as chair.  

Hunter Sullivan and Ellen and Don Williams

If the gala is going to be anything like the September 27 patron party at Ellen and Don Williams ultra-cool contemporary home in Bluffview, it’s going to make memories and money. For instance, Hunter Sullivan provided the entertainment. Whoa! He’s pretty darn big-time, and this party was an intimate one for 80. Seems that Jan Worrall had won Hunter (well, you know, his talents) at another charity auction and donated it to the Friends for the party. Talk about chic recycling! As for the food, it was delish. But, of course! The Food Company created “designer” mini-cheeseburgers, Asian crab cakes, chicken skewers with tarrago pesto and leek tartlets with over-dried tomato.

Ann Reeder, Emily Dunn, Jan Worrall and Carlin Morris

And while these “friends” would be considered youngsters by most, there’s another even younger group that is supporting Wilkinson. It’s the Wilkinson Center Young Friends. Created to specifically target that adorably, oh-so cute younger crowd, they are lightning fast at getting new members and raising $$ ASAP. For instance, Co-presidents Danielle Hardie and Laura Reeder kicked things off with a membership and raffle at The Dram, where they signed up 100 new members and raised nearly $3,000 in less than a couple of hours.

OJ DeSouza, Laura Reeder, Kristen Johnson and Haley Nielsen

More recently they held “Fire and Ice” at Saint Ann’s Restaurant on September 28 with DJ Jennifer Miller in charge of the entertainment. Co-hosts Alexis Barbier-Mueller, Laura Reeder, Vodi Cook and Kristen Johnson made just two request — plan on having fun and wear red, white and black.

Sara McMaster, Kristin Kensell, Alexis Barbier-Mueller, Whitney Eckert, Sarah Thomas and Blake Thomas

Both of these groups are coming together for the gala. While the Friends may be doing the heavy lifting coordinating the gala, the Young Friends’ Co-prez Danielle is chairing the gala’s “Late-Night Party.” Love those after-parties. The older folks have to rush home to relieve babysitters, while the younger guests party beyond closing time.

Photos provided by The Wilkinson Center

Friends Of The Dallas Library Fundraiser Is Going To Be “Wild” With Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed

When you think of a fundraising library dinner, you probably think a sedate gathering with everyone talking in whispers about such raucous topics as the pros and cons of book bindings, the thrill of mastering the Dewy Decimal System or the largest fine for an overdue book.

Oh, that’s so past tense thinking!

For instance, the upcoming dinner on Wednesday, October 24, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas benefiting the Friends of the Dallas Public Library is not for the ho-hum crowd. Why? The speaker is Cheryl Strayed, author of best-seller “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.”

Oh, great! A travel book. Think again. It’s a journey of the mind as well as by trekking and the discovery of answers for a young woman who had lost her mother and marriage all in one year. BTW, Cheryl’s life before those losses wasn’t exactly like living in the Park Cities.

But Cheryl’s talents are not limited to writing best sellers and impressing good old Oprah. She has also become known as “the ultimate advice columnist for the Internet age” for her Dear Sugar column.

For her appearance in Dallas, she’ll be interviewed a la a chat with D columnist Sarah Hepola, who isn’t too shabby either. You can bet that neither of these gals is known for being shy and retiring, so the fundraiser should be impressive.

Funds raised from the event will be the “primary means of raising support for the Dallas Public Library system and enables it to provide much-needed funds for library materials (books, DVDs, CDs, periodicals, etc.), for technology such as the new self-check machines in the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library and several branches and for family programs, lectures, workshops and other essential services for Dallas residents.”  Whew!

Photo provided by the Friends of the Dallas Public Library

JUST IN: Former First Lady Laura Bush To Serve As Honorary Chair For The Big Read Dallas

Laura Bush (File photo)

Former First Lady Laura Bush has just signed on to be the honorary chair for The Big Read Dallas that will take place in April 2013.

For trivia experts, Laura’s love of books has not been limited to her mother-in-law’s “A Celebration of Reading.” Laura earned a Master of Science degree in library science from the University of Texas at Austin.

The event is the joint project of the Friends of Dallas Public Library, D Magazine‘s new leadership group, D Academy, the National Endowment of the Arts and Arts Midwest.

It will be a real page turner. . . . literally.

Puppy Mills Release Dogs To Roads As Animal Rescue Corps And Others Advance In Closing Breeding Camps

There was a sad irony last week. First there was the discovery of about 50 Maltese pooches wandering the road in Flower Mound. A day or so later 40 King Charles Spaniels were in a similar state of “what the heck are we doing here” near Sanger. Official suspect that due to the recent law making breeders register their operation, some of the “puppy mill” types were cleaning house by just dumping the caged animals that in some cases had never even felt grass.

And what was the irony?

Lynn McBee and Bobby Lyle

Just the weekend before, the Animal Rescue Corps held a conference to educate volunteers, government and law enforcement officials and to certify individuals basic animal rescue. A private party for local animal lovers was held the Friday before at Judi and Glenn Stewart‘s Bluffview estate and hosted by Kristina Bowman, Natalie Chu, Jenifer Strauss Dannhauser, Holly Forsythe, Nancy Halbreich, Jack Knox, Lynn McBee, Dave Perry-Miller and Jocelyn White.

Monica Ailey, Scotlund Haisley, Kristina Bowman and Charles and Molly Kitch

One of their major targets, according to Animal Rescue Corp President/Founder Scotlund Haisley and his staff, is the existence of puppy mills. Surprising some in the crowd was the fact that Tennessee and Missouri had the largest number of puppy mills supplying many retail pet shops.

Unfortunately, the bill and the efforts of many rescue groups in shutting down the puppy mills has initially resulted in dumping animals and overloading rescue groups. But if it ends senseless breeding of animals, this current tsunami will wind down.

BTW, the dumped dogs will be up for adoption this week.

WARNING: These are not adorable puppies. Yes, there are a few young ones, but the vast majority are adults that have been neglected and used. They will need understanding as they make their transition from jail life to real life.

Michael Fowler And Lee Ann White Share Their Success Story Thanks To Alan White At Caron Cares

Michael Fowler and Lee Ann White*

The Caron Cares luncheon at the Omni Dallas was a sellout with a cross section of Dallas’ top names in attendance. The common denominator was the mother/son team of Lee Ann White and Michael Fowler, who were the featured speakers.

As one guest put it, “We’re so proud of their successes and want to be here for them.”

But before the doors of the ballroom even opened, many guests were delayed. Seems the State Fair parade through downtown Dallas had blocked streets. When Lee Ann realized that it would be a true feat for people to maneuver through the streets, she texted friends warning that they’d better get an early start.

Guests arrived and made their way with most explaining their tardiness due to the parade. Pity the poor woman who was at such a loss, she paid a hotel staffer $5 to show her where the ballroom was.

Kristina Wandzilak, Robin Bagwell, Constance Curry and Jan Osborn*

What these luncheon guests learned was they had missed an amazing morning conversation between mother/daughter authors/speakers Constance Curry and Kristina Wandzilak. Needless to say, the “Caron Cares: A Day of Discovery & Recovery,” co-chaired by Jan Osborn and her buddy Robin Bagwell, was off to an impressive start.

As Lee Ann and Michael prepared for their presentation, they were at first a bit apprehensive. After all,  talking before a ballroom full of family, friends and strangers was a first for the twosome.  But once inside the ballroom, it was like an old home week celebration with Aileen Pratt, Hill Feinberg, Caron President/CEO Doug Tieman, Jill Smith, James Huffines, Patsy Donosky, Amara Durham, Amy Vanderoeuf, Lisa Schnitzer, Troy Aikman, Anita Feherty, James Hatcher and Jennifer Clark.

Anita Feherty, Amara Durham and Lisa Schnitzer*

Then it was time for Lee Ann and Michael to take their place on stage with Scott Murray. Michael started off. He told that from the outside, his life looked picture perfect. And yet, “I still felt different.” Excelling at tennis resulted in weekends participating in tournaments and lots of training. He felt he was missing out on the high school experience, and “I was willing to try anything.”

Scott Murray, Lee Ann White and Michael Fowler*

At this point Michael said that most addicts progress from alcohol to marijuana to cocaine and harder drugs. He did it in reverse.

When buying cocaine for the first time, he offered a check that his father had given him for a new tennis racket. Michael told the audience, “FYI: drug dealers take cash only.”

Michael Fowler talking to the luncheon guests*

He described that first time as “I remember instantly I felt special and I didn’t feel self-conscious and I felt good. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time.”

His parents didn’t realize what was going on with their only child. His grades were dropping and he wasn’t being  the responsible kid that he used to be. Then a call came from the principal for a meeting. At that time, they were told Michael was doing drugs.

Lee Ann later told the audience that her response was that perhaps he might drink but “there was no way he would be into drugs. It turned out they were right.”

From that point the family tried various programs only to get Michael out and have him fall back into the old routine. According to Lee Ann, he would do well in treatment, but once out “he couldn’t maintain.

“I guess I am an enabler,” said the brunette with diamond blue eyes. She always felt that if she could do everything for Michael, all the other pieces would fit into place.

Alan White

During this time of struggle, including his living on the streets, Michael’s folks divorced and Lee Ann married Alan White, who, both mother and son agree, became the knight in shining armor. From the stage, Michael acknowledged the life-saving part Alan played with tough love.

“One of the greatest blessing of my life has been Alan White. He gave me the tools and I had to do the work,” Michael said.

The real test came when Katrina was hitting the Gulf Coast. Just days before, Michael was offered his last chance from Lee Ann and Alan. He either got his act together at a facility in Mississippi, or he was finished with the family. After 10 days in the center, Michael called his mother saying that Katrina was on its way and the people at the facility didn’t know what they were doing. Since no commercial planes were flying because of the hurricane, Michael’s solution: “Send the (private) jet.” Lee Ann, supported by Alan, said, “No.” That was a tough one. She hung up the phone and cried, “My baby is going to die!” Instead Michael not only lived, he found a new life realizing that he was sick and tired of being sick and tired. For the first time he started listening and following directions: “I became trustworthy.”

Now, having lived seven years of sobriety, Michael is working with addicts at Caron Texas in Princeton.

But Lee Ann reminded the audience that Michael’s disease is ongoing: “The treatment is repetitious, doing it over and over again. Every day is a new one. Every day Michael has a choice whether to stay sober that day or whether to drink.”

Looking around the room at familiar faces, she reminded them, “You cannot bear this burden by yourself. I had to have the help of my friends, my minister and the counselors.

“Thanks to Alan and his support and tough love and just being there for us. [If not for that,] this wouldn’t be happening today,” said Lee Ann.

Doug Tieman

Michael closed by saying that shame is often one of the problems facing addicts. “They feel like they’re a bad person. . . . Caron does excellent work and they stand behind helping others. As Doug [Tieman] said, we gave $2.5 million (in scholarships) to build the Texas center in trying to help others struggling with addiction.”

What had started out as a presentation turned into a celebration for a young man who turned his life around; for a mother who suffered through the painful ordeal for years; and for a man who practiced tough love with loving care.

* Photo credit: Holt Haynsworth

Get The Low(e)-down On Thursday’s Celebrating Women Luncheon

If you haven’t gotten your tickets to Thursday’s Celebrating Women 2012 at the Hilton Anatole with speaker/actor/author Rob Lowe, you’d better hurry. There are only a few seats.

Oh, you don’t want to hurry? Not to worry. You can still see him and for free on Tuesday! Yup. Only it won’t be in the flesh. Sorry.

He’ll be on “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning.

That’s nice, but seeing him in person and hearing his incredible story about how breast cancer has devastated generations of his family is worth hurrying for.

And if you do hurry and make a nice contribution upping you to patron level, you might just be part of the patron party with Rob and his wife Sheryl.

Prediction: Phone cameras will be in overload Thursday at the Anatole.

Saturday’s Mission Ole Is Going To Be High, Dry And Warm Despite Mother Nature

Weather check: It’s 72 degrees outside right now and there are some clouds in the sky.

Tomorrow at this time it’s going to be an entirely different story, with temperatures limited to the 50’s and humidity in the air.

After last Saturday’s Cattle Baron matchup with Old Ma Nature, the Mission Ole co-chairs Kristi Bare and Nancy Gopez decided to shore up their backup plans for the outdoor party at Laurie Sands Harrison’s estate. Actually, it was smarter than smart. Evidently more than the originally planned number of guests are attending, so it makes perfect sense to do an outdoor/indoor party. Plus the ladies, who are old hands at putting on events, have arranged for the paved terrace to not only have an enclosed tent, but heaters, too! 

What a perfect opportunity to wear those wools, cashmeres and leathers that you’ve been dying to pull out of the closet. And you know you really look good in ’em.

If you’ve ever been in Laurie’s home, you know that’s the dream place to spend a chilly evening with food by Wendy Krispin, beautiful people and silent and live auctions.

Speaking of which, two of the live auction items to note are:

  • Grammy Award Show (Value: Priceless)Enjoy the Grammy’s live from Bronze/300 level seating for two on Sunday February 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. Both of you are also invited to the Official Grammy Awards After-Party following the award show that evening. Package includes round-trip coach air transportation for two on American Airlines and a three-night stay Friday, February 8 to Monday, February 11, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza or similar hotel. Donated by:  Anonymous. (If this one goes for less than $55,000, it’s a bargain. A Grammy’s package went for $55,000 at the TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Gala a couple of weeks ago.)
  • Ultimate Sports Package (Value:$7,250) — The sports enthusiast will enjoy watching a 2012 Texas Ranger regular season home game from two front-row home-plate seats at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and the upcoming November 19th Dallas Mavericks vs Golden State regular-season home game from two front-row seats at the American Airlines Center. Both games come with parking passes. The package also includes the use of a JLT Beverages, LP, Flagship Level Luxury Suite for the upcoming Tuesday, January 8, 2013 Dallas Stars vs Phoenix Coyotes regular-season home game. Suite includes 12 tickets, parking passes and Platinum Club access and amenities. Donated by: JLT Beverages, LP/Julie and Jim Turner.

This event presented by Texas Capital Bank is the major fundraiser for the Trinity River Mission, so it’s on regardless of what Mother Nature thinks. So there!

MySweetCharity Reminder: Voter Registration Deadline Approaches

In order to participate in the November 6th election, you need to be a registered voter. The deadline to register is Tuesday, October 9! If you have any questions on how to register, early voting in Texas, etc.,  check out this website.

The Secretary of State, Esperanza Andrade, has gotten pretty techie. She even provides the ability to remind friends via texting.

Voting doesn’t cost a cent, but it has cost lives to have the right to cast a ballot. There are people in countries today who risk their lives to be part of an election process and all you have to do is register in time and vote.

JUST IN: 2013 TACA Silver Cup Recipients Just Announced

Am rushing around to a trio of activities, but wanted you to know that the 2013 TACA Silver Cup recipients were just announced — Peggy Sewell and Roger Nanney.

More details about the announcement that took place at Jennifer and John Eagle‘s home will follow.

Make sure you mark down Friday, February 22, at the Hilton Anatole for the 35th Annual TACA Silver Cup Luncheon.

JUST IN: Lyda Hill Does It Again!

Lyda Hill

Lyda Hill is known for being partial to orange, but she should be wearing Santa Claus red and white since she’s becoming the gift giver of Dallas.

It was just announced that Lyda’s foundation has given $1 million to KERA for the expansion of its regional news coverage.

It was just last year that she provided funding for “news reporting, coverage and programs about health and science on KERA. That gift supported the weekly Health Checkup segment with Sam Baker. . . [and] two KERA-FM special series on cutting-edge research, Going Green: The Practical Payoffs and the award-winning Engineering Hope.”

Lyda explained, “As a KERA viewer, listener and donor, I recognized the importance of funding such a vital community resource. This gift is also meant to inspire others to support the kind of local news stories and reporting not found anywhere else in North Texas.”