JUST IN: Jordan Spieth Gifts Children’s Pauline Allen Gill Center For Cancer And Blood Disorders Due To Friends Battling Cancer

After being war-torn by all the weather woes from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, local golf wunderkind Jordan Spieth has provided some very uplifting news… and it’s not a hole-in-one. It’s so much better.

His Jordan Spieth Family Foundation has just presented its largest single gift to Children’s Medical Center Foundation to benefit two specific programs at Children’s Health Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders:

  • Child Life Program that “will support services like music, art and pet therapy that are not covered by insurance but are essential for helping children cope with the social and emotional challenges of illness.”
  • Experimental Therapeutics Program in childhood cancer that “will help up to 10 children and their families each year travel to Dallas to take part in clinical trials not offered elsewhere.”

Originally, his foundation’s focus was based on three pillars — special-needs youth, junior golf and military families. But he recently added a fourth area of support — children battling cancer.

Eric Leyendecker, Jordan Spieth, Chris Durovich and Patty Leyendecker*

The reason for the addition was “watching a lifelong friend [Jordan’s childhood friend and former Children’s Health patient Eric Leydendecker] take on a recurring battle with cancer.”

According to Jordan, “Investing this gift in my hometown pediatric hospital, one of the best in the country, is a really special moment for me. There are thousands of children treated for cancer every year at Children’s Health. I have personally lost a friend to it. Recently watching my best friend as he went through treatments inspired us to make this an official pillar of the Foundation. We are eager to help wherever we can.”

Brent Christopher (File photo)

The area of pediatric cancer research has resulted in a survival rate of 58% in the mid-1970s, rising to more than 80% today, thanks to funded research and treatments.

Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher reported, “It is impossible to measure the impact that Jordan Spieth’s generosity will have on children now and into the future. We are so grateful for his commitment to help children battling cancer, as well as his trust in Children’s Health. Jordan’s support will help us deliver the very best care and continue our relentless pursuit of better treatments – and, hopefully, cures – so that one day no child will be faced with cancer.”

* Photo provided by Children's Medical Center Foundation

JUST IN: Dean Foods Foundation Is Serving Up Some Delicious Treats For North Texas Food Bank And The Wilkinson Center Wednesday

With the annual DFW Restaurant Week benefiting the North Texas Food Bank and the Lena Pope Home just a few weeks away, the NTFB is getting an early treat.  Dean Foods Foundation is presenting a check for $125,000 Wednesday morning to NTFB.

North Texas Food Bank*

The hand-off will take place at The Wilkinson Center, which is part of the Christmas in July celebration. In addition to the check, Oak Farms will “be donating 325 half-gallons of their DairyPure® brand milk and will be distributing it to the clients served at The Wilkinson Center during a morning volunteer shift.”

Don’t you just know that NTFB newbie CEO Trisha Cunningham, whose first day was Monday, is gonna think this happens every day. One only wishes!

* Graphic courtesy of  North Texas Food Bank

How About A Whopper Of A Valentine’s Day Floral Arrangement?

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day and it’s to florists what the Super Bowl is to pizza shops. And like pizza, the usual dozen long stem, red roses will be history all too soon. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

But how about a gift of flowers that lasts all year round for the recipient? And the price is less than $100.

Dallas Arboretum (File photo)

It’s an individual membership at the Dallas Arboretum. Not only does it allow the lucky recipient free access to the more-than-60 acres of grounds overlooking White Rock Lake, it also provides a guest to come along free and free parking for one vehicle plus four total reservations to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden.

And if you want to look like a really big spender, you might want to check out the other levels of membership.

While you’re being such a sweetheart, why not share your love with a child you don’t know but who sure could use that special feeling? You don’t even need a stamp to lick…just a finger to click here!

KidneyTexas Inc. Celebrated The Holidays With Check Presentations, Gifts Of Crystal And A Birthday Cake

What better place to have a party during the season of giving than a jewelry salon? And since Bachendorf’s had been the jewelry sponsor for the 2016 KidneyTexas luncheon, it was the natural choice for the organization’s presentation of checks and the announcement of plans for 2017 on Wednesday, December 14.

Introduced by KidneyTexas President AB Aston, beneficiary selection committee member Kendra Karlock along with the 2016 KidneyTexas Luncheon Chair McKamy Tiner handed out the following checks:

  • Baylor Health Care System Foundation — $25,000 for “A Longitudinal Study of Living Kidney Donors”
  • Camp Reynal (National Kidney Foundation) — $30,225 for camper’s fees, counselors and medical personnel
  • Children’s Medical Center Foundation — $10,000 for Pediatric Stone Center
  • Methodist Health System Foundation — $4,775 for warming cabinets
  • Parkland Health and Hospital Foundation — $98,500 for KidneyTexas Inc. Hemodialysis Unit
  • Texas Health Resources Foundation— $25,200 for two Hemodialysis machines

Joyce Lee, Dr. Cole Edmondson, Shannon Fisher, Angela Nash, Dr. Craig Peters, Anna Bland “AB” Aston, Dr. Goran Klintmalm, Kyra Barnett, McKamy Tiner, Marie Collins, Beth Dexter and Kendra Karlock*

When the last check was presented, it was time for the gift giving to continue. After AB turned over the presidential duties to 2016-2017 KidneyTexas President Andrea Alcorn, one of Andrea’s first acts was to give a “gorgeous crystal bowl” to AB. Then AB gat McKamy a “beautiful crystal angel — all to a resounding ovation.”

As her second act, Andrea revealed plans for the 2017. This year’s luncheon will have a trio chairing the fundraiser — Kendra, transplant survivor Christine Martin and Susan Russell.  

And the final surprise of the evening took place when McKamy “came forward with a huge cake and blazing candles as everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to AB, who was celebrating her birthday that evening.”

* Photo credit: Dana Driensky

Thanks To Four Generous Donations, The T. Boone Pickens Hospice And Palliative Care Center Is Within $1M Of Its $43M Goal

Hospice is a blessing when all the world around seems to be falling apart. While the primarily focus is on the individual in the last stage of life, the program is also an incredible support for the family and friends who are emotionally, financially and psychologically overwhelmed by the traumatic situation.

T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center*

Traditionally hospice has been provided in homes which can be daunting in itself. In some cases, it requires having round-the-clock care providers that can add even more anxiety to the household, especially if it is a young family with children. And then there are those who will be haunted by the sadness of the death taking place in their home.With the baby boomers aging out, hospice care has become more important than ever before. And to accommodate this growing situation, Faith Presbyterian Hospice undertook a $43M campaign to build Dallas’ first independent, residential hospice care center, the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center.  It will have the Harold Simmons Foundation Inpatient Care Center, The Donald and Charlotte Test Outdoor Reflection Center, The Hamon Resource and Education Center, The Spiritual Care Center and The Pickens Center Child and Family Bereavement Center.

Godwin Dixon, T. Boone Pickens and Tom Leppert (File photo)

When T. Boone Pickens made a kick-off gift of $18.4M in September 2010, that $43M goal seemed decades away, but thanks to the four latest donors of $2.8M, they’re just $1M away. And that last crop of generous folks include:

Ross and Margot Perot (File photo)

  • The late Don Hodges family — $1M
  • Sammye and Mike Myers — $1M
  • Margot and Ross Perot — $500K
  • Charlotte Test — $344,500 in addition to her previous donation of $2.5M

Ironically, it was the late Don Hodge who involved T. Boone Pickens on the project. Don’s son, Clark Hodges recalled, “Our father played a key role in the early stages of the project by introducing Mr. Pickens to the hospice center, and we are delighted to carry on his legacy and honor him with our family donation.”

Located at 12379 Merit Drive near Medical City, the 53,388-square-foot facility on a 9.3-acre campus is projected to serve 1,200 families annually. The 36 suites will “have a bed-accessible patio or balcony overlooking serene gardens and a community lake. There will be private sleeping and dressing accommodations for families as well as a children’s play space, teen entertainment area, exercise room, family dining and business center.

According to Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation Executive Director Peter Lynch, “These generous gifts will help us serve families in Dallas by enhancing landscaping and various other areas both indoors and outdoors at the center, and we are extremely grateful for these contributions. The center is a reality thanks to our many donors, and because of their support, we will provide comfort and quality time for families to spend together.”

As Sammye said, “With all of the special care, it allows families to concentrate on time together and to gently ease their loved one over to the ‘other side.’”

* Graphic courtesy of Faith Presbyterian Hospice

A Lesson In Appreciation Made The Grade At Herbert Marcus Elementary School With Cookies, Pajamas And Paper

As adorable cuties and oldies sent wishes to Santa for Barbies, Birkin handbags, Anki Cozmo robots and DJI Phantom 4 Drones,  there were others whose want was much less.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, December 21, the Neiman Marcus marketing and public relations types like Mimi Sterling, Ginger Reeder, Sandy Marple, Wendy Segal, Kristin Fletcher and others set up homemade and Celebrity Bakery Christmas cookies that were pound gainers at first glance.

Holly Wallace, Kevin Hurst and Ginger Reeder

But the scene was not at some fancy-shmancy mansion in Preston Hollow or even in an NM couture salon. It was at Herbert Marcus Elementary School in northwest Dallas as a result of NM Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hurst saying “Howdy do” to the school’s new Principal Holly Wallace earlier in the year. It made sense, since the school was the namesake of NM co-founder Herbert Marcus.

As parents escorted students and their school projects to their cars and crossing guards shielded students from afternoon traffic, the faculty gathered in the school library.

While it may have appeared to be an alcohol-fueled happy hour, not a drop of liquor was present. As today was pajama day for the staff, the teachers in footed jammies were the guests of honor for NM’s “Teacher Appreciation Party.” Thanks to a DJ in the back of the room and a sugar high, the usually quiet-as-a-mouse library had become a party room with laughter and smiles.

Midway through the celebration, Holly surprised all with the announcement that the school had been selected as one of four schools for the Momentous Institute’s program. Instead of just a few of the teachers attending the program, the entire group would participate. The news was greeted by the teachers with the delight usually only seen when a youngster’s can’t-possibly-happen Christmas wish is granted. Holly admitted that she had been on her phone all day locking down the details, so she could break the news at the party.   

Herbert Marcus Elementary School and Neiman Marcus staffs

In addition to the cookies and partying, Holly reported that the NM crew had also provided individual gifts for each of the faculty members.

And then, as if in passing, Holly pointed to a half wall of white innocuous boxes in one part of the room. With the NM team standing on the side, Holly announced that each box contained reams of paper and that each teacher would receive a box for his/her classroom.

The room exploded in excitement as the teachers cheered in delight, throwing their arms up in appreciation. The joy and surprise were so great and genuine that it amazed the NM-ers.

So, while others celebrated receiving high-tech toys, flat-screen TVs and luxury handbags and dining at world-class restaurants, an elementary school’s faculty was over-the-top for an afternoon of appreciation and boxes of plain paper.

MySweetMusic For Christmas – Part 6

You’re winding down from the food and festivities. But the Christmas aftermath is starting to sink in. There are those thank you notes and those … ugh, returns for the right size.

But give yourself a break. The dirty dishes and demolished gift wrap can wait. You deserve to settle back, turn off the TV, close your eyes and enjoy the music of the season that inspires people to pass-it-forward.

BTW, MSC elf twins Cherry T. and Jerry T. are heading for their trundle beds after 30 hours of DJ-ing. Not to worry. Queenie made sure that their stockings hanging from the MSC mantle are filled with all types of goodies.

We hope that your Christmas was filled with blessings and the knowledge that you’re so very important to the entire MSC community.

MySweetMusic For Christmas 2016 – Part 5

Let’s envision this scene. If you have munchkins anywhere in the house, then you’re up with a cup of coffee watching a destruction derby taking place around a pristine Christmas tree. Gift wrap is being torn apart like a truck pull at AT&T Stadium. But it’s worth it.

Now, there is a full day of activities including food, food and more food.

But let’s have a reality check. As you settle back on the couch, are you  wondering how you could have eating all “that stuff”? Or, perhaps you’re in the kitchen, drafting “volunteers” to help do KP duties? Surely, you’re not already writing thank you notes!

Regardless, it’s a dreary day with gray clouds and rain outside. Still, you’re inside safe and sound. Here’s some music to enjoy your state of being.

MySweetMusic For Christmas 2016 – Part 4

Chances are that you just returned from midnight services. Or perhaps, you just were way late in the gift wrapping duties. Regardless, you’ll be hearing drips of rain on the roof as well as the patter of reindeer. Makes sense. Rain and reindeer on the roof.

But really, should you be up so late? If so, MySweetCharity twin elves Cherry T. and Jerry T. have provided the background music for you to chill.

MySweetMusic For Christmas 2016 – Part 2

Most of the retailers have closed their doors and last-minute shoppers are hoping to find a 7-11 or an all-night gas station to get a gift. For the more tech-savvy types, gift cards are the perfect answer.

Now, it’s time to giftwrap, sip cocoa and listen to some more Yuletide tunes.

 

Keep An Eye On Santa

Around here Santa is considered the top-shelf elf of the season. Starting Saturday evening, the jolly old fellow and his team of reindeer will be making the rounds.

Santa Claus (File photo)

Just for fun, here is a link to him on his journey to deliver.

BTW, there are a heck of a lot of local organizations like Community Partners of Dallas, S.M Wright Foundation, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, The Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Command, Toys for Tots, Santa’s Helpers and North Texas Food Bank that helped Kris Kringle fill his bag with toys, bikes, clothes, food and all types of goodies.

Thank-you notes are not necessary, but milk and cookies would be appreciated by the North Pole resident.

MySweetWishList: MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

North Texas’ nonprofit old timers and newcomers made their wishes known in the MySweetWishList series for the past weeks.

Hopefully, you had time to check one, two or all of them out. And just maybe you were able to come through for one of them.

At MySweetCharity we have a wish, too. It is that if you couldn’t make one of the nonprofit’s wishes come true immediately, you’ll keep them in mind in the year ahead.

North Texas generosity is legendary for providing nonprofits with the resources to support those in need and to improve the community. While the challenges may seem never to end, there is an incredible number of dedicated people who tirelessly work in the trenches to make North Texas arise to the occasion.

Thank you for your consideration.

MySweetWishList: Young Women’s Preparatory Network

According to Young Women’s Preparatory Network CEO Lynn McBee,

Lynn McBee (File photo)

“The one wish I have for Young Women’s Preparatory Network for this Christmas, is that we would receive several $2,500 gifts that we can use to provide SAT/ ACT preparation classes for our young women at our schools across Texas. These classes are but one of the many resources we provide our students during their time with us – our public all-girls schools are sixth through twelfth grade. In addition to the preparation classes, we offer a full-time college bound advisor, STEM immersion camps and seminars as well as leadership and wellness workshops.  When these students are enrolled in a Young Women’s Prep school, they graduate from high school and are admitted into college. They are prepared and equipped to tackle the challenges that meet most first-year college students.

“This month we were notified that Carolyn Duque, a former student of the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership Academy which opened in the Dallas Independent School District in 2004, was the recipient of The George and Fay Young Foundation scholarship. Carolyn, a sophomore education major at Midwestern State University bested 70 eligible sophomores to receive this $75,000 award. We were told that the selection committee was impressed when Carolyn was asked why she chose education as her major. Carolyn said, ‘I want to teach third and fourth grade students because I want to let them know they can change and this can change their life as it has changed my life.’

Young Women’s Preparatory Network*

“We want to keep giving the gift of education to our students. Whether it’s a STEM immersion camp or a SAT preparation class, we want to prepare our young ladies for a successful college life and career. We know that your gift can change lives too. Visit www.youngwomensprep.org or http://youngwomensprep.org/support/luminaries/ to join in the gift of changing lives. We believe in the power of education and that girls, regardless of background or socioeconomic status, can excel if given the right opportunity.

“Call us at 214.824.1400 and we will be happy to tell you more about Young Women’s Preparatory Network and the resources we’ve put in place to help our young ladies succeed.”

-By Lynn McBee, Young Women’s Preparatory Network CEO

* Graphic provided by Young Women's Preparatory Network

MySweetWishList Series Ramps Up In Hopes Of Local Santas Coming Through

Santa (File photo)

With Christmas just days away, the wishes have been flooding in for the MySweetWishList series. There’s a request for volunteers. There’s one asking for $25 for a new pair of shoes for a child. And there’s another one that hopes for a Christmas tree for a family.

So to try to get the wishes known before Sunday; we’ll be doubling and tripling up on ’em. Why not take the opportunity to check them out. Who knows? You may just find a wish that you can help Santa grant.

MySweetWishList: Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center

According to Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s President and CEO Lynn M. Davis,

Lynn Davis (File photo)

Lynn Davis (File photo)

“The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) works to improve the lives of abused children in Dallas County and to provide national leadership on child abuse issues. Since opening its doors in 1991, DCAC has served more than 40,000 children (and their non-offending family members) who were sexually abused, severely physically abused, or who had witnessed a violent crime. Our average client is a 9 -10 year-old girl who has been sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts.

“I want to tell you a story about a client we recently saw. Isabella* had been holding onto a memory no 10-year-old mind was designed to carry. Isabella’s mother’s new boyfriend had dehumanized her. Years before, Isabella had experienced similar abuse from her own father. Her drug-addicted mother was concerned neither with helping her daughter heal from her past abuse, nor with preventing it from happening again. No grown up had ever protected her.

“But fortunately, Isabella’s grandmother did. She brought her to the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, where—for the first time in her decade-long life—she was cherished as the innocent child that she was. Isabella’s forensic interviewer gave her a voice. Her therapist taught her that she had value. Her week in CHAMP Camp alongside other child abuse survivors showed her she was not alone and during the holidays, Isabella received brand new clothing, an art kit, board games, books, and a mini karaoke machine!

Dallas Children's Advocacy Center**

Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center**

“Every year, DCAC brings justice, hope, and healing to thousands of children just like Isabella. But child abuse doesn’t just affect the “Isabella’s” of the world—it affects teachers, sisters, dads, classmates, custodians, CEOs, doctors, roommates, lawyers, accountants, pastors, friends. And because child abuse touches every member of our community, we need every member of our community to help us illuminate the truth and push back the darkness.

“With the holidays right around the corner, our Family Advocate team is organizing the annual Holiday of Hope campaign to help make this holiday season memorable and bright for the families DCAC serves. DCAC’s 2016 Holiday of Hope goal is to raise over $180,000 and serve 1,200 children.  If you’d like DCAC to do the shopping for you, we suggest a $150 donation per child. You can also choose to “adopt” a child (or more!) and shop for items from their wish list. A third option is to host a toy drive through your friends, personal networks, child’s school, company etc. and drop the unwrapped toys off to our Center by Tuesday, December 12th.  More information can be found online at www.dcac.org/holidayofhope and please email [email protected] with any questions. On behalf of the children we serve, thank you for helping us illuminate the truth.”

-By Lynn Davis, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center president/CEO

* Name has been changed to protect the identity of the child. 
** Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Advocacy Center

2016 MySweetWishList Kicks Off Monday!

MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

After digesting turkey Thursday, shopping on Black Friday and keyboarding into Cyber Monday, the 2016 holiday season is well under way. Hopefully, you haven’t spent all of your pennies on cards, foods and gifts for family and friends.

Okay, you know what’s coming. There are many who could really use a last-minute push to meet those approaching end-of-year budgets. And then there are the children who don’t know what’s to celebrate. They live in homes where neglect, anger and hopelessness are the protocol. You could provide that one toy that might send the message that there is hope for a better life.

With all this in mind, the MySweetWishList series will commence Monday and run through December.

Sure, the “wishes” are going to be geared to seek your help, but they may also provide you with information about services, opportunities and organizations that haven’t made your radar.

You Did It Again: North Texas Giving Day Busts Previous Records With A Whopping $37,307,196 For 2,518 Nonprofits Thanks To 142,892 Gifts

Well, dang it! Once again Communities Foundation of TexasNorth Texas Giving Day broke all past records hauling in $37,307,196. Gee, don’t you just love the 142,892 North Texas givers who made it happen? Whether its multi-million-dollar buckeroos or the legions of $25 donors, this neighborhood shines in the world of giving.

North Texas Giving Day

North Texas Giving Day

You simply can’t even fathom the appreciation of the nonprofits for folks and organizations coming through on this legendary day.

By the way, this year’s record breaker is the very first in its eight-year history without former CFT Executive Director Brent Christopher, who announced his departure for Children’s Medical Center Foundation earlier this summer.

For a giggle, MySweetCharity contacted Brent about NTGD’s continuing its record-breaking record in the astrosphere of fundraising without him. His reply:

“The team behind North Texas Giving Day is incredible, not to mention all the participating nonprofits. But, I had no idea that I was holding everyone back all these years! This over-the-top total is nothing short of astounding. And, of course, all of us at Children’s Health are thrilled that donors to Children’s played a big part in that success, too.”

Congrats to Communities Foundation of Texas, the 2,518 nonprofits and Brent for creating one of the nation’s most remarkable fundraising accomplishments.

May the fundraising continue. But let’s let the emailboxes take a rest for a day.

Communities Foundation Of Texas Holds A Two-For-One Reception For Departing President/CEO Brent Christopher

Tuesday, June 28, was not only to be a farewell reception for Communities Foundation of Texas’ outgoing President/CEO Brent Christopher, it was also his 50th birthday.

But before all the brief remarks were made, the CFT reception area filled with bigwigs like Amy and Michael Meadows, Jeanne Tower Cox, Mike Rawlings, Rena Pederson, David Johnson, Cheryl Hall, Molly Bogen, Kevin Hurst, Jane Pierce, Bill Holston, Katherine Wagner, George Ellis, Gail Thomas and Jim Bass.  So, who said the boldfacers had evacuated North Texas for the 4th of July holiday?

Bill Holston, Rena Pederson and Larry Sall

Bill Holston, Rena Pederson and Larry Sall

David Johnson and Carol Goglia

David Johnson and Carol Goglia

Asked how the search for Brent’s successor was going, CFT Board Chair Frank Risch reported that it was going amazingly smoothly. Leaving the next day for the holiday weekend at the Risch home in Cape Cod, he admitted that the summer hiatus would not slow down the search efforts.

Frank Risch

Frank Risch

But Frank was soon at the podium recalling Brent’s 11-year tenure, which had accomplished the following:

  • the number of funds have grown 30+%
  • assets have grown 43%
  • CFT has received $900M in gifts
  • and granted close to $900M
  • his 11 years represents over half of the total grant giving we’ve done in the past 63 years
  • trained 46 social service agencies in data-driven decision making
  • nine agencies implementing our working families success model with over 1,000 clients
  • 50% increase in discretionary grant-making
  • the staff has tripled
  • has grown Educate Texas, and much more

He also told that when he assumed leadership of the Board, Frank had been directed to check out an envelope left in the CFT library by his predecessor, Fred Hegi. The enveloped contained a piece of paper reading, “Don’t lose Brent.”

But typical of Frank, he eloquently summed up Brent’s departure as both leaving CFT in very good shape and moving ahead in supporting North Texas as CEO of Children’s Medical Center Foundation.

Brent Christopher

Brent Christopher

On cue, a birthday cake in the shape of a mammoth bow tie with 11 candles (one for each year that Brent had worked at CFT) was rolled out. With a deep breath, Brent blew out the candles, thanked the guests and emphasized the importance of philanthropy in the North Texas community. In closing he quoted Teddy Roosevelt,

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

Brent Christopher

Brent Christopher

Wearing a bow tie reflecting CFT’s colors, he went on to say, “This is a community that dares mighty things. We don’t live in the gray twilight here in Dallas. It’s an extraordinary place to call home and it’s an extraordinary community to be part of. Thankfully, I’m not moving. I’m just going to be at another institution and look forward to being with you in countless ways for years to come. But for now I am standing between you and cake.”

Brent then returned to farewell handshakes and hugs.

Children Medical Center Foundation’s Kern Wildenthal Farewell Tribute Dinner Was Filled With Friends, Fans And Family

It was billed as a farewell tribute dinner to Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Kern Wildenthal hosted by Children’s Health System of Texas CEO Chris Durovich and his wife Christina Durovich. But the dinner in the Pecan Room at Harlan Crow‘s Old Parkland on Tuesday, June 7, was more of a love fest for more than 80 members of the Kern fan club. They ranged from philanthropists (Mary McDermott Cook, Margot and Ross Perot and Gay and Bill Solomon), brainiacs (Sean Morrison  and wife Theo Ross), business types (Mark Zacheis and Anne Motsenbocker), fundraising champs (Randi Halsell, Barbara Stuart, Connie O’Neill and Ann Corrigan), community leaders (Dan Branch and Joel Williams) to friends (Shirley and Bob Miller and Cyndi and Mark Bassel) and family, like big brother Hobson Wildenthal.

Christina Durovich and Dan and Stacey Branch

Christina Durovich and Dan and Stacey Branch

Mark and Cyndi Bassel

Mark and Cyndi Bassel

Ed and Randi Halsell

Ed and Randi Halsell

Mark Zacheis

Mark Zacheis

Mary McDermott Cook

Mary McDermott Cook

Sean Morrison

Sean Morrison

The waves of guests kept coming, and Christina and Chris greeted each like an old friend. Upon arriving, Brent Christopher, who will be following Kern as head of the Foundation, immediately sought out the man of the hour.

Kern Wildenthal and Hobson Wildenthal

Kern Wildenthal and Hobson Wildenthal

Marnie Wildenthal and Shirley Miller

Marnie Wildenthal and Shirley Miller

But it was the beginning of summer, so talk during the pre-dinner reception was travel-oriented. Kern and wife Marnie Wildenthal were leaving the next day for a 16-day trip to London, Tuscany and New York. Brent was taking his brood of kids to Japan. He admitted that his son envisions Japan as an entire world of Nintendo. Little did father or son know about the upcoming Pokémon Go craze.

Others like Stacey Branch and Susan Williams were chatting up the marital status of the kids.

But Chris eventually called the guests to their tables for an excellent dinner that was followed by brief but poignant remarks about Kern’s accomplishments by Chris and Children’s Medical Center Foundation Chairman of the Board John Eagle.

John Eagle and Marnie Wildenthal

John Eagle and Marnie Wildenthal

Chris Durovich and Kern Wildenthal

Chris Durovich and Kern Wildenthal

John told how, under Kern’s tutelage, the Foundation had enjoyed a record number of new gifts in 2015, including 15 donations of $1 million or more. Kern also slashed Foundation fundraising costs by 25 percent, John pointed out. Then he added: “Kern raises as much money in his sleep as most fundraisers do in a lifetime.”

In his remarks, meantime, Chris recalled how Kern had raised $160 million over three years, boosting the Foundation’s annual fundraising average to $50 million to $70 million from $15 million to $20 million previously. “Kern, you have been such a huge friend to the kids and families in this community,” Chris said. “And Marnie, thank you for the example that you’ve been.”

Kern Wildenthal and his gift

Kern Wildenthal and his gift

Following the bestowing of gifts upon the Wildenthals—he got a black leather briefcase, she got a black leather valise—Kern and Marnie graciously thanked all for the support, and told how Children’s had been an important part of their lives. Admiring his new briefcase, Kern said, “This is a very good sign. I thought [the gift] was going to be a wheelchair!” With that he turned serious and, as usual, self-effacing: The money raised for the Children’s Foundation “was not the result of me. It was the result of years of service and excellence. No one person could do anything like that.” Then he concluded the evening, perhaps with a tip for his successor: “You don’t persuade people to be generous. People are generous, and you match them up with their passions.”

For more photos of the evening’s festivities, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

It’s Time To Retire Your Suit For A New Life

Know that suit in the closet that you’ll never wear again? It’s not getting better with age. Perhaps it’s not as up-to-date as your fashion reputation? Or, maybe it’s just not fitting the way it used to. Regardless, why keep it? There’s someone else who would not only appreciate it, but it just might help them land a job or score a promotion.

Tootsies fashions (File photo)

Tootsies fashions (File photo)

Just think. Not only can you help someone else and make room for a new addition to your wardrobe, you can even be gifted with a Tootsies $25 giftcard.

It’s simple. Just take that outfit to Tootsies starting tomorrow for the annual Suits For Shelters sponsored by The Mary Kay Foundation. The staff will greet your clothing with welcome arms and present you with your gift card that you’ll probably put to good use ASAP.

And what will happen to your donation? It will be provided to a shelter working with victims of domestic violence like Kimberley.

What’s that? You’re out of town. Don’t let that little issue worry your pretty head of split-end-less hair. You’ve got until Saturday, August 6, to hand over your pretties.

Remember your not-gonna-wear-it-again outfit could help a woman, whom you’ll never know, take a totally new direction in her life and the lives of her children.

Helping Our Heroes Foundation Presents $25,000 Checks To Folds Of Honor And Semper Fi Plus Announces Future Plans

With Mother’s Day in the rear view mirror and graduations and weddings up ahead, there was a check presentation on Monday, May 9, for folks who have gone the extra mile in safeguarding the nation’s well-being. In addition, it was also an occasion to announced upcoming plans for more fundraising for the Helping Our Heroes Foundation. Here’s a report from the field:

On Monday, May 9, dozens of board members, donors and friends of Helping Our Heroes Foundation gathered on the patio at Ocean Prime Dallas to celebrate the 2015 beneficiaries and kick off the 2016 Dinner and Golf Tournament set for Sunday, September 11, and Monday, September 12.

Michael Marasco, Travis Wilson and Laura Castellvi*

Michael Marasco, Travis Wilson and Laura Castellvi*

The evening began with light bites and cocktails while Pippa, a bulldog and mascot of the United States Marine Corps, posed for pictures with attendees. The organization presented two checks for $25,000 to each of its 2015 beneficiaries: Folds of Honor, which provides annual educational scholarships to the families of those killed or disabled while in active duty, and Semper Fi Fund, which provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Steve Christensen, Gail Leonard, John Christensen, Mason Fill and Lauren Christensen*

Steve Christensen, Gail Leonard, John Christensen, Mason Fill and Lauren Christensen*

Following the presentation, the celebration continued as Captain Mason Dill presented a framed flag to John Christensen and his family. Lauren and Steve Christensen and John Christensen were honored for their generous donations and support of Helping Our Heroes over the years.

Christopher Griffo, Mason Dill and Carl Fite*

Christopher Griffo, Mason Dill and Carl Fite*

Barbara and Trip Bomar*

Barbara and Trip Bomar*

Co-Founder and Event Co-Chair Travis Wilson and Event Co-chair Michael Marasco announced that Folds of Honor and Semper Fi Fund would return as beneficiaries for 2016 event. This year’s fundraiser includes a dinner on September 11, at Frontiers of Flight Museum, which will mark the 15th anniversary of 9/11, followed by a golf tournament at Brookhaven Country Club on September 12. In the past five years, Helping Our Heroes has donated more than $735,000 to selected beneficiaries. In 2016, the hope is to raise more than $200,000 to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their families through Folds of Honor and Semper Fi Fund.

Guests included: Barbara and Helping Our Heroes Co-founder Trip Bomar, Master Sergeant Christopher Griffo, Captain Mason Dill, Gail Leonard, Auction Chair Matt Lowe, Carl Fite, Underwriting Chair Art Seals, Semper Fi Fund Senior Manager for Community Outreach and Events Laura Castellvi, Mary McAdams, Val Bergman, Mike Engles, Steve Pilipchuk, Veronica Owens and Folds of Honor Regional Development Officer Sarah White.

Helping Our Heroes Foundation is a local organization founded in 2011 with a vision to help those who serve so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms of living in the greatest country on earth. To purchase tickets for the dinner or to participate in the golf tournament, visit http://www.helpingourheroes.us.

* Photo credit: Rhi Lee

Neiman Marcus Downtown’s Crawl Tubes Have Found A New Home-Sweet-Home With Spark!

Believe it or not, North Texas is heading warp speed from this week’s wet and humid conditions to next week’s dry and summer heat. To better survive this transition, how about a thought of cooler times? For instance, remember back in 2013 when Neiman Marcus Downtown’s windows were a holiday showcase with crawl tubes for munchkins to explore, while people on the sidewalk watched the fun?

Spark!*

Spark!*

Say, what happened to the tubes? Did they end up in a dump? Heavens, no! That’s not the NM way of handling such marvels. Checked with NM Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hurst about the tubes’ whereabouts. And, of course, he immediately had the answer: “When the tubes ‘retired’ in 2013 they went to a great home. I am happy to say they have been completely transformed and re-purposed and are bringing joy to a whole new set of kiddos at Spark! They literally used everything that was donated, but completely re-purposed and added to it. The tubes now extend 30 feet into the air. They built cool stairs and slides (even has a dragon head). It is quite the experience for both little kids and big kids (that act like little kids).”

Climb Crawl Slide sculpture*

Climb Crawl Slide sculpture*

So, what is Spark? A new theme park? No! Spark! is a year-old non-profit that “provides children from second grade to high school with a fully immersive creative environment and hands-on learning that develops their self-definition as creative individuals. Strategically located in the sub-basement of the historic South Side on Lamar building near a large population of low-income families, Spark! provides a fully immersive learning environment, layering a myriad of creative disciplines to spark the imagination, expand the mind, and engage the body. Through an endless roster of workshops and pop-up activities, students exercise their creativity and learn from creative experts, innovators, and artists.”

Climb Crawl Slide sculpture*

Climb Crawl Slide sculpture*

According to Spark! President/CEO Bev Davis, “In 2015 [we] engaged with 13 different schools and have already worked with more than 40 institutions to date. To celebrate serving 1,775 children in the first seven months of operation, Spark! announced that the facility would be open to the public every Saturday starting in June. In 2016, Spark! will aim to serve more than 5,000 students. Tickets are $10 at the door, $8 in advance.”

In addition to pop-up activities like Giant Light Bright, Recycled Art, Chalk Art, Poetry Magnets and percussion, June’s Spark! Saturdays provide a 6,000-foot Climb, Crawl, Slide Sculpture that looks suspiciously like some NM crawl tubes.

* Graphic and photo courtesy of Spark!

Memorial Day Is A Day Of Thanks For The Ultimate Gift

Memorial Day flags

Memorial Day flags

Today is Memorial Day, a holiday where presents are not exchanged. However, it is a day when thanks are shown for those who have given their lives in the line of duty.

Before heading to the movie theaters for first-runs, hitting sunny patios with misters for icy drinks or taking off for summer vacations, consider that these luxuries were made possible by thousands of men and women over the decades.

Boots And Blessings At Gilley’s Provided Fun, Food And Funding For Ally’s Wish Moms To Create Lasting Memories For Their Children

After a non-stop month of fundraising activities, Ally’s Wish‘s Boots and Blessing Gala at Gilley’s closed down April with gals in boots and remarkable testimonials about the organization that is the late Allyson Hendrickson‘s legacy. Here is a report from the field:

Country-themed affairs were the talk of the town on Saturday, April 30, but at the iconic Gilley’s Dallas, Ally’s Wish was making wishes come true for mothers battling terminal illnesses. The two-year-old organization has raised over $150,000 and granted over 17 wishes to moms with big dreams of create lasting memories with their children.

Inside one of Gilley’s largest ballrooms, a packed house with 300 of DFW’s finest and some out-of-towners, event chair, Laura Downing and honorary chair, Tricia Sims worked the room sharing their connection to Ally’s Wish. Earlier in the year, Tricia Sims hosted a fashion themed kick-off at her home featuring local designer Esé Azénabor and as Laura Downing noted during her speech, her personal connection to Allyson Hendrickson (the organization’s namesake) is why she chose to serve as event chair, to help raise more awareness and dollars to fund wishes.

Tricia Sims and Natasha Mosier*

Tricia Sims and Natasha Mosier*

Kunthear and Scott Douglas*

Kunthear and Scott Douglas*

Cathy and Tommy Vieth*

Cathy and Tommy Vieth*

As guests began to trickle in dressed in their boots and jeans, some with a little bling and some with a lot, they enjoyed cocktails courtesy of Candy’s Signature Cocktails and beer provided by Community Beer. Blushington’s make-up touch-up bar and the boot shine stand were hot spots, but it was the silent auction that was all a buzz. Guests made their way ‘round the tables bidding on favorites including the Abi Ferrin shopping experience, Alexis Bittar earrings courtesy of Neiman Marcus and the Emmitt Smith autographed footballs. Bob Manzano captured Cathy and Tommy Vieth, Kunthear Mam-Douglas, Melissa Rountree, Nicole Barrett, Regina Bruce and Kersten Rettig who posed for photos.

Heather Bryan, Melissa Cary, Laura Downing, Missy Phipps and Holly Reed*

Heather Bryan, Melissa Cary, Laura Downing, Missy Phipps and Holly Reed*

The night began with LeeAnne Locken, from Bravo TV’s “The Real Housewives of Dallas” welcoming everyone, a prayer was said and the chow bell rang! A buffet of Texas BBQ favorites was served including apple cobbler for dessert, but for those that didn’t want anything too sweet, Yasmeen Tadia of Sugaire™ provided them with an alternative option in her gourmet, organic, less than 1 gram of sugar version of cotton candy.  As the program continued and guests were seated, Missy Phipps, founder and president of Ally’s Wish shared the stage with her friends and co-founders Melissa Cary, Holly Reed and Heather Bryan to tell their story of creating Ally’s Wish and why their love for their friend has translated into the organization serving moms and their children.

Larry and Pat Conner*

Larry and Pat Conner*

Larry and Pat Conner, the parents of the late Allyson Hendrickson spoke about their daughter, her battle with ovarian cancer and wish to have her blog, “My 3 Sons” turned into a lasting memory in the form of a book (“Three Little Cowboys”) that is now sold with a portion of proceeds benefiting Ally’s Wish and a portion placed into a trust for her sons.

Soon after, Wendy Lambert Auctions’ Charla Goodwin Janecka began the live auction. From the Dancing with the Stars package to the 20 friends Blushington beauty experience and Chamberlains wine tasting with cast members from the “Real Housewives of Dallas,” the bidding wars began.

Ethan Spencer, Russell Spencer and Austin Spencer*

Ethan Spencer, Russell Spencer and Austin Spencer*

However, it wasn’t until Russell Spencer and Tanya Norris took the stage to share their stories and connections to Ally’s Wish, that guests began to feel the depth and breath of how granting wishes to moms would and could have an immeasurable impact. Russell shared the stage with his two sons, Austin and Ethan, and spoke of his wife Terran, whose wish was granted in 2014 with a memorable family vacation to Hawaii where she swam with dolphins.

Tanya Norris*

Tanya Norris*

Tanya shared her story and current battle of Glioblastoma Multiforme, more commonly known as brain cancer. Her wish is to visit Nashville with her daughter Paige and loving caretaker husband Ben this summer. Her wish will be granted because shortly after sharing their stories over $30,000 was raised, allowing Ally’s Wish to grant more wishes to moms like Tanya and the current list of ten others on the waiting list.

The Breckenridge Band took to the stage and taught a bit of line dancing, but the night wasn’t over because Britnee Kellogg the season 11 and season 12 hopeful fromAmerican Idol” made a special appearance on stage with her band and closed out the night rocking to original songs and country classics.

For more information about Ally’s Wish, visit www.allyswish.org.

* Photo credit: Bob Manzano