JUST IN: Pat McEvoy And Michal Powell To Co-Chair 2018 Celebrating Women Luncheon With Shelle Sills As Underwriting Chair

Last week it was announced that Pat McEvoy would chair the 2019 Crystal Charity Ball. While some might want to rest up before taking on the responsibility to raise millions of dollars for Dallas children’s nonprofits, Pat is not your typical gal.

Pat McEvoy (File photo)

Michal Powell (File photo)

Shelle Sills (File photo)

It was just announced that Pat and Michal Powell will co-chair Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s 2018 Celebrating Women Luncheon. Joining the team will be Shelle Sills, who will be in charge of underwriting duties.

Just last Thursday Michal chaired the Doing The Most Good Luncheon for The Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Command at the Anatole with Shelle as her arrangements chair.

As for plans about the breast cancer research and treatment fundraiser, the details are being finalized. Stay tuned.

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

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

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

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

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

Vicky Lattner, Nancy Carter, Emilynn Wilson and Di Johnston

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

Barbara Stuart, Carol Seay and Jimmie Westcott

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

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

Linda Custard and Jamie Lee Curtis

Lindalyn Adams and Jamie Lee Curtis

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

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

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

Peggy Riggs, Jamie Lee Curtis and Leonard Riggs

Aileen Pratt and Jamie Lee Curtis

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

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

Dennis Bassler and Connie Yates

Nancy Dedman and Jill Smith

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

Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell

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

London Hibbs and dancers

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

Carolyn Brown and her team of health care providers

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

Ola Fojtasek and Tucker Enthoven

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

Jim Hinton

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

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

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

Jamie Lee Curtis and Robin Robinson

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

Hands raise for the challenge

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

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

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

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

Jamie Lee Curtis

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Lee Curtis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for more pictures from the luncheon.

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

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon

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

Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell

Lindalyn Adams and Jamie Lee Curtis

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

Jamie Lee Curtis and Robin Robinson

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

Aileen Pratt and Jamie Lee Curtis

Peggy Riggs, Jamie Lee Curtis and Leonard Riggs

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

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

Thanks To Beautiful Weather, Celebrating Women Patrons Partied Outdoors As Well As Indoors At Cameron And Clay Smith’s Home

Tuesday, October 24, should have been designated “patron night.” With the Dallas Historical Society’s “Award of Excellence Luncheon” patrons at Mary McDermott Cook’s hilltop nest in west Dallas and The Senior Source’s “Spirit of Generations” at Kathy and Larry Helms’ Park Cities home, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s “Celebrating Women” held forth north of town at Cameron and Clay Smith’s digs.

Barbara Stuart, Cynthia Mitchell and Di Johnston

Thanks to the weather being a step above perfect, the Smith’s backyard terrace accommodated the overflow crowd that had Mercedes, Lexuses and other wonderful wheels parked along all the roads leading to house.

Vinnie Reuben

Gathered on round settee in the living room were back-from-the-northeast Cynthia Mitchell with pals Di Johnston and Barbara Stuart across the way from John Stuart and Vinnie Reuben, who is making her victory lap before moving to California at the end of the year.

Tincy Miller, Mary Ann Cree and Jo Anne McCullough

Tincy Miller, Jo Anne McCullough, Mary Ann Cree, Nancy Carter, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Emilynn and Claude Wilson, Ann Dyer, Margaret and Lester Keliher with daughter Margaret Keliher Hughes, David Camp and Julia Welborn were in the dining room tasting and talking. Pam Perella was giving rave reviews of the Tom Thumb in Turtle Creek Village to Tom Thumb First Lady Connie Yates.

Lester Keliher, Margaret Keliher Hughes and Margaret Keliher

And speaking of first lady types, Lindalyn Adams slowly made her way through the crowd. The problems wasn’t her walk. It was that folks kept stopping to talk with her.

Tucker Enthoven and Jim and Kristen Hinton

Pat McEvoy, Ola Fojtasek, Susan Farris, Robin Robinson and Susan McSherry

On the terrace were Julie Ford, Pat McEvoy, Susan McSherry, Richard Shaw, Susan Farris, Julie Ramirez and Kristen Hinton and husband/Baylor Scott and White CEO Jim Hinton were congratulating Celebrating Women Chair Tucker Enthoven for her early sell-out of the fundraiser, while Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson was doing the same for Celebrating Women Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek.

Go Ahead, Stay Toasty And Donate Without Guilt Saturday Morning

Mother Nature had been threatening for days to be part of the triple-doozy walks/runs benefiting breast cancer and diabetes throughout the area Saturday morning. Honestly, there are just times when you don’t want the old gal to be there. But sure enough, she announced that she was indeed showing up with her cold-shoulder temps. Yipes! Just as a preamble, she sent sleet to the northern parts of the territory on Friday afternoon. What a party pooper!

So, Saturday morning when you’re snuggled under that down-filled duvet and thinking about whether or not to have a triple-dollop of whipped cream on your hot chocolate, consider thousands of folks who are facing a very brisk morning to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure Dallas County, National Cancer Society’s Making Strides of North Texas and Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s 2017 Healthy Harvest Fun Walk/5K Run and Expo.

If you just don’t have the strength to put on those adorable pink Valentino “Rock Stud sneakers” and scamper about the area, consider making a donation. It would warm the hearts of those facing the season’s first frosty chill.

Hint: If you were thinking about shopping at NorthPark, stall that dream off until afternoon when all the walker and runners are home soaking their tootsies.

Three-Way Collision Of Walking/Running Fundraisers Slated For October 28 With Two Benefiting Breast Cancer Research

There’s gonna be a heck of lot of walking in North Texas on Saturday, October 28. That morning there will three separate walks/run raising funds for nonprofits.

At 8 a.m. Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s 2017 Healthy Harvest Fun Walk/5K Run and Expo will be taking place at the Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center to raise money to “support programs and initiatives for those who suffer from diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

The other two events seem to be a bit of fundraising head-on collision. They’re both taking place to raise funds to battle breast cancer. At NorthPark the annual Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure Dallas County will start at 8 a.m., while across town the National Cancer Society’s Making Strides of North Texas will walk take place at Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge with a start time of 8:15 a.m.

Let’s hope the weather holds out all these walking, running and fundraising.

Susan G. Komen’s 35th Anniversary Luncheon Celebrated The Lives Saved Thanks To A Deathbed Promise

In 1977 33-year-old Suzy Goodman Komen learned she had breast cancer. At that time those two words were verboten in polite company. Too often patients diagnosed with the disease shared the news, their fears and their struggle with the immediate family and perhaps extremely close friends. It was almost treated like a scandal. Susie undertook the treatments with her kid sister Nancy Goodman Leitstein (Brinker) at her side. But due to lack of funding, research and treatments, Susie died at the age of 36 in 1980.

As she lay dying, 34-year-old Nancy, who was divorced and the mother of a son, made a promise that changed her life and those of millions of others. She told Suzy that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. War was declared.

From that promise sprang the annual Race for the Cure and a Komen luncheon that for years required boxes of tissues as breast cancer patients shared their journeys. Eventually, the effort to grow funds and awareness spread throughout the world. What didn’t survive was the luncheon. For whatever reason, it ended.  

Mary Lessmann, Gigi Hill Lancaster and Meredith Land

However, on Wednesday, September 27, the Komen Foundation of Dallas celebrated its 35th anniversary with a luncheon fundraiser at Belo Mansion. Chairing Susan G. Komen’s 35th Anniversary Luncheon was Gigi Hill Lancaster, who had lost her mother, the vibrant Gigi Griffiths Hill, to breast cancer at the age of 39 in 1984 when Lancaster was just 14.

Elizabeth Robertson, Jim and Alinda Wikert and Sharon McCutchin

Jill Smith, Lindalyn Adams and Randi Halsell

At 11:30 the VIP reception was already in full gear with Honorary Co-Chairs Linda Custard and Ruth Altshuler (Co-Chair Gene Jones had to be out of town), luncheon emcee Meredith Land, Diane Brierley, Nancy Halbreich, Janie McGarr and keynote speaker/breast cancer survivor Giuliana Rancic. In the ballroom were Komen past luncheon chair Randi Halsell, Lindalyn Adams and original chair Sharon McCutchins, Jill Smith, Elizabeth Robertson, Alinda and Jim Wikert and Brill Garrett. Komen Dallas Board President Connie O’Neill with two of her three daughters (Amanda Cacheris and Isabel O’Neill) was thrilled that so many young women were attending.

Connie O’Neill, Giuliana Rancic, Amanda Cacheris and Isabel O’Neill

Promptly at noon the luncheon crowd including Sara Martineau, Carol Huckin, Katy Bock, Cara French, Daffan Nettle and Vicki Howland took their places and from the podium Gigi thanked the honorary chairs, Alinda Wikert and her underwriting chair Rebecca Fletcher for having brought in $555,000. Gigi told how she was wearing waterproof mascara. Her mother had wished that she had worn waterproof mascara when she addressed the Komen luncheon just weeks before her death.

Gigi turned the podium over to St. Michael’s and All Angel’s/breast cancer survivor Rev. Mary Lessmann for the invocation.

Carlos Arteaga

Following a video, Connie was at the podium reporting that one billion dollars had been provided by Komen for research and two billion dollars dedicated for treatment for women in 30 countries. Their goal was to reduce breast cancer 50% by 2060.

She then introduced newly arrived in Dallas Dr. Carlos Arteaga, who had only recently relocated from Vanderbilt University Medical Center to head up the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern.

It was then time for Giuliana to tell her story in 25 minutes, but she immediately admitted that it was going to be tough to do it. Born in Italy at the age of six, she only spoke Italian. So, how did she learn English? She would watch TV, especially the evening news. Her initial plans to be a TV journalist changed to concentrating on fashion and entertainment, which led to her moving to LA.

Giuliana Rancic

There she ended up with her dream job of being a reporter for E News. While there she heard the assignments editor mentioning the name “Bill Rancic,” who had just won the first “The Apprentice.” She asked for the interview and got it only to google Bill Rancic romance, where it said that he was dating someone. When she got to the interview, she impressed Bill by looking “bored and distant.” Needless to say, she had lost interest in him but carried on with the interview. Her final question was, “Are you going to settle down?” He responded, “Actually we broke up three weeks ago.”

According to Bill, an “immaculate transformation took place.” Eight months later they were engaged with a wedding taking place six months after that.”

The couple was approached about their doing a reality show. They agreed only if it could be positive. During this time they tried to conceive, and eventually sought help from fertility experts. But they miscarried and tried again with no luck. Giuliana was sad, angry and depressed — “Why did this happen?”

They sought help from another fertility specialist. In filling out the questionnaire, the last quest on the check list was “Have you had a mammogram?” Giuliana hadn’t and wanted to skip it. After all, she’d had no family history; she was in her 30s; she was in great health. But the nurse insisted, so she agreed.

Then she got a call to come to the clinic. As she waited to learn the results, she got an eerie feeling and ran to the elevator. The nurse came after her and brought her back. The doctor said that she did have breast cancer. Her reaction? “Your life just changes. I felt like I was falling.”

She shared her story on the show to help other young women to get a mammogram. Initially she thought the lumpectomy would be the answer. It didn’t work. She and Bill talked about it. Her concern was that a mastectomy would make her unattractive. Bill’s response: “I don’t care what you look like. I just want you around for the next 50 years.”

Those words made her mind up to go through with the mastectomy. In the meantime, the couple decided to check into having a gestational carrier. She admitted that after the months of disappointment and cancer, she needed some good news. That came two weeks after her surgery in December when they found out that the carrier was pregnant. On August 29, Edward Duke Rancic was born.

Within one year, Giuliana had had the worst day of her life and the most amazing.  She also realized that had she gotten pregnant, she probably wouldn’t be here.

Since then she has made fertility and breast cancer her rallying points.

Then Giuliana recalled a year ago meeting Klarissa, who in her 20s was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Giuliana had just gotten an update that Klarissa was fighting for her life. Giuliana started to read a post from Klarissa’s Instagram the day before, but couldn’t go on. She asked Gigi to come to the podium and read: “…. I can’t help but wonder what memories I will leave behind.”

Giuliana summed up her talk saying, “You don’t have to travel 2,000 miles to climb a mountain to find your purpose. Your purpose is right here in this room.”

Just past 1 p.m., the luncheon was over. The next day Julia Louis-Dreyfuss announced, “One in eight women get breast cancer; today I’m the one.” But thanks to a sister’s promise made in 1980, Giuliana, Julia and millions of others will have their lives saved.  

Double Sold-Out Alert!: Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Celebrating Women Luncheon And Annual Grand Rounds Golf Tournament

Kicking off October is a trifecta of good news items about healthcare and fund raising. First, deaths resulting from breast cancer have dropped by almost 40% in the U.S.

Second, Celebrating Women’s Chair Tucker Enthoven and her Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek just sent word that the Thursday, October 26, fundraiser for Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s new research and treatment options for women fighting breast cancer is sold out.

Leonard and Peggy Riggs

Thanks to the popularity of the annual luncheon, Tucker’s committee of 160, Honorary Co-Chairs Peggy and Dr. Leonard Riggs Jr., and having Jamie Lee Curtis as keynote speaker, 1,300 have signed up to lunch and listen at the Hilton Anatole. Thanks to this type of funding, the drop in death rates will continue. The more funding, the faster that drop will take place.

BTW, the Baylor Foundation team also reports that their 16th Annual Grand Rounds Golf Tournament that’s being held at the Dallas Country Club on Monday, October 23 is also sold out!

If you were one of the early birds and got your spot reserved, congrats. If not, you can always resort to begging with check in hand. And if that doesn’t work, why not sign up for the 2017 Health Harvest Fun Walk/5K Run and Expo on Saturday, October 28?

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon

According to Celebrating Women Luncheon Chair Tucker Enthoven and Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek,

Ola Fojtasek and Tucker Enthoven (File photo)

Celebrating Women is the premier breast cancer luncheon in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Every year, it brings together more than 1,200 supporters to increase awareness and generate funding for breast cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. Together, we can find a cure for this disease that affects so many women and families in our community.

Over the past 17 years, Celebrating Women donors have raised more than $28 million for the fight against breast cancer. These donations provide the women and men who pass through our doors access to advanced diagnostic equipment, innovative clinical research, and most importantly, safe, quality, compassionate care.

In the past 17 years, gifts to Celebrating Women have had an impact in four areas:

CAPITAL AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Funded a new, technologically advanced, mobile mammography van with the ability to screen more than 5,500 women each year at their place of business, in small communities and school districts throughout the Metroplex.
  • Advanced digital technology for breast cancer screening, diagnosis and interventional procedures including digital mammography, Positron Emission Mammography and MRI breast biopsy.

MEDICAL EDUCATION

  • Funded a Celebrating Women Oncology Nurse Educator to develop ongoing education, training and certification for oncology nurses to meet the changing and specialized needs of cancer patients.
  • Created a Celebrating Women Education Fund. We are making investments today to secure the future health of our daughters and granddaughters by training medical leaders with the ability to treat, and maybe even cure, breast cancer.

PATIENT-CENTERED PROGRAMS

  • Expanded the genetics counseling program in order to empower patients with the information they need to better evaluate their treatment options, earlier than ever before. These advances will allow physicians and scientists to develop more targeted treatments and save more lives.
  • Funded a patient navigation program to assist breast cancer patients with their emotional and educational needs as well as with coordinating their care throughout their journey. Since 2008, this program has provided services to more than 4,000 breast cancer patients.
  • Increased access to breast cancer services through the Gift of Life Fund, raising nearly $1.5 million for services to women throughout the region who could not afford to pay.

RESEARCH

  • Funded innovative work to find a cure. Baylor is currently involved in several research studies to determine better ways to diagnose and treat breast cancer, including a gene sequencing trial that could result in more personalized therapies and treatment options for patients.
  • Created a Celebrating Women Chair in Breast Cancer Research. The chair holder developed a pilot study to test the efficacy of a vaccine on triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease.

Make plans to join us on Thursday, October 26, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel with featured speaker Jamie Lee Curtis.  Visit the Celebrating Women website for tickets and sponsorship information.

Tucker Enthoven’s Dinner Table Was Serving Up Invitations For Celebrating Women Fundraiser With Jamie Lee Curtis

Tucker Enthoven

Celebrating Women Luncheon Chair Tucker Enthoven was getting ready to head to Spain for a bicycling trip on Tuesday, June 20. But before she left for the other side of the pond, she rallied the troops at her Preston Hollow “cottage” to address invitations for the Baylor Health Care System Foundation fundraiser on Thursday, October 26, at the Hilton Anatole to fight breast cancer.

The Enthoven dinner table

Around the table with pens in hand were outgoing Tucker’s mom Julie Ford, Baylor Foundation Board Chair Margo Goodwin, Pat McEvoy, Angie Kadesky, Suzy Gekiere, Marie Dean, Ann Dyer, Underwriting Chair Ola Fojasek‘s mother Jacqueline Fojtasek (Ola was out of town and Jacqueline was subbing in) and Barbara Stuart. On the floor was 15-year-old Australian Shepherd Stealer. He may have looked a bit long-in-the-tooth, but thanks to his titanium back leg, he was amazingly spry and greeting the ladies.

Margo Goodwin

Pat McEvoy

When asked how the fundraising efforts going, Tucker didn’t hesitate. It was right on target.

Perhaps it was the fact that the keynote speaker was Jamie Lee Curtis. With all the recent headlines about Carrie Fisher’s sad demise, fellow Hollywood urchin Jamie had taken a totally different road successfully battling drugs and alcohol, as well as the threat of breast cancer at the age of 40.

True Carrie had scored hits with “Star Wars” and writing, but Jamie had cut her own praise with “Trading Places,” “Halloween,” “Perfect,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” “True Lies” and “Freaky Friday,” plus her 12 children’s books, including New York Times best seller “Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day.”

In the past 17 years,  the Celebrating Women Luncheon has raised more than $28M “to help Baylor Scott And White fight breast cancer in North Texas.”

Blue butterfly stamps

The invitations were scheduled to drop in the snail mail the week of August 14. They’ll be easy to spot thanks to the blue butterfly stamps. If you haven’t gotten yours, don’t pout or stew. Just check in here and let them know you want your seat pronto. And if you’re interested in a sponsorship, you’d better hustle. The sponsorships for the invitations, centerpieces, programs and video have already been sold.

Plans Announced For Luncheon Celebrating Susan G. Komen’s 35th Anniversary With Giuliana Rancic As Keynote Speaker

Breast cancer all too often was a death sentence or at least an excruciating journey, both physically and emotionally. In the early 1950’s The New York Times “refused to publish an ad for a breast cancer support group, stating that it would not print the words ‘breast’ or ‘cancer.’”

Despite the mammogram being developed in 1969, it still hid behind a cloak of limited knowledge and a patient’s embarrassment. The routine was for a patient to be anesthetized for a biopsy. If the results were positive, a radical mastectomy was immediately performed while the patient was still under anesthesia.

The situation changed slightly in the early 1970’s when such well-knowns as Shirley Temple Black, Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller revealed that they had indeed undergone breast cancer surgery.

Even so, treatments, developments, funding and awareness were limited. Breast cancer continued its charge. But in 1977 the disease picked the wrong person — a 33-year-old woman from Peoria, Illinois. After a three-year battle, the young woman died. But before Susan Goodman Komen succumbed to the disease, her feisty 30-year-old kid sister made a promise — she would “do everything possible to end the shame, pain, fear and hopelessness caused by this disease.”

That sister was Nancy Goodman Brinker, who would establish a world-changing program to bring breast cancer out of the closet with the goal of putting an end to it. In 1982, with the help of Nancy’s husband, the late Norman Brinker, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was established.

Since its inception, Komen has “funded more than $920 million in research, more than $2 billion in medical care, community and provider education, and psychosocial support, serving millions in over 60 countries worldwide.”

In addition, millions of people and countless fundraising efforts including Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Celebrating Women Luncheon program  and the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides of North Texas have risen to fuel the battle to rid the world of the disease.

Gigi Hill Lancaster*

Ruth Altshuler (File photo)

Linda Custard (File photo)

Gene Jones (File photo)

To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the founding of Susan G. Komen, Gigi Hill Lancaster, who lost her mother to breast cancer, is chairing the Susan G. Komen Anniversary Luncheon at Belo Mansion on Wednesday, September 27. Serving as honorary co-chairs are Ruth Altshuler, Linda Custard and Gene Jones.

Giuliana Rancic*

Unlike those days when they used to hold the annual Komen luncheon, where boxes of Kleenex abounded, this one will be an anniversary celebration “honoring those who – for decades – have helped Dallas-based Komen fund breast cancer research and programs that have saved millions on lives.” Emmy-winning TV personality/ entrepreneur/ breast cancer survivor Giuliana Rancic, who was just seven years old when “the promise” was made, will be the featured speaker.  

Since the luncheon is being held at Belo Mansion, seating will be limited, so book your place pronto.

Thank-you notes should be sent to Co-Presenters Bank of America, Highland Park Village/Al G. Hill Jr. and family, Lyda Hill and Alinda H. Wikert. 

* Photo provided by Susan G. Komen

 

With Pens In Hand, Celebrating Women Luncheon Committee Members Continued The Battle Against Breast Cancer

Around Michal and Lloyd Powell’s dining room table a group of women gathered early on Wednesday, April 5. It wasn’t a gloves-and-hats tea party, nor a brunch. It was a roll-up-the-sleeves session to tackle stacks of letters being sent to friends about the Baylor Health Care System Foundation‘s Celebrating Women Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, October 26.

The news about keynote speaker Jamie Lee Curtis had been officially announced at Luncheon Honorary Co-Chairs Peggy and Leonard Riggs’ home the month before.

Margo Goodwin

Pam McCallum

Ola Fojtasek

But today was the putting of pen to paper. Of the group including Luncheon Chair Tucker Enthoven, Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek, Lindalyn Adams, Debbie Oates, Margo Goodwin, Pam McCallum, Barbara Stewart and Tucker’s mom Julie Ford around the table, a headcount was asked about how many had actually had breast cancer. Only one or two raised their hands. When asked how many had had a friend or relative hit by breast cancer, the hands dropped their pens and rose around the table.

But thanks to the research and developments in treating breast cancer at Baylor Scott & White as a result of the $28M raised from the 17 years of the luncheon, these ladies were bound and determined to raise much more money for the fear of breast cancer hitting their families or anyone for that matter.

The rest of the day and the following one, more women would arrive at the Powells’ dining table to send the word that cancer can be beaten.

The letters dropped late last week, so if your letter has gone the route of Mars, contact the Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Christina Goodman at 214.820.4408

JUST IN: Peggy And Leonard Riggs To Be 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon Honorary Co-Chairs

The 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon kick-off party at Peggy and Leonard Riggs’ home just took place. In addition to confirming that Jamie Lee Curtis will be the speaker at the Thursday, October 26th event at the Hilton Anatole, Luncheon Chair Tucker Enthoven revealed that the honorary co-chairs will be Peggy and Leonard.

Leonard and Peggy Riggs, Jim and Kristen Hinton and Robin Robinson

Also on hand for the presentation were new Baylor Scott & White Health CEO Jim Hinton and his wife Kristen Hinton and Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson.

JUST IN: 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon Speaker Will Be Multi-Talented Jamie Lee Curtis (aka Lady Haden-Guest)

Ola Fojtasek and Tucker Enthoven (File photo)

After weeks of begging, threatening, cajoling and downright nagging, the 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon Chair Tucker Enthoven and her Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek finally fessed up who would be the featured speaker at Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s 18th annual fundraiser to fight breast cancer.

Tucker and Ola have arranged to have a member of a legendary Hollywood family to be on stage at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, October 26 — Jamie Lee Curtis. The daughter of the late Janet Leigh and the late Tony Curtis and the wife of “This Is Spinal Tap”’s and “Best In Show”’s Christopher Guest for the past 32 years, she has earned her stripes in acting, writing, inventing, and facing the reality of breast cancer.

Jamie Lee Curtis*

In the film world, she made her debut at the age of 20 in John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and instantly became known as the “scream queen” by following that up with “The Fog,” “Prom Night” and “Terror Train” in 1980 and “Halloween II” and “Roadgames” in 1981. But she spread her acting talents beyond the horror genre by appearing in “Trading Places” in 1983, “A Fish Called Wanda” in 1988, “Blue Steel in 1989, “True Lies” in 1994 and “Freaky Friday” in 2003.

But Jamie Lee’s talents weren’t limited to the big and little screens. With two adopted children (Annie Guest and Thomas Guest), she has written a number of children’s books starting in 1993 with “When I was Little: A Four-Year Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.”

Thanks to motherhood, she was spurred into becoming an inventor. Realizing the challenges of “cleaning up,” she invented “a modification of a diaper with a moisture-proof pocket containing wipes that can be taken out and used with one hand. Curtis refused to allow her invention to be marketed until companies started selling biodegradable diaplors.”

And there’s still more. For instance, she may be known to most folks as Jamie Lee Curtis, but she became Lady Haden-Guest when her husband inherited the Barony of Haden-Guest in 1996.

Rita Wilson (File photo)

However, everything hasn’t been picture perfect. In addition to being the child of divorced parents, having a variety of step-parents and recovering from opiate addiction, she revealed in 2010, “I had my own personal moment of truth 10 years ago when I had a biopsy done on a small, questionable lump in my breast. It was scary… Everything turned out fine, but it brought me very close to understanding how lucky I am to have access to all these resources and great doctors.”

BTW, Jamie Lee is known for being smart, speaking her mind and having a great sense of humor. Translation: This luncheon has all the earmarks of being a perfect follow-up to Rita Wilson’s all-star appearance at last year’s fundraiser. So check out the sponsorship opportunities and tickets availabilities ASAP.

* Photo provided by Baylor Health Care System Foundation

JUST IN: 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon Deets Revealed With More To Come

Recently Tucker Enthoven and Ola Fojtasek  have been hunkering down about some kind of project. After much prodding and pushing (okay, so the typical types of medieval tortures were not applied), they wouldn’t give up the info. Still they offered smiles, winks and what all.

Ola Fojtasek and Tucker Enthoven

Finally, after over-the-top pleading and first-born-promises, the duo revealed the date for the 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon fundraiser for Baylor Health Care System Foundation. Tucker is gonna be chairing the event and Ola will be handling the underwriting efforts.

It will be held at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, October 26.

As for the guest speaker, hold your breath. Nobody’s talking, but they’re all thrilled. Stay tuned for deets. Gee, whiz! It can’t possibly be who is rumored! But dadgummit, time will tell. Besides, if it helps prevent breast cancer, that’s what matters.

MySweetWishList: “In Grandma’s Garden”

According to “In Grandma’s Garden” author Brenda West Cockerell,

Brenda West Cockerell*

Brenda West Cockerell*

“My wish this holiday season is that everyone will consider giving the gift of hope with ‘In Grandma’s Garden,’ an imaginative story about the joys to be found in a grandmother’s garden. ‘In Grandma’s Garden’ makes a great gift for a child, parent, teacher, grandmother or breast cancer survivor, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research.

“Current beneficiaries include Baylor Health Care System Foundation. In conjunction with The Beacon Family Foundation, these gifts will support Celebrating Women for the purpose of breast cancer research, specifically Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy’s revolutionary work. Celebrating Women is Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s annual luncheon to raise funds for Baylor Scott & White Health – North Texas’ fight against breast cancer. More than $26 million has been raised through Celebrating Women over the past 16 years, and we hope to donate as much as possible through the sales of ‘In Grandma’s Garden.’

"In Grandma's Garden"*

“In Grandma’s Garden”*

“’In Grandma’s Garden’ was written as a tribute to my dear friend Holly Horton, who passed away from breast cancer in 2009, and it was always a dream of ours to write an imaginative children’s book together that would bring readers laughter, joy and feelings of peace.  Written in simple rhymes and verses, children will delight in the unexpected surprises found the beauty and sanctuary of Grandma’s garden.

“By working with Baylor Health Care System Foundation, I hope to support Celebrating Women by increasing awareness and funding for the breast cancer research of Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy, medical oncologist at the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Center at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas, Celebrating Women Endowed Chair in Breast Cancer Research, and one of the best oncologists in Dallas. Dr. O’Shaughnessy specializes in breast cancer treatment within Texas Oncology, serves as Chair of Breast Cancer Research for the US Oncology Research Network, and is the founder of The School of Breast Oncology.

“To purchase the book, please visit www.grandmasgardenbook.com.

“Please join me in honoring Holly, and all those affected by breast cancer, by purchasing a copy of ‘In Grandma’s Garden.’ Your gift to a child gives the gift of hope to a woman and her family praying for a cure!”

-By Brenda West Cockerell, “In Grandma’s Garden” author

* Graphic and photo provided by "In Grandma's Garden"

Rita Wilson Showed Spunk, Humor And Courage About Her Breast Cancer At The 17th Annual Celebrating Women Luncheon

North Texas treasure Lindalyn Adams was under the weather on Thursday, October 20. Of all days to be ill, this one was the wrong one. It was also the day when her brainchild fundraiser, the 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon, was scheduled to take place at the Anatole. While it would be the first in its 17-year history for Lindalyn to miss, the show went on to raise funds for Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s efforts to battle breast cancer.

Despite her absence, Baylor Health Care System President Robin Robinson and Baylor Scott And White Health CEO/Luncheon Honorary Co-Chair Joel Allison lauded her from the podium giving her full credit for the $26M that the annual luncheon has provided.

Lynn McBee, Caren Kline and Ros Dawson

Lynn McBee, Caren Kline and Ros Dawson

Virginia Chandler Dykes

Virginia Chandler Dykes

Gail Fischer

Gail Fischer

Julie Turner

Julie Turner

Angie Kadesky, Tucker Enthoven and Nancy Carter

Angie Kadesky, Tucker Enthoven and Nancy Carter

Rita Wilson and Nancy Rogers

Rita Wilson and Nancy Rogers

The program for this year’s VIP reception in the Wedgwood Room was a tadbit different than past years. Robin decided all the speech making at previous pre-luncheon gatherings was unnecessary. So he killed the speeches and just let the crowd (Margo Goodwin, Julie Turner, Anne Nixon, Barbara Stuart, Sara Martineau, Randi Halsell, Angie Kadesky, Tucker Enthoven, Nancy Carter, D’Andra Simmons, Becky Bright, Caren Kline, Ros Dawson, Lynn McBee, Fredye Factor, Sarah Losinger, Gail Fischer, Virginia Chandler Dykes and Debbie Oates) have coffee, juice, pastries and chit chat. Great decision!

Kate Swail and Robin Robinson

Kate Swail and Robin Robinson

One topic was who the gal was in the hot pink embroidered caftan. It turned out to be Robin’s daughter Kate Swail.

Just outside the Wedgwood Room, a unique twosome posed for a photo — Gretchen Minyard Williams of the Minyard Food Store family and Connie Yates of Celebrating Women presenting sponsor Tom Thumbs. The two had a chuckle when Connie recalled upon arriving on the Dallas scene, folks would mistake her for Gretchen.

Connie Yates and Gretchen Minyard Williams

Connie Yates and Gretchen Minyard Williams

Joel and Diane Allison

Joel and Diane Allison

Honorary Co-Chair/Joel’s better half Diane Allison told how the couple had bought a condo in Waco and were looking forward to it. Only problem? Their Dallas digs sold faster than they had planned, so Diane was hustling to get things ready to move out. 

The only hitch was a very slow-mo, greet-and-meet photo session with keynote speaker/multi-talented Rita Wilson. While Rita was delightful, VIP guests were lined up three deep waiting for their photos.  

BTW, you would have loved Rita. Everyone did. Like you, she was gracious and fun. One couldn’t help but suspect she’s on everybody’s Christmas card list.

When the doors to the Chantilly Ballroom opened, you would have been amazed how filled the place was with Toni Brinker, Lana Andrews, Gene Jones, Lee Ann White, Al Hill Jr. with daughters Heather Washburne and Elisa Summers, Nancy Rogers and Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner.

While Event Chair Aileen Pratt visited tables, husband Jack Pratt revealed the secret of youth. With a smile, the spry 90-year-young Pratt attributed it to having young children, Aileen and three points that he had learned from Dr. Kenneth Cooper:

  1. Go to sleep each night at the same time
  2. Sleep for eight hours
  3. Eat healthy.

Once the program got underway, the speakers (Aileen, Underwriting Chair Gloria Eulich Martindale, Robin and Joel) kept their words short and on point — genetic research is the future in the fight against breast cancer. Their words were supported by a video featuring experts like genetic counselor Ann Bunnell and breast cancer survivor Tracie Johnson

Aileen Pratt

Aileen Pratt

Gloria Eulich Martindale

Gloria Eulich Martindale

It was touching to see Joel on stage for his final appearance as CEO of Baylor Scott and White.

Another change in the luncheon’s program was the usual speech from the podium was replaced by a conversation between Rita and Robin. It was as if it was a chat in a living room as the two settled back in white easy chairs. It was the first time that Rita had discussed her having breast cancer in front of group, but her hopes was that one person might get a second opinion and save their life after hearing her story. 

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Ten years earlier, Rita’s doctor told her that she was at high risk for having cancer, but not to worry. Still she went to have yearly mammograms and MRIs. All was fine until one in 2015. She had a needle biopsy with no resounding conclusions. Still Rita wasn’t satisfied and had two lumpectomies to remove tissues. Still there was no proof of cancer. Then she stressed that all should listen, “I just had a gut feeling that that just didn’t feel right.” A breast cancer survivor friend suggested her getting a second opinion and recommended Dr. Ira Bleiweiss.  It just so happened that she was doing a play in NYC and flying home on the weekends for her surgeries. One New York surgeon asked why she was having all these lumpectomies… “Why aren’t you getting a second opinion? The guy we use is Dr. Ira Bleiweiss.” Tissue samples were sent to Ira and after other testing, the results proved that Rita was likely going to have breast cancer. The decision was made to have bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson

Robin asked, “Do you remember that ‘Ah, shoot!’ moment?” To which Rita broke up the seriousness of the situation by saying, “It was really more like ‘Ah, shit!’” It worked. The room was filled with laughter because everyone of the cancer survivors/patients understood Rita’s reaction.

A self-professed doer, Rita added the surgery to her “Must-Do-List.” But four months later when everything was done, it really hit her what she had been through.

Following the surgery, she returned to the play four weeks later and now admits that it was a bit ambitious.

Other highlights of their conversation included:

  • “I love anything that makes me feel happy. I look for project that make people smile.”
  • Life on the road with her band — “I was touring with the band Chicago and the bus broke down right around the Donner Pass. It was about two in the morning. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere.” But they made it to Reno for the performance. Still the bus needed to be replaced and it was in the middle of touring season when availability of buses is limited. They ended giving me Merle Haggard’s bus. He had bought this bus right before he passed away, which I thought was an amazing thing. He was thinking, ‘I’m just gonna keep on going.’ He had a safe in the box. I didn’t have the combo, so I don’t know what was in the safe.”
  • Her parents — “My mom [who died at 93] was a character. She was Greek. My dad, who died when he was 89. They were married 59 years. My mom always said things to me like, ‘You have to be your own best friend;’ ‘I like my own company;’ ‘You know in the beginning when you meet somebody and they say opposites attract? Later it’s opposites attack.’”
  • Her mother’s Alzheimer’s — “It’s (Alzheimer’s) really also a hideous disease. The last full conversation I had with her was really amazing because I went over to her house and I said, ‘Hi, mom, how are you doing?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I’m good.’ I asked if she knew who I was. And she said, ‘My daughter.’ I said, ‘That’s right. Which daughter?’ And she couldn’t answer that. So I said, ‘It’s me, Mom. It’s Rita.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘You’re too good looking to be Rita.’ I took it as a compliment.”
  • Her dad — “He escaped from Bulgaria and worked on a freighter ship to the Philadelphia, where he jumped ship. He worked as a bartender all his life and was supporting his family. His name was Hassan Halilov Ibrahimoff but he became Allan Wilson. My Dad’s name was difficult to spell or pronounce, so when he became a naturalized citizen, the judge said, ‘Do you want to change your name to something a little easier?’ He said, ‘Yeah, to Wilson,’ because that was the name of the street we lived on.’
  • Her birth name — “My original name was Margarita Ibrahimoff.” Robin told her that Margarita has special meaning here in Texas.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding — Having attended lots of plays in New York, she felt she had given “short shrift” to productions on the West Coast and decided to see one in LA. “I opened the LA Times and there was a little square for an ad and it was maybe a two-inch square saying Nia Vardalos in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ I thought that title makes me laugh. I’m going to see this. What’s the worst that can happen? I took my mom, my sister and my nieces and I thought, ‘The worst that can happen is we’ll have a bad show, but a great dinner somewhere.’ We went to see the show and it was great.” She told Nia that she thought it would make a great movie. Month or years later, Nia told Rita that they only had enough money to put an ad in the paper one day, one time and that was the day I saw the title.”
  • Her mom’s reaction to the movie — Imitating her mom, Rita said, ‘They are nothing like us!” Rita laughed saying, “Oh, no, they’re nothing like us. My sister lives next to my mom.
  • Meeting Tom Hanks — They met on the show “Bosom Buddies.” About two years later, they were cast in a movie called “Volunteers.” About a year afterward they started dating.
  • Rita Wilson

    Rita Wilson

    “Sleepless in Seattle” — The “That’s A Chick’s Movie” scene where the characters talk about “An Affair To Remember” was largely improvised. After Rita had done her scene recalling the emotional ending of the movie, Tom Hanks and Victor Garber improvised about “The Dirty Dozen.”

  • Her walk-up song — “Grateful”
  • Drug of choice — It used to be chocolate, but “I’ve been trying to give up sugar lately since Tom has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I also cut down on alcohol because my oncologist recommended five glasses or less of any kind of alcohol per week. He did say, ‘You can have it all in one day.’”
  • Bucket list — Not to have a definitive schedule and be more spontaneous.
  • Unknown — “I speak French and a little bit of Greek. I do ski. Don’t come with me if you want to go slow. I water color just for fun. I took lessons for five years and I learned that you can’t get worse at something, if you do it consistently.”
  • Message for those who are facing cancer — “For people who are not there yet, trust your instinct about anything and trust your gut and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion from your doctor or a second opinion on your pathology. For those who are going through treatment or about to go through treatment, I know it feels like it’s never going to be anything other than what you’re doing and what that life is. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re going to be able to see that light sooner than you think. Keep the faith and do things that make you happy while you’re going through it.”

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon

Practically everyone added Rita Wilson to their Christmas card list after attending the 17th Annual Baylor Health Care System Foundation‘s Celebrating Women Luncheon on Thursday, October 20, at the Hilton Anatole.

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Instead of giving a talk from the podium, she simply had a chat with Foundation President Robin Robinson. At times it felt like the Chantilly Ballroom was a living room with 1,200 buds sitting around.

Aileen Pratt

Aileen Pratt

Gloria Eulich Martindale

Gloria Eulich Martindale

While the post is being completed, check out the faces on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. But if you’re looking for Celebrating Women First Lady Lindalyn Adams, you’re gonna come up short. She was home under the weather and had to miss this one. And in turn Lindalyn was missed.

Lana And Barry Andrews Open Their Home For The Celebrating Women Luncheon Patrons Party

It was as if North Texas’ southern relatives in Harris County had shared their steamy temperatures on Tuesday, October 18. While weather-guessers swore it was downright unnatural for October to host temps in the 80s edging toward the 90s, old time vets laughed the topic woes off. The real chill wouldn’t settle in until Halloween. Luckily Lana and Barry Andrews’ palatial digs in Highland Park were chilled to fend off the humidity and heat for Baylor Health System Care Foundation’s the Celebrating Women patron party.

Robin Robinson, Lana and Barry Andrews

Robin Robinson, Lana and Barry Andrews

Wedged between the Komen Race for the Cure on Saturday, October 15, and Baylor Health Care System Foundation‘s 17th Annual Celebrating Women Luncheon on Thursday, October 20, the patron party was the bull’s-eye for those fighting breast cancer.

Glenda Kay, Nancy Carter, Gloria Martindale and Di Johnston

Glenda Kay, Nancy Carter, Gloria Martindale and Di Johnston

Nancy Carter was a-glow about their multiple hotel projects. At one point she got a tad bit nostalgic about one of their early projects for the Marriott Suites on Stemmons and the hanging of Bill Marriott’s portrait.

Across the way, Randi Hassell rolled her way from the breakfast room to the mammoth kitchen. The cause for the wheels with a pouch for accessories was foot surgery. “Would crutches be more convenient?” someone asked. Randi’s response: “No way.” And off she rolled.

Randi Hassell

Randi Hassell

Tucker Enthoven and Pam Perella

Tucker Enthoven and Pam Perella

2017 Crystal Charity Ball Chair Pam Perella was solo since husband Vin Perella was out of town. Now that her chairing duties of the CCB Fashion Show were in the rear view mirror, she was starting to focus on preparations for the 2017 CCB fundraiser.

Robin Robinson, Connie Yates and Joel Allison

Robin Robinson, Connie Yates and Joel Allison

Right on cue, Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Robin Robinson stood in front of the fireplace in the living room and thanked guests and sponsors like Comerica President Curt Farmer and Tom Thumb sweetheart Connie Yates. He then recognized Honorary Co-Chairs Diane and Joel Allison. As Diane stood in a corner of the room, Joel recalled how Lindalyn Adams had approached him years ago to have a luncheon fundraiser to support research and treatments for breast cancer. He went on to stress that all of the fundraising and awareness building was for the good of the patients.

Jill and Bob Smith and Aileen Pratt

Jill and Bob Smith and Aileen Pratt

As most guests stayed put in the Andrews’ cool home, others like Jill and Bob Smith headed for dinner dates at the Dallas Country Club and 2016 Crystal Charity Ball types left for the Gentleman’s Reception at Tracy and Kent Rathbun’s Preston Hollow home.

A Gentle Reminder: 2016 Komen Dallas Race For The Cure Starts Setting Up For Saturday’s Fundraiser At NorthPark

Komen Dallas Race for the Cure route map*

Komen Dallas Race for the Cure route map*

If you haven’t made it over to NorthPark for your turquoise jewelry, suede outfit and killer boots for Saturday’s Cattle Baron’s Ball at Gilley’s, you might want to hustle big time. Preparations are starting to get underway at NorthPark for the Komen Dallas Race for the Cure that is taking place all around the NorthPark area Saturday morning.

Translation: If your Saturday morning is getting a cinnamon bagel and a cup of java at Panera’s or popping into Barnes and Noble to browse the shelves, you may want to sleep in. Or better yet, you just might want to be part of the thousands raising funds to battle breast cancer. The goal is to provide $1.3M and as of 9:30 a.m., they’re nearly halfway there.

BTW, if you just want to stay at home Saturday morning, why not check out the Cattle Baron’s  auction online? There are literally hundreds of trips, fashions, services and all types of goodies and you won’t even have to get out of your pj’s to bid.

* Graphic courtesy of Komen Dallas Race for the Cure

Baylor University Medical Center At Dallas And Baylor Health Care System Foundation Are Breaking Great News For Women

There’s a whole lot of celebrating going on over at Baylor University Medical Center (BMUC) at Dallas and Baylor Health Care System Foundation.

First, the national media reported this morning that BUMC Dr. Giuliano Testa had surgically transplanted four uteruses in women who want to have children but had been born without a uterus. It was just a year ago that Giuliano told the Baylor Foundation Board about this revolutionary surgery that could change the lives of more than 13,000 women in the U.S. who are born without a uterus. So far, one of the four Baylor transplants is continuing to be successful and more transplants are scheduled to take place before the end of the year.

Giuliano Testa (File photo)

Giuliano Testa (File photo)

Rita Wilson*

Rita Wilson*

Second, the Baylor Foundation’s 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon on Thursday, October 20, at the Hilton Anatole featuring Rita Wilson is sold out!

Joining Presenting Sponsor Tom Thumb are the following sponsors:

  • Monarch Butterfly — Al G. Hill Jr.
  • Texas Swallowtail Butterfly — Lyda Hill, The David B. Miller Family Foundation and Aileen and Jack Pratt Foundation
  • American Lady Butterfly — Lana and Barry Andrews, Anonymous, Nancy Carter, Margo and Bill Goodwin, Karen Faulkner Key, Lock Lord LLP, Gloria Eulich Martindale, Ellen and John McStay and U.S. Trust
  • Patron Party — Comerica Bank
  • VIP Reception — PlainsCapital Bank
  • Valet — Sewell Automotive Companies
  • Luncheon Centerpieces — Sammons Enterprises Inc.
  • Luncheon Invitations — Sidley Austin LLP
  • Luncheon Programs — Allie Beth Allman
  • Luncheon Videos — Jacqueline Fojtasek

But remember — a nice donation might just get you past that “sold-out” situation.

* Photo provided by Baylor Health Care System Foundation

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon

Gloria Eulich Martindale and Aileen Pratt (File photo)

Gloria Eulich Martindale and Aileen Pratt (File photo)

According to 2016 Celebrating Women Chair Aileen Pratt and 2106 Celebrating Women Underwriting Chair Gloria Eulich Martindale,

“We are honored to serve as chairs of the 17th annual Celebrating Women Luncheon, on Thursday, October 20, at the Hilton Anatole. Year after year, Celebrating Women brings together more than 1,200 supporters to increase awareness and generate funding for breast cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.

“It’s an important cause that hits so close to home for so many women and families in our community. Celebrating Women provides an opportunity for us to join together in support of those who have fought, are fighting, or will fight this dreaded disease.

Rita Wilson*

Rita Wilson*

“Each year, we learn something new Baylor Scott and White Health – North Texas is doing, thanks to funds raised through Celebrating Women, to advance the fight. This year, we will highlight Baylor’s efforts in breast cancer genetic testing, counseling and education, and hear personal stories from patients whose lives have been directly affected. After all, it’s those stories that help us connect to our mission.

“Another story we will hear is from our featured speaker, Rita Wilson. Rita is a multi-talented actress, producer, singer and songwriter, and wife of actor, Tom Hanks. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015, she has shared her inspiring story with the world.

“Sponsorships and underwriting opportunities are still available; individual tickets start at $250 and table prices start at $2,500. For more information, call 214.820.4500 or visit the 2016 Celebrating Women website.

“We hope you’ll join us. Together we can find a cure for this disease that affects so many women and families in our community.”

* Photo provided by 2016 Celebrating Women

Brenda West Cockerell Launches “In Grandma’s Garden” With Book Signing At De Boulle

Brenda West Cockerell and Denis and Karen Boulle*

Brenda West Cockerell and Denis and Karen Boulle*

Art-loving Brenda West Cockerell tried her hand at writing with the results being “In Grandma’s Garden.” To mark the occasion, a book signing was held on Saturday, June 4, but not at a bookstore. Nope. Try de Boulle. Here’s a report from the field:

On Saturday, June 4, philanthropist Brenda West Cockerell released her first children’s book entitled “In Grandma’s Garden” with a celebration hosted by Karen and Denis Boulle.

Surrounded by family, friends and beautiful flowers, guests mingled in the cozy parlor of de Boulle Diamond and Jewelry, as the proud author signed copies of her book with personalized notes. The afternoon reception included light bites provided by Food Company, butterfly and dragonfly cookies provided by Kim Crigger Warren, and mimosas and wine from Coquerel Wines, Brenda’s side venture with her husband, Clay Cockerell.

Jessica Peters, Charlies Cockerell, Brenda West Cockerell and Clay Cockerell and Lily Cockerell*

Jessica Peters, Charlies Cockerell, Brenda West Cockerell and Clay Cockerell and Lily Cockerell*

With guests curious as to how the story came to be, Brenda shared that “In Grandma’s Garden” was inspired by her dear friend Holly Horton, who passed away from breast cancer in 2009. Their mutual passion for children and flowers bonded them as friends, and together they dreamed of writing a children’s book. Upon hearing the devastating news, Brenda composed the book in three days. She then enlisted Linda Ólafsdóttir, an Icelandic illustrator, to bring the magical garden to life.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of “In Grandma’s Garden” will benefit breast cancer research and support initiatives through The Beacon Family Foundation, which Brenda founded in 2014 to provide funding for breast cancer and resources for families struggling with loved ones fighting cancer.

“I have done a lot of things in my life, but this is one that I am the most proud of,” Brenda said. “Holly dedicated her life to children, helping them grow much like the flowers in her garden. My hope is that ‘In Grandma’s Garden’ will bring joy to the lives of children who read it, as well as change to those struggling with breast cancer.”

Liana Yarckin and Kristen Sanger*

Liana Yarckin and Kristen Sanger*

Di Johnston and Jill Goldberg*

Di Johnston and Jill Goldberg*

Guests included Lily Cockerell, Jessica Peters and Charlie Cockerell, Emma Boulle, Nick Boulle, Maggie Kipp, Quitman Stephens, Melissa Sherrill, Nancy Gopez, Di Johnston, Jill Goldberg, Ginnie Johnson, DeeDee Lee, Kristi Hoyl and Sydney Hoyl, Pat Ann Dawson, Hal Rose, Sara Lee Gardner, Viktoria Sattar, Liana Yarkin, Kristen Sanger and Lisa Singleton.

* Photo credit: George Fiala

Celebrating Women Letter Signing Provided The Opportunity To Get Letters Out And Meet The Newest Member Of Michal Powell’s Home

The dining room table has become something like crazy Aunt Hattie, who is only seen on holidays. That is unless there’s a non-profit letter signing. Then the table is hit with all hands on deck plus loads of conversations and stacks of letters inviting folks to participate in the upcoming event.

But for the Celebrating Women Luncheon, the letter signing at Michal Powell’s on Thursday, April 7, was a tad bit different. Sure, the dining room table was ground zero with Lindalyn Adams, Ann Dyer, Margo Goodwin, Angie Kadesky, Vinnie Reuben, Barbara Stuart, Kristina Whitcomb and Pam McCallum putting their John Hancocks on letters, but there was activity in other parts of the house, too.

Vinnie Reuben

Vinnie Reuben

Lindalyn Adams and Ann Dyer

Lindalyn Adams and Ann Dyer

Just past the kitchen with the delicious chicken salad was the enclosed veranda, where Michal and Celebrating Women Chair Aileen Pratt learned about the good old days at the State Fair.

Aileen Pratt

Aileen Pratt

Gloria Eulich Martindale

Gloria Eulich Martindale

Thanks to Underwriting Chair Gloria Eulich Martindale, Aileen and Michal found out that way back itty bitty painted turtles and chameleons on threads were the take-away from the Fair. That practice ended years ago due to the fact that the paint eventually destroyed the turtles’ shells and the chameleons didn’t fare much better.

And speaking of turtles, Michal revealed that in addition to grand-puppy-sitting Ollie, she had added Houdini, the turtle to the family. It seems that she had literally come across Houdini as he was walking on the Park Cities road. Screeching to a stop, she popped out of her car, halting traffic and took the shelled reptile home.

Michal Powell and Ollie

Michal Powell and Ollie

While the testudine is happily residing in a private garden in the Powells’ backyard, s/he tends to try an explore climbing over the fencing and landing on his/her side. In turn Ollie has been fascinated by Houdini. But whenever Ollie tries to get Houdini to play, the turtle withdraws into his/her shelled home.

But the day was not about Houdini or Ollie or the State Fair. It was about breast cancer conqueror Rita Wilson’s being the featured speaker at the Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s luncheon on Thursday, October 20, at the Hilton Anatole.

As letters were being signed, Susan McSherry reported that Rita would be appearing the next night at The Kessler and she was going to check her out. In addition to having produced “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” being married to Tom Hanks and being an actress herself, Rita is a singer and has just released an album with one of the tracks, “Crying, Crying” inspired from her recent breast cancer battle.