MySweetCharity Opportunity: 16th Annual Boots and Bandanas

According to 16th Annual Boots and Bandanas Co-Chair Meg Frainey,

It’s that time again ladies and gents! Grab your Stetsons and get ready to have a boot scootin’ good time in support of campers with disabilities. Camp Summit‘s 16th Annual Boots and Bandanas Benefit Dinner and Auction will be held on Thursday, November 2, at Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Downtown Dallas. You don’t want to miss it! With good ol’ Texas BBQ and entertainment, including live and silent auctions, wine pulls, and live Texas music from Shoot Low Sheriff, it’s sure to be an evening to remember!

Bonnie Webb, Amy Trammell and Brittany Bradberry*

Every year, hundreds of professionals, business leaders, donors, and supporters in the DFW area attend Boots and Bandanas, bringing in thousands of dollars in support of our remarkable campers. All proceeds from the event benefit Camp Summit and our barrier-free camping programs for children and adults with disabilities. The support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers ensures that our remarkable campers will always have a camp to call their own.

We have numerous sponsorship opportunities available, so grab a ticket, reserve a table, or even sponsor our saloon!  Register online to secure your tickets today! Visit the event website at www.campsummittx.org/boots for more information and to complete your online registration. 

If you would like to donate an item for our auction please contact Jeanie Lawson at [email protected] or 972-484-8900 ext. 109.  Small and large items are welcome! If you are interested in volunteering for the event or becoming involved with the event committee, please contact Georgia White at [email protected] or 972.484.8900 ext. 107.

We look forward to seeing you there!

* Photo provided by Camp Summit



Update: Daisy Mae Has Less Legs To Stand On, But More Love To Support Her

It’s amazing that Daisy Mae, the white Labrador pup, managed to pull herself out of the gangbuster collision on Tuesday, July 11, and survived in a nearby ravine for days without water and comfort. Thanks to Mutts and Mayhem, she was found, rescued and taken to a vet.

Posted by Mutts & Mayhem Animal Rescue on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

But after checking with canine orthopedic specialists and her loving owner Erica Cruz, Daisy’s back left leg had to amputated due to the devastation.

She is now on pain killers, recovering and looking forward to a reunion with her family.

Nigel

According to four-year-old Nigel (a three-legged Pyrenees/poodle), “We tripods really get along quite well. Why there are even websites dedicated to our  ‘tripawd’ situation. In some way we feel so sorry for you humans with only two legs. Daisy is young and has a loving family. In no time she’ll quickly adapt to her new way of getting around.

“By the way, can you fix me up on a date with Daisy when she’s up and about?”

While Daisy and Erica are still recovering from the shock of the accident and their physical damage, their being together will help the mending.

But there’s still the funding for Daisy’s medical treatment.  Mutts and Mayhem is still trying to help ease the financial challenges that Daisy’s facing. It’s simple. Just go to this page and right under the amount of donation, click “Animal(s) you would like to sponsor.” That’s where you write “Daisy Mae.”

If you can help show your appreciation with ca-ching, wonderful. If the money just ain’t available, just send good thoughts.

* Video courtesy of Mutts and Mayhem

Canine Companions For Independence Graduation At Kinkeade Campus Changed Lives For Both Humans And Their New BFF

Linda and Terrence Marler

May is filled with graduations and that applies to pooches as well as youngsters. On Friday, May 5, Canine Companions for Independence held a graduation ceremony at its Canine Companions for Independence Kinkeade Campus at the Baylor Scott and White Health facilities in Irving. It was overflowing with humans like Jan Rees-Jones with Susan McSherry, Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy Coordinator Linda Marler and her husband Terrence Marler as well as four-legged types.

Before the graduation took place, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade, who had been the driving force for Texas’ only CCI, teased new Baylor Scott and White CEO Jim Hinton, who had just recently arrived in North Texas from New Mexico: “When Jim first got here, he asked me what are those green objects. I told him, ‘Jim, I know you’re from New Mexico, but those are trees. We have a lot of those here.’ ”

Jim and Kristen Hinton and Ed Kinkeade

Following Ed, Jim told the crowd, “I love my wife first, I love my dogs second and I love my kids third and I’m completely unapologetic about that.”

Despite the Hinton dogs still living for the time being in New Mexico, Jim confessed that he does Facetime with them. “The good news is that they recognize my voice and I’m still a little bit of a wag. I miss those dogs terribly. To me this effort is a convergence of two things that I am passionate about: one is dogs and the other one is healthcare, taking care of people. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Judge Ed Kinkeade. It is his vision; it is his passion; it is his unique way that has caused this to exist.”

Jim recalled his attending the previous graduation and “I asked the question that all first-time guests ask, ‘Why are all these Kleenex boxes sitting around?’ And so for the past several months, I’ve been building up this moment with my wife [Kristen] and she is with me today. I’ve noticed that she’s already getting a little teary and we haven’t even started the darn program yet. So, she’s going to be a mess before this thing is over. ”

Luckily, there were boxes of tissues placed throughout the room. Sure, it was Cinco de Mayo to the rest of the world, but it was a parting of relationships for some in the room and for others it was the coming together for a lifelong journey.

Canine Companion for Independence puppy in training

Canine Companion for Independence puppy graduate Dutch II

One group consisted of young Labradors that for two years had been raised through the “awkward years,” thanks to volunteer puppy raisers. These dogs had been loved, hugged and been exposed to the world. Now, they were leaving the comfort of their homes and stepping up to a new level of education that would take place at the facility for months by skilled trainers. Their goal was to become the “companions” for those in need.  

Judy Schumpert and #18

A word about the puppy raisers; they range from all types. Some are families; some are prisoners; and then there was Judy Schumpert, who was turning in her 18th dog and already training her 19th : “I’m either on a mission for God or a glutton for punishment. I’ve got to keep doing it until I can do it no more.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone living, loving and working with a puppy for two years and then giving them up. New puppy raisers Mary Catherine Lombardi and Erica Hotvedt admitted, “When we got started, I think we knew what we were getting into. But I think the final goodbyes are harder than we expected.”  They recognized that their puppy Yoshi III, however, was destined for a truly remarkable role.

That purpose became so apparent when the graduation of the new teams took place. For the past two weeks, the seven humans had arrived and lived at the facility to be matched and trained with their new best friends.

Edgar

Chosen as class spokesperson for the graduating teams, Edgar, with Chase V at his side, eloquently told of the importance of this program for the graduating humans. One was an autistic child, whose outbursts would “calm down immediately” when her pooch, Tess VI, “came to the rescue.” Thomas, whose weakened motor skills caused by cerebral palsy resulted in his dropping things to the floor, had been helped by  Atlas IV retrieving them for him. Wheel-chair-bound youngster Lauren‘s arm was subject to bouts of spasticity and limited control, but when Egan II lay down at her side, it was still and under control. Edgar himself admitted that there were times when he would fall out of his wheelchair and Chase’s bark command would sound the alert for assistance. Thanks to Dutch II, wheelchair-bound Lauren was looking forward to getting out on her own and not being “a burden on my parents.” Sara, who works with first responders in dealing with PTSD, would be assisted in the future by Aiken II, who would be “the non-judging entity in the room that helps the patients relax.” 

From the left: (seated) CCI graduate team Lauren and Egan; (standing) Puppy raisers Andrew, Ella, Mark, Angela and Lauren’s mother

Edgar continued, “These stories are a mere excerpt of what has happened in the past 10 days. Can you imagine what is going to happen in the next 10 years? All of us graduates would like to say thank you for being here today, whether you’re a donor, a puppy raiser, a volunteer. Even if this is your first time with Canine Companions, that’s how it starts. That how you get the ball rolling.”

Summing up the two weeks of team training, he addressed his fellow graduates: “We arrived as seven families, but today we graduate as one. And here we stand on the brink of a 10-year-journey. It won’t always be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. All the troubles that we deal with daily will soon be alleviated by an incredible new resource, my new best friend that is unconditionally at our side just waiting to help anyway they can. Thank you.”

As the new teams headed home for a new life of independence, the new recruits were taken to their CCI spotless digs for the next step in their education to be a life-changing partner for someone in need.   

Lauren and her mother

And that’s why the boxes of Kleenex were throughout the hall.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: Canine Companions For Independence Graduation

Canine Companions for Independence South Central Training Center

Unlike many May graduates who have diplomas but are in need of jobs, the Canine Companions for Independence graduates left the stage for a lifelong career with their human partners on Friday, May 5. Also as part of the ceremony at the Kinkeade Campus at Baylor Scott and White Health facilities in Irving were the puppies that have been raised by volunteers for nearly two years. They were turned over by their puppy raisers to CCI trainers to see if they, too, would make the grade.

As the class spokesperson said, “We arrived as seven families, but today we graduate as one.” Needless to say, there was plenty of Kleenex put to use for the standing-room-only crowd.

Lauren and her mother

As the post is being completed, check out the pooches and people at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Seasonal Dip In Temperatures Approaches

Some folks have been complaining about temperatures hitting the upper 80s this month. After all, it is November and it just seems downright unnatural to wear shorts when you have a herd of woollies in your closet bleating to come out.

February 2015

February 2015 (File photo)

Well, pack up the shorts and pull out the cashmeres because today the temps are going to be dipping like a debutante on stage. Word has it that Saturday night, it just might hit the upper 30s. But this first cold front of the season ain’t going to be anything like the freezers of 2011 or 2015. Still, why not prepare now for what probably lies ahead in the weeks to come?

For oldtimers, you know the drill. For newcomers, here are some suggestions:

Snow covers neighborhoods (File photo)

February 2011 (File photo)

  • Bundle up with gloves, caps and jackets, if you’re going to catch a Friday night lights game.
  • Remember to take care of the three P’s — pets, plants and plumbing. It’s not going to freeze, but why not prepare those pipes now?
  • Put a blanket and some water in your car. Who knows? If you get stuck, you just might want a gulp of water and a wrapper until you get a tow.
  • Have your HVAC checked. It’s been a while since you turned on the heating element.
  • Check on your senior buds and physically challenged folks. Cold weather seems to hit them harder than you hardy types. See if their windows and doors are sealed to keep out the cold. And while you’re at it check yours, too.
  • It’s not too late to have a chimney sweep check your fireplace. You might also want them to clean your clothes dryer, too. After all, you don’t want the holiday glow to be your home going up in smoke.
  • Stock up on all those comfort foods. Homes just seem to handle the chill when hot chocolate is served or brownies are in the oven.
  • Remember those old blankets that you replaced with brand new ones? Why not donate the older ones to Goodwill or Dallas Animal Services?
  • Stock up on batteries, candles and matches.
  • Get a book and a couple of board games and/or jigsaw puzzles. If you lose electricity, you’ll find high tech goes down the drain and these old-timers can come in handy to handle the boredom.
  • Buy a toy. No, it has absolutely nothing to do with staving off the cold, but you just know you’re going to want to donate to a toy drive, so why not buy something now!

The Slipper Club Of Dallas Provides Both Volunteers And Funding For 2016-2017 Beneficiary Rays Of Light

There may be those who think the Slipper Club of Dallas gals are former debs who simply know how to party. Oh, so very wrong. Ages ago, membership was dominated by non-bowing types, who wanted to combine having fun and raising funds.

This past month the Slipper Club board volunteered with Rays Of Light at the Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, where they were “paired with a special needs child and became their mentor and friend for the night. From basketball to puppets to arts and crafts to computer games, it was an enriching experience for both the child and board member.”

Slipper Club Board volunteer night*

Slipper Club Board volunteer night*

Rays Of Light provides free, quality respite care to families with children with special needs. The Slipper Club members are “striving to lend support and relief to these families through our respite care program called ‘Night Lights.’”

Thanks to their Olympic-themed event hosted at Barley House in August, the Club was able to provide close to $3,000 for Rays of Light.

But this is only the beginning of their campaign to assist Rays Of Light. In addition to Night Lights, they’re hoping to top last year’s total of $53,000 that went to I Have A Dream Foundation at their Slipper Club Gala on Saturday, February 4, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

* Photo provided by The Slipper Club Of Dallas

North Texas Giving Day Booster: My Possibilities

“According to recent census figures, more than 230,000 individuals with a cognitive disability reside in the DFW Metropolitan area. Representing a population that is roughly the size of the entire city of Plano, adults with special needs have very few educational opportunities available once they age out of the public school system.

My Possibilities**

My Possibilities**

“At My Possibilities (MP) we seek to fill this void by providing quality educational programs that challenge the status quo within the industry. Individuals in our programs, lovingly referred to as HIPsters (Hugely Important People), are given opportunities to advance their development in independent living, pre-vocational and vocational skills, health and wellness, community involvement, creative expression, and self-advocacy. My Possibilities goes far and beyond what other programs offer within the state of Texas.

Tripp and Debbie*

Tripp and Debbie*

“One unique area of education offered at My Possibilities is the Culinary Arts Program, which was launched in 2014. Two full-time instructors, who both have extensive backgrounds in the culinary industry, teach the HIPsters the basics of practical home cooking, including food safety, food preparation, how to operate appliances, and how to shop at local grocery stores, all of which cultivate development of their independent living skills.

Adam, Nikki, Dirk, Diana, Amanda, Justin, Rachel and Brian**

Adam, Nikki, Dirk, Diana, Amanda, Justin, Rachel and Brian**

“’As the Culinary Arts Program grew over the following years it became obvious that the culinary world aligned seamlessly with the mission and objectives of My Possibilities. “We realized that a large group of HIPsters were demonstrating a natural aptitude in the kitchen, and furthermore, those individuals could potentially gain employment in the industry,’ said Michael Thomas, Executive Director for the organization.

“From this success came the creation of My Possibilities Catering Services in September 2015. In this program a group of HIPsters are paid employees of My Possibilities, and they prep, cook, and serve food for special events in the community. Just in the first year the HIPsters catered over 40 events for up to three hundred people at a time. The team’s reputation grew, their experience reached new levels of proficiency, and they now have the capacity to cater 7-10 events per week. HIPsters with a keen interest in food preparation or other aspects of the culinary arts now have a vocational pathway to develop professional skills, earn income, and experience the pride that accompanies success.

Culinary Class at Whole Foods Plano**

Culinary Class at Whole Foods Plano**

“Regardless of the interest in working within their communities, employment opportunities for people with disabilities are lacking. With such a lack of diversity in the workforce, training at My Possibilities allows the HIPsters to gain relevant work experience, enabling them to become viable candidates for employment in the community. The combination of hands on training and support from the MP University job coach ensures a secure future for an otherwise underemployed population.

“Brian is one HIPster who has benefitted from the many educational programs offered at My Possibilities. Almost a year ago Brian took a class to receive his Food Handler License in the City of Plano, and today he works full-time in the kitchen at Sunrise Senior Living. Because of the leadership and guidance he received from the culinary instructors, experience attained with MP Catering team, and onsite job training with a certified job coach, Brian was able to prove his value as an employee.

“Alongside over 2,000 non-profits in North Texas, My Possibilities will be participating in North Texas Giving Day on Thursday, September 22. This is a brilliant opportunity for people across the nation to come together to support the North Texas community. Donations made to My Possibilities on this day will help take their innovative programs to an even higher level. Make your donation on September 22 at www.MyPossibilitiesGivingDay.org!”

-By Lauren McCormick, My Possibilities Social Media and Marketing Coordinator

* Photo credit: David Ochoa 
** Graphic and photos provided by My Possibilities
______

In seven years, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $119 million into the North Texas community. In 2015, $33 million was raised through more than 118,000 gifts benefiting over 2,000 nonprofits.

On Thursday, September 22, support My Possibilities by linking here and spreading the word. #NTxGivingDay

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Synthesia

According The Warren Center’s Art And Music Gala Co-Chair Ben Smithee,

Ben Smithee*

Ben Smithee*

“As a member of The Friends of The Warren Center we are excited to be bringing a new event to the Dallas charity scene — The Art & Music Gala, Synthesia. The event will include five renowned musicians who will compose an original composition inspired by this year’s theme of ‘Synesthesia’ – a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Each composition will then be delivered to five world-class artists to create five one of a kind works of art – purely inspired by the compositions. The result is a night of celebration and performance where each original composition and its inspired work of art will be unveiled and performed live at the Gala. Each completely unique piece of art and original manuscript/recording of the compositions that inspired will be auctioned off live.

“This has always been a vision of mine to incorporate art and music into a one of a kind event by offering guests a unique experience. We will be announcing our headliner (think Dave Matthews Band), artists and musicians throughout the fall at our pre-Art & Music events.

Synesthesia*

Synesthesia*

“As a resource for the Dallas area since 1968, The Warren Center has provided over 15,000 families with needed tools, including individualized therapy for their child’s developmental delay, critical information and resources on developmental milestones, and guidance as parents become advocates for their child’s future. Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception, seated dinner, live entertainment, silent and live auction, creative gallery experiences with local artists, jewelry makers, fashion designers, musicians, children’s art area and more.

“The Art & Music Gala, Synthesia, will be held on Friday, February 24, from 6:00 p.m. -10:30 p.m. at the Southside on Lamar Ballroom (1409 S. Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75215). Table Sponsorships begin at $2,500 with underwriting opportunities beginning at $2,500.  For more information, please contact Tara Null at 972.490.9055 or 214.709.8901.

“We hope the city of Dallas will embrace this brand new event and help us support our artists, musicians and The Warren Center’s mission.”

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 15th Annual Boots And Bandanas Benefit Dinner And Auction

According to 15th Annual Boots and Bandanas Chair Meg Frainey,

It’s that time again ladies and gents! Grab your Stetson, polish your boots and scoot on down to Camp Summit’s 15th Annual Boots and Bandanas Benefit Dinner and Auction presented by The Teague Family!  The event will be held on Thursday, November 3, at Eddie Deen’s Ranch in downtown Dallas and you won’t want to miss it!  With true Texas BBQ and entertainment ranging from live and silent auctions, to wine pulls and live Texas music from Shoot Low Sheriff, it’s sure to be our best year yet!

Linda Teague, Kenny and Melissa Wolfe*

Linda Teague, Kenny and Melissa Wolfe*

Since 1947, Camp Summit has been providing barrier-free camping experiences to children, adults and seniors with disabilities.  The support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers ensures that our remarkable campers will always have a camp to call their own.

We have several sponsorship opportunities available, so you can grab a ticket, reserve a table, or even sponsor our saloon!  Register online to secure your tickets today! Visit the Boots and Bandanas website for more information and to complete your online registration.

If you would like to donate an item to our auction, please contact Jeanie Lawson.  Small and large items are welcome!  If you are interested in volunteering for the event or becoming involved with the event committee, please contact Andria Scully.

Proceeds from the Boots and Bandanas Dinner and Live Auction will enable Camp Summit to further our mission of providing barrier-free outdoor experiences that promote personal growth and foster independence for children and adults with disabilities.

We hope to see you there!

* Photo provided by Camp Summit

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

According to Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon Chair Kara Axley and Auxiliary President Di Johnston,

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

“Equest has enhanced the lives of children and adults using horses to bring hope and healing through equine assisted therapies for thirty five years. The annual Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon, Riding High, will be Tuesday, October 4, at Brook Hollow Golf Club and will continue the 35th anniversary celebration by raising much-needed funds for Equest’s unique therapy programs.

“Today, Equest is the leader in equine assisted therapy and serves hundreds of riders annually. These riders include those with cerebral palsy and autism as well as orthopedic ailments. Additionally, Equest serves our country’s brave veterans through our ‘Horses for Heroes’ program.

“When Equest Women’s Auxiliary founder Louise Griffeth started the organization thirty years ago, Equest was known as Freedom Ride and many people were unfamiliar with the cause and how to become supporters. A lot has changed in the past three decades as Equest has received national recognition for its work and the Women’s Auxiliary is a thriving organization comprised of hundreds of dedicated women who work tirelessly to provide invaluable funding.

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

“Riding High will be a fun-filled day of fashion, great food and a glimpse into the workings of Equest programming. Fashion icon Jan Strimple will produce the fashion show with some of Highland Park Village’s most noted international retailers showing their collections.  Highland Park Village is the presenting sponsor of the luncheon and we are most grateful to the Al Hill Jr. family for their generosity.

“In addition to the fashion show, we will honor beloved community leader Lindalyn Adams with the 2016 Equest Community Service Award for many contributions and advocacy for Equest over three decades. We are also pleased to have longtime Equest supporters Lezlie and Bill Noble serve as Honorary Luncheon Chairs.

“We hope you will join us for this worthy and life changing cause. Please visit www.equest.org for more information.”

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Fantasy Football Draft Night

According to The Warren Center 23rd Annual Fantasy Football Draft Night Chairman Mike Austin,

Mike Austin*

Mike Austin*

“We are excited to raise money for The Warren Center. It has provided over 15,000 families with needed tools, including individualized therapy for their child’s developmental delay, critical information and resources on developmental milestones, and guidance as parents become advocates for their child’s future.

“Former Dallas Cowboys Randy White will serve as our celebrity host and help our guests draft their own Fantasy Football team. This year’s draft night will host a cocktail reception, dinner buffet, live and silent auction, live surprises, Heads or Tails game and opportunity to win Dallas Cowboys 2017-2018 season tickets.

Randy White and Timmy Newsome*

Randy White and Timmy Newsome*

“We hope you will grab your football loving family and friends, and join us for this special night.”

“The 23rd Annual Fantasy Football Draft Night will be held on Friday, August 26, from 6:00pm-10:30pm at the Hotel Intercontinental Dallas (15201 Dallas Parkway Dallas, TX 75001). Table sponsorships begin at $3,000 with underwriting opportunities beginning at $2,500.  For more information, please contact Tara Null at 972.490.9055 or 214.709.8901.

* Photos provided by The Warren Center

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Helping Our Heroes

According to Helping Our Heroes Event Co-Chairs Michael Marasco and Travis Wilson,

Travis Wilson and Michael Marasco*

Travis Wilson and Michael Marasco*

“Helping Our Heroes is a local organization 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. We honor heroes from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard, as well as local police, firemen and first responders.

“We invite you to join us for our Sixth Annual Dinner and Golf Tournament. Coinciding with the 15th anniversary of 9/11, we will gather on Sunday, September 11, 2016, at the Frontiers of Flight Museum for dinner and a wonderful silent auction. General James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, will also be in attendance as the 2016 Guest of Honor. The following day, golfers will enjoy the day at Brookhaven Country Club where our annual golf tournament will take place, complete with lunch and an award celebration.

“Proceeds from the events will benefit Semper Fi Fund, which offers immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and Folds of Honor, which provides annual educational scholarships to the families of those killed or disabled while in active duty.

Helping Our Heroes**

Helping Our Heroes**

“In 2016, we aim to raise $200,000 for Semper Fi Fund and Folds of Honor. To view ticket packages or to purchase tickets, please visit the Helping Our Heroes website.

“We hope you will join us for dinner and a fun day of golf as we strive to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their families!”

* Photo credit: Rhi Lee 
** Graphic provided by Helping Our Heroes

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Gala At The ‘Gait

According to ManeGait’s 2016 Gala at the ‘Gait Chair Landon Darling Schneider,

Landon Darling Schneider and Zach Schneider*

Landon Darling Schneider and Zach Schneider*

ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship will host its 9th Annual Gala at the ‘Gait, presented by Stereo East Home Theater, on Saturday, October 1. This year’s theme is ‘Soar On Wings Like Eagles’ – Isaiah 40:31. Gala at the ‘Gait blends elegance and Texas-style panache, transforming ManeGait’s equestrian therapy center into a welcoming ballroom. Sporting their finest Western attire, more than 700 guests attend this annual fundraiser, which will feature dishes from a host of local restaurants, an extensive live and silent auction, and, of course, dancing the night away to live music.

“Located on a rolling, 14-acre site in Collin County, ManeGait provides equestrian therapy to adults and children with physical, emotional, cognitive, sensory and behavioral disabilities. Certified instructors lead the program together with 350 volunteers per week and 20 skilled therapy horses.

“Gala at the ‘Gait is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser with proceeds from the event supporting 40 percent of its operating budget. These monies allow ManeGait to support riders from all across North Texas, including those in Dallas and Collin County.

“The night’s entertainment begins with guests being greeted upon arrival by ManeGait’s therapy horses. Once inside the arena party space, attendees can sample some of North Texas’ best restaurants in a ‘Taste of’ format with dishes from restaurant partners including: III Forks, Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, Mexican Sugar cocina y cantina, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen, Patina Green Home & Market, Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen, Velvet Taco, Ida Claire, Sixty Vines, Hutchins BBQ, Cadillac Pizza Pub, Taverna Rossa,  Three Sixty at Gentle Creek Country Club, Nothing Bundt Cakes, The Ranch|Las Colinas, Tupps Brewery, Emporium Pies and Whole Foods Market.

“General admission tickets are $200 each. Sponsorships start at $2,500. For information, visit www.manegait.org or call LeAnn AuBuchon at 469.422.6780.”

* Photo credit: Lori Wilson Photography

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Goodwill Dallas’ “The Lunch”

Suzanne and Jim Johnston*

Suzanne and Jim Johnston*

According to “The Lunch” Luncheon Co-Chairs Suzanne and Jim Johnston,

“We are honored to serve as chairs of the second annual event, ‘The Lunch,’ on Friday, September 9th, with Keynote Speaker, Dr. Condoleezza Rice benefitting Goodwill Dallas. Goodwill is all about jobs and people, and through jobs, helping each individual reach his or her full potential.

“At last year’s event, we witnessed what can happen when great minds, enthusiastic volunteers and the most generous people in Dallas work together toward a common goal. ‘The Lunch’ has a significant, direct and immediate impact on members of our community who are disadvantaged or have a mental or physical disability.

Condoleezza Rice (File photo)

Condoleezza Rice (File photo)

“In 2015, Goodwill served 3,132 people and placed 1,262 men and women into jobs. Yet, the need for Goodwill’s services outweighs our capacity, and every day fellow citizens continue to struggle to make ends meet. As individuals, we innately crave purpose, a sense of accomplishment and self-respect fostered by acknowledgement for our contributions to life around us. It is heartening to see such shared dedication toward a job creation and to see that passion translated into dollars to help members of our community to become wage-earning, tax-paying citizens gain dignity and self-worth for themselves and their families.

“We personally invite you to join us, again, this year and ask for your support for another successful event to expand Goodwill’s job creation program and services. We are so very grateful to the citizens of Dallas – our donors, corporate sponsors, volunteers, and to those who support our mission.  Thank you for your continued support. We could not do this without you!

“’The Lunch’ sponsors, to date, are

  • “Presenting Sponsor The David B. Miller Family Foundation,
  • “Legacy Sponsor Michele and Jack M. Lafield and
  • “Champion Sponsors The Hoglund Foundation and Pat and Jane Bolin Donor Advised Fund.

“Sustaining Sponsors are Caren Prothro/Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Kathryn and Stephen Arata, Bank of Texas, Cardinal Mainstream, Suzanne M. and Lance Charriere, Cityplace Company/ForestCity Realty Trust Inc., Dian Graves Owen Foundation, Sharon and Steve Folsom, The Ginger Murchison Foundation, Haynes and Boone LLP, Hegi Family, Larry and Kathy Helm, Al G. Hill Jr., Dr. Richard E. Hoffman, Suzanne and James M. Johnston, Lisbeth Minyard and Paul Lokey, Carol and Patrick McEvoy, Pat Morgan and Charles McEvoy, Harriet Miers, MoneyGram International, Inc., Neiman Marcus, Sarah Perot, PlainsCapital Bank, RGT Wealth Advisors, The Rosewood Company, Lynne and Roy Sheldon, TDIndustries Inc., Tejon Energy, Turner Construction Company.

“Supporting Sponsors are Amegy Bank, Atmos Energy, Kathy and Harlan Crow, Durham Family Foundation, Dianne and Don Patterson, The Kroger Company and Southern Methodist University.”

* Photo provided by Goodwill Dallas

JUST IN: Rick Van Hooser Named LaunchAbility’s New Executive Director

After months of interviewing and vetting, the LaunchAbility Board of Trustees have named Rick Van Hooser as the organization’s new executive director.

Rick Van Hooser*

Rick Van Hooser*

According to LaunchAbility Board President Karen Wald, “As our client population continues to grow as quickly as the corporate interest in hiring adults with diverse abilities, Rick Van Hooser’s leadership couldn’t come at a more exciting and necessary time for LaunchAbility. Rick brings with him deep experience with large nonprofit organizations as well as an ability to work hand-in-hand with corporate partners. Our entire board agrees that under Rick’s leadership LaunchAbility will continue to serve our clients optimally and grow so that we can impact even more adults with diverse abilities.”

Rick’s experience within the non-profit sector includes Big Thought, the United Way of Tarrant County, American Heart Association, Autism Speaks and Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In assuming the leadership of the organization that assists adults with disabilities and their families, Rick said, “I would like to thank the LaunchAbility Board of Trustees and staff for welcoming me to this incredible organization. With a history that spans over five decades, LaunchAbility is at a critical point in both opportunities and challenges. I look forward to working with our employees, clients, donors and corporate partners as we continue LaunchAbility’s vision to deliver much needed services that help bridge a path to independence.”

* Photo provided by LaunchAbility

JUST IN: Suzy Williams Name Executive Director For Connecting Point Of Park Cities

Egads! Summer was supposed to be snooze time, but it’s turning out to be “Announcement Time.” So, over at Connecting Point of Park Cities (CPPC), there’s been a shift of leadership. CPPC Executive Director Jamie Reynolds has just recently completed her masters degree in educational leadership and administration at Dallas Baptist University and decided to “pursue other interests.”

Jamie Reynolds (File photo)

Jamie Reynolds (File photo)

Suzy Williams*

Suzy Williams*

Not to worry about CPPC leadership. It was just announced that Susan “Suzy” Williams is taking over the leadership position after serving as director of development at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

Having earned her BBA at SMU and her MBA from the University of Dallas, the longtime Park Cities resident has been “very active in the community as a member of Junior League of Dallas, Cattle Baron’s Ball, La Fiesta Guild and Friends of Highland Park Library.”

In addition to holding CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) accreditation, she is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

According to Suzy, “With over 30 years of working and serving in the Park Cities, I am excited to have the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for adults with disabilities. Our goal is to connect these adults with their community and a variety of opportunities.”

CPPC Board President Christina Murzin agrees, saying, “Suzy’s involvement in our community is invaluable to our fundraising efforts.”

* Photo credit: Jan Osborn

JUST IN: LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons Turns In Her Resignation

It was just three weeks ago that LaunchAbility had its annual fundraiser, “A Special Evening With …” at the Meyerson with comedian Martin Short on stage to the delight of hundreds. Now word arrives that LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons has turned in her resignation that will become effective on Tuesday, May 31.

Having joined LaunchAbility in 2010, she led the organization’s “Supported Employment Services and launch[ed] the innovative Academy program.” It was in 2013 that she was made CEO.

Kathryn Parsons (File photo)

Kathryn Parsons (File photo)

According to LaunchAbility Board President Karen Wald, “Kathryn’s decision to leave reflects her personal wishes to pursue new professional endeavors. She left the agency through the evolution that focused on expanding services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Board sincerely thanks Kathryn for her hard work and tireless dedication in serving clients and other valuable stakeholders of LaunchAbility. We wish her the very best.”

In the past two years under Kathryn’s leadership, the organization has

  • Increased the number of adults placed in jobs. Each adult placed in full-time employment saves taxpayers $47,000 annually in reduced social services and contribution back to the community.
  • Grown the Academy program as employers like Novitex, Aramark and Office Depot see the advantage of onsite training, suited specifically to their workforce needs. Since inception the program has helped double the number of successful annual hires. Additionally the program has grown to partner with local school districts to prepare youth ages 18-22 in special education in high school to transition into the workforce.
  • Initiated programs to expand opportunities for people with Autism in technology (IT) careers. In March, LaunchAbility led “The 5000: a Global Summit on Autism in IT” and announced a pilot program with AT&T to train people with autism in software testing. Modeled after our highly successful Academy, the pilot will include best practices and experience gained by our specialty in Autism. The model is one that can successfully be replicated in other companies and other cities across the nation.

It was also during her tenure that the Bill Cosby “situation” blew up just days after announcing that the comedian would be the headliner at the annual gala. Kathryn orchestrated the cancellation of the Cosby appearance and replaced him with Dana Carvey.

Dr. Bill Behrendt has undertaken the search for Kathryn’s replacement.

Suzanne And Bill Murray Hosted The LaunchAbility Patron Party Preparing For A Special Evening With Martin Short

There’s just something absolutely charming about neighborhoods with homes set back from curb-less streets. It conjures up visions of communities like Loudoun, Greenwich, and Westchester with gargantuan homes with backyards bigger than some counties.

Linus and Joyce Wright

Linus and Joyce Wright

Well, one of those residences was just settling into its home-sweet-home state for Suzanne and Bill Murray, when they hosted the LaunchAbility’s “A Special Evening With Martin Short” patron party on Thursday, March 3.

It was also a post-birthday according to honoree Linus Wright, who had just turned 89 on Tuesday, March 1. According to his way-too-adorable wife Joyce Wright, their story was just too good to be true. Seems they had both attended the same grade school. He was a grade ahead of her. Over the years, they went their separate ways marrying others. But, then single, they attended their high school reunion.

Rebecca Pendergrass, Emily Pendergrass and Roy Pendergrass

Rebecca Pendergrass, Emily Pendergrass and Roy Pendergrass

Joyce claims that Linus swears they spotted each other across the room, came together and kissed. The petite Joyce laughed and admitted, “Everyone was kissing!”

Another family attending the reception was the Pendergrass clan including Rebecca and Roy Pendergrass with daughter Emily Pendergrass. When asked who picked out Emily’s light lavender knit top, the trio all agreed, “Mom!”

Reed and Steve Gendler

Reed and Steve Gendler

Across the way LaunchAbility Volunteer of the Year Steve Gendler and wife Reed Gendler were receiving congratulations. It was so very appropriate for Steve, who has been on the board for more than 20 years. It was back in 1995 when he was president of the LaunchAbility board and longtime organization advocate Milton Levy announced his retirement from the board. To honor Milton, the board not only created the Outstanding Volunteer Award and presented it to him, they named it after Milton. And it was Steve who presented the first award.

On Tuesday, April 5, at the fundraising gala chaired by Hilda and Mike Galvan, Steve will be presented the Milton Levy Outstanding Volunteer Award that has been created by artist Brad Oldham.

BTW, if you’ve ever attended a Martin Short performance, you know it’s gonna be a great time at the Meyerson.

MySweet2016Goals: Tara Null

According to The Warren Center Development Director Tara Null,

Tara Null*

Tara Null*

“My goal for 2016 is to unite mothers and fathers of young children and encourage them to join the Friends of The Warren Center Auxiliary Group.

“As a friend, they will be invited to exclusive events benefiting The Warren Center and assist our staff by sharing The Warren Centers mission of assuring that children with developmental differences or disabilities, and their families, receive the resources and support they need to reach their full potential. To learn more https://www.thewarrencenter.org/membership/.”

* Photo provided by 
The Warren Center

MySweetWishList: Connecting Point Of Park Cities’ “Emerald City Connects”

According to Connecting Point of Park Cities (CPPC) Board Member and “Emerald City Connects” Co-Chair Jan Osborn,

Scott and Jan Osborn (File photo)

Scott and Jan Osborn (File photo)

“On Wednesday, April 13, 2015, we are thrilled to host ‘Emerald City Connects’ from 6-10 p.m. at the Belo Mansion to help raise critical funds for Connecting Point of Park Cities, an all-inclusive day program for adults with disabilities that offers a wide range of educational, vocational, social and recreational services for adults with special needs.

“Two years ago, our MySweetCharity Wish was granted, as we successfully raised enough money to open our doors at Central Christian Church. Due to the staggering lack of opportunities for adults with disabilities in our community, we are already close to capacity. Our wish is to continue to build and expand, and that can be made possible with support from our community, sponsors and donors. This year, we invite you to join us for ‘Emerald City Connects,’ which will include live entertainment by Emerald City, as well as a silent auction.

“My husband Scott and I are honored to be co-chairing this event, and we hope you will consider helping our wishes come true by attending our celebration! Tickets for the evening are $175 each and sponsorship opportunities begin at $1,000. For tickets or donation information, please contact Hollee Mills at 214.538.6823, via email at [email protected] or visit www.mycppc.org. Space is limited and reservations are required.”

-By Jan Osborn, Connecting Point of Park Cities (CPPC) board member and “Emerald City Connects” co-chair

Round Robin November 19: Mad Hatter’s Reveal, Art Of Film Patron Party And Vine And Dine

With Thanksgiving just one week away, the evening of Thursday, November 19, seemed like a Republican debate with all types of fundraising activities vying for attention. And, boy, did they get it!

The Lee Park Junior Conservancy was doing a very happy hour for the young professional crowd at Texas Ale Project on N. Riverfront. A percentage of sales was going to the group’s support for “the care and conservation of Lee Park and Arlington Hall.”

Mad Hatter’s Tea Reveal

Jocelyn White, Renee Farren, Connie Carreker and Nerissa Von Helpenstill

Jocelyn White, Renee Farren, Connie Carreker and Nerissa Von Helpenstill

And speaking of care and conservation, the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum was filling Tootsie’s to sip champagne and more importantly to learn 2016 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Jocelyn White’s plans for the Thursday, April 21st fundraiser.

Connie Carreker hat

Connie Carreker hat

First off, the honorary chair should have been nobody’s surprise — Connie Carreker. And already living up to honorary responsibilities, Connie was wearing a hat that promoted the event reading, “Wish You Were Here” on the white sunhat brim.

With typical sparkling personality, Jocie revealed the theme for the event at the Arboretum would be “Steel Magnolias” with fashions on the runway in Rosine Hall from Tootsie’s and produced by Jan Strimple. Well, duh!

Tootsies fashions

Tootsies fashions

Steel Magnolias logo designed by Rongrong Devoe*

Steel Magnolias logo designed by Rongrong Devoe*

But she wasn’t finished. Unveiling the logo by Houston illustrator Rongrong Devoe for the heady affair, she announced that Linda Spina would be in charge of the judges, who would include Gary Riggs; “floral engineer” Shane Walker would be creating the luncheon centerpieces and Patricia Armstrong would be chairing underwriting.

With the announcement of the theme, smoke was seen arising from the heads of Women’s Council President Reneé Farren, Mary Lee Cox and Nancy Labadie on how their chapeaus would vie for prizes in the hat competition. The clock is ticking. Get those designs going.

The Art Of Film Patron Party

Brett and Lester Levy

Brett and Lester Levy

Brett and Lester Levy Jr.’s love of the late artist Andy Warhol was obvious to all as they entered the Levy home. In the entry of their Highland Park residence were the Warhol portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Chairman Mao.

Was this interest new? No, according to Lester, who’s also a photographer, he started collecting art when he was in his 20s.

And exactly what was the connection between the Levys’ Warhols and their hosting The Art of Film patron party the night before the Dallas Film Society’s fundraiser? Simple. The dinner and conversation with featured actress Isabella Rossellini would be taking place at The Space, where an incredible collection of Warhol drawings and photos would serve as a backdrop for the film lovers.

Seems so right, since Isabella was one of the late artist’s muses and friends.

Stan Levenson, Stacy Girard and Lee Papert

Stan Levenson, Stacy Girard and Lee Papert

In the crowd was Honorary Co-Chair Stan Levenson telling Art of Film Co-Chair Stacy Girard and Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert that wife/Co-Chair Barbara Levenson was under the weather, but she would definitely be showing up the next night fit as a fiddle.

Vine and Dine

At the Neiman Marcus flagship store in downtown Dallas, meantime, about 145 guests gathered for the eighth annual Vine and Dine event benefiting Ability Connection Texas, which provides a range of services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford**

Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford**

The fundraiser, co-chaired this year by Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford, provided the nonprofit group with money to “empower individuals to live the best life possible by removing barriers that inhibit independence and autonomy.”

Now that Margaret has “retired” from her duties at PaperCity, she’s turned her sights to supporting various efforts like Ability Connection Texas in addition to watching son/Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford playing football on Sundays.

DeeDee Lee, Kayla Roughton and Inette Brown**

DeeDee Lee, Kayla Roughton and Inette Brown**

Pam and Vin Perella**

Pam and Vin Perella**

Among those enjoying the festive evening were new Uptown residents DeeDee and Jim Lee (they sold their big old home and decided to downsize and revitalize in the Uptown neighborhood), Debbie and Chuck Wilson, Lynn McBee, Meredith and Jack Woodworth, Kayla Roughton, Inette Brown, Kristin and Quintan Cockerell and Vin Perella with wife Pam Perella, who was receiving congrats on being announced just a couple of days before as the chair for the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball.

Jack Woodworth, Jeffrey Woodworth and Meredith Woodworth**

Jack Woodworth, Jeffrey Woodworth and Meredith Woodworth**

Following a cocktail reception on the store’s ground level, the guests moved up to the sixth floor Zodiac Room for a wonderful dinner prepared by NM Chef Kevin Garvin, complete with wines. Then there was a live auction.

* Graphic provided by the Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum 
** Photo credit: Andy Keye + Whitney Photography

JUST IN: Joyce And Linus Wright To Serve As Honorary Co-Chairs For LaunchAbility’s “A Special Evening With Martin Short”

LaunchAbility Co-Chairs Hilda and Mike Galvan just revealed the honorary co-chairs for the Tuesday, April 5thA Special Evening With Martin Short.” Drum roll, please. The twosome will be Joyce and Linus Wright, who have time and time again been at the forefront of education and helping young people with learning challenges.

Linus Wright (File photo)

Linus Wright (File photo)

If you’re brand new to the hood, then a little info might help. Linus was the Dallas Independent School District superintendent who “helped integrate special education into the district after the landmark law IDEA mandated that all children deserved a free and appropriate education.” In addition to working with the business community to “place special education graduates in jobs,” he “was also instrumental in helping Dallas navigate racial integration.”

Joyce also has led the way for youngsters with learning disabilities. She “was a counselor in Highland Park when learning disabilities were just beginning to be understood.”

Together Joyce and Linus along with David Munson and Sandra Estess co-founded Educational First Steps.

And that’s just the tip of the Wright iceberg of accomplishments.

According to Hilda, “Mike and I are so excited to have the Wrights work with us as honorary chairs for this event, and we are looking forward to making it a very special anniversary celebration. We are looking forward to celebrating the extraordinary work of LaunchAbility and 15 years of this event.”

And add Martin Short on stage at the Meyerson? This one is gonna be a very “special evening.”

Canine Companions For Independence Baylor Scott And White Health Kinkeade Campus Dedication Was A Howling Success

After hit and miss weather of Thursday, November 5, the Canine Companion of Independence (CCI) dedication organizers were breathing a deep sigh of relief. Not only had the tornadic and hail storm hit other parts, the sun was shining, the temperatures were perfect and more than expected showed up to see the dedication of the national program’s first Texas facility.

It was also the first of its kind to partner up with a hospital and in this case it was Baylor Scott & White. Over the years the Irving CCI Baylor Scott And White Health Kinkeade Campus will not only be the graduate school for the canines, but it will also be the temporary home for the human recipients to train as they partner up with their BFFs.

Canine Companions For Independence classmates

Canine Companions For Independence classmates

The services dogs could have cared less about all the hoop-la. They were on duty, while the two-legged critters were amazed and gratified how nine mesquite-covered acres in Irving had been turned into a breathtaking center to yearly prepare 60 dogs to assist children and adults with disabilities.

Outdoor kennels

Outdoor kennels

Indoor kennels

Indoor kennels

On one side of the layout was the Diane and Hal Brierley Kennels with 24 spotless air-conditioned and heated indoor kennels, individual outdoor spaces and a center courtyard with shower facilities. Just a few feet away was the Jan Rees-Jones Canine Center with grooming spa, laundry, veterinary clinic and food-storage and -prep areas.

Food prep area

Food prep area

IMG_2933

Across the paths were cabins specially designed for humans to stay in preparing for the partnerships. Just outside the cabins are outdoor seating and a fire pit. In between the home for the humans and the hounds was the Team Lodge and Training Center.

The grounds included watering areas and loads of room for the pooches to run and just be dogs.

As philanthropists Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Margo Goodwin, Mark Grace, Lindalyn AdamsPamela Street, Kristi Hoyl, Todd Howard, CCI National Board Chair John Miller in from New York,  CCI National Board Trustee Bob Street in from Colorado and vets Steve Blackman with his CCI-trained Gotti and  Jason Morgan with his CCI-trained Rue toured the facilities, one person was heard to say, “Not only would my dog love to live here, I’d love to move in, too.”

 Jan Rees-Jones

Jan Rees-Jones

When the official dedication took place in the Training Center with Baylor Health System Foundation Robin Robinson, CCI CEO Paul Mundell, Baylor Irving President Cindy Schamp, Baylor Scott And White Board of Trustee Steve Boyd and CCI Irving Program Manager Sara Koch on stage, Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade, who had spearheaded the project, stole the show. It was nothing new. He usually is a true-blue scene stealer. Ed told how his beloved pooch Bo had been the typical dog until they decided to enroll in the Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy program.

Steve Boyd, Paul Mundell, Cindy Schamp, Ed Kinkeade and Robin Robinson

Steve Boyd, Paul Mundell, Cindy Schamp, Ed Kinkeade and Robin Robinson

It was through the program that Ed came to realize and appreciate the value of using dogs to help patients improve their lives. He mounted an effort to land the highly renowned Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) for North Texas. By landing such a facility, it meant that Texans in need of such companions would not have relocate to CCI facilities in other states that have resulted in 4,797 teams of humans and dogs since its founding in July 1975.

Started in California, the CCI program is a lengthy one, where puppies (Labrador retrievers, gold retrievers and crosses of the two breeds) live with “puppy raisers” for 14-16 months before undergoing a six- to nine-month training course with professional trainers at the center. They learn everything from basic obedience, working with wheelchairs to learning over 40 commands to help their human companions. They are especially trained to serve as service dogs, facility dogs, skilled companions and hearing dogs and are provided to those in need free of charge.

After three years of negotiating, the deal was cut and the facility was located in Ed’s hometown of Irving.

Jan Rees-Jones and Ed Kinkeade

Jan Rees-Jones and Ed Kinkeade

Ed recalled how in going through a training program in preparation for the AAT test, the trainer told Ed, “Bo is doing great.” On the other hand, the trainer suggested that Ed needed some work. He then said that despite his own many accomplishments both on and off the bench, he had a twinge of humility when a patient asked, “Are you the guy with Bo?”

At one point breaking from his affable charm, Ed teared up and recalled his late partner. It was apparent that Bo’s talents in inspiring others had included Ed, after whom the Texas campus was named.

Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Sold-Out Luncheon With Eva Longoria Proved Inspiring, Successful And Almost Too Popular

Once again North Texas was warned that a slug-athon of rain was on its way on Friday, October 30. Sounded a bit like the locusts and plague were the follow-up acts.

Both the Dallas Women’s Foundation and The Dallas Opera First Night heeded the warning. But perhaps they should have compared notes with the Cattle Baron’s Ball chairs, who are old hands at end-of-the-world weather conditions.

The DWF rearranged arrival for its 30th Annual Luncheon by moving the valet check-in to the more protected area. However, the expected 200 attendees for the 10:30 a.m. meet-and-greet with speaker Eva Longoria in the Grand Ballroom seemed to have double that number. Someone muttered that it appeared that some guests decided to bring their own guests to the by-invite-only reception. With the lineup spilling into the lobby, organizers cut off things off because after all there was a sold-out luncheon to get underway.

Luckily, the grip-and-grin organization was one of the best seen in these parts. Before guests got their time with Eva, their names were written down on a card and placed on a ring, so names and photos would fall in order. Then a staffer would take the guest’s purse to a table on the other side of the sponsor backdrop, while the photo was being taken. As the guest exited, the purse was on a table ready to be picked up and the guest was on their way to join the masses.

Itty-bitty Eva was a real trooper. All in white, she greeted the non-stop parade of guests with a picture-perfect smile. She barely had time to take a sip of coffee in between handshakes and smiles.

At 11:20 the last photo was taken and Eva was whisked away via the hotel’s back hallways.

DWF President/CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson gave a great welcome address announcing that it was the largest luncheon crowd in the DWF’s history. Ever gracious, Ros paid tribute to her predecessors Becky Sykes and Pat Sabin. Too bad one table of gals decided to chatter through her talk. Some of the folks at nearby tables looked a bit peeved that the girl-talk was clashing with Ros’ talk about DWF’s having given back more than $30M to Dallas women and girls in the past 30 years. They would have learned about the DWF’s Bridge Project that is helping women with childcare, so that a good chunk of their salaries isn’t eaten away.

Keith Banks, Eva Longoria and Ros Dawson

Keith Banks, Eva Longoria and Ros Dawson

She finished up saying that the luncheon at that point was at the $1.1M mark and the hope was they would break the previous $1.2M record.

Just a couple of minutes before noon, luncheon was served including salad (chopped romaine, black bean and corn relish, tortilla strips, cotija cheese and tomatillo vinaigrette), entrée (achiote grilled chicken breast with peach chutney, cilantro rice, broccolini and carrots with jalapeno corn muffins and baguette) and dessert (special anniversary Stout Chocolate, Red Velvet and Maple-Caramel Cream cupcakes).

Just 20 minutes later a video was shown with the message “Stronger Women, Better World.”

Ron and Paula Parker, Michael and Jane Hurst and Stacey and John Relton

Ron and Paula Parker, Michael and Jane Hurst and Stacey and John Relton

As the lights came up, the eight co-chairs — Jane and Michael Hurst, Paula and Ron Parker and Stacey and John Relton appeared on stage wearing capes. Each took a part in telling the audience that for a $90-donation, guests could get a cape, too. As women gathered donations, the co-chair kept a stream of talk going to encourage the crowd. Michael warned: “The collectors are not leaving empty-handed.” Stacey suggested they can use the cape to shield the rain. Another added the cape would be a perfect Halloween outfit.

At 12:36 p.m. U.S. Trust, Bank of American Private Wealth Management President Keith Banks admitted that while the teleprompters were pretty cool, he was going to rely on his notes. He told how U.S. Trust has recognized the importance of women as decision makers in today’s financial world. To assist them the institution has held seminars for women in Haiti, Japan and other nations. Another program has set up online mentoring for women.

Keith then introduced Eva, admitting a guy thing: “I still don’t get the Carlos thing.” This comment was greeted with laughter. He concluded, “I’m feeling quite inadequate, so I’m going to get off the stage.”

At 12:45 p.m. the actress/activist/business woman walked on stage and said, “I’ve been and will always be a Dallas Cowboy fan.”

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria

She told how being one of four girls in her family, she was surrounded by amazing role models. “I saw it all around me.” Her oldest sister Liza’s developmentally disability led to her mother’s becoming a special education teacher.

Recently Eva introduced Liza to Eva’s new boyfriend. Liza’s response: “Another one?”

Eva recalled years ago when their mother bought Lisa a letter jacket that someone stole. Eva was furious. When her mother asked Liza if she knew who had stolen the jacket, Liza said, “No, but they must have been cold.” That reaction replaced Eva’s anger with admiration for Liza’s compassionate outlook.

Eva then admitted that many women don’t have the support that she experienced in her family. The result of this lack of support results in women still suffering from lower wages than their male counterparts. She admonished the men and women in the room that the success of the U.S. is tied to the success of women.

In achieving success in the film and TV industries, she came to the realization that she wanted to help others, but “I knew I could do anything, but I couldn’t do everything.” Her decision was to focus on Latinas.

In discussing the importance of mentoring, she admitted that it depended on the conditions. Recalling how she had wanted to be an engineer, she shadowed a male engineer. That convinced her that she didn’t want to be an engineer. With a smile, she added, “I should have shadowed a woman engineer.”

Her Eva Longoria Foundation has helped women entrepreneurs and schools in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, her hometown. She attributed her ability to achieve her goals to research providing the focus and to the selection of the right projects.

Giving a tip of the hat to the DWF, she said that’s why she likes DWF and its theme of “the ripple effect.” Then she apologized to the teleprompter crew for going off script.

At 1:03 p.m. she was off to a waiting black SUV in the Tower’s porte-cochere. Others, however, weren’t so lucky in getting their rides. Those who had decided to self-park, hit the road painlessly. For those who used the valet, it was another story. Hunkering in the Tower’s porte-cochere with the wind blowing, women who had been energized at the luncheon about leadership  found themselves having their names hollered by valets like naughty children. But with a full crowd of guests waiting, the wind howling and cars running, a raised voice was necessary. Perhaps the hotel that is so popular for fundraising should consider having a PA system installed to share the information that a car is ready to be picked up. If that’s too costly, how about a megaphone?

True, some of the gals slowed up the driveway doing girl talk. But many couldn’t see their cars arriving due to the crowd teetering on the curb.

According to sources, the hotel was prepared for 600 cars to be in need of valet for the 1,800 attendees. They even drafted some extra help from Gold Crown. Still, guests took on a bunker mentality, congratulating each other when they finally saw their car on the drive.