JUST IN: Golden Globe’s Nominee “This Is Us” Chrissy Metz To Be Keynote Speaker At The Elisa Project’s Life Lessons Lunch On February 28

The Golden Globe nominees were revealed Monday and Chrissy Metz is once again nominated for her role as Kate Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us.” But her success and fame didn’t come overnight or easily. Chrissy’s life story is one that screenwriters dream of. Sure, she went through the trials and tribulations that many actresses face like being out of work, surviving thanks to friends and family, watching roles won by others and learning to accept rejection.

Chrissy Metz*

But Chrissy dealing with a literally “bigger” issue — her weight. Admitting that she was born chubby, she was just 11 when she went to Weight Watchers. Her weight jumped up and down the scales at one point losing 50 pounds only to “gain back 100 pounds due to depression and ‘eating my feelings.’”

Then the moment came when all the stars were in alignment and she landed the role of Kate, whose storyline was so akin to Chrissy’s. But even more than the role, Chrissy’s popularity has been due to her being so open about her dealing with her weight issues.

For that reason, The Elisa Project organizers are thrilled that they have just gotten word that Chrissy will be at the 13th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon on Wednesday, February 28, at Brook Hollow Golf Club for a conversation with Kimberly Schlegel Whitman.

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

According to Luncheon Chair Kim Bannister, “As an organization dedicated to the development of healthy children and adolescents by raising awareness of body image and self-esteem issues and the prevention of life-threatening eating disorders, we know Chrissy will truly captivate attendees as she shares her own inspirational stories of courage and self-acceptance. This year’s luncheon is not to be missed!”

Honorary co-chairs will be Sandra Estess and Elizabeth Estess Hughes.

Starting at $2,000, tables are available for purchase now. If space permits, individual tickets will go on sale in early February. Suggestion: Gather up pals and get a table locked down now. Don’t depend on those individual spots coming available.

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

Veteran Celebs And Babes In Arm Took The Runway At Tootsies For The 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show

As the swallows return to Capistrano in March, so the season’s fashions were hitting the North Texas catwalks in September. On the heels of the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show with its dozens and dozens of professional models, The Elisa Project‘s 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show also had fashions on the Tootsies runway on Saturday, September 16. But these models were volunteers ranging in age from infant to AARP. Here’s a report from the field:

Rhonda Marcus, Emmy Marcus and Whitney Kutch*

Event Chair Whitney Kutch, with Honorary C0-Chairs Rhonda Marcus and daughter Emmy, were joined by nearly 160 attendees for the 8th annual Esteem Fashion Show presented by Lisa Cooley, on Saturday, September 16, which benefited The Elisa Project (TEP).

Partygoers arrived at Tootsies and mingled while enjoying mimosas while perusing Tootsies collections. With 10% of all purchases benefiting TEP, patrons shopped the latest fall fashions, as DJ Blake Ward provided the vibe. Raffle tickets were available for sale featuring fabulous prizes including, a $100 gift card to Tootsies; an Elizabeth Showers Soleil station 18 karat gold chain in hand-carved white quartz over Kingman Mine turquoise; an Amanda Sterrett jewelry suite; hair and makeup services from The Makeup Zone; an original watercolor painting by Sherri Jones; and Chili’s restaurant gift cards.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Kim Stephens-Olusanya, Holly Davis and Landry Davis*

At 11:00 a.m., patrons gathered upstairs for the much-anticipated fashion show. Whitney took the podium and thanked everyone in attendance for their support of The Elisa Project and this year’s event. TEP’s board President Dr. Stephanie Setliff followed by adding her thanks and recognized Whitney for her hard work as event chair, as well as those in the room who had made the day possible including Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, TEP staff and board of directors, and Esteem founder, event coordinator, and board member, Rhonda Sargent Chambers. She then shared details about some of the work The Elisa Project is doing in the community through advocacy, education and support, which touches the lives of more than 31,000 individuals suffering from eating disorders each year.

2017 Esteem models

Emcee Courtney Kerr, founder and editor-in-chief of KERRently.com, took the podium and got right to the fashion show, which featured notable community members wearing the latest looks from Tootsies with children’s fashions provided by KidBiz/The Biz.

Jenny Anchondo and Brighton Valentina*

Courtney Kerr and Kellie Rasberry*

2017 models were: FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny Anchondo with 15-week old daughter Brighton Valentina; Carlotta Lennox, Kim Dawson model and entrepreneur; Landry Davis with friends Aubrey and Gracie O’Banion; community volunteer Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha; designer and creator of BAHZ jewelry Britt Harless; host of nationally syndicated morning show, Eye Opener, blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; Jane McGarry, host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas;” Sabrina Harrison, co-owner and interior designer Mint Dentistry and founder of Equipped by Faith Ministries, with children Christian and Camila; Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Melissa Rountree, owner of activewear brand Level 3 Active and board member of The Elisa Project; licensed professional counselor and CEO of Park Cities Counseling, Elizabeth Scrivner with daughter Katherine; Catherine Lowe, owner of local luxury stationary company LoweCo, with son Samuel; host of “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning,” Kellie Rasberry; honorary co-chairs Rhonda Marcus, and daughter Emmy; and event chair and TEP board member Whitney Kutch.

Carlotta Lenox and Courtney Kerr*

Melissa Rountree*

As the show came to a close, Kimberly Martinez announced the lucky winners of the raffle prizes before encouraging all in attendance to continue shopping in support of The Elisa Project. Before departing, patrons grabbed their swag bags which included goodies from Tootsies and stationary from LoweCo.

Esteem is a celebration of body image and self-Esteem. In its 8th year, Esteem helps increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image, Esteem encourages people to love themselves while striving to be healthy. Proceeds support The Elisa Project (TEP) and the important programs dedicated to fighting eating disorder illnesses through awareness, education, support and advocacy.

* Photo credits: Bob Manzano and Thomas Garza

 

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Esteem Fashion Show

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

According to Esteem Fashion Show Founder and Show Coordinator Rhonda Sargent Chambers,

We hope you will join us for the 8th annual Esteem Fashion Show, sponsored by Lisa Cooley on Saturday, September 16, at 10:00 a.m. at Tootsies, 8300 Preston Center Plaza in Dallas.  

Chaired by Whitney Kutch, with Honorary Co-Chairs Rhonda Marcus and Emmy Marcus, Esteem is a celebration of body image and self-Esteem. By helping to increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image, Esteem encourages people to love themselves while striving to be healthy.  Proceeds support The Elisa Project (TEP) and the important programs dedicated to fighting eating disorder illnesses through awareness, education, support and advocacy.

Whitney Kutch (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

This year, fashion sponsor Tootsies will highlight the hottest fall trends, including designs from featured brand Cinq a Sept, with local celebrities and notables walking the runway and former reality personality Courtney Kerr serving as emcee. Chosen for their support of The Elisa Project and for serving as mentors by giving back to the community and to those with eating disorders, this year’s models include: fitness instructor and model Melissa Rountree and daughter Morgan; community volunteer Yvonne Crum and granddaughter Samantha Crum; lifestyle expert Amy Vanderoef; award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Kellie Rasberry, co-host of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning and daughter Emma Kelly; jewelry designer Amanda Sterett Albritton; blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas” Jane McGarry; designer and creator of BAHZ jewelry Britt Harless; FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny AnchondoCatherine Lowe, mom, owner of local luxury stationary line LoweCoand founder of Hello Whitney blog and Esteem Chair Whitney Kutch.

2016 Esteem Fashion Show*

Esteem will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a Mimosas and Munchies reception featuring trunk shows for featured brand Cinq A Sept and jewelry designer Auden, including a personal appearance by the designer. Raffle tickets will be on sale with prizes such as designer Elizabeth Showers jewelry, a gift card from Tootsies and more. Raffle tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50. The celebrity fashion show will begin at 11:00 a.m.  

Tickets are $75 each for VIP seating or $20 each for student/standing and are on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.theelisaproject.com or dial 214.369.5222.

I cannot believe it has been eight years since we started this awareness fashion show and now it has turned into so much more! Our mission is to lead by example… teaching healthy lifestyles, supporting one another and encourage others to love themselves. We hope to see you on September 16!

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

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

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

Whitney Kutch (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

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

2016 Esteem Fashion Show*

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

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

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

* Photo credit: Thomas Garza

The Elisa Project’s Life Lessons Luncheon Had DWTS’s Nancy Kerrigan, Unexpected Add-Ons To The Program And Rumbling Tummies

After years of holding luncheons at hotels and last year’s breakfast at the Belo, The Elisa Project held a luncheon for its Life Lessons fundraiser at the Belo on Friday, March 3. It kicked off with a VIP reception at 11:00, but, unlike other meet-and-greet receptions with the celebrity du jour, this one had no grip-and-grin photo opp with luncheon speaker Nancy Kerrigan, or even a sponsor backdrop. Instead, guests passed the word that “She’s over there” and “She’s so sweet” and “She looks wonderful” and snapped photos with the accommodating Kerrigan.

Kim Bannister, Ariana Luterman, Nancy Kerrigan and Allana Luterman

Alas, a photo of Co-Chairs Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Melissa Rountree, Kerrigan and Honorary Chair Toni Munoz-Hunt was stalled. Word was passed that “Toni is on her way” as the doors to the ballroom opened just after 11:30. Then tall, gorgeous Toni gathered with Nancy, Rhonda and Melissa for a snap.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Toni Munoz Hunt, Nancy Kerrigan and Melissa Rountree

In the crowd of supporters were Kim Bannister, Holly Davis, Pamela Graham, Carlotta Lennox, mom-to-be Jenny Anchondo, Ellen Winspear, Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and daughter-in-law-to-be Bela Pjetrovic, Tiffany Divis, Lynn McBee and Nancy Gopez.

Nancy Gopez and Tiffany Divis

Carlotta Lennox and Pamela Graham

Lisa Cooley, Jenny Anchondo and Bela Pjetrovic

As The Elisa Project Executive Director Kim Martinez stood on the floor with mic in hand, she called the group to their seats at tables pre-set with salads, desserts, a bowl of bread, a floral arrangement, water and ice tea. More about this setup later.

The printed program set out a plan for just five speakers — Kim, The Elisa Project Board Chair Dr. Stephanie Setliff, Star of Hope Awardee Dr. Andy McGarrahan, LEAD Awardee Ariana Luterman and keynoter Kerrigan. Instead, the program was extended with multiple unscripted speakers.

Following the invocation, Stephanie had Rhonda and Melissa come to the podium to talk about their helping those with eating disorders. They, in turn, thanked Toni, whom they asked to address the group.

It was then announced that the Esteem Fashion Show fundraiser would be held once again at Tootsies in the fall.  When the announcement of the Esteem honorary chair was made, the supposed honorary chair looked stunned. She had already told them she couldn’t do it. Oops.

Stephanie presented the Star of Hope Award to Dr. Andy McGarrahan, who twinned humility with humor in accepting the award.

Stephanie Setliff

Andrew McGarrahan

After Andy’s acceptance, Stephanie announced she was going off-script. Co-Chair Rhonda looked at her timeline and looked a bit baffled. But before she could figure out what was going on, she heard Stephanie tell of Rhonda’s commitment to the organization over the years and asked her to come back to the stage to receive a token of appreciation. Despite being caught off guard, Rhonda thanked her mom and dad (“Perhaps you should have worn a tie”), her husband and family, and told how much The Elisa Project meant to her.

Kim then presented the LEAD Award to Greenhill student wunderkind Ariana for her volunteering to handle The Elisa Project’s social media. In the audience, Ariana’s mother, Allana Luterman, recorded her daughter’s acceptance on her cellphone.

As a video was shown about The Elisa Project, some guests were starting to wonder if the seasonal mixed salad with herb vinaigrette had been the entrée. After all, it was 35 minutes into the program and the salads and dressing were long gone. All that remained were the empty salad plates putting the desserts just beyond reach. At one table a guest with long arms reached for the passel of rolls and started to pass it around. As more presentations of speakers and a video continued, the floral arrangements were starting to look downright tasty.

Whitney Kutch

In making a call for money at the 45-minute mark, Elisa Board Member Whitney Kutch came to the stage and announced that she and Melissa were issuing a $4,000-challenge for guests to match. 

Finally, Kim announced there would be a break for lunch. Quickly, the staff replaced the salad plates with dishes of chicken, carrots and whipped potatoes. Luckily, Nancy’s table was one of the first to be served. She managed to take a couple of bites before being called to the podium.

Her life story has truly been challenging. There had been the Tonya Harding episode; the heart-breaking efforts for Olympic gold; her brother’s being on trial for their father’s death; her recently announced joining the “2017 Dancing With the Stars” cast.

Would she speak on all, or just one, of those subjects? Instead, she spoke extemporaneously for 30 minutes about everything from her kids to her own challenges of looking figure perfect and fitting into costumes. A couple of times during her talk she admitted that she was bouncing from subject to subject.

Nancy Kerrigan

Then she teared up and told how she had truly been touched by Leslie and Rick McCall’s motivation in creating The Elisa Project to fulfill their late daughter’s wish to help prevent others from the agony of eating disorders. That would have been the perfect place to have ended the talk. But Kerrigan continued, with some guests slipping out at this point and others sneaking peaks at their watches.

Nearing the end of her talk, Nancy admitted she had been guilty of unhealthy care-taking. She had put others’ needs before her own and had worked to overcome that practice. However, she revealed that she was helping one of her sons, who seemed to be following his mother’s care-taking role.

Instead of allowing guests to head to their cars, Kim took to the floor with mic in hand for questions from the audience. Less than a handful of hands were raised, while others headed for the door.

JUST IN: Life Lesson’s Nancy Kerrigan And A Chance To Soar’s Simone Biles Announced As 2017 “Dancing With The Stars” Cast Members

Bright and early this morning the 2017 celebrities were announced for the 2017 “Dancing With The Stars” lineup. A couple of them will be in town for fundraising lunches before competing for the mirrored ball.

Simone Biles*

Nancy Kerrigan**

And the announcement couldn’t be better timed for two area nonprofits. While award-winning gymnast Simone Biles‘ appearance at the Jonathan’s Place‘s  “A Chance To Soar” won’t take place until Tuesday, April 25, ice skating sweetheart Nancy Kerrigan will be at Belo Mansion Friday for the “Life Lessons Luncheon” benefiting The Elisa Project.

While there’s no telling who will be in the finals, good money is on Nancy and Simone. They’re both Olympian medalists, graceful, agile and pretty darn cute.

In the meantime, get your ticket for Friday’s lunch. Nancy’s life both on the rink and behind the scenes has been filled with highs and lows. 

* Photo provided by Jonathan's Place 
** Photo provided by The Elisa Project

MySweet2017Goals: Melissa Rountree

Melissa Rountree (File photo)

According to 2017 Life Lessons Luncheon Co-Chair Melissa Rountree,

“One of my 2017 goals is to raise awareness and funds for The Elisa Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight against deadly eating disorders by promoting the importance of healthy living, positive body image and self-esteem in all youth; through education, case management resources and advocacy efforts.

“On behalf of my Co-Chair Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Honorary Chair Toni Munoz-Hunt, I invite you to support the important work of The Elisa Project by attending the 12th annual Life Lessons Luncheon on Friday, March 3.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Toni Munoz Hunt (File photo)

Nancy Kerrigan*

“This year’s event will feature two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan as the featured speaker.  As one of America’s most recognizable spots icons, Nancy will share her journey as an athlete, mother, and now executive producer of an upcoming documentary, ‘Why Don’t You Lose 5 Pounds?,’  which addresses the connection between athletes and eating disorders, something Nancy has experienced personally.

“The Life Lessons Luncheon benefiting The Elisa Project will be held on Friday, March 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Belo Mansion located at 2101 Ross Avenue in Dallas. 

“Sponsorships begin at $1,750 and are on sale now; limited $175 individual tickets will go on sale Wednesday, February 1.  For more information or to purchase tickets or sponsorships, visit 12th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon or  contact  The Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez at  866.837.1999  or  [email protected].”

* Photo provided by 
The Elisa Project

JUST IN: Figure-Skating Great Nancy Kerrigan To Be Keynote Speaker for 12th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon

Plans are already underway for spring 2017 with announcements of plans and peeps. One of the first is The Elisa Project’s 12th Annual Life Lesson Luncheon. Co-Chairs Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Melissa Rountree, along with Toni Munoz-Hunt, have arranged for the fundraiser to take place at The Belo Mansion on Friday, March 3.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Melissa Rountree (File photo)

Melissa Rountree (File photo)

Toni Munoz Hunt (File photo)

Toni Munoz Hunt (File photo)

Nancy Kerrigan*

Nancy Kerrigan*

Got that date down? Now, for the big news — the keynote speaker. It will be figure skating icon Nancy Kerrigan, who won the 1992 Winter Olympics bronze media and the silver medal at the 1992 World Championships. In 1993 Nancy took home the silver medal in figure skating from the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.

Following her days on the ice, she has been active in everything from the entertainment industry to corporate endorsements.

One of her most current projects is serving as executive producer and appearing in “Why Don’t You Lose 5 Pounds?” The feature-length documentary will “focus on the difficulties and pressures faced by athletes in so-called ‘lean’ sports such as figure skating.”

She brings her concern about “the struggle athletes at all levels of competition face in returning to competition after being diagnosed with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Despite affecting more athletes than concussions, eating disorders get relatively little attention in the popular sports world.  Eating disorders kill more people annually than any other mental illness, and many athletes find themselves at a higher risk for a problem.”

According to Rhonda, “We are absolutely thrilled to have Nancy Kerrigan join us as the keynote speaker for the Life Lessons Luncheon. While many of us have admired Nancy for her Olympic skating career, we look forward to her sharing her journey as an athlete, mother, and now executive producer of an upcoming documentary which addresses the connection between athletes and eating disorders, something Nancy has experienced personally as well.”

Sponsorships are currently available starting at $1,750. Individual tickets won’t go on sale until Wednesday, February 1.

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

Esteem: A Fashion Show Had Celebs And Community Leaders On The Tootsies Runway For The Elisa Project

As if fundraisers were worn out by the Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show and Luncheon, Hope’s Door Fashion Show and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala on Friday, September 16, they were up bright and early Saturday for Esteem: A Fashion Show benefiting The Elisa Project. Here’s a report from the field:

Co-chairs Melissa Rountree and her daughter Morgan welcomed more than 250 attendees to Tootsies on Saturday, September 17, for Esteem: A Fashion Show. In its 7th year, Esteem helps increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image, Esteem encourages people to love themselves while striving to be healthy.  Proceeds support The Elisa Project (TEP) and the important programs dedicated to fighting eating disorder illnesses through awareness, education, support and advocacy.

Morgan Moore, Lynn McBee and Melissa Rountree*

Morgan Moore, Lynn McBee and Melissa Rountree*

As attendees perused the store’s fall fashions and accessories, with 10% of sales going to TEP, they enjoyed mimosas and tasty bites courtesy of True Foods Kitchen.  The raffle table was the place to be with a chance to win amazing prizes: including a $250 gift card to any Lombardi Family Concepts restaurant, Glamboxes acrylic makeup designer box; Elizabeth Showers earrings; 3-month membership to Veranda Health Club at the Hilton Anatole; a gold necklace with lemon-green quartz and diamonds from Pratiksha Jewelry; gift cards to get fit at Meredith Boyd-Camp Gladiator; six months unlimited classes at Bar Method, a $100 gift card to Tootsies and much more!

The crowd then moved upstairs for the much-anticipated fashion show. As patrons took their seats, co-chairs Melissa and Morgan thanked everyone in attendance before introducing TEP’s Board President Dr. Stephanie Setliff. Stephanie added her thanks and recognized Honorary Chair Lynn McBee and TEP Co-Founder Leslie McCall. She also shared details about the important work The Elisa Project is doing throughout North Texas through advocacy, education and support, which touches the lives of more than 31,000 individuals suffering from eating disorders each year.

Holly Pellham Davis, Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Landry Davis*

Holly Pellham Davis, Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Landry Davis*

Emcee Gloria Campos then took the stage and recognized TEP Executive Director Kim Martinez, the TEP staff and board of directors, as well as ESTEEM Founder/Event Coordinator/Board Member Rhonda Sargent Chambers. Tootsies store director Nerissa von Helpenstill, joined Gloria to kick-off the two fashion scenes, “Borrowed from the Boys” and “She’s a Lady” featuring local celebrities and notables in fall fashions from Tootsies, with children’s fashions provided by KidBiz/The Biz.  DJ Blake Ward provided a cool vibe as the models walked the runway.

2016 models were: jewelry designer Amanda Sterett Albritton with daughters Anna and Olivia; FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny Anchando; author, community volunteer and co-founder of Sawyer Collection Kim Bannister and daughter Sawyer; sisters Erin Bulcher, Sr. SEO and content manager for farecompare.com, and Nicole Bulcher, former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader; WFAA-TV’s Alexa Conomos and daughter Annick; community volunteer Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha; organic lifestyle and healthy living expert Holly Pellham Davis with daughter Landry; Jazmyn Dorsett, daughter of Dallas Cowboys legend Tony Dorsett and super mom Janet Dorsett; Lauren Foreman, community volunteer and communications manager for Thompson and Knight; Roshawnda Foster, Kim Dawson model, and daughter Logan; Pam Skaggs Frank, veteran Kim Dawson Model and owner of Gloss Luxury Rentals and Gloss Interiors; community volunteer Alissa Ferguson Gearing and daughter Ansley; community volunteer and 26-year Brinker International employee Nancy Gopez; designer and creator of Bahz jewelry Britt Harless; Tiffany Hendra, wife, television host, lifestyle mentor and creator of Sanctuary of Style blog;  founder and creator of Model Behaviors, writer and activist Toni Munoz Hunt and daughter Darlington; lifestyle management consultant Jackson; host of nationally syndicated morning show, Eye Opener, blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; Whitney Roberts Kutch, TEP board member and founder of Hello Whitney blog; Carlotta Lennox, Kim Dawson model and entrepreneur, and daughter Alle; LeeAnne Locken, author, actor, model, producer and community volunteer; wife, mother grandmother and co-owner of Lombardi Family Concepts Vivian Lombardi and granddaughter Sarah Taylor; healthcare professional and Bar Method instructor Candice Wynn Mason; Jane McGarry, host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas;” fashion stylist and blogger Dawn Mellon; sportscaster and TV host Gina Miller; Allison Mitchell, designer and founder of her namesake line of clutches; model and former Miss Texas and Miss USA Courtney Gibbs Mokarow and daughter Everett; Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Dawn Neufeld, reigning Mrs. Frisco and former cast member of VH1’s “Football Wives,” model and on-air host, with daughter Bryn; Jamie O’Banion, co-founder and president of luxury skincare line Beauty Bioscience and daughters Aubrey and Ava Grace; licensed clinical social worker Jennifer Passanante and daughters Morgan and Taylor; fashion stylist and spokesperson for Galleria Dallas Holly McCracken Quartaro and daughters Sophia, Sara and Emily; legendary Dallas real estate agent Ralph Randall; Esteem co-chairs Melissa Rountree and daughter Morgan; Amy Vanderoef, lifestyle expert and former WFAA-TV “Good Morning Texas” co-host; model and hair stylist Gary Walden; Kathryn Wahlstrom, medical marketing and media relations expert; and community volunteer Kameron Westcott and daughter Hilton.

Vivian Lombardi and Sarah Taylor*

Vivian Lombardi and Sarah Taylor*

Logan Foster and Roshawnda Foster*

Logan Foster and Roshawnda Foster*

As a thank you, attendees received a swag bag featuring items from Tootsies, Vita Coco, The Hair Bar and Scout Guide Dallas.

Esteem models and leadership*

Esteem models and leadership*

The event would have been possible without the generosity of this year’s Esteem sponsors:

  • Fashion Sponsor: Tootsies;
  • DIVA Sponsor: SAP;
  • Super Model Sponsor: Acute Center for Eating Disorders in Denver, CO;
  • In-kind donors – Bob Manzano Photography; Center for Discovery; DJ Blake Ward; Eating Recovery Center; Kid Biz/The Biz; Laureate ED Program; Lawson Event Rentals; RSC Show Productions; Scout Guide Dallas; The Hair Bar; Timberline Knolls; True Food Kitchen; Vita Coco; Elizabeth Showers Jewelry; The Bar Method; Pratiksha Jewelry; Amanda Sterett Jewelry; Abi Ferrin; Veranda Health Club; Lombardi Family Concepts; Level 3 Active; Meredith Boyd/Camp Gladiator; Tootsies; Glamboxes; and City+Sky.
* Photos provided by The Elisa Project

JUST IN: Melissa Rountree And Morgan Moore To Co-Chair 7th Annual Esteem Fashion Show For The Elisa Project

The third Friday September is gonna kick off 24 hours of fashionable whoop-de-dos. On Friday, September 16, Crystal Charity will hold its “already-sold-out” Ten Best Dressed Luncheon and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala will officially launch the 2016 fall black-tie season that night.

The next morning the 7th annual Esteem Fashion Show benefiting The Elisa Project will take place at 10 a.m. at Tootsie’s. Chairing the event will be Melissa Rountree and her daughter Morgan Moore.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Holly Pelham Davis (File photo)

Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Holly Pelham Davis (File photo)

Founded in 2009, Esteem was created by Rhonda Sargent Chamber “to increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image.

According to Melissa, “It’s a thrill to host Esteem with my daughter Morgan, benefiting The Elisa Project. The event provide an opportunity to appreciate that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes and ages. We hope to spread a message that being generous and loving, can improve inner confidence and respect for oneself.”

Gloria Campos and Lynn McBee (File photo)

Gloria Campos and Lynn McBee (File photo)

Joining the effort are Honorary Chair Lynn McBee, Emcee Gloria Campos and models Amanda Sterett Albritton with daughters Anna Albritton and Olivia Sterett, Shelly Slater, Holly Pelham Davis with daughter Landry Davis, Jocelyn White, Scott Murray, Janet Dorsett, Dawn Mellon, Gina Miller, Jackson, Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha Crum, Gary Walden, Dawn Neufeld with daughter Bryn Neufeld, Hilary Kennedy, Pam Skaggs Frank with daughter Bridget Frank and Kim Bannister with daughter Sawyer Bannister.

Scott Murray (File photo)

Scott Murray (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

Tickets go on sale Friday, July 1. VIP seating will be $75 and student/standing will be a couple of sawbucks (aka $20).

Life Lessons Keynoter Dr. Jean Kilbourne Rips Connection Between Advertising And Eating Disorders

If you thought eating disorders were a problem for women only, you should have been at the 11th annual Life Lessons Breakfast at the Belo Mansion on Wednesday, February 10. There, a “mixed crowd” of 300 at the Elisa Project fundraiser listened to internationally known keynoter Dr. Jean Kilbourne talk about the image of women in advertising, and her critical studies of food, alcohol, and tobacco ads. But they also heard Brian Cuban, brother of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, talk about his struggles with eating disorders as he accepted the Elisa Project’s Star of Hope Award.

Cuban, an attorney whose self-published book titled “Shattered Image” was released in 2013, told the early-morning crowd that he had a two-decades-long struggle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (or BDD) that left him feeling depressed and lonely. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of people suffering from eating disorders are men, Cuban pointed out, a fact he wasn’t aware of until encountering The Elisa Project. Once he did, he added, “I realized I wasn’t alone.”

After receiving the Star award, Cuban, who was the Life Lessons 2016 honorary chair, returned to his front-row table to listen to Kilbourne. There he joined his fiancée Amanda Ellis, Elisa Project director Whitney Roberts-Kutch, Yvonne Crum and the breakfast event’s co-chairs, Catherine and Sean Lowe. Catherine and Sean, of course, are the celebrity couple who got engaged during the 17th season of TV’s “The Bachelor” dating show, and then married a year later.

During her keynote talk, which was augmented with a colorful slide show, Kilbourne criticized the country’s “toxic cultural environment” that “sacrifices health for profit” at the expense of American women. The “flawless beauty” held up in advertising and pop culture is a distorted and impossible standard for most women to attain, she said, making many women feel inferior and inadequate.

As males and females age, Kilbourne went on, “the only thing that counts for men is the size of their bank account.” But for 20 or 30 years, she went on, women have been taught to focus on thin-ness—to literally “become smaller”—and to “hate our bodies and feel disconnected.” The “solution” to this problem as prescribed in advertising, Kilbourne said: binging on “food and liquor and cigarettes” as a way of dealing with stress.

“Food becomes their only friend,” she said, and therefore is linked purposefully in advertising with sex and sexuality. To illustrate the point, Kilbourne showed a print ad for Milky Way candy bars headlined, “What you do in the dark is nobody’s business”—a come-on which she said “encourages binging.”

As one remedy for this huge problem, Kilbourne advised “talking to kids really early” about advertising and what it represents. She also urged warning labels on food, special taxes on dietary products, and more “media literacy” in general.

Jean Kilbourne To Be Keynote Speaker At The Elisa Project’s Life Lessons Breakfast

2016 Life Lessons Breakfast Co-Chairs Catherine and Sean Lowe have locked down 2015 National Women’s Hall of Famer Jean Kilbourne as the keynote speaker for The Elisa Project fundraising breakfast.

Jean’s reputation for being “Wow!” has been built on her “groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising.”

According to The Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, “We are so fortunate to have Ms. Kilbourne as our keynote speaker. She’s an expert in how advertising affects both addictions and eating disorders — she is both entertaining and thought-provoking.”

Funds from the Wednesday, February 10th event at Belo Mansion and Pavilion will be used “for advocacy projects, referral and case management services, as well as, community education and prevention programs throughout Texas.”

Inner Beauty Shop’s Embody Love Movement To Provide Healthier Alternatives For Area Girls

With summer comes the look. Whether it’s flirty sundresses, too-cute shorts or sizzling swimsuits, the emphasis is on today’s Holy Grail — having the perfect body. Too many young gals actually think there is such a thing. In trying to achieve it, they make unhealthy choices. That’s why the Inner Beauty Shop aims to help women appreciate the whole person and better understand what real perfection is. Here is a report from the field about the program’s official launch:

Melody Moore and Michelle Collins*

Melody Moore and Michelle Collins*

On a springlike evening this past Thursday, May 14, a most inspiring new initiative was celebrated at Blue Print in Dallas. Embody Love Movement (E*L*M) engages in communities of both privilege and transition, offering workshops (their InnerBeautyShop™) incorporating media analysis, affirmation and yoga.  Melody Moore, PhD is a therapist based in Dallas, committed to bringing girls with disordered eating and self-esteem issues to health.  It was through her enlightened practice that Michelle Collins and her daughter Charlotte met Melody, and realized that the message simply had to travel beyond just the world of therapy circles. Hence the birth of E*L*M – a partnership built with the mission “to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness, and contribute to meaningful change in the world”.

Artwork display*

Artwork display*

James Davis and Katheryne Davis*

James Davis and Katheryne Davis*

The evening captured the creativity and optimism of both founders. The art projects completed by BeautyShop participants decorated the walls of the ever-gorgeous interior design mecca that is Blue Print.  Past participants of the InnerBeautyShop mingled with cute t-shirts on and special turquoise Embody Love bracelets around their wrists (also for sale at the event). Jazz wafted from a trio on the patio by the pool and lovely healthy apps were passed throughout the evening. Melody and Michelle took a moment to articulate the vision and the inspiration of E*L*M and didn’t leave a sign unheard. It was a gorgeous evening.

Host Committee: Robin and Norm Bagwell, Cynthia and Bruce Collins, Charlotte and John Legg and Mary and Mike Smith.

Board members of E*L*M: Caroline Brasch, James Davis, Wayne Goodwin, Paula Larsen, Christie Reniger and Stephanie Setliff, PhD.

To sign up for the next Embody Love Center Inner Beauty Shop, click here.

* Photos provided by Embody Love Movement

Kim Bannister, Kevin Brands And Whitney Roberts Join The Elisa Project’s Board Of Directors

The Elisa Project has just added three folks to their board of directors. Organization Executive Director Kim Martinez sends word that Kim Bannister, Kevin Brands and Whitney Roberts have been tapped to join the current 13 members of the board.

Kim Bannister (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

According to Board President Alvin Wade, “Kim, Kevin and Whitney bring to The Elisa Project their passionate leadership to help families and their loved ones who are suffering with disordered eating.

“As experienced business professionals Kim, Kevin and Whitney, can assist us in developing broader options for families, an increased breadth of programming and help us make decisions at a critical time in our agency’s development. We are confident that their distinguished record as community and business leaders will help to guide our organization to make real differences.”

Founded in 1999 by Leslie and Rick McCall, The Elisa Project was created following the death of the McCalls’ 20-year-old daughter Elisa, who took her own life after years of battling bulimia, depression and negative body image. Their hope was “to provide individuals and their loved ones with education and support.”

Round Robin March 26: Celebrating Women Announcement Coffee, Life Lessons, Contact Tea And Heroes And Handbags Live Auction

Wednesday, March 26, was a black hole of activities swirling. From morning coffees to SMU basketball, it seemed like every minute of the day required families making Solomon-like decisions on what to attend/support. So, what events were so demanding attention?

How about for starters:

Nobody can say Dallas is a hayseed town! Here are some flash points of the day that started off with the butterflies that serve as the symbol for both Celebrating Women and The Elisa Project:

2014 Celebrating Women

As mentioned before, Brenda Cockrell along with her caged perky, chirpy finches hosted the 2014 Celebrating Women Luncheon Kick-Off. What was revealed was that the Baylor Health Care System Foundation fundraiser for breast cancer would return to the Hilton Anatole on Friday, October 24. Luncheon Chairs Lisa Longino and Daffan Nettle and Underwriting Chair Maggie Kipp were joined by a slew of past chairs including Celebrating Women First Lady Lindalyn Adams.

Celebrating Women leadership past and present

Celebrating Women leadership past and present

Ethel Randall

Ethel Randall

Seated near Lindalyn was Ethel Randall, who manages the remarkable Baylor mobile mammogram operation that weekly helps 100 people to learn about the health of their breasts.

The standing joke of the gathering was that Rob Lowe would not be returning this year. However, all were impressed with the final reveal of the 2014 speaker — ABC’s “Good Morning America”’s Amy Robach. And that was before she had been promoted to replace Josh Elliott!

Okay, let’s be honest. Amy may not initially raise eyebrows like the mention of Rob Lowe. But pause and recall that the 40-year-old journalist made headlines with her first-ever, on-air mammogram that revealed the she indeed had breast cancer last year.

Dr. Alan Miller

Dr. Alan Miller

But as Dr. Alan Miller, who is chief of oncology at Baylor, reported, Baylor advancements, from the mobile mammogram to the navigator program, are part of the remarkable survival rate of women . . and men … with breast cancer.

Sure, Amy may not be Rob Lowe, but she has firsthand knowledge of being an unsuspecting breast cancer patient and survivor.

As the guests headed out the door, they received delicious butterfly cookies created by Kim Crigger Warren.

Life Lesson’s Luncheon

Robin Bagwell, Kim Bannister and Jan Osborn

Robin Bagwell, Kim Bannister and Jan Osborn

Over at the Anatole, the butterflies were very much present as The Elisa Project’s mascot for the 9th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon in the Khmer Pavilion, chaired by Kim Bannister and Sawyer Bannister. As luncheon honorees Robin Bagwell and Jan Osborn schlepped signage to the Jade Pavilion in the Atrium’s lobby, a coterie of Hockadaisies gathered to meet keynote speaker, seven-time Olympic medal winning swimmer Amanda Beard.

Amanda Beard

Amanda Beard

The duo was thinking about life after the lunch. Jan had wanted to go with Robin to the SMU game or the Heroes and Handbags live auction, but she was committed to chair the Contact cocktail party at the Bush Center.

On the other hand, Robin was headed to the SMU basketball game, while husband Norm was going to host one of the tables at the VNA’s Legends and Leaders dinner at the Khmer.

As Amanda posed for photos with the schoolgirls and adult guests like Leslie and Rick McCall, Elisa Project Executive Director Kim Martinez was reporting that 540 guests were expected for the fundraiser. It was easy to spot Amanda in her cornflower blue sundress, equally blue eyes, killer looks and tattoos on her calf.

Despite having attended a patron cocktail party the night before at Matthew Trent and making the rounds of local TV programs just a couple of hours before, Amanda looked bright-eyed. Perhaps it was due to her relatively new mommy duties and/or those twice-a-day swims.

Zoe Besser

Zoe Besser

It was hard to imagine this top athletic beauty would have ever had a problem with body image or self-esteem, but she had. And she had overcome the issues and encouraged the guests: “Don’t allow what others think and say define you.

But before Amanda spoke at the luncheon, an overpowering reading of entries by Zoe Besser and others from Elisa McCall captured the importance of self-esteem for young people. It was haunting to hear the words of a little girl, whose death had inspired her parents to help others suffering from an eating disorder, struggling with her frustration, confusion, anxiety and depression. Her emotional turmoil life hit home, with many in the audience having a greater understanding for the need for The Elisa Project. Even those who never knew Elisa now knew, understood and appreciated her struggle.

Contact Tea

Just as the crowd was being let out from The Elisa Project luncheon, a Kappa Kappa Gamma tea was underway at Jan Hegi’s home-sweet-home in Highland Park.

 Jan Hegi, Benaye Rogers, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis and Leigh Anne Haugh

Jan Hegi, Benaye Rogers, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis and Leigh Anne Haugh

The reason was Contact keynote speaker/honoree/Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, who just so happened to be a Kappa and was in town as the keynote speaker for the next day’s Spirit of Contact luncheon at the Anatole’s Khmer Pavilion.

Before arriving at Jan’s, true-blue Kappa Kaitlin had visited the sorority house on the SMU campus.

As Jan and her “little sister” Marla Boone chatted in the entry hall, blonde Kaitlin took a seat on the couch in the living room. Her high heels were starting to get the best of her. Seems, like Amanda Beard, Kaitlin had been an early bird making the rounds of the local TV news shows. Learning that Amanda had also been staying at the Anatole, Kaitlin perked up. But then she learned that Amanda was already headed to the airport.

Editor’s note: Keynote and guest speakers may seem like they live an exciting life. A new city being feted, interviewed and photographed. Actually, it’s a demanding lifestyle — living out of a suitcase, being asked the same old questions, being shuttled around, trying to juggle their home life from long distance, being at the mercy of airline schedules, etc.

But back to Kaitlin. Despite having living through one of the nation’s most horrific mass murders, the 30-year-old teacher made no bones about her commitment to not let the tragedy define her or her students.

When asked if she had returned to the 3’ by 4’ bathroom where she and 15 of her students sought refuge from the murderer wandering the Sandy Hook halls, she looked a bit surprised. There was no way she would have ever returned to that room that had been demolished along with the school.

In 2012 Kaitlin admitted there were so many “angels” like her deceased grandmother who had been watching over her and her 15 first-graders, who were literally crammed in a room smaller than a coffee table. She recalled one student, who had been on vacation that day. When his parents asked her what she would have done if he had been at class, Kaitlin didn’t hesitate — “I would have put him on my shoulders.”

Heroes and Handbags Live Auction

Along with popularity comes challenges. In the case of the Knox-Henderson area east of Central Expressway, it’s parking. The guests of the Heroes and Handbags Live Auction found that out. Valet parking had been promised for the event at The Dram. But as guests trudged along Henderson, nary a parker nor sparking space was in sight.

However, nothing can prevent this crowd from getting to a Heroes for Children (H4C). Determined guests finally pulled into the lineup for Tei-Tei/The Porch parking lot that was as crowded as a Springsteen concert at the Final Four. Drivers were given understanding smiles by the parkers, who told them that they were indeed in the right lot. Once out of their vehicles, guests were directed down a walkway to the Dram.

One guest was so frustrated that he drove his SUV into the lot via the exit. To make amends with the attendants, he paid them $40 to keep his car nearby, saying, “We’re not going to be here that long.”

But once inside the dark bar with the cozy banquets and bar with a mirrored wall with glass shelves boasting loads of grown-up beverages, guests felt right at home.

Angela Choquette and Andrea Weber

Angela Choquette and Andrea Weber

H&H Chair Andrea Weber was celebrating a mommy’s night out. This was her first outing since giving birth to her daughter, Nicolette on March 5.

Darren Woodson

Darren Woodson

Andrea admitted that she indeed had had her hands full with the baby and the H&H fundraiser. But despite it all, the blonde new mom delivered more than the baby. She also arranged for adorable former Dallas Cowboy Darren Woodson to be the honorary chair. Well, she did get some help from husband John, who offices with Darren.

Taking the mic from Andrea and prodded by H4C Co-Founder Larissa Linton, Darren managed to articulately get the party-hearty crowd to face the reality of the program that helps the children battling cancer.

It was the perfect message to get the live auction hitting $37,000 for H4C.

Kristy Hensel and Larissa Linton

Kristy Hensel and Larissa Linton

Speaking of Larissa, she said that it appears that 200 handbags from the likes of Oscar de la Renta, YSL, Jimmy Choo, Susie Straubmueller, Chanel, Valentino and Rag & Bone will be up for auction at the H&H brunch on Friday, April 25, at the Omni.

Elaine Turner handbag*

Elaine Turner handbag*

Once again Elaine Turner has created a limited edition bag for the event.

In addition to having Tina “Bag Snob” Craig as the honorary chair, the H&H is being sponsored by Sewell, United Healthcare, Traxxas and TXU Energy.

If you love handbags and you just know you do, you’d better get on the stick and get your tickets. Insiders indicated “some tickets/tables are still left,” but they’re going, going, nearly gone.

* Photo provided 
by Heroes For 
Children

JUST IN: The Elisa Project’s Star Of Hope Recipients Revealed

Jan Osborn and Robin Bagwell*

Jan Osborn and Robin Bagwell*

Word just arrived that Robin Bagwell and Jan Osborn will be awarded the Star of Hope by The Elisa Project. The presentation will be made at the annual Life Lessons Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Wednesday, March 26.

In making the announcement, The Elisa Project Executive director Kim Martinez said, “Robin and Jan are the two most deserving individuals who have continued to serve and promote our mission.  They are both former luncheon co-chairs and The Elisa Project is thrilled to honor them.”

Co-Chaired by Kim Bannister and Sawyer Bannister, the luncheon will have as its keynote speaker the world-renowned athlete Amanda Beard.

*  Photo provided by The Elisa Project

 

MySweet2014Goals: Kimberly Martinez

Kimberly Martinez (File photo)

Kimberly Martinez (File photo)

Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez has goals for both personally and professionally:

“The Elisa Project’s goal is to positively impact youth through resources and services that build self-esteem, positive body image and healthy life-styles.

“My personal goal is to enjoy and embrace every moment, of every day.”

MySweetWishList: The Elisa Project

Kim Bannister and Kimberly Martinez*

Kim Bannister and Kimberly Martinez*

According to Luncheon Chair Kim Bannister and The Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, The Elisa Project’s wish is

“The holiday season is when wishes come true and miracles happen.  I believe in wishes and miracles, so I’m asking for your help. The Elisa Project, a non-profit that is dedicated to saving the lives of those who are suffering with eating disorder illnesses, is struggling to meet community demand for awareness and prevention education. Because everyone knows someone who is struggling with depression, low self-esteem or negative body-image, The Elisa Project’s programs (that focuses on these issues) have a waiting list of students to train.

“For that someone in your life who has everything, please purchase a table or tickets to our 9th Annual Waves of Change – Life Lessons Luncheon, chaired by Kim Bannister on March 26, 2014. Our luncheon speaker is seven-time Olympic medal winner, Amanda Beard.

“Amanda will speak frankly about how low self-esteem can lead to toxic relationships, clinical depression and self-destructive behavior.  In her late teens, with pressures to remain thin, Amanda became bulimic, abused drugs and alcohol and began cutting herself. Through the renewed faith in herself and with support from family and friends, Amanda survived her battle and will join us to share her compelling story of a woman who gained the strength to live as bravely out of the water as she did in it.  All proceeds from our fabulous day will go directly to help save lives.

“If you know someone who is suffering from mental health issues and needs help or for additional information about our event, please visit our website at www.theelisaproject.org or call 214.369.5222. You can make a difference today!”

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

Second Annual The Elisa Project Open Takes The Battle Against Eating Disorders To The Courts

While some were lunching at fundraising events on Friday, November 15, others were taking full advantage of the beautiful weather to raise money for The Elisa Project. This report from the field tells the story:

“The Elisa Project held its second annual tennis tournament – TEP Open — at the Dallas Country Club.  Charlotte Alston Legg and Terri McCullough served as co-chairs for the event with The Elisa Project Co-Founders Leslie and Rick McCall as honorary co-chairs.

Charlotte Alstron Legg, Leslie and Rick McCall and Terry McCullough*

Charlotte Alstron Legg, Leslie and Rick McCall and Terry McCullough*

“Twenty-six teams of two played in the round robin and 105 tournament and raised over $10,000 for the charity.  Thanks to sponsors (Audi Dallas, Dallas Country Club, Elizabeth Showers, Cabanalife, JM Albert Photography, Skin Technology, The Scout Guide, Innergy, Spoon bar & kitchen, T Bar M Racquet Club, Royal Oaks Country Club, McCullough Mediation, Sunkissed Girl, Woodhill Dental Specialties, Vickie Brown Tenniswear and several local families), the entire event was underwritten.

“Local tennis phenom Peggy Porter also joined in by playing with the pros. The day included a ProAm and lunch on the terrace.

Kim Martinez

Kim Martinez*

“Executive Director, Kim Martinez said that success of the tournament was due to the hard work of Charlotte and Terri in addition to the support of all sponsors, the Dallas Country Club and their pro staff.

“The purpose of the event was to raise mission-critical funds for The Elisa Project that will be used to provide school-age and community education and prevention programs throughout North Texas, as well as resource and referral services to help patients and families struggling with eating disorders find treatment and support.”

Photos provided by The Elisa Project