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.


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.

Fashion Stars For A Cause Patron Party Had Gems, Bubbles And A “Rose” At The Doorway

As Fashion Stars For A Cause patrons arrived at Diamonds Direct on Monday, March 6, they immediately spotted FSFAC Honorary Chair Caroline Rose Hunt seated in a leather chair just to the right of the doorway.

Caroline Rose Hunt and David Blank

Thanks to newlyweds Kristy Morgan Sands and Patrick Sands (aka Caroline’s son), Caroline was john-on-the-spot when the event started. Kristy was decked out in all type of leather from the suede jacket to the smooth, black leather slacks.

Kristy Morgan Sands and Patrick Sands

With three photographers snapping away, the diamonds in the cases and being sampled by guests like Suicide and Crisis Center Executive Director Margie Wright, Carolyn Tillery, Jenyce Gush, Samantha Davies, Terry Bentley Hill, 2017 Fashion Stars Tavia Hunt and Debbie Stout Elchami, Tony Stevens, Dan Prichett and Priya Rathod caused a star burst effect thanks to Diamonds Direct hosts Amit Berger, David Blank and Yosi Mayer.

Debbie Stout Elchami

Jenyce Gush, Yosi Mayer and Margie Wright

Checking around the first floor, KDFW anchor/reporter/2017 Fashion Star Jenny Anchondo and husband Heath Oakes were checking the offerings under glass. It’s hard to believe that Jenny and Heath have just barely been married a year and they’re already getting ready to welcome a new Anchondo-Oakes.

Heath Oakes and Jenny Anchondo

David Tiller looked remarkable following spinal surgery. Wife Martha Tiller invited guests to nudge his waist, “It’s a girdle. We’ve been wearing them for years.” Actually, it was a brace to help David’s back rehab.

Martha and David Tiller

Speaking of being healthy, 2017 Fashion Star Shay Geyer was svelter than ever. She claimed that she really needed to lose the pounds and felt great.

Just back from the Bahamas, Diamonds Director Amit said that he was feeling right at home in Texas and was right at home in practicing, “Y’all.”

David Blank, Samantha Davies, Priya Rathod and Amit Berger

Speaking of being right at home in North Texas, Amit and David were preparing for Thursday night’s celebration of the newest Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Being the Dallas Cowboys right-official jeweler, Diamonds Direct celebrates the new cheerleaders with the presentation of their “class rings.”

Carolyn Tillery, Amit Berger and Tony Stevens

As FSFAC Founder Yvonne Crum in yellow greeted patrons, FSFAC Magazine publisher Carolyn Tillery was seen trying on all types of sparkly gems.

Fashion Stars for A Cause  on Friday, March 24, at the Dallas Country Club benefits Suicide and Crisis Center for North Texas.

Momentous Institute And The Lynn Lectures Offer Solutions For A Less Stressful Life Tuesday Night At McFarlin Auditorium

Love And Wisdom In A Time Of Stress — The Art And Science Of Mindfulness From The Cellular To The Planetary, By Way Of The Body And The Mind*

With all that hail and stormy weather last night and the fussing going on in Washington, stress seems to be the call of the day and that’s downright unhealthy. To help address the issue of stress, Momentous Institute and The Lynn Lectures have partnered up to present “Love And Wisdom In A Time Of Stress — The Art And Science Of Mindfulness From The Cellular To The Planetary, By Way Of The Body And The Mind.”


The presentation will take place Tuesday at McFarlin Auditorium on SMU campus at 7 p.m. with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr. Elissa Epel addressing “the art and science of mindfulness and living younger, including the telomere/life-enhancing effects of nutrition, exercise and meditation at any age.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn and Elissa Epel*

While Jon will “discuss the psychological, physiological and immune-enhancing effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and its remarkable effects on daily life’s challenges, as well as enhancing well-being,” Elissa will talk about “her groundbreaking results studying the effects of psychological stress and lifestyle on biological aging and how they can be modulated and possibly reversed by regular mindfulness practice, nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle practices.”

The $50- and $100-seats are already sold out, but there are still tickets available for $25 and that’s not too stressful.

* Graphic and photos courtesy of Momentous Institute

North Texas Smarty Pants — TAG And Lee Park Jr. Conservancy — Make Kentucky Derby A Two-Day Fest Of Fundraising

Tired of hearing about event collisions? You know. That’s when two or three very interesting fundraisers are scheduled at the same time like this past Wednesday, when the luncheon slam-bang — Linz Award, Planned Parenthood and the Virginia Chandler Dyke — had guests making Solomon-like decisions. Not everyone can be a Janie McGarr, who attended the Linz VIP reception in the Omni’s Trinity Ballroom and then scooted on over to the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom for Planned Parenthood.

But how about some good news about two groups that had competed for the same type of guests and managed to make it all work this year?

Horse racing (File photo)

Back story: In past years, the Kentucky Derby has had the BrainHealth’s Think Ahead Group (TAG) and Lee Park Junior Conservancy holding their fundraisers at the same time to see the Run for the Roses. Ah, but this year those brainiacs came up with an idea — a two-fer by holding their event the night before to get the momentum underway plus celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Gee, no wonder they’re so dang smart!

So, here’s how North Texas is gonna celebrate the Kentucky equine race:

  • Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt (File photo)

    Friday, May 5 (8 p.m.-midnight) — TAG holds Cinco de Derby at Marie Gabrielle with margaritas and mint juleps complementing Mexican food. If you haven’t been to Marie Gabrielle, don’t tell a soul. It’s Dallas proper’s sweetheart of an oasis within the concrete forest. Proceeds benefit the Discovery Group, a program at the Center for BrainHealth that “works to improve quality of life after an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.” As for tickets, non-TAG member tickets are going for $87 and members save $20 for their $67 tickets.

To keep things rocking and rolling, wake up late morning and put on your prettiest frock and nattiest duds and prepare for fashionable strutting and horse racing watching. (Editor’s note: put tea bags on top of those partied-out eyes for 10 minutes before applying the makeup.)

  • Tyler Stevens, Gay Donnell and Camille Cain Barnes*

    Saturday, May 6 (4 – 7:30 p.m.) — For the big spenders, the 9th Annual Day at the Races Co-Chairs Camille Cain Barnes and Tyler Stevens announced at the kick-off party at Vineyard Vines that there will be a VIP private champagne reception at Arlington Hall and Lee Park starting at 4 p.m. But, please let the jeans, cowboy boots and leather fringe take the day off. This one demands true southern comfort sundresses and seersuckers topped off with smashing hats. Well, after all, there is a competition for the Best Dressed and Best Hat. If it’s a pretty day, there will be lawn games. But if it’s one of those drizzle days, don’t despair. (Alliteration is everything, don’t you know!). Inside Arlington Hall there will be a silent auction, a wagering table, live music and watching the Derby on major screens. Remember? You’re there for the Kentucky Derby. Tickets are available now with Lee Park Junior Conservancy members getting a thrifty $125 per person and non-members paying $150. For that VIP special, it’ll be $500 for two and it include “an invitation to attend the Patron Party in April.” Love perks!

If you haven’t been to either or both of these events, stand in the stand-out corner. There isn’t a zit in the crowd and even AARP types suddenly become young fillies and stallions.

* Photo provided by Lee Park Junior Conservancy

A Beacon of Hope Luncheon Introduced Faces Of Hope And Had Glennon Doyle Melton Mix Humor And Honesty About Mental Health

As final preparations were underway on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel for “A Beacon Of Hope” silent auction and luncheon benefiting the Grant Halliburton Foundation, a VIP reception was taking place on the fourth floor’s City View room on Thursday, February 23.

Foundation President/Founder Vanita Halliburton was surrounded by people whose had been touched by teenagers dealing with mental health issues. She herself had created the foundation due to the suicide of her son Grant Halliburton at the age of 19 in 2005 after years of suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.

Dealing with teen mental health is very difficult issue for a fundraising event. It’s a delicate weaving of the emotional turmoil and hope for helping others overcome such challenges. On this occasion, Vanita was celebrating the launch of a new program — Faces of Hope. As Faces of Hope Chair Barb Farmer explained, the collaboration between the foundation and Gittings was to honor people within the community who “work in diverse ways to promote mental health every day.”

This year’s group of Faces included Suzie and Mike Ayoob, Senior Corporal Herb Cotner, Julie Hersh, Terry Bentley Hill, Patrick LeBlanc, Sylvia Orozco-Joseph, Sierra Sanchez and Priya Singvi.

Sierra Sanchez, Priya Singhvi, Sylvia Orozco-Joseph, Mike and Suzie Ayoob, Terry Bentley Hill, Julie Hersh, Herb Cotner and Patrick LeBlanc

In addition to pieces of crystal being presented to each of the Faces, their portraits were displayed in the lobby on the second floor.

Gittings Faces of Hope portraits

Following the presentation, Vanita had the day’s speaker author/blogger/newly engaged Glennon Doyle Melton briefly talk. Her message was that you can let tragedy drive you forward for the better or let it drive you further down.

Then, right on cue at 10:55, Vanita directed the patrons to the second floor to check the silent auction and buy raffle tickets. On the way down, Barb showed a bracelet that she got from last year’s raffle. It seems her husband bought ten tickets and claimed it was his. Luckily, he gave it to Barb.

Tom Krampitz and Terry Bentley Hill

Hailey Nicholson and Shannon Hollandsworth

The patrons discovered the lobby and ballroom jammed with guests like Tom Krampitz, Shannon Hollandsworth with daughter Hailey Nicholson. Dixey Arterburn was walking through the crowd with a Starbucks cup and a very hoarse throat. Seems she lost her voice at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Ball the Saturday before.

Dixey Arteburn and Ginger Sager

Taylor Mohr and Amanda Johnson

Taylor Mohr was with her buddy Amanda Johnson, who lost her sister to suicide resulting in Amanda’s working with others involved in such emotional crisis. Unfortunately, there were many in the audience with similar reason for being there. Luckily, they were there to not just support Grant Halliburton Foundation but each other.

Steve Noviello and Vanita Halliburton

Just past noon, KDFW reporter/emcee Steve Noviello recalled that the first year only 100 people attended the luncheon. Now eight years later there were more than 400. In introducing Vanita, he told how when he first met her in her office, he had remarked about the art on the walls, only to learn that it had been done by Grant.

Vanita told about the Foundation and its purpose to help young people struggling with mental health crises. In the past suicide had been the third leading cause of death among young people from ages 15 to 24. It is now second among those between 10 and 24. In Texas, the average is one suicide per week among young people.

After a break for lunch, Vanita and Glennon took their places in chairs on stage. Less than 30 seconds into the conversation, Glennon’s headset mic wasn’t working. A man hustled to the stage with a handheld. Despite the change of mic, there continued to be rustling noise over the PA. Another handheld was brought to the stage for Vanita. It didn’t seem all that necessary, since Glennon appeared to need no help in sharing her life of bulimia, alcoholism, drug addiction and her personal views.

Glennon Doyle Melton

She got sober when she was 25 after being in addiction for a decade and a half. Then she got married and life was good until her husband told her that he had been unfaithful. Learning that news, she just couldn’t stay in her house, so she headed to her yoga class, where they had her go to a hot yoga room. Upon entering the room, Glennon thought, “What the hell is this?”

When the question was raised about what the yoga members’ intentions were that day, Glennon admitted, “My intention is sit on the mat and not run out of the room.” The results? “It was the hardest 90 minutes of my life.”

While her talk was a mix of self-deprecating humor and brutal honesty, it was definitely not a scripted speech but rather just Glennon just being Glennon. 

But her message was clear — “My entire life is to not to avoid the pain of life.” She also said that as a parent, “It’s not our job to protect our children from pain.”

In closing, she consoled those who had suffered the loss of loved ones to mental illness by saying, “Grief is just the proof of great love.”

MySweetWishList: Homeward Bound

According to Homeward Bound Executive Director Douglas Denton,

Douglas Denton*

“Homeward Bound, Inc., a nonprofit Dallas drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center, is asking for support for its share of the costs of a training for and presentation of a free storytelling program at the Bath House Cultural Center on the evening of Friday, January 6. Clients and former clients who have been coached by professional storytellers will be sharing snippets of their life stories for a public performance at the Bath House. This is an exceptional opportunity for our clients to tell their healing stories. We would appreciate financial help with the production and have been awarded a Texas Commission on the Arts grant for this program. We have an ongoing gofundme campaign at to cover these costs.

From the left: Homeward Bound audience member, Homeward Bound audience member and Peggy and Gene Helmick-Richardson*

“Behind the scenes are Gene and Peggy Helmick-Richardson of Dallas, the Twice Upon a Time Storytellers. They have been on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Arts Roster since 2003.

“The Helmick-Richardsons believe in Homeward Bound’s cause as well as the therapeutic power of storytelling. Together, they have been presenting their stories to our residential clients for more than 20 years as volunteers. In addition to their usual weekly schedule in our HIV-positive unit, the Helmick-Richardsons have been working with our clients for months, helping them to polish their stories and selecting the tellers for the Bath House program.

“’Our ultimate goal is to not only assist storytelling program participants in crafting their own stories to further their personal healing but to also reach out to others wanting to break the bonds of addiction or to have a deeper understanding of what addiction truly means,’ Peggy explains.

“Note that the audience will be limited to adults only, due to adult subject matter and language. Thank you for your support.”

-By Douglas Denton, Homeward Bound executive director

* Photos provided by Homeward Bound

Interactive Artist/Activist Candy Chang Blended Art And Healing For Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 31st Luncheon

To compare last year’s Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 30th Annual Luncheon to this year’s was like comparing a trophy wife to a first wife.

Sure, the 2016 version had Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria at the podium, an A+ meet-and-greet structure, life was good and the economy was marching along. But this year’s Annual Luncheon on Friday, October 21, at the Hilton Anatole had a different set of challenges. The economy was antsy; nerves were on edge perhaps due to the political bickering; and frills of the past were toned down to satisfy the need to meet the bottom line.

Dallas Women’s Foundation President/CEO Ros Dawson admitted that they had considered a six-figure type when petite urban artist/activist Candy Chang appeared at a conference that Ros attended. With the July 7th shooting in Dallas and the luncheon Co-Chairs/art champions Joyce Goss and Selwyn Rayzor at the helm, Ros just knew they had a perfect match — their keynote speaker blending art and advocacy together … and an on-target budget.

Joyce Goss, Candy Change, Selwyn Rayzor, Ellenore Baker and Ros Dawson

Joyce Goss, Candy Change, Selwyn Rayzor, Ellenore Baker and Ros Dawson

That tightening of the budget was paramount since establishing the Unlocking Leadership Campaign goal of $50M. It was a daunting challenge to raise that type of money.  Still, thanks to sponsors like U.S. Trust, the DWF mission of investing in women and girls and empowering women’s philanthropy to build a better world forged ahead.

But the day started off with the meet-and-greet in the Anatole’s Wedgwood Room. It had all the signs of being a repeat of last year’s flawless grip-and-grin. There was a cordoned-off area for guests to have their photos taken with Candy. There were cards to be provided to guests as they arrived to hand over when their photo opp took place. There was even the metal ring on which the cards were to be placed to help identify who was in each photo. The only thing missing was the (wo)manpower to make things happen.

Candy Chang and Regina Montoya

Candy Chang and Regina Montoya

Unlike last year’s photo opp, with one person to receive the card at the line up and another to take a handbag to the exit area, there was just one person who stayed at the exit. Some guests made it to the cordoned-off area with cards filled out, but most showed up at the exit with no card. Evidently, the cards were only sporadically being handed out and some folks didn’t realize there was a meet-and-greet taking place. There were times when Candy just stood like the last gal picked at a boy-ask-girl dance. But Candy was a good sport and stayed with a smile on her lips and an artistic tattoo on her right arm.

Just outside the Chantilly Ballroom, the lobby was highlighted by large panels headlined with “A better world is …”  The panels would be put to full use after the luncheon.

In the Chantilly Ballroom, organizers admitted that the luncheon headcount was down from 2015’s 1,800—if you call 1,300 down. But the money count was ahead of plan.

Kaleta Doolin

Kaleta Doolin

Joyce and Selwyn welcomed the group including Dallas Women’s Foundation Board Chair Ellenore Baker, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Paige Flink, Nancy Ann Hunt, Rex Thompson, Robin Bagwell, Wendy Messmann, Regina Montoya and 2017 Dallas Women’s Foundation Luncheon Chair Lisa Singleton, telling them the presentation by Candy would offer hope and healing. They told of the cards at the tables that could be filled out and placed on the lobby’s panels following Candy’s talk. They added that even before the doors of the ballroom were opened, more than a million dollars had been brought in.

After they recognized Honorary Chair/artist Kaleta Doolin, a powerful video was shown about the challenges facing a single mother in need of help.

p1210391Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Paula and Ron Parker and Trea Yip were on stage to stir up the Foundation’s fundraising campaign. Over $30,793,000 had been raised, but they wanted to match the 31st anniversary by hitting the $31M mark. If folks texted to #betterworld, they could make a donation to meet the goal. Immediately cellphones were pulled out on stage and in the audience to provide the funds.

Trea Yip and Ashlee Kleinert

Trea Yip and Ashlee Kleinert

On the screen, the names of donors like Clay Jenkins and Sandra Brown were shown. And while texting may still be like hieroglyphics to some, this one caused consternation even among the savvy types. There seemed to be problem that became a topic during the luncheon.

No problem. Soon Mother Ros was on stage explaining the hiccup. It seems that some folks had put a space between “better” and “world” and heaven knows where the money was going. But not to worry. The DWF braintrust had already taken care of the misdirected funds. With a sigh of relief, the cellphones were out again and successful donations were made. Whew!

Ros Dawson

Ros Dawson

Following a film, Ros invited people to keep talking as she spoke. And that is exactly what they did. Between the chatter and the clatter of the forks on plates, the folks especially in the back of the room missed her telling of the $31K anonymous donation that had just been made in honor of the 31st anniversary, helping the texting amount to $72K at that moment. They also could hardly hear Ros describing the great need to “harness the heart of this community to address the deep divide of race, class and gender.” It was for this need to bring people together that the decision had been made to bypass a big-name celeb and go for a peaceful and thoughtful activist like Candy Chang as the keynote speaker.

As Candy took the stage, the noise level in the room had decreased thanks to the winding down of the meal. With the help of the massive screens around the room, Candy told of her journey as a community activist and artist in New Orleans and the turning point that led her to create an international movement as well as become a TED Senior Speaker. It was the death of “Joan,” who had been so influential throughout Candy’s life. Her death had been sudden and unexpected. Candy went through a period of grief and depression.  She discovered an abandoned house in her neighborhood and decided to use it as a canvas. Painting one of its walls black like a chalkboard, she wrote on it, “Before I die, I want to…” Pretty soon the wall was filled with all types of comments reflecting on the authors’ lives. The wall allowed a coming together of feelings, dreams and concerns among the people. This one wall of words caught on like wildfire throughout the world. Today there are more than 2,000 “Before I die…” walls internationally. Each wall is unique to its own community.

Speaking of her own success, she admitted that she owed it “to the generosity of others who stepped in and caught me at that critical moment when I questioned whether I had the capacity or the confidence to try something new.”

She was especially moved by the day’s program, and hoped that the audience would pay it forward in providing support and empowerment for girls and women on their journeys.

Before concluding her talk, she added that all people have mental health issues like sorrow, anxiety, stress, etc.: “These feelings easily escalate to more intense conflicts like addiction or depression or self-destruction.”  As a result, she created an interactive exhibit in which writers anonymously confessed their feelings. One such confession read: “I’m afraid I’ll die alone.”

This sense of coming together to heal led her to her latest project — Atlas of Tomorrow in Philadelphia.

It is a huge interactive mural with a 6-foot dial which people are invited to spin to possibly resolve challenges or issues facing them. The number on which the spinner stops leads them to one of 64 stories taken from I Ching, one of the world’s oldest books of wisdom. The hope is to provide “a place to pause and try and make sense of our lives together,” according to Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Executive Director Jane Golden.  

But despite the huge project in Philadelphia and the worldly influence, Candy’s message was felt on a smaller plain. As guests left the ballroom, they let it be known that they had gotten Candy’s message by filling the panels in the lobby completing the line, “A better world is…” One read, “A better world is … because of the Dallas Women’s Foundation.”  Said others: ” … full of compassion,” ” … kind,” ” … possible.”  Those panels were not just for show. Their future lay at being positioned throughout the city including at NorthPark Center, Southwest Center Mall, The Stewpot Talent Show at Encore Park and The Stewpot.  

BTW, thanks to texting and generosity, the Foundation hit its $31M mark. Now, only $19M to go!

Momentous Institute Hosts Award-Giving Dinner With Author Glennon Doyle Melton On The Eve Of The Changing The Odds Conference

The night before the Momentous Institute kicked off the two-day Changing the Odds Conference, a very special dinner was held on Wednesday, October 5, at Sixty Five Hundred. Not only did Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones receive the inaugural  Changing the Odds Leadership Award, but author Glennon Doyle Melton was the keynote speaker. Here’s a report from the field:

Leslie Melson and J.D. McCaslin*

Leslie Melson and J.D. McCaslin*

More than 400 supporters gathered at Sixty Five Hundred on Wednesday, October 5, for Salesmanship Club of Dallas and Momentous Institute’s 5th annual Changing the Odds Dinner. Guests enjoyed a private dinner and address with speaker Glennon Doyle Melton, bestselling author and founder of the wildly popular Dinner chairs for the event were J.D. McCaslin and Leslie Melson.

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Bill McClung and Guy Kerr*

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Bill McClung and Guy Kerr*

Momentous Institute Chairman Guy Kerr and Salesmanship Club of Dallas Past President  Bill McClung presented Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones with the first-ever Changing the Odds Leadership Award for their significant contributions to the health and well being of children in our community, including those served by Momentous Institute.

Michelle Kinder*

Michelle Kinder*

Momentous Institute Executive Director Michelle Kinder followed by underscoring the urgent need for social emotional health, particularly in light of national events, including the recent Dallas shootings.

“As a city, in the face of the unspeakable – we saw firsthand the difference social emotional health makes — we saw it in Mayor Rawlings and we saw it in Chief Brown. Compassion exemplified,” Kinder said. “Momentous Institute is about showing up in the lives of children so that the next Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown can emerge. Every person we work with represents a complex story – and a sacred opportunity for kindness, compassion and the expectation of momentous outcomes.”

Glennon Doyle Melton*

Glennon Doyle Melton*

Melton inspired the crowd as she recounted years of love, hurt, addiction, bravery and healing with her trademark authenticity and wit.

Melton is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoirs “Love Warrior,” of which the evening’s guests received a signed copy, and “Carry On, Warrior.” She is also founder of, an online community reaching millions of people each week, as well as the creator and president of Together Rising, a nonprofit organization that has raised nearly $5 million for women and children in crisis.

The dinner preceded Momentous Institute’s annual Changing the Odds Conference (October 6-7), a two-day conference at Omni Dallas that brings more than 1,600 mental health and education professionals (from 132 cities, 29 states and 7 other countries) together to hear best practices in social emotional health from thought leaders around the world.

* Photos provided by Momentous Institute

Salesmanship Club Of Dallas’ Momentous Institute Opens Availability For Changing The Odds Conference Via Live Streaming

Changing The Odds Conference*

Changing The Odds Conference*

The Salesmanship Club of Dallas’ Momentous Institute is just now announcing that its Changing The Odds Conference — “Compassion: Brain Changer” — that will be held Thursday, October 6 (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), and Friday, October 7 (9:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.), at the Omni Dallas was sold out last April.

Whoa! That was five months ago. So, why the delayed announcement?

According to organizers, “We have been sold out since April and have had a growing waiting list. We did not announce the sellout back in April since we were exploring options for how to give more people access to the conference. Now that option has arrived.”

The option is the live streaming of the event that will allow “live stream ticket holders to watch the conference anywhere from their own devices.” Translation: you’ll be able to watch and hear the speakers in your jammies if you like.

Brené Brown**

Brené Brown**

And what a lineup they have! How about New York Times bestselling author ofEmotional Intelligence” Daniel Goleman; motivational speaker and author Lizzie Velasquez; “the happiest man in the world,” Matthieu Ricard; the emotions expert behind Pixar’s “Inside Out,” Dacher Keltner; neuroscientist and one of Time Magazine’s “Most Influential People” Richard J. Davidson; Momentous Institute experts and #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown, who hit it out of the park last spring at the Dallas Children’s Appetite for Advocacy Luncheon.

There is a catch, of course. But it’s not a big one. You’ve just got to register to gain access for the live streaming. The price for the two days of live streaming is $300 per individual stream. Sign up here.

* Graphic provided by Salesmanship Club of Dallas 
** Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2016 Meal For The Minds

According to Metrocare Services Chief Executive Officer Dr. John W. Burruss,

John W. Burruss*

John W. Burruss*

“Metrocare strives to erase the stigma of mental health challenges, provide services to those in need, and educate our community on how to help themselves or a loved one. This year, Metrocare will provide services to over 52,000 adults and children throughout Dallas County. 

“One of the ways that Metrocare educates the community on mental health challenges, is through our fundraising efforts and annual luncheon – ‘Meal for the Minds.’ Metrocare is excited to share that the ‘2016 Meal for the Minds’ luncheon event is being presented by Cohen Veterans Network.  In 2015, Cohen Veterans Network selected Metrocare to be part of its national network of high-quality mental health clinics, working to ensure that every veteran and their family members are able to obtain free and effective mental health care.

“Transitioning from military to civilian life is challenging for many veterans and their families. ‘Going from a war zone in service time to civilian life – these are very different things. Metrocare is committed to helping adults and children who are transitioning to life in North Texas after life in the military.’

“Through the generosity of Steven A. Cohen and the Cohen Veterans Network, we are able to serve veterans and their families at no cost. The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Metrocare opened in May 2016.

“As part of Metrocare’s partnership with Cohen Veterans Network, this year’s keynote speaker at Meal for the Minds is Medal of Honor Recipient and Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts. In 2014, Ryan Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan in 2008. Pitts’ courage, steadfast commitment to his defense unit, and ability to fight while seriously wounded prevented the enemy from capturing fallen American soldiers.

“The ‘2016 Meal for the Minds’ luncheon will be held Thursday, September 29, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. The silent auction begins at 11:00 a.m. and the lunch program begins at 11:45 a.m.  Individual tickets for the luncheon are $150 each and sponsorship opportunities begin at $1,500. For tickets or sponsor information, please visit our website at For questions, contact Tameka Y. Cass at 214.743.1220 or email [email protected].

“We hope you can join us!”

* Photo provided by Metrocare

JUST IN: 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson Scores $5.8M For Momentous Institute

It seems like ages ago that the players were on the course for the 48-year-old AT&T Byron Nelson in May. But in the months since the PGA tournament at the Four Seasons Resort, the calculators have been treated like abused punching bags and with good reason.

Today the Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas reported the amount of money that would benefit its Momentous Institute. The amount is way too big to print even on a Big Tex-type check. Ready to be impressed? The net results of the tournament was $5.8M.

Of course, the boys in red pants are all smiles.

According to 2016 Tournament Chair Tim Marron, “We are incredibly grateful to our title sponsor, AT&T, and our partners who helped make this another successful year for our tournament and, ultimately, for Momentous Institute. It is humbling to see the results of everyone’s hard work come together to benefit our Club’s longstanding mission to change kids’ lives.”

BTW, don’t go confusing Momentous Institute with Café Momentum. While they’re both very amazing programs for youngsters, the Institute “serves more than 6,000 kids and family members” by providing emotional and education support.

Momentous Institute Board Chair Guy Kerr explained, “The proceeds from this tournament yield a lifetime of change for the kids and families we serve through Momentous Institute. Every person who has a hand in making this tournament a success is part of a larger effort to ensure that more kids and family members have access to the mental health and education services they need.”

In the meantime, start thinking what you’re gonna wear for the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson at the Four Seasons Resort. It will take place in 262 days from Monday, May 15 thru Sunday, May 21.

Author/Sportscaster David Feherty Steps In For Susan Hawk As Keynote Speaker At 32nd Annual CARE Breakfast In November

David Feherty*

David Feherty*

Anyone who has experienced a David Feherty talk knows the former professional golfer/NBC sportscaster/author is a master at storytelling. With a twinkle in his eye and the charm a leprechaun would envy, the bearded Irishman regales folks about people and issues. Whether it’s questioning the return of Tiger Woods to greatness or admitting to his own demons, he doesn’t hold back, but he does it with humor.

In discussing his own struggle with depression and drug/alcohol abuse, he told Golf Digest , “a typical day was 30-40 Vicodin and two and a half bottles of whiskey…real whiskey. Whiskey with an ‘e.’ There was cocaine, there was dope. When I think about it now I’m like, ‘Why am I alive?’”

It’s that self-revelation, plus tales of his shenanigans after winning the Scottish Open in 1986 and the all-too-well-known people who helped him in his recovery, that David will provide at the 32nd Annual CARE Breakfast on Wednesday, November 9, at Belo Mansion.

BTW, David is stepping in for Dallas District Attorney Susan Hawk, “who was originally scheduled for the event.” Due to Susan’s seeking help in fighting her own issues with depression, she had to bow out.

* Photo provided by CARE

Four Hundred Watch Nyquist Win The Run For The Roses As They Raise Money At TAG Derby Event For BrainHealth Center

Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt

Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt

Dreamy and Jessi Gould

Dreamy and Jessi Gould

Cigars, seersucker, sunglasses and big hats were the order of the day when as many as 400 young professionals gathered on Saturday, May 7, for the Think Ahead Group’s Sixth Annual Kentucky Derby Party. The focal point of the derby-watching party was a big-screen TV set up in the green, tree-lined courtyard at Dallas’ beautiful Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens.

Greeting the lovely and handsome young things at the front door was Dreamy the 19-year-old Morgan with her handler Barbara Lewis.

Bethany Voss and Mike Rials

Bethany Voss and Mike Rials

Okay, besides the well-watched television, there was also delicious food—think chicken and biscuit sliders, mini-crab cakes and mint juleps—as well as a silent auction. All the attractions were to help TAG, a group of young professionals who raise funds for the Center for BrainHealth, bring in at least $50,000 for the center’s Alzheimer’s program.

At one point, the guests—among them Jessi Gould, Dr. Alison Percy, Dan Hunt, Harold Scherrell, Scott Caldwell, Mike Rials and Bethany Voss—crowded around the huge TV to watch the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. As cries of “Go, Nyquist!” were heard from the excited crowd, the race concluded with Nyquist holding off a late surge by Exaggeration to win the derby.

Watching the Run for the Roses

Watching the Run for the Roses

Then it was back to the mini-crab cakes … and many more mint juleps.

Dr. John Gabrieli Explains Why “Two Brains Aren’t The Same” At 3rd Annual Jean And Bill Booziotis Distinguished Lecture

Those folks who consider the brain to be the next frontier seem to be growing in numbers by the scores. A crowd of ’em were brought together by the Center for Vital Longevity at Communities Foundation of Texas on Wednesday, April 6, for the third annual Jean and Bill Booziotis Distinguished Lecture featuring Dr. John Gabrieli. It was a fascinating night for the guests and their gray matter. Here’s a report from the field:

Just like people, no two brains are the same.

That was the message that sank in at last night’s annual public lecture hosted by the Center for Vital Longevity, the neuroscience group at the University of Texas at Dallas dedicated to studying the aging mind.

Hobson Wildenthal, Michael Rugg, Denise Park and John Gabrieli*

Hobson Wildenthal, Michael Rugg, Denise Park and John Gabrieli*

The Center for Vital Longevity (CVL) held its third annual Jean and Bill Booziotis Distinguished Lecture at the Communities Foundation of Texas, welcoming Dr. John Gabrieli, the Director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for a public talk on “neuroindividuality.”

In an evening lecture that was completely free to the public, thanks to the generosity of the late Mrs. Jean Booziotis and her husband, Bill Booziotis, Dr. Gabrieli highlighted what principles of brain organization are consistent across individuals, and how brains vary across people due to age, personality, and other dimensions of individuality.

Nearly 300 guests attended the talk at the Communities Foundation of Texas, whose architecture was conceived and designed by Mr. Booziotis.

Ginny and Richard Lombardi*

Ginny and Richard Lombardi*

Touching on personality types, gender and culture, and the way these differences influence how our brains interact with the world, Dr. Gabrieli described how such hard-to-quantify factors might be better understood through imaging. Dr. Gabrieli shared current research on just how varied individuals of different ages can be in their integration of feeling and memory.

While age is very important, it is just one factor, Dr. Gabrieli said.

The amygdala – an emotional center in the brain often associated with fear – tends to activate differently in extroverts and introverts, he said. Extraverts tend to have more active amygdalae in response to positive information, such as a happy face, while introverts’ amydalae appear to be more active when processing negative information, such as an angry face.

Whether a person perceives situations from a “glass half-full or half-empty” perspective also depends on familial upbringing and any history of depression, he said. Ultimately, accounting for people’s individuality, with the help of imaging, is crucial in determining the best path for treatments that might have the fastest impact, he added.

Several generations attended, including students and staff from The Hockaday and Greenhill schools, and Williams Prep.

“Dr. Gabrieli’s lecture was enlightening and offered all in the audience insight into how complex and varied people’s brains are, reflecting factors such as personality type and cultural background,” said CVL Director Dr. Michael Rugg. “We were delighted to bring this lecture to the community at-large. We are very grateful to Dr. Gabrieli for visiting Dallas to share his research in such an accessible way.”

His talk was preceded by an evening reception of the CVL Director’s Research Circle, attended by among numerous others including Jannah Hodges, Chela Abdallah and retired CFO at the U.S. Department of Education and current chair of the Center’s advisory council Larry Warder.

The Center for Vital Longevity at UT Dallas was founded in 2010 by Dr. Denise Park and has grown to six labs in the last six years, becoming an international center for studying the aging mind. It is home to more than 50 staff members, researchers and faculty.

* Photos provided by the Center for Vital Longevity

Salesmanship Club Hopes AT&T Byron Nelson Tourney Will Raise $6.5M For Momentous Institute

Since its inception, what’s now called the AT&T Byron Nelson Golf Tournament has raised at least $143 million for charity—the most of any annual PGA tour event. This year the goal is to add to that total at least $6.5 million in net proceeds in support of Momentous Institute, a Dallas nonprofit serving needy children and their families with education and mental health programs.

Momentous is owned and operated by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which has hosted the Byron Nelson tourney since 1968 and will do so again this year from May 16-22 at the TPC Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas in Las Colinas.

Tim Costello, Patton Chapman and Tim Marron*

Tim Costello, Patton Chapman and Tim Marron*

At a “media preview” event for the Byron Nelson on Tuesday, March 1, at TopGolf Dallas, 2016 tournament chair Tim Marron said the Salesmanship Club’s goal is to raise $14 million in sales for this year’s tourney, up from the $13.4 million that was raised last year. Marron and other club officials said this year will be AT&T’s second year as the Byron Nelson’s title sponsor, and that this year’s total purse will be $7.3 million. Of that, $1.31 million will go to the tournament champion.

Michelle Kinder*

Michelle Kinder*

Dallas phenom Jordan Spieth, 22, who was last year’s PGA Player of the Year, has committed to attending the Nelson, Marron announced. He also disclosed that Spieth may host the tournament’s free Youth Golf Clinic at the Four Seasons on May 17, and that Hudson Moore, the Limelight Band, and David Nail would provide entertainment in the Pavilion After Dark on May 20, 21, and 22, respectively. Other activities during the week-long extravaganza will include something called the KidZone (bounce houses and the like) Presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers, and the AT&T Digital Clubhouse, showcasing the telecom giant’s products and services, both from May 19-22.

Momentous Institute Executive Director Michelle Kinder said the organization is serving at least 6,000 children and family members annually. Last year, the Byron Nelson provided the institute with $5.6 million in net proceeds.

Also attending the media preview were other members of the Salesmanship Club’s fabled “Red Pants” brigade—longtime member Patton Chapman, for example, and the AT&T Byron Nelson chair-elect Tim Costello —as well as media members The Dallas Morning News’ Holly Haber and CBS Channel 11’s Robbie Owens.

* Photos provided by Momentous Institute

MySweet2016Goals: Michelle Kinder

According to Momentous Institute Executive Director Michelle Kinder,

Michelle Kinder*

Michelle Kinder*

“My 2016 goals are to stay grounded in gratitude and compassion and to be awake to the present moment as often as possible.

“Oh, and social emotional health for all kids so they can achieve their full potential – that too!”

* Photo provided 
by Momentous 

Center For BrainHealth Toasts Its Board Members, Staff And Plans For A Heady Future

While private parties were in high gear and many like the “robins” (Robin Bagwell and Robin Robinson) were doing the “hit-and-run” so they could make the SMU-Michigan basketball game at Moody Coliseum on Tuesday, December 8, the Center for BrainHealth brainiacs were putting their sweet heads together to wish happy holidays and look forward to the year and years to come.

Sandi Chapman Billie Leigh Rippey and Ramona Jones

Sandi Chapman Billie Leigh Rippey and Ramona Jones

Debbie Francis and Linda Robuck

Debbie Francis and Linda Robuck

While blonde BrainCenter Founder/Chief Director Sandi Chapman greeted all at the Dallas Country Club, Debbie Francis and Linda Robuck were doing the scene solo. Seems Jim Francis was still recovering from a bout of Thanksgiving pneumonia and Joel Robuck had a nasty head cold that he didn’t want to share.

Midway in the evening Sandi and Debbie thanked the crowd that included Kay and Jim Hammond, Jennifer and Coley Clark, Ramona Jones, Barbara Daseke, Billie Leigh Rippey, Laurie and Phil Evans, Ellen and John McStay, Biddy Jordan and Stacey Branch.

Laurie and Phil Evans

Laurie and Phil Evans

Stacey Branch and Biddy Jordan

Stacey Branch and Biddy Jordan

John and Ellen McStay and Jennifer and Coley Clark

John and Ellen McStay and Jennifer and Coley Clark

Debbie got the evening’s program underway by thanking the board members and staff for all their help. She then introduced Sandi, who told how the Center was “busting at the seams” with “115 scientists/research clinicians all focused on brain health.” She then told of their future plans that included BrainHealth RAPID (Revolution to Accelerate Progress through Interdisciplinary Discovery). Well, just that name alone received a whoop and laughter among the crowd.

Dan Branch

Dan Branch

She then had former State Senator Dan Branch speak to the group about the importance of brain health. He is the son, brother and uncle of neurosurgeons. He told how his father, the late neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Branch, had a special interest in “brain health.” When his father died two years ago, he arranged to have his professional collection given to the Center.

Dan proudly recalled that after University of Texas Chancellor Bill McRaven met with the BrainHealth gang, he placed it as a major goal for the UT system.

Debbie then introduced Brain Performance Institute Executive Director Eric Bennett, who in turn described his three-pronged strategy:

Robin Bagwell, Kimber Hartmann and Dianna Purvis Jaffin

Robin Bagwell, Kimber Hartmann and Dianna Purvis Jaffin

  1. During the first year of the Institute’s Smart Training three years ago, they worked with 56 military veterans. This past year that number was 1,800 in 18 states with just 20 people.
  2. They’ve just recently brought on board Dianna Purvis Jaffin, who has more than “10 years’ experience at the Department of Defense at the Walter Reed Hospital doing human performance for warriors and their families.”
  3. The building of the Institute for Brain Performance is underway and the facility will be open in April 2017.

MySweetWishList: Homeward Bound

According to Homeward Bound Executive Director Douglas Denton,

Doug Denton*

Doug Denton*

“We tackle the roots of so many social problems at Homeward Bound that it’s hard to know where to start. We are a mental health, drug and alcohol treatment center that primarily serves people in poverty. Our wish would be to multiply our impact on the community. We could do that with your help.

“For example, homelessness. Some 45 percent of the people we treat are homeless. They often arrive at our door with no shoes and just the clothing on their backs. We also address the problems of broken families and mental illness, which are often linked to substance use. In each case, the men and women we treat are highly motivated to stop using alcohol and drugs. We believe that they deserve the same chance to change their lives that others have. We believe that their courage to change themselves will change the community we all live in, as well.

“We can put a monetary value on what we provide. One day of care for a person in psychiatric crisis is $300. One day of medically supervised detoxification is $180. One day of intensive residential treatment for a pregnant woman is $170. One day of residential substance abuse treatment is $90; for those who are HIV-positive, the cost is $116.

Homeward Bound*

Homeward Bound*

“These rates are a fraction of the daily charges for treatment in hospitals or private treatment centers. A national study found that treatment for drug use disorder at a community-based hospital averages $900 daily. For alcohol use disorder, $1,100 each day.

“A donation to Homeward Bound goes a long way to improve North Texas communities. We hope you’ll consider helping us realize our wish this Christmas season. We see it as a gift for you, too.”

– Douglas Denton, Homeward Bound executive director

* Graphic and photo provided by Homeward Bound

Center For BrainHealth’s Legacy Dinner Honored U.S. Navy SEAL Clint Bruce On Veterans Day

With parades and flags being flown in honor of Veterans Day on Wednesday, November 11, the Center for BrainHealth‘s Legacy Award Dinner at the Brook Hollow Golf Club saluted former U.S. Navy SEAL Clint Bruce. Here is a report from the field:

On Veterans Day the Center for BrainHealth grandly showcased that brains and brawn really do go together. As the last place setting was perfectly positioned in a room adorned with masculine shades of gold floral designed by the one-and-only Junior Villanueva of The Garden Gate, 250 brain health advocates began to trickle into Brook Hollow Golf Club in celebration of former U.S. Navy SEAL Clint Bruce, this year’s Center for BrainHealth’s Legacy Award recipient. When this charismatic veteran and former NFL player enters a room, people notice. As retired U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Morgan Luttrell says, “You either stand up with a smile on your face, or you jump up and give him a hug.”

Debbie Francis, Eric Bennett, Karl and Carolyn Rathjen, Clint and Aimee Bruce, Sue and Pryor Blackwell and Sandra Bond Chapman*

Debbie Francis, Eric Bennett, Karl and Carolyn Rathjen, Clint and Aimee Bruce, Sue and Pryor Blackwell and Sandra Bond Chapman*

All eyes turned to the man of the hour as he strutted through the doors clad in a kilt crafted from the family tartan and knee high socks that he dapperly complimented with a bold buckle and his distinguished beard – clearly not a “Movember” only accessory. Naturally, the dinner invitation called for “business formal attire,” but when his friends dared him to go rogue, he didn’t back down.

With a large American flag hanging behind him on stage, Bruce explained his attire. “I thought this was called the ‘Leg You See’ Award, but you all meant ‘Leg-a-cy.’ I get it now. I really do have the best knee caps, and I just wanted to give you all the opportunity to see them.”

Bruce hugged and greeted the Center’s founder and chief director Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD., Brain Performance Institute executive director Eric Bennett, and members of his personally selected Warrior Host Committee that included retired military officers and enlisted personnel from three different branches of service as well as a handful of Navy SEALS, Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force veterans.

James and Patty Huffines and David and Suzanne Holl*

James and Patty Huffines and David and Suzanne Holl*

Lisa and Kenny Troutt*

Lisa and Kenny Troutt*

Laurie and Phil Evans*

Laurie and Phil Evans*

As the dinner bell rang about a quarter after 7 p.m., stylish philanthropists including co-chairs Carolyn Perot Rathjen, Dr. Karl Rathjen, Sue and Pryor Blackwell and guests Betsy and Richard Eiseman Jr., Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Kelly Hoglund Compton and sister Kristy Hoglund Robinson filed into the ballroom to hear co-chair Pryor Blackwell begin the evening. He, of course, thanked everyone for attending and recognized host committee members Lucy and Henry Billingsley, Debbie and Jim Francis, Kate and Hunter Henry, Lyda Hill, Charlyn and Rob Holmes, Margot and Ross Perot, Michal and Loyd Powell, Patrick B. Sands, Jane and Bud Smith, Marianne and Roger Staubach, Mary and Mike Terry, Lisa and Kenny Troutt, Heather and Ray Washburne. He then asked the Warrior Host Committee to stand and be recognized. Moments later, he called for all active duty service members and veterans to join the committee and a roaring round of applause ensued.

Lance Hancock, Patrick Sands, Kristy Morgan and Mike Billings*

Lance Hancock, Patrick Sands, Kristy Morgan and Mike Billings*

Blackwell welcomed the guest of honor and explained that Bruce had tragically lost his father during when Bruce was in high school. In one of the most moving moments of the evening, Blackwell asked the crowd, “If you are a father or, one day, you hope to be a father, will you please stand if you think Clint’s dad is proud of him?”

Dr. Rathjen then gave the invocation and . Once the table chatter began to subside, Center for BrainHealth advisory board vice chair Joel Robuck headed to the stage and asked past Legacy Award Recipients Lyda Hill (2014), Jane and Bud Smith (2013), Daryl Johnston and Lee Roy Jordan (2012), Dee Wyly (2011), James Huffines (2010), T. Boone Pickens (2009), Debbie Francis (2008), and Dianne Cash (2006) to stand and be honored.

Wally Stone, Jane and Bud Smith and David and Sara Martineau*

Wally Stone, Jane and Bud Smith and David and Sara Martineau*

“Where’s Boone?” Robuck asked, pointing out the energy entrepreneur in the crowd. “The only reason T. Boone is here is because there’s no Oklahoma State University game on. And,” he continued, in a playful effort to explain the absence of two past award recipients. “Daryl [Johnston] and Lee Roy [Jordan], well they’ve been drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.”

He discussed the history of the Center for BrainHealth and recounted last month’s monumental groundbreaking for the Center’s new clinical arm, the Brain Performance Institute.

Joel and Linda Robuck*

Joel and Linda Robuck*

“Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman founded the Center in 1999 and since then it has continued to grow and flourish, focused on leading innovative and transformative brain research, improving lives today and changing how we as the public think and act about our most vital organ, the brain,” Robuck said. “Most scientists focus on what is wrong with the brain. But, at the Center for BrainHealth, what is wrong is just one starting point. We want to focus on cognitive solutions.”

“If you were to cross a Texas high school football coach and a southern Baptist preacher, you would get Bruce,” Holley said of his 20-year buddy.

A video featuring “Beef”, a Navy SEAL and one of Bruce’s closest friends who was unable to attend the dinner, congratulated Bruce, saying, “This is just as much Aimee’s award as it is yours. The fact that she’s still married to you is proof that love is blind.” Bruce’s gorgeous spouse who had been by his side all evening chuckled with the rest of the room.

After Bruce’s first visit to the Center for BrainHealth in 2011, he was inspired to write a letter to the leaders of the organization. That letter was a pivotal point in the organization’s history, transforming the Center’s presence in the veteran space. The clever BrainHealth team translated that letter into a video montage of faces and voices that gave the entire room goose bumps.

Bruce’s most profound words, “You can leave a legacy with a name on a building, you can leave a legacy with a name on a stadium, or a door or some invention, or you can leave a legacy with someone.”

Bennett took the stage and told a story about his first encounter with Bruce in which he asked, “Clint, how do you know [the brain training] really helped you?” Bruce’s response, “Ask my little girl, and she can tell you how it helped me. Ask my wife, and she can tell you how it helped me.”

Bennett turned the mic over to Dr. Chapman who recalled some of Clint Bruce’s first words of advice to her regarding working with service member. He said, “Ma’am you can’t call us all soldiers. If you call a Navy guy a soldier, none of them will come.”

Chapman acknowledged her friend, Clint, as their spiritual leader who has a duty driven by a higher power. “He calls me the Jedi, but we are training with Clint because he’s the Obi-Wan Kenobi. Thank you, Clint Bruce for teaching us the way of the Jedi.”

The two embraced and Bruce corrected her, saying, “I am more of a Chewbacca than an Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

The Navy SEAL’s captivating words challenged every person in the room to reflect on their lives, their priorities, their goals and their legacy.

“I don’t remember much about the day they buried my father. What they said about my father is that he used his time to honor his Christ,” Bruce said. “How will you use your time? Will it be about the small things or will it be about the mighty things? We are the ‘not done’ kind. Words are not about you. They are about the things you do.”

He recognized the handful of Vietnam veterans in the room and apologized to them, for when they returned home, they did not receive the same words of gratitude, appreciation and welcome that Bruce and his fellow warriors did.

Bruce concluded his remarks with a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”

After an extended and much deserved standing ovation, Bennett closed out the night thanking the hundreds of attendees.

* Photo credit: Grant Miller

Plans For Aging Minds Foundation Fundraiser Honoring Shirley And Robert “Bob” Miller Announced At Museum Tower Reception

WHO and Lee Bailey

Carol Riddick and Lee Bailey

High atop Museum Tower, Carol Riddick and Lee Bailey met in a fabulous bathroom. OK, so what’s the big deal? The gasl, who had never met, found themselves dressed in similar black leggings, black blouses and gray-and-black shawls. But they soon found that they had more in common than attire. It was the concern of Alzheimer’s and how its effect was stretching far beyond their immediate age group.

Lee fessed up that the misplacing of a credit card had triggered the angst of “What if this is a first sign?”

Carol, on the other hand, was concerned about the next generation and how it would be able to support the tsunami of baby boomers marching lock-step into the AARP part of life.

Kevin Hurst and Jeff Byron

Kevin Hurst and Jeff Byron

The ladies, who are sharper than a seamstress’s needle, bumped into each other in Laree Hulshoff’s and Ben Fischer’s condo overlooking the AT&T Performing Arts District on Monday, November 9. Underwritten by Neiman Marcus’ Jeff Byron and Kevin Hurst, the occasion was the announcement of the Aging Minds Foundation’s 2016 fundraising dinner that will be held on March 5th at The Joule Hotel.

Barbara Daseke and Ben Fischer

Barbara Daseke and Ben Fischer

Last year’s event that honored Robert “Bob” Wilson provided $209,950 funding for “the Aging Mind Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for the benefit of the Center for Vital Longevity at UT Dallas.”

With a crowd in the living room including Ron Corning, Shane Allen, Rachel and John Michell, Kimber Hartmann, Kay and Jim Hammond and Sandi Chapman, Laree introduced the event’s Chair Barbara Daseke. According to Barbara, the 2016 honorees would be retired Dallas Morning News business columnist Robert “Bob” Miller and his wife of 52 years Shirley Miller and the honorary co-chairs would be Lee Ann and Alan White and Lana and Barry Andrews. Funds from the event will benefit the Center for BrainHealth.

After introducing Barbara, Laree chauffeured philanthropist Margaret McDermott’s wheelchair to a nearby spot. It soon became apparent that the wheelchair was starting to have a mind of its own as it edged backward almost “kissing” a standing piece of art. Luckily, Margaret put the brakes on the errant chair.

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


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.

JUST IN: Aging Minds Foundation To Salute Former Dallas Morning News Columnist Bob Miller And His Child-Bride Shirley Miller

Laree Hulshoff and Barbara Daseke

Laree Hulshoff and Barbara Daseke

Aging Minds Foundation’s Chair Barbara Daseke and her fundraising partner Laree Hulshoff have just revealed that former Dallas Morning News columnist Bob Miller and his bride of 52 years Shirley Miller will be feted at the Aging Minds soiree on Saturday, March 5, at The Joule.

Serving as honorary co-chairs for “A Salute to Shirley and Bob Miller” will be Lee Ann and Alan White and Lana and Barry Andrews and The Joule Hotel will be the presenting sponsor. The event will benefit the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas.

In addition to cocktails and dinner, tenor James Valenti will perform.

According to Barbara, “Research into the aging mind, diagnosing symptoms and managing life-challenging conditions necessitate funding. At the Aging Mind Foundation, it is our goal to use proceeds from this evening to contribute to institutions in North Texas who conduct research and provide treatment, education and advocacy of critical issues unique to the aging mind. Our society is rapidly aging, with increasing numbers of the population in their 7th decade or later. The need to understand how and why the mind ages and how this process can be halted or slowed has never been more urgent.”

Center For BrainHealthy Types Shovel Dirt For Brain Performance Institute Groundbreaking

Unfortunately, there were just way too many top-caliber activities taking place on Wednesday, October 14, around noontime. It was a Sophie’s Choice of what to cover. Luckily the Center for BrainHealth crew were front and center and offered to provide an accurate recap of its much worked-for ground breaking of the Brain Performance Institute.  Please note that the BrainHealth crew admitted that the AC was challenged while providing comments about the event and covering peeps. No wonder these folks are brainiacs! Here goes:

Shelle Sills and Linda Evans*

Shelle Sills and Linda Evans*

More than 200 brain health enthusiasts from across the state of Texas filled an air-conditioned tent marking the exact location of where the Center for BrainHealth’s state-of-the-art Brain Performance Institute will stand come spring 2017. The invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony was beautifully orchestrated by none other than Shelle Sills and Patty Huffines.

Center for BrainHealth Founder/Chief Director Sandra Bond Chapman smiled from ear-to-ear as she hugged friends and greeted steadfast supporters of the Center including T. Boone Pickens, Mary McDermott Cook, Emy Lou and Jerry Baldridge, Jane and Bud Smith, former Navy SEAL and Carry the Load Co-Founder Stephen Holley, Southwest Airlines’ Chuck Magill John Tolleson and Carter Tolleson.

Lyda Hill, Sandra Chapman and Kimber Hartmann*

Lyda Hill, Sandra Chapman and Kimber Hartmann*

Lyda Hill, a leader of the cause whose $2 million contribution launched the very first Brain Performance Institute program for military services members in 2013, grabbed the attention of groundbreaking go-ers, making a spiritedly entrance and donning a hard-hat outfitted with a Brain Performance Institute logo. Event photographers turned into paparazzi, having a hay day her mindful accessory.

By 11:15 a.m. the AC units were struggling to cool the packed tent and it was time for US Air Force Veteran and former NFL player Chad Hennings, former Dallas Cowboys player turned NFL commentator Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Jennifer Clifford, Brent Christopher and John McStay (who was sporting a black boot cast on his injured foot) to take their seats.

Debbie Francis*

Debbie Francis*

Capital campaign and Center for BrainHealth Advisory Board chair Debbie Francis welcomed the crowd and thanked friend and UT System regent Brenda Pejovich, State Representative Morgan Meyer and former State Representative Dan Branch among dozens of other dedicated individuals including Center for BrainHealth researchers, scientists, clinicians and staff for their tremendous contributions to the organization.

Dianne Cash, Dan Branch and Sandra Chapman*

Dianne Cash, Dan Branch and Sandra Chapman*

Following her opening remarks, The University of Texas at Dallas President Ad Interim Hobson Wildenthal took the podium, singing Chapman’s praises.

“Sandi is a true visionary. Her story is vital to the story of the University of Texas at Dallas,” Dr. Wildenthal said. “We know Sandi is an incredible leader and one of the dimensions of Sandi’s brilliance is her ability to build teams. She is the envy of all of us on the UTD campus.”

Hobson Wildenthal*

Hobson Wildenthal*

James Huffines confessed that his only regret during his service as chairman of the board for the UT System Board of Regents was that his tenure did not overlap with that of Chancellor William H. McRaven.

William McRaven and Patty and James Huffines*

William McRaven and Patty and James Huffines*

“There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that he will play an invaluable part in higher education, much like he did in the military,” Huffines said of McRaven. “Our state and our world will continue to be beneficiaries of his guidance and his full vision. I am proud to call him friend.”

Chancellor McRaven began his remarks saying, “None of us, I mean none of us, would be here if it weren’t for the vision, the energy and the hard work of Sandi Chapman and her team.” He spoke of the importance of the Brain Performance Institute’s mission where everyone will be able to come to make their brains better, whether sick, injured or healthy.

“It was in Dallas more than 40 years ago that Ken Cooper set in motion the physical fitness revolution,” said McRaven, the retired four-star Navy admiral, referring to the publication of ‘Aerobics’ by the physician/Cooper Clinic founder. “And right here in Dallas, we are on the cusp of the next great revolution: the revolution in brain health.”

He continued, “To make the most of the years we have, we need to make sure that brain fitness catches up with physical fitness. And I’m convinced it’s going to happen. The University of Texas System intends to lead this new revolution.”

With the tent filled with many BrainHealth and UT System donors, McRaven addressed their generosity directly.

“One of the things that has surprised me about coming to the UT System hasn’t been the job.” McRaven said. “What has surprised me and what has inspired me has been the great philanthropy and the great donors that I see every day. They not only give of their money, and the money is important, but they give of their time, their energy and probably more importantly, they give of their dreams.”

With his commanding presence, McRaven turned over the microphone to Sandi, who spoke of why Dallas has thrived as a city “because of visionary leadership” and how the Center for BrainHealth team is made up of “impatient explorers determined to close the gap from scientific discovery to improving human lives – today.”

Chapman, in the spirit of our ‘smart’ city, reminisced on the history of Dallas commerce, reflecting on trains and planes as economic drivers and proclaiming one more with the addition of the Brain Performance Institute: brains.

Eric Bennett*

Eric Bennett*

Brain Performance Institute Executive Director Eric Bennett rounded out the row of speakers by starting with a story.

“My niece can tell me with confidence where her head, shoulders, knees and toes are,” he said, “but she looked stumped when I asked her where her brain was.”

Guests giggled at the statement, but Bennett wanted to capitalize on his stance that too much research stays in research.

“We are not the solution for all the problems, but we have the research to benefit tens of thousands of people every year,” Bennett said.

He applauded Page, the architect and engineering firm behind the “iconic on a budget” building design that pays homage to the brain’s CEO or cognitive executive officer, the frontal lobe, and explained that the goal of the Institute’s aesthetic is to instill clients with a sense of empowerment as soon as they walked through the doors.

Before relinquishing the mic, Bennett challenged every person in the room with a call to action.

“The brain likes options,” he said, checking with the closest brain scientist in the room to make sure he had not misspoken. He then challenged everyone in the room to one of three options to help the Institute raise money and awareness that start with the letter “D”: donate, do and discuss.

The ceremonial dirt followed, symbolizing the beginning of a new era. All six speakers plus groundbreaking Co-Chairs Sills and Huffines, stood at the foot of the stage behind a 20’ x 3’ white box filled with dirt. Holding gleaming silver shovels, each scooped, lifted and turned the dirt before confidently shoving the shovels back into the metaphoric earth. The groundbreaking moment was met with a standing ovation and cheers from the crowd.

Patty Huffines, Eric Bennett, Debbie Francis, Sandra Chapman, William McRaven, James Huffines, Hobson Wildenthal and Shelle Sills*

Patty Huffines, Eric Bennett, Debbie Francis, Sandra Chapman, William McRaven, James Huffines, Hobson Wildenthal and Shelle Sills*

After the program, guests filed to the back of the tent for a reception complete with freshly made mini-donuts and table décor replete with mini construction cones, dump trucks and loaders. Many stayed to visit with old and new friends while sipping tea or water and enjoying chicken fried quail bites and other brain food, of course.

* Photos provided by the Center for BrainHealth