Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show Ponied Up With Fashions, Awards And Laughs Thanks To Chair Beth Thoele

Beth Thoele and Angie Kadesky

There are those rare people in fundraising who literally break the ice much to the delight of others with their oops and refreshing spontaneity. On Tuesday, October 3, Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele rose to the pinnacle of those ranks of endearment.

Initially, it was a challenge with the weather. One guests swore, “Houston shipped their humidity up here.”

Equest team

Still, the ladies marshaled on as they checked in at the club’s porte-cochere just past the Equest mini-ambassadors, Cisco and Dare, and the dapper riders on their steeds. While the equine set was quite content on the club’s lawn, the guests like Equest Board of Directors Chair Andy Steingasser, Sarah LosingerCara French, Melinda Rathke, Nuz Morshed, Allison Presser, Stacey Walker, Emilynn Wilson and Joanna Clarke discovered rows of beverages awaiting them. One gal announced, “There’s a mimosa with my name on it.”

Inside the club, the ballroom was filling to the max with the likes of Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Angie Kadesky, Equest Executive Director Lili Kellogg, Sarah Losinger, Lisa Cooley, Linda SecrestJennifer Dix, Pam Perella, Leslie Diers, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Amy Hegi, Libby Hegi, Leigh Anne Haugh, Jennifer Swift and Vicki Howland.

Nuz Morshed, Melinda Rathke and Allison Presser

Leslie Diers, Pam Perella, Christie Carter and Claire Emanuelson

But according to schedule, the infamous voice over the PA system stressed the need to get guests in chairs, which this crew did.

Considered the little sister of the Crystal Charity Ball (perhaps that’s because so many past chairs, presidents and attendees are CCB-ers), there was a certain panache in the air.

Robyn and Don Conlon

Unlike the week-ago KidneyTexas Runway Report with celeb emcee Ron Corning with a glittery crutch and KLUV’s Jody Dean raising funds with a live auction, this one is traditionally as proper at your grandmother’s thank-you notes. Instead of a live auction or the fearful shout-out for funds, there is just a certain simplicity that keeps things a-going.

Reins of Hope scarf

 After Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Angie Kadesky introduced Tova Sido for the invocation, Beth arrived at the podium to present Honorary Chair Robyn Conlon with her husband Don Conlon at her side and daughters-in-law Marybeth Conlon and slowly-becoming-blonde Megan Conlon.

Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne

Beth then announced that a one-of-a-kind scarf had been created by Katherine Coker celebrating Equest and would be on sale at the lunch for $150. She then introduced Mother of Equest Women’ Auxiliary Founder Louise Griffeth, who reported that despite last year’s anonymous matching offer, they were gearing up to top that number for the Equest Hooves for Heroes and other programs supported by Equest. The 2017 Equest Awards for Community Service Co-Honorees/sisters Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne were presented Tiffany boxes by a couple of hunky dressage-attired fellas.

But this year there was an unplanned twist. It was Beth. Sure, she had a script, but it didn’t always go as planned. For instance, in announcing that she was handing over the “reins” to 2018 Luncheon chair Heather Randall, she said, “Good luck.” But there was a slight tone in Beth’s voice that resulted in the crowd busting out in laughter. Beth quickly recovered saying that she meant really, sincerely good luck. The laughter only continued.

Veronica Beard fashion

Hadleigh fashion

Lela Rose fashion

Escada fashion

Etro fashion

Market fashion

Carolina Herrera fashion

Then it was on with the show with fashions from HP Village merchants Veronica Beard, Hadleigh’s, Lela Rose, Escada, Etro, Market and Carolina Herrera. Naturally, the willowy, poreless models were upstaged by the adorable munchkins in Hadleigh’s fashions.

The show was well edited with HP Village merchants videotaping their merchandise on the catwalk.

So as the guest adjourned to their tables, what was the talk of the day? St. Valentine’s Day Luncheon Co-Chair Nancy Gopez was receiving congrats on moving the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North Texas fundraiser to NorthPark Center… Table talk was about what TV shows were being watched — “Game of Thrones,” “Rain,”  etc. ….Tanya Foster was snapping shots of The Garden Gate centerpieces with a spanking new iPhone 8 Plus. Seems husband Pete Foster was using Tanya as sort of a guinea pig and was holding out for the iPhone 10… Lisa Ogle was writing a check for a scarf or one of the centerpieces…Mary Meier-Evans had to duck out early and get back to work at Sons of the Flag.

Despite all the festivities and laughter, no one knew that in the days preceding, red-haired Beth had been masterfully juggling another life issue… her mother-in-law had been in hospice and died the weekend before. But that is Beth. She champions on with compassion and without a glimmer of self-pity.   

For more photos of the fashions and faces, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon List Of Highland Park Village Merchants Participating In The Annual Fundraiser Revealed

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele just revealed the list of Highland Park Village merchants for the Equest fundraiser “Reins of Hope” at Brook Hollow on Tuesday, October 3.

Lela Rose (File photo)

Hadleigh Shaikh (File photo)

Equest finale (File photo)

Six of ’em are returning with the latest fashions of the season — Carolina Herrera, Escada, Etro, Hadleigh’s, Lela Rose and Market. Joining the veteran retailers will be first-timer Veronica Beard.

The fashion show will be produced by Jan Strimple with Robyn Conlon serving as honorary chair.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2nd Annual Art Of Music Gala

According to 2nd Annual Art of Music Gala Co-Chairs David Call and Jordan Roberts,

David Call and Jordan Roberts*

We are excited and grateful to serve as co-chairs for the 2nd Annual Art of Music Gala on Saturday, February 10, at Southside on Lamar Ballroom, benefiting The Warren Center, for children with developmental differences.

Last year’s event was a huge success and we were able to raise over $60,000. With the funds raised we provided scholarships for children with special needs to receive much needed therapy services. Headlining the inaugural event was three-time Grammy winner and saxophonist Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band.

The 2018 Art of Music Gala will be bigger and better than ever. It will include renowned musicians who will compose an original music inspired by this year’s theme of “Wonderland.”

Each composition will then be delivered to a world-class artists who will create an original piece of art inspired by the compositions. The result is a night of celebration and performance where each original composition and its inspired work of art will be unveiled and performed live at the Gala.

Guests will also enjoy a cocktail reception, seated dinner, live entertainment, silent and live auction and creative gallery experiences with local artists.

Melody and Rick Rogers*

This year’s title sponsors are Melody and Rick Rogers

We are inspired by the drive these children have to succeed. We encourage you to join us in helping a child reach their full potential.

Sponsorships and underwriting opportunities are still available.

Table Sponsorships begin at $2,500 with underwriting opportunities beginning at $2,500. For more information, please contact Tara Null at 972.490.9055 or 214.709.8901 or email Tara or visit the website at www.theartofmusicgala.com.

* Photo provided by The Warren Center

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.

The Slipper Club Presents A Record-Breaking Check Of $116,621 To Rays Of Light Thanks To Its Beyond The Mask Gala

If the sound of something breaking was heard last night, it was the Slipper Club’s presenting a record-breaking check of $116,621 to the organization’s 2016-2017 beneficiary, Rays of Light.

Caroline Baliker, John Bonadelle, Billy Nayden, Chelsea Parish, Stephanie Tatum and Billy Machina*

The funds were the result of fundraising efforts throughout the year, especially the 21st Annual Gala and Silent Auction — “Beyond the Mask.” Held on Saturday, February 4, the black-tie gala at the Omni Dallas had more than 800 guests in attendance, including leadership of the various men’s social club (Idlewild, Calyx and Terpsichorean), past and present Idlewild debs and others like Caleb Powell, Stephanie Smartt, Jillian Mock, Abbey Mock, Maddie Beckham, Kelly Gillespie, Fallon Bock, Porter Fuqua, Walter Spradley, Travis Andres, Anna Alaback, Chloe Reed, Leslie Ingram, Lauren Metzel, Camille Sokolosky, Blaire Metcalfe, Heather Trumpfeller, Alex Bjornnes, Caroline Baliker, John Bonadelle, Billy Nayden, Chelsea Parish, Stephanie Tatum, Billy Machina, Elizabeth Metzger, Hartley Hobson, Carley Nelson, Mary Valuck, Caroline Hanson, Heather Trumpfeller, Trevor Cadigan, Houstoun Waring, Charlotte Barnett, Jake Winstel, Sam Fritsch, Alex Spinazzola, Patrick Harris, Courtney Quinn, Madeline Buckthal, Meredith Allen, Kamel Brakta, Mandy Morgan, Minette Morgan, Ali Morgan, Evan Weir, Julie Butkus, Lauren Sears, Lily Kramlich-Taylor, Peter Whaley, Lily Kramlich-Taylor, Meredith Allen and Slipper Club President Morgan Madison.

Caroline Estes and Morgan Madison Wade*

Meredith Allen and Meg Sokolosky*

According to Gala Chair Meg Sokolosky, “This year was really unbelievable, not only in terms of breaking the record for money raised for a beneficiary, but also getting to volunteer our Friday nights with the children of Rays of Light and seeing directly how we will impact these children and the organization.”

Dedicated to providing free, quality respite care for families with children with special needs, Rays of Light hosts Night Lights that “gives the parents the opportunity to have four free hours and the children get four hours of socialization and interaction.”

Congratulations to the ladies of Slipper Club and their masked friends for breaking a record.

* Photos provided by Slipper Club of Dallas

MySweetWishList: Equest

According to Equest CEO Lili Kellogg,

Lili Kellogg (File photo)

“Our wish at Equest this holiday season is to help more people like Katelin Beyer make the impossible, possible.

“Katelin is a bright and bubbly 20-year-old, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and stroke from a car accident. After being in a coma for 2 weeks, ICU for 21 days, enduring over 21 surgeries on her head alone, followed by two years of stays in multiple rehabilitation centers, her therapists and doctors told her that she would never walk again.

“Katelin’s family discovered Equest, and after a year of hippotherapy and hard work with her Equest therapist and favorite horse, Bounce, Katelin is walking.

“This is just one of many success stories Equest has seen over the 35 years as an organization. This holiday season please consider participating in our ‘Gift of the Horse’ campaign to help continue to change lives like Katelin’s. Equest’s equine facilitated therapy and horsemanship programs are provided to over 1,200 children and adults with disabilities and Veterans who have served our country.


“Give the ‘Gift of a Horse’ in honor of or as a gift to someone you love this holiday season, and help make the impossible possible!

  • “$5,000 gives the Gift of Strength and provides for a therapy horse for a year.
  • “$2,500 gives the Gift of Independence and covers one semester of program expenses for a client.
  • “$1,000 gives the Gift of Wellness and provides a semester of counseling for a veteran or their family member
  • “$500 gives the Gift of Confidence and provides safety equipment for our clients.
  • “$250 gives the Gift of Education to local school children through the Equine Facilitated Learning program.
  • “$100 gives the Gift of Improved Health and provides a therapist for an occupational therapy session.
  • “$50 gives the Gift of Nourishment and feeds four therapy horses for a week. 

“To learn more about Equest and give a ‘Gift of the Horse’ please visit, www.equest.org.”

-By Lili Kellogg, Equest CEO

* Graphic provided by Equest

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Goodwill Dallas’ “The Lunch”

Suzanne and Jim Johnston*

Suzanne and Jim Johnston*

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

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

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

Condoleezza Rice (File photo)

Condoleezza Rice (File photo)

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

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

“’The Lunch’ sponsors, to date, are

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

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

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

* Photo provided by Goodwill Dallas

Slipper Club To Benefit Rays Of Light With Funds And Volunteering

Leave it to the Slipper Club ladies to multi-task in supporting nonprofits. For ages they were largely a social club, but they added a new twist. Instead of just having social occasions, they decided to turn them into fundraising opportunities. Thus, their annual gala benefits a different nonprofit each year.

But then in this age when hands-on involvement is as valuable as funds, the Slipper membership has added volunteerism to their agenda of giving back.

This year they picked Rays of Light as their 2016-2017 beneficiary for the gala at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Saturday, February 4.

In addition to raising the funds, Slipper members “will also partake in volunteer opportunities” for the “local foundation dedicated to being the light at the end of the tunnel for both children with special need and their families in the Dallas metropolitan area.”

If Rays of Light is new on your radar, Slipperette Lily Kramlich-Taylor explains that, “Together with dedicated volunteers, Rays of Light creates a unique evening for special need children and their siblings on the first three Friday of every month at the Lovers Lane United Methodist church and Christ Foundry United Methodist Mission for Spanish-speaking families. This give the parents the opportunity to have four free hours, while the children get socialization and interaction with peers and volunteers through educational and fun activities.”

While tickets aren’t online, those wonderful sponsorship opportunities are, by contacting Amy Stone!

MySweetWishList: Dallas Children’s Theater

According to Dallas Children’s Theater’s management team Robyn Flatt, Artie Olaisen, Nancy Schaeffer and Sandra Session-Robertson,

“Our wish at Dallas Children’s Theater is to bring the magic of live professional theater to all families in the Dallas area. We regularly hear from first-time patrons that they had no idea their children could be impacted so tremendously by the experience. We know that live theater opens up a young person’s imagination in a way nothing else can, and it is our desire to do our part to eliminate any barrier children have to participation – whether it’s cost, a cultural difference or a special need.

Show day during Dallas Children's Theater's Academy classes*

Show day during Dallas Children’s Theater’s Academy classes*

“For many families, especially those with multiple children, the idea of an outing to the theater is cost prohibitive. Even though many Dallas children experience one show a year through the Student Matinee Performance Series, we want families to be able to experience a production together. That’s when the valuable conversations begin on the ride home and lasting family memories are made. DCT relies on individual, corporate and foundation donations in order to keep our ticket prices low while maintaining the professional quality, high-spectacle productions audiences have come to expect, and that every audience deserves.

“Dallas is a multicultural community, and we wish to serve everyone so that our entire city remains rich with artistic experience. Research proves that children who are exposed to the arts grow into healthy adults who continue to appreciate and support arts and culture and contribute to the workforce in unique and immeasurable ways. We gladly accept our role in nurturing these creative spirits.

The Dallas Children's Theater's special sensory friendly performance of "Fancy Nancy"**

Reception for the Dallas Children’s Theater’s special sensory friendly performance of “Fancy Nancy”**

“With the help of a generous donation from The Crystal Charity Ball, we have been able to expand our Sensory-Friendly programming. This allows us to set aside a performance that is specially designed for families of children with autism, Down syndrome, or other sensory processing disorders. Our wish is to ensure that these plays and classes are sustained for these families for a lifetime.

“Our wish is that all Dallas children know Dallas Children’s Theater as a place for them to express themselves and fully engage in the creative dramatics experience. These wishes take a commitment from community partners and individuals who want every child to experience award-winning professional theater designed for families. We are so grateful to all the partnerships that have propelled us towards our goals for over thirty seasons and we can’t wait to see the future generations at the theater with your help.

Young patrons treating Dallas Children's Theater like home*

Young patrons treating Dallas Children’s Theater like home*

“To get in on the act of supporting theater arts for young people, you can make a donation here: http://www.dct.org/involved/give/

-By Robyn Flatt, Artie Olaisen, Nancy Schaeffer and Sandra Session-Robertson, the Dallas Children’s Theater management team

* Photo credit: Karen Almond 
** Photo credit: Lawrence Jenkins

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.

North Texas Giving Day Booster: Wings Of Hope

Wings of Hope is so excited about North Texas Giving Day! Each September we look forward to sharing our mission on this unique platform! Around the barn we feel that everything accomplished through our mission is unique. In fact our mission is to provide services to those with unique challenges. It is the mission of Wings of Hope to provide equine assisted activities to children and adults with unique physical, mental and emotional challenges.

Wings of Hope*

Wings of Hope*

“Established in 1996 we are the only facility of our kind operating in the Southern DFW area. Through equine assisted activities, we are able to serve over 125 individuals per week. Currently 95 riders participate in our therapeutic riding program. Each of these unique 95 individuals has a story of triumph and success. Each of these individuals has a diagnosis or disability with daily challenges unique to them. Each of them has a partnership with an equine therapy partner that teaches and enables them to overcome and learn how to cope with those daily challenges.

Wings of Hope*

Wings of Hope*

Wings of Hope*

Wings of Hope*

“Additionally we are able to serve 25 individuals through our program Equine Connection Counseling. At Wings of Hope, we strive to create a safe and therapeutic environment for growth and healing. The relationship formed with the horse(s) is a crucial component to the counseling process.

Wings of Hope*

Wings of Hope*

Each of these individuals served through this program partners with a team of horses, a licensed professional counselor and a certified equine specialists.

“Funds raised through North Texas Giving Day allow us to make a positive impact on our annual operating budget of $334,000. It has always been the policy of Wings of Hope never to turn anyone away due to inability to pay, therefore we have a scholarship program in place for individual’s in need. Currently we have 22 equine therapy partners, the cost to provide quality care for our herd is approximately $50,000 of our annual budget.

“In 2014 we raised $5,000. $5,000 can do a lot for our organization and directly impact those we serve. $5,000 can sponsor two horses for one year, providing their nutritional and veterinary care. $5,000 can provide a full 1-year scholarship for a rider receiving therapeutic riding lessons. $5,000 can provide a substantial portion of our printing needs that allow us to spread our mission.

“With your help on donations on North Texas Giving Day (September 17), we can continue to serve more individuals who are in need of equine therapy.

“To learn more about our mission or services please visit www.wingsofhopehorses.org or like us on Facebook.”

-By Allison Gross, development director

* Photos courtesy of Allison Gross

North Texas Giving Day Booster: Cornerstone Ranch

Cornerstone Ranch is a family-centered home and day program for adults with disabilities located in McKinney, Texas. This nonprofit was started by Cynthia and David Heaton, who as university students discovered the plight of young adults with special needs after graduating from special education programs. They were saddened as they saw that the day activities and residential programs that exist for this population are few and many times far less than ideal.

Cornerstone Ranch*

Cornerstone Ranch*

“So in 2001, after graduating from college and as young newlyweds, the Heatons opened their own home to three impoverished young men with special needs. With the desire to serve more people, the Heatons purchased 42 beautiful acres of land, and they built Cornerstone’s 10,000-square foot ranch home. In 2006, the first of seven residents with special needs moved in and have continued living here since, along with two families who live in the home with their own children while providing care for the residents. This provides the consistency of a family environment rather than the ever-changing, rotating shifts of staff in the majority of group homes for adults with disabilities.

Cornerstone Ranch*

Cornerstone Ranch*

“In 2011 a non-residential day program was added for individuals with disabilities still living with their families. The Cornerstone Ranch Day Program offers an opportunity for a growing number of local adults with special needs to thrive by joining the residents as they participate in daily educational classes, art classes, enterprise work projects, social and life skills training, and volunteering in the community. Their volunteer roles include delivering Meals on Wheels, preparing food for the homeless, knitting caps for cancer patients, and serving in numerous capacities at a local senior community.

Cornerstone Ranch*

Cornerstone Ranch*

North Texas Giving Day has had a significant impact on Cornerstone Ranch. In 2014, North Texas Giving Day provided over $15,000 for this growing nonprofit. This was just the financial boost we needed to make it possible for us to serve nearly twice the number of individuals with special needs through the day program. Further, the publicity gave us a wonderful opportunity to get to know new friends—many of whom have become involved with us since then by volunteering as well as providing much-needed financial gifts. We are extremely grateful for North Texas Giving Day as it is the gift that seems to keep on giving, and we can’t wait to see what happens this year on September 17, 2015!”

By Mary Klentzman, Cornerstone Ranch Executive Director

*Photo credits: Allie Rae Photography and Ivonne Rodriguez