2017 Wasn’t So Bad After All

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In the waning hours of 2017, one has to consider that it wasn’t all so bad. True,

If you checked the links, then you know these developments weren’t necessarily about 2017. The good news is that thanks to technology and the determined spirit, life goes on.

In the meantime, homemade chili, glowing fireplaces and snugly flannel sheets should replace the chill of New Year’s weekend. Stay safe, warm and appreciative of what you have.

If You Don’t Believe In Santa, NORAD Does

If you have munchkins, grand munchkins or still wonder if Santa really exists, then there are bona fide experts who have all the information to back old Kris Kringle. It’s the North American Aerospace Defense Command (aka NORAD) located in Colorado Springs. Starting at midnight NORAD will be monitoring Santa and his team’s travels through the world. But the NORAD Tracks Santa website is up now!

NORAD Tracks Santa*

Thanks to corporate sponsors, NORAD’s website is a holiday delight and as slick as a North Pole breeze. There are games, music, reading materials, movies and all types of activities and items.

They’ve come a long way since 1955 when a Sears Roebuck ad accidentally posted the wrong phone number for children to call Santa. Instead of Sears, the number directed the callers to (Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief hotline, where the late Col. Harry Shoup started the tradition of monitoring Santa’ annual trek around the world.

So, if you’re a Doubting Thomas or a Skeptical Suzy, check out NORAD Tracks Santa just for the fun of it.

* Graphic courtesy of NORAD Tracks Santa

2017 MySweetWishList Starts Monday!

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After recovering from the Cowboy loss and using Tums as Thanksgiving supper chasers, it’s time to start marching into the official holiday season. In addition to pulling out the holidays decorations from the attic, heading to Sandone for the tree and sending greeting cards, the annual MySweetWishList series will kick into place Monday.

It’s a marvelous opportunity to help those whose needs are great. They’re not wishing for an XPhone or a new Mercedes. Rather, they are parents who are going to have to explain to their kids that Santa is going to have to take a pass this year. It’s the homeless and elderly, whose feast is going to be meager at best. It’s animals that will have concrete floors or wired cages to sleep in without a blanket or toy.

So, if you have room on your holiday shopping list, consider adding one or two more from those with wishes. You’ll not only make others happy, your accountant will be positively giddy about the deduction around April 15.

And even if your wallet is emptied out already, consider just reading the wishes. You may just learn about services, organizations and people that make this community great.

On the other hand, if you are in need, you just might find a resource to help you through the days ahead.  

National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon Guests May Want To Rethink Their Route Friday

Those planning to attend the National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency on Friday might want consider taking a different route to the event or getting an earlier start. Why? Because despite Veteran’s Day officially being on Saturday, the Greater Dallas Veterans Day Parade honoring vets starts at 11 with streets in the area being blocked off just as guests arrive for the luncheon.

2017 Dallas Veterans Day Parade Route*

On the other hand, if you don’t have plans, why not check out the parade honoring the men and women, who have served this country?

*Graphic courtesy of Greater Dallas Veterans Day Parade

Former Dallas Mayor Adlene Harrison To Receive The Carmen Miller Michael Legacy Senior Communities Award

Adlene Harrison (File photo)

A press release was distributed about The Legacy Senior CommunitiesYes! Event featuring Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran.

While it was great news on one hand, it was embarrassing on the other.

First the great news — former Dallas Mayor Adlene Harrison will receive the Carmen Miller Michael Legacy Senior Communities Award at the Meyerson on Thursday, November 2.

The problem came later in the release in reporting that a “committee chaired by Maddy Unterberg and which included Andrea Statman, Shirley Tobolowsky, Julie Lowenberg and Hanne Klein, as well as Frieda Gayle Stern, of blessed memory.”

The problem was the listing of “Frieda Gayle Stern.” For those who knew the late PR champ, who died this summer, her name was Freda Gail Stern. Evidently The Point Group that issued the release didn’t know that. But in this day and age, guess the spelling of a name isn’t that big a deal. In Freda Gail’s day, it was.

The provided release follows the jump. [Read more…]

Columbus Day Is The Holiday That Isn’t A Holiday

Monday is Columbus Day and it’s a tricky one. While banks, the U.S. Postal Service and Federal offices do consider it to be a holiday, the state of Texas doesn’t.

Bad news for the kiddos. Most schools will be in session.

So why not take a long lunch and be grateful that you weren’t on the Niña, the Pinta or the Santa Maria because accommodations weren’t exactly top drawer and they weren’t quite sure where they were headed.

BTW, Monday is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. If you know a Canadian, wish ’em a happy Thanksgiving.

An Unfortunate MySweetCharity Opportunity: Hurricane Harvey

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North Texans are certainly no strangers when it comes to Mother Nature throwing fizzy fits. Perhaps that’s why they are feeling the pain of those escaping Hurricane Harvey and seeking refuge here. Unfortunately, for some they will have little to return to. For others, they just might decide to stay put here.

To help these uprooted folks while they call North Texas home, it is the perfect opportunity to showcase the area’s spirit of generosity and compassion. Whether it’s schlepping pet supplies to the SPCA of Texas for newly arrived residents, providing funds for such groups as the Red Cross or rolling up silk sleeves to volunteer, now is the time to rise to the occasion. 

BTW, there are many North Texans who have families and second homes in the devastated area. Why not give them a call and see how they’re doing? 

And remember — hurricane season doesn’t officially end until October. But you just know Ma Nature doesn’t always plays by the rules.

JUST IN: Crayton Webb Reveals His Last Day As Mary Kay Inc. VP, But Remains Tight-Lipped About Future Plans

Nikki and Crayton Webb (File photo)

In the North Texas nonprofit world, Mary Kay Inc. VP of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Crayton Webb has established quite a stellar reputation as a major champion in the war against domestic violence. Besides chairing HeROs, Genesis Women’s Shelter‘s men’s auxiliary, and co-chairing the recent Genesis Luncheon with wife Nikki Webb, he has served on the board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

An example of his blending his professional life with his personal advocacy has been his being front and center for the annual “Suits for Shelters” program, providing clothes for area domestic violence shelters.

What some folks don’t realize is that his involvement and leadership have not been limited to Mary Kay Inc. and domestic violence. Need proof? Since landing in North Texas in 1998, he has been part of a vast variety of organizations and programs, including the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas Board, the Communications Council for the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Executive Forum of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Communications Studies at SMU, the Junior League of Dallas, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Leadership Dallas Alumni Association and Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau to name a few.

Prior to joining Mary Kay Inc., he was an award-winning reporter for KTVT-TV (CBS) from 1998 to 2001, as well as chief of staff for former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller from 2002 to 2005.

In the past 19 years, he has received the 2015 Leadership Dallas Distinguished Alumni Award, was named to the Dallas Business Journal‘s class of “40 under Forty,” was named one of the “Five Outstanding Young Dallasites” by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce and one of the “Five Outstanding Young Texans” by the Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce.

It was just learned that Crayton announced that he has given his notice to Mary Kay. Ironically, his final day with the Dallas-based mega-company will be on the 54th anniversary of the founding of Mary Kay Inc. — Wednesday, September 13.

What’s in his future? Crayton is tight-lipped on that question. However, the answer will be revealed in September. But never fear. He and Nikki are still staying true to North Texas and its nonprofit world.

Stay tuned.

You Only Need This Information Once To Save Your Life

As Kevin Hurst described earlier today, Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate. No matter how skinny, rich or what zip code one claims, she feels free to unload with her tornadoes, straight-line winds, hail and locusts (okay, so the locusts may not be part of the mix). That’s why during certain parts of the year, especially spring and fall, she really slams the North Texas area with zeal.

For this reason, it’s imperative to have a “WhIP“ (What If Plan). Have you got a place to hunker down? Do you know just what you need to have in your hunker-down sweet spot?

What’s that? It only hits trailer parks and places that you’ve never heard of? Oh, please! Forget that. You’re demanding an example? Okay, you’ve got it. 

Gloria Eulich Martindale (File photo)

Just ask Gloria Eulich Martindale, who is smart, gorgeous and a roll-up-your sleeves fundraiser, as well as being a lady who knows firsthand. She was at her farmhouse on Saturday, April 29, when Mother Nature unloaded. The house was wiped out and Gloria and her family were lucky enough to have a basement that had been used “to store stuff” to hunker down.

Or, if you think it only takes place in the rural areas, hit the “Rethink” button. It was just a couple of years ago that the elegant Turtle Creek area got slam-bammed by a Ma Nature temper tantrum with a sledgehammer toppling trees and devastating the area.

If schools and commercial buildings have fire drills, think about holding your own. Here are some things to check:

  • Do you have people who will check on you if they don’t hear from you following a weather sweep?
  • If you have a VIP documents (i.e. insurance, birth certificates, passports, etc.) and a home computer, should they be part of your escape plan?
  • Have you had a dress rehearsal?
  • Do you have an app that will alert you of threatening weather in your area? If not, check with the local media. They’re free and more than willing to alert you. Despite Arianna Huffington‘s suggestion at the recent Genesis Luncheon of not sleeping with your cellphone on your bed stand, do it. If Arianna complains, tell her to check with us. There’s a time and place for everything.
  • What about the elderly? If you have a “vintage” member of your circle, have you checked on their game plan? They may pat you on the head and tell you not to worry. Don’t fall for it. Nicely demand that they show you where they would go and how to contact them, just in case.
  • What about your critters? How will you handle them in such a crisis? Having them micro-chipped can be a life saver. 

Tonight may result in another “Duh” occasion, but why not use it as an opportunity to do that drill and to let each in your household take responsibility, if a weather or whatever crisis should arise?

Start Working Out Because A Weekend Of Fundraising Gala Collisions Lies Ahead

Côtes du Coeur (File photo)

Well, yuck! North Texas is preparing to have one of those fundraising collision weekends. Drat!

On Saturday, April 22, two major, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious events are taking place. The wine-loving types will be at the Omni Dallas for the American Heart Association graze and gaze with a corral full of chefs and more wines than California could produce for Côtes du Coeur thanks to Co-Chairs Kelly and David Pfeil.

Art Ball 2016 (File photo)

Over at the Dallas Museum of Art, new kid-on-the-block (aka Eugene McDermott Director) Agustin Arteaga will be introduced to fundraising Dallas-style with the 2017 Art Ball. With Art Ball Co-Chairs Ann and Lee Hobson at the helm and the taste of romantic France via “All That Glistens,” it’s pretty darn obvious that it’s gonna be a night of killer fashions, food and fantastical auction items. The tent is already being erected next to the DMA.

Trammell S. Crow

2016 Children’s Cancer Fund (File photo)

And Friday is just as bad. Here, the EarthxGlobal Gala folks moved their big soiree from Saturday to Friday night to avoid the Art Ball/Côtes du Coeur traffic jam. Only problem: there’s still another mega fundraiser — Children’s Cancer Fund — taking place at the Hilton Anatole that night with kids and celebrities on the runway.

Oh, dear! What is one to do? Do two-a-night and then hit the after-soiree stop — Whataburger?

If either any of ‘em sounds to your liking instead of the same-old Friday and Saturday night sock-sorting and grilling steaks, there are still tickets available. Here’s the one for Côtes du Coeur and here’s the one for Art Ball. Either way you can win!

Horse racing (File photo)

BTW, if you think Sunday is gonna be any better, think again. The Retina Foundation‘s Racing for Sight at Lone Star Park is on a collision course with the Nasher Sculpture Center‘s Great Create.

The Great Create (File photo)

It just ain’t fair!

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

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

Kim Bannister, Ariana Luterman, Nancy Kerrigan and Allana Luterman

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

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

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

Nancy Gopez and Tiffany Divis

Carlotta Lennox and Pamela Graham

Lisa Cooley, Jenny Anchondo and Bela Pjetrovic

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

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

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

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

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

Stephanie Setliff

Andrew McGarrahan

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

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

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

Whitney Kutch

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

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

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

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

Nancy Kerrigan

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

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

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

The Perfect Fix For St. Patrick’s Day Weekend’s Need For Green

Dallas Arboretum tulips

It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Instead of flying off to Ireland to kiss the Blarney Stone or hitting the pubs for a tankard of Guinness Extra Stout, why not surround yourself in picture-perfect green?

It can be found at the Dallas Arboretum with acres of  magnificent green grounds being highlighted by 500,000 blossoms.

And if you’re set on kissing something, the Arboretum has plenty of tulips. Wink, wink.

A Passing: “The Exorcist” Author William Peter Blatty, Multiple Myeloma And A Long Ago Story About A Dallas Encounter

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Today CancerBlows Co-Founders Niki and Ryan Anthony were meeting with CancerBlows Co-Chairs D’Andra Simmons Lock and Anne Stodghill and a production crew from around the country for the upcoming May 8-10th multiple myeloma fundraiser at the Meyerson. (More about that in the days to come.)

While they were finalizing plans for the event that will have the world’s greatest horn players perform to support research and treatments about the disease that struck Ryan, multiple myeloma proved just how deadly it is. Academy Award-winning screenwriter/acclaimed author of “The Exorcist” William Peter Blatty died the day before as a result of the blood cancer.

Blatty’s death recalled an incident that took place in Dallas back in 1973. A very young and green society writer at The Dallas Morning News was assigned to cover a party hosted by Polly and Dick Hitt and Jeanne and Jim Butler for a novelist named William Peter Blatty. In a Google-less world, she wandered the newsroom asking reporters if they had ever heard of Blatty. All she got were shrugs. Well, there was one writer who said he thought the guy had written about teddy bears.

So, off the society writer went to the party at a mansion on Preston Road, where she encountered all types of local celebs like KVIL’s Ron Chapman and Hugh Lampman and Bettie and Fairmont Hotel General Manager Julian Abio. Once again, she asked, “Have you heard of William Peter Blatty?” Again, the responses were shrugs and side-shaking of heads.

Wandering into a small sitting room, she found a man seated in a chair whom she didn’t know. After exchanging “Hellos,” she again asked him if he knew of William Peter Blatty. He responded, “As a matter of fact I do. He wrote a book called ‘The Exorcist.’” Innocently, she asked if he had read it. He nodded. She followed that up with, “Is it any good?” He said he thought so.

She was on a roll and asked if her new friend could point Blatty out. He then aimed his index finger at his chest.

She smiled and they both laughed.

Now, having experienced the most awkward moment that could possibly happen in their relationship, she said, “Do you know that you look yellow? Is it the lighting or are you wearing some kind of makeup?” He said he hadn’t been feeling all that great and appreciated her concern.

After a few minutes, she departed.

The next day the society writer received a call from host Jim Butler saying that after she had left the party, Blatty had been taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with hepatitis. “He keeps asking for you,” Butler said.

Over the next few months, the movie version was released and the phone calls between the society writer and Blatty continued. He would talk about his life and how the movie’s popularity had been both flattering and weird. After she had seen the movie, she acted like a movie expert and wondered if it would have been better done in black and white. He laughed and said that he had lobbied for that, but the director and money people were totally opposed to that idea.

While staying in Colorado, Blatty called and insisted that the writer come to Colorado to meet his mother, Mary Blatty. He had spoken of his mother often and had told her about the writer. Bill just knew the two ladies would hit it off. The writer suggested that Blatty put Mary on the phone, so they could chat.

It was then that the relationship took a definite “exorcist” turn. He couldn’t put his mother on the phone. She had died in 1967. It was the last time the reporter and Blatty would talk.

BEWARE: Mother Nature Has Cooked Up A Weekend Of Weathery Upsy and Downsies

That Mama Nature is a tricky old gal. She had the weather guessers convinced that she would just snow flurry around this afternoon. And there were all types of impressive maps to back her claim. But then the white stuff started falling. Just one flake made people smile. Then a dozen made folks think how pretty the flurry is. But then the flurry became an afternoon drive-home fury of flakes that as soon as they hit the ground, they froze together making Central Expressway a glorified parking lot and teeny-weeny hills become icy roller coasters.

Traffic in the snow (File photos)

Now, what’s in the future? Take a deep breath and read this before venturing out Saturday morning. The stuff that’s wet and on the ground this evening is going to freeze thanks to temperatures in the 20s. Roads that were slippery today are going to be treacherous Saturday until afternoon when the temps get just barely above freezing.

Are you relieved? Don’t be. Sorry to report that Saturday night the stuff that started melting Saturday afternoon will refreeze Saturday night thanks to returning temperatures in the 20s. Rethink Sunday brunches and church services.

Dallas Arboretum squirrels (File photo)

But you deserve some good news and here goes. Sunday afternoon the temperatures will start rising above freezing and will stay there the rest of the week.

So, tell those sandals and shorts to take a break. Come Tuesday they’ll be needed for walking the dogs, sipping on patios, comparing notes with the penguins at the Dallas Zoo and checking out the blossoms at the Arboretum.

In the meantime, rethink that subscribing to Netflix and reading that book that has been gathering dusty. And what about that needlepoint that you’ve been meaning to finish up?