Despite Initial Fiscal Confusion, Lee Jarmon Alzheimer’s Pro Am Benefits Aware And Three Other Area Non-Profits With $220,000

There’s been a tad bit of confusion about the funds netted from the Lee Jarmon Alzheimer’s Pro Am held in May at Gleneagles Country Club. Aware President Venise Stuart recently reported that the tournament had provided $20,000 for the group. But upon checking with the Jarmon’s Elisa Stephens, she said that the actual amount for Aware had been $40,000. 

Lee Jarmon Alzheimer’s Pro Am*

So, where was the MIA $20,000? No, Venise hadn’t taken a lavish trip. Rather the two groups have conflicting fiscal years. Jarmon had issued two $20,000 checks with each falling in separate fiscal years for Aware.

According to a statement provided by Aware,

“Venise Stuart, president of AWARE announced today that the AWARE organization received two grants totaling $40,000.00 from the Lee Jarmon Alzheimer’s Pro Am Golf  Tournament and Auction. The first grant of $20,000.00 received in March will be used toward the funding of the 2016-2017 AWARE grant recipients.  The second $20,000.00 grant received this August will be used in the funding of the 2017-18 grant recipients, listed below. The event will be held on April 13, 2018, at the newly renovated The Statler in downtown Dallas.  ALL grant funds received will be dedicated solely to the funding of AWARE’s grant recipients.”

Whew! If you’re confused, call your accountant and s/he’ll explain.

Regardless, the final rundown of checks distributed by the tournament was:

  • $100,000 to Baylor Memory Care Center
  • $60,000 to C.C. Young building fund for their new Memory Care Center
  • $40,000 to Aware
  • $20,000 to the Aging Mind Foundation 

In other words, $220,000 was provided to four nonprofits to fight Alzheimer’s on behalf of the Lee Jarmon Alzheimer’s Pro Am.

* Graphic courtesy of Lee Jarmon Alzheimer's Pro Am

Americans For The Arts Study Provides Numbers And Facts About North Texas Arts Community’s Economic Impact Using The B-Word

There are those who scoff at the economic muscle of the nonprofit sector. Perhaps it is because they think back to their days when they equated nonprofits with saving pennies for Savings Bonds. However, the nonprofit organizations have become powerhouses of businesses that translate into more than supporting and growing communities. They also provide big bucks across the board.

On Wednesday, June 28, at the Dallas City Performance Hall, the Business Council for the Arts, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and the Dallas Arts District provided numbers and facts that the arts of North Texas alone “generated $1,473,366,015 in annual economic activity.” Check that number again. In addition to the dollars, it also supported 52,848 full-time equivalent jobs and generated $167.2M in local and state government revenues.

The trio didn’t just pull those numbers of their proverbial hats. An “exhaustive national economic impact study, Arts and Economic Prosperity 5,” was conducted by the Americans for the Arts with the Business Council for the Arts gathering the research in this region. The study is conducted to “examine cities, counties and states nationwide every five years. This year, for a regional perspective, six North Texas cities and cultural districts participated with Business Council for the Arts, demonstrating the reach and impact of arts and culture in neighborhoods and communities across the region.”

Katherine Wagner (File photo)

According to Business Council for the Arts CEO Katherine Wagner, “This study shows, in power numbers, just what a critical role arts and culture also play in keeping our national, state and local economies vibrant and growing. Reflecting our population and business growth, our region is now the third largest arts economy in the nation.”

Highlights from the study included the following:

North Texas Highlights

  • The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA came in third, measured against other multi-county regions in the country.
  • The economic impact of arts and culture organizations in North Texas more than tripled between the previously published study in 2012 and the current study – from $428,512,328 to $1,473,366,015.
  • In the region, the nonprofit arts and culture sector equated to 52,848 FTE jobs supported, translating into $1.3 billion in annual salaries.
  • North Texas cultural audience attendance numbers totaled 13,970,000 in 2015, contributing $473,856,433 to the economy.

City of Dallas Highlights

The study found that the City of Dallas, which also participated in the 2010 study, is seeing robust returns from its annual and long-term investment in the arts, including triple-digit growth in economic impact, jobs and audiences, as well as generating even more revenue for state and local government. In FY 2015:

  • Total economic activity tied to Dallas arts and culture was $891 million, up from the $321 million in the 2010 study – a 2.8-fold increase.
  • Dallas arts organizations and audiences supported 33,554 jobs, a nearly 3-fold increase over data collected in 2010.
  • Dallas arts and culture generated revenue of $97 million to local and state governments.

Dallas Arts District Highlights

  • The economic activity of the Dallas Arts District alone has tripled in five years, going from $128.6 million to $395.8 million.
  • The revenue generated for local government from Dallas Arts District arts organizations and audiences was $19 million in 2015.
  • 14,932 jobs are supported by Dallas Arts District arts organizations and audiences.

According to Americans for the Arts President/CEO Robert L. Lynch, “This study demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and helps local communities become stronger and healthier places to live. Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

While these numbers and results are staggering, they are also just a snapshot of one sector within the incredible North Texas nonprofit world.


2017 Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf Of Dallas Provided A Record $6.8M For Momentous Institute

Despite hurricane Harvey making this weekend seem pretty darn miserable, the Momentous Institute folks are all smiley facing it.

Salesmanship Club of Dallas, AT&T Byron Nelson and Momentous Institute*

Thanks to the Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas tournament that was held this past May, the Institute received “a record $6.8 million in net proceeds.” That translates into Institute’s being able to support “social emotional health for all children, so they can achieve their full potential.”

According to 2017 Tournament Chair Tim Costello, “This year we set out to make the AT&T Byron Nelson’s final year in Irving our best yet, and to celebrate our long relationship with the Irving community and the Four Seasons. We are grateful to the countless people who came together to make sure we raised the most we could for the kids and families we serve through Momentous Institute.”

The 2018 Tournament will be held at Trinity Forest Golf Club and will again benefit Momentous Institute.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: Ann Moody Place

For years, the Ann Moody Place was just a dream for those living in a nightmare. It was the hoped-for place of safety, where women could escape lives of domestic abuse and learn how to make a new and better life for themselves and their families.

Paige Flink Healing Garden in center courtyard

But thanks to The Family Place’s CEO Paige Flink, her staff, Legacy Campaign Chair Lynn McBee, TFP board and the North Texas community, Ann Moody Place became a 50,000-square-foot facility in the Medical District. Just before the Sunday, June 4th reception for supporters and the full-blown opening in July, a tour was conducted of the three-story complex with everything from an mini-clinic, kennels, a center courtyard, pillows embroidered with “Dream BIG” to artwork throughout.

Bird Flying free of a cage sculpture

While the post on the tour is being prepared, check out pictures at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. Chances are you’ll never need Moody Place, but it needs your support to provide annually for the estimated 2,000 clients.

Dallas CASA Classic Golf Tournament Results In A Record-Breaking $2M Check For Dallas CASA

The Dallas CASA folks have had a great week, thanks to golf. No, Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle has not been taking lessons from Jordan Spieth. Rather, she was presented a check for an eye-popping $2M resulting from AT&T, Goldman Sachs and Pioneer Natural Resources hosting the 20th annual Dallas CASA Classic.

Kathleen LaValle*

With 700 golfers coming together from around the country on Monday, April 24, at Brookhaven Country Club and the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas on Monday, April 24, the event was needless to say a record breaker for the annual fundraiser.

According to Kathleen, “Dallas CASA would not have been able to embark on this tremendous and exciting growth plan without the Dallas CASA Classic and the incredible corporate partners we have in AT&T, Goldman Sachs and Pioneer. This tournament has brought hope and support directly to thousands of Dallas-area children living in protective care because it’s not safe at home.”

Kerry Scott, Jim Lozier, Kathleen LaValle, Mark Berg, Linda Swartz and Woody McMinn*

Other organizations and people who made it possible include:

  • Platinum Sponsors — AT&T;, a Ten-X Company; Ciena Corporation; Flotek Industries; Goldman Sachs; PfP Technology; and Pioneer Natural Resources
  • Gold Sponsors — Arent Fox LLP; CBRE; Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC; Enterprise Products Operating LLC; FB Industries Inc.; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Greystar; Haynes and Boone, LLP; Helmerich & Payne, Inc.; KDC Real Estate Developments and Investments; Jones Long LaSalle Incorporated; Kel-Tech, Inc.; KPMG LLP; LEAM Drilling Systems, Inc.; Lincoln Property Company; MasTec Network Solutions; NOV Completion & Production Solutions; OmniTRAX Inc.; Patterson-UTI Drilling Company LLC; Plains Marketing LP; PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP; ProPetro Holding Corporation; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; Sunuco Logistics; U.S. Silica Holdings Inc.; Targa Resources; Tenaris; Trammell Crow Residential; Trinidad Drilling; Vinson & Elkins LLP; and Wood Partners
  • Silver Sponsors — AEI Group; Aimbridge Hospitality; Alliance Residential Holdings; Alvarez & Marsal; ARA, a Newmark Company; Bank of America/Merrill Lynch; BP P.L.C.; Black & Veatch Corporation; Caron Transportation Systems; Clear Capital; Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton LLP; CoreLogic, Inc.; Credit Suisse; Dawson Geophysical Company; Deloitte; DistributionNOW; Eastdil Secured; Ericsson, Inc.; Emerson; Energy Transfer Partners; Ernst & Young; Fairmont Santrol Holdings Inc.; General Dynamics Wireless Services; Gibson Dunn; Globe Energy Services, LLC; Goldberg Kohn; Halliburton; John Plott Company, Inc.; J.P. Morgan; LMC, a Lennar Company; McClatchy Bros., Inc.; McCollam Law Firm, Nabors Drilling USA, LP; Neustar, Inc.; Nexius; OpenInvoice; Petro Amigos Supply, Inc.; Platinum Pipe Rentals LLC; QuadGen Wireless Solutions Inc.; Quorum Business Solutions, Inc.; Rush Truck Leasing; Schlumberger Limited; Seitel, Inc.; Select Energy Services; Sun Coast Resources, Inc.; TechnipFMC PLC; USIC LLC; Wells Fargo; Wilson Elser
* Photo credit: Nate Bednarz

The Two-Day “Christmas Is For Children Radiothon” Resulted In A Record-Breaking $1,262,704 For Children’s Health

KLUV’s Jody Dean seemed to put an extra “oomph” in this year’s two-day “Christmas is for Children Radiothon.” Perhaps it was because he will have his first granddaughter born this April.

And that “oomph” on Thursday, December 8, and Friday, December 9, at Children’s Medical Center resulted in a record-breaking sweet deal — a check for $1,262,704 for Children’s Health.

Jody Dean (File photo)

Jenny Q (File photo)

El Chiquilin (File photo)

Chris Sommer (File photo)

As part of the partnership with Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals, Jody was joined by other CBS Radio DFW folks like KLUV’s Jenny Q, La Grande’s El Chiquilin, KRLD’s Chris Sommer and 26 patients and families like Lacey Parker and her mom Renee Parker for the 26-hour fundraiser.

Why La Grande alone broke another record by bringing in a record-breaking “$558,199, making it the No. 1 CMN Hispanic Radiothon in the country.”

Lacey Parker and Renee Parker

According to CBS Radio DFW Senior Vice President/Market Manager Brian Purdy, “CBS Radio DFW began the Radiothon partnership 11 years ago to support the incredibly amazing work of Children’s Health. Year after year, the generosity of our listeners continues to humble us as we are reminded of how truly blessed we are here in North Texas.”

In addition to the VIP guests like Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher and former Foundation President Dr. Kern Wildenthal dropping by to visit with the radio personalities, teams from area companies manned the phone accepting contributions.

Local sponsors of the event included presenting sponsor FairLease, phone line sponsor Credit Union of Texas, child champion sponsor Neighborhood Credit Union and others (Albertsons-Tom Thumb, The Children’s Courtyard, Granite Properties, Padrino Foods, Skanska, ReTrak, Dallas Fort Worth Acura Dealers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, ADT Security, Cisco, Marquis Group, UBC and El Rio Supermercados).

If you missed the opportunity to support the Radiothon, you can still support Children’s Health via the Children’s Medical Center Foundation by donating here!

JUST IN: Mission Olé Hauls In A Big Net For Trinity River Mission

Dolores Sosa Green

Dolores Sosa Green

All that partying at the Trinity River Mission’s 17th Annual Mission Olé on Thursday, October 27, paid off big time.

Event Co-Chairs Lesley Chambless, Ann Kellogg Schooler and Margaret Spellings just got word from the bean counters that the fundraiser at Chicken Scratch netted … not raised… netted $315,000. That’s nearly double from last year’s Ole.

TRM CEO Dolores Sosa Green was hopeful the take would be good, but even she probably never imagined that number.


You Did It Again: North Texas Giving Day Busts Previous Records With A Whopping $37,307,196 For 2,518 Nonprofits Thanks To 142,892 Gifts

Well, dang it! Once again Communities Foundation of TexasNorth Texas Giving Day broke all past records hauling in $37,307,196. Gee, don’t you just love the 142,892 North Texas givers who made it happen? Whether its multi-million-dollar buckeroos or the legions of $25 donors, this neighborhood shines in the world of giving.

North Texas Giving Day

North Texas Giving Day

You simply can’t even fathom the appreciation of the nonprofits for folks and organizations coming through on this legendary day.

By the way, this year’s record breaker is the very first in its eight-year history without former CFT Executive Director Brent Christopher, who announced his departure for Children’s Medical Center Foundation earlier this summer.

For a giggle, MySweetCharity contacted Brent about NTGD’s continuing its record-breaking record in the astrosphere of fundraising without him. His reply:

“The team behind North Texas Giving Day is incredible, not to mention all the participating nonprofits. But, I had no idea that I was holding everyone back all these years! This over-the-top total is nothing short of astounding. And, of course, all of us at Children’s Health are thrilled that donors to Children’s played a big part in that success, too.”

Congrats to Communities Foundation of Texas, the 2,518 nonprofits and Brent for creating one of the nation’s most remarkable fundraising accomplishments.

May the fundraising continue. But let’s let the emailboxes take a rest for a day.

JUST IN: St. Paul Medical Foundation Officially Ends Its Run By Supporting UT Southwestern Medical Center Programs

As reported earlier, the St. Paul Medical Foundation is officially becoming part of Dallas’ history, but its mission to provide for the healthcare needs of the community will continue thanks to its leadership. UT Southwestern Medical Center just issued the following release to explain how the Foundation’s assets will benefit UT’s long-range plans:

DALLAS – Sept. 1, 2016 – St. Paul Medical Foundation will donate all of its assets, now more than $13 million, to UT Southwestern Medical Center, and close Sept. 30.

Vin Perella*

Vin Perella*

“It’s been a great run of 52 years,” said Board Chairman Vin Perella, “but our mission and goals echo those of UT Southwestern so closely that good stewardship and economies of scale dictate that this is the time for such a move.”

Endowments designated to specific uses, such as care of the indigent, and heart, lung, vascular, and cerebrovascular programs, will continue to be dedicated specifically for those uses.

A $1 million capital grant will be used to remodel and name the seventh-floor nursing station at Zale Lipshy University Hospital, an area dedicated to the care of stroke patients.

In addition, three special endowments will be established with the gift:

  • A grant of $1 million will establish the Jan and Jim Hinckley/St. Paul Foundation Endowment for Pulmonary Research and Programs;
  • $400,000 will establish the Father Jack Deeves, S.J./St. Paul Foundation Endowment for Chaplain Services to support UT Southwestern’s Chaplain Services program, which has been one of the foundation’s historical key focuses; and
  • The St. Paul Foundation Endowment for Compassionate Medicine in honor of Sally Ridgway will be created for training and enhancement of UTSW’s compassionate medicine programs.

All of the other assets will be gifted to UT Southwestern to be used for the benefit of their patients and programs.

Daniel Podolsky (File photo)

Daniel Podolsky (File photo)

As employees of the Foundation are being offered positions in the UTSW Department of Development, their skills and experience will continue to benefit the Medical Center by furthering excellence in medicine through philanthropy.

“The St. Paul Medical Foundation and its leaders can take great pride in its legacy of good works through supporting the St. Paul Hospital and, in recent years, the efforts of UT Southwestern Medical Center as its successor,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science. “We are humbled by the confidence of the Foundation in entrusting us as stewards of its resources in the future. We are delighted that those who have been committed to the Foundation will remain as deeply engaged with UT Southwestern.”

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

Change Of Plans: MySweetCharity Opportunity Series Ramps Up



Well, dang! You did it again. Way more MySweetCharity Opportunities arrived than planned. So in the final days of the annual August series, we’re going to ramp up the posts telling you about programs that provide opportunities within your hood.

Some you know but have a new development; some will be a total and delightful surprise. But all will provide you with the opportunity to make North Texas an even better place. And all would appreciate your consideration.

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.

JUST IN: More Than 4,000 In-Need Dallas Kids Start The 2016-2017 School Year In Great Shape Thanks To CPD And DCAC

Since SMU is now officially back in session, the Bed Bath and Beyond staff has been in recovery mode. Seems the place was busting as parents and their collegiate kids shopped for dorm room necessities. As for the Office Depot team, they’re still under siege as area students and their folks are buying everything from pens to binders.

Community Partners of Dallas' Back-To-School 2016*

Community Partners of Dallas’ Back-To-School 2016*

One group that is taking a deep breath is Community Partners of Dallas (CPD). As part of their 23rd Annual Back-To-School drive, they surpassed their goal of providing more than 3,100 Dallas public school students with uniforms and supply-laden backpacks.

In addition to FFA’s kick-off contribution, The Container Store really gave a helping hand by raising $57,000 for the program. Remember that for each dollar donated, CPD was able to buy $5 worth of supplies and uniforms. Translation: The Container Store’s contribution resulted in supplies and uniforms worth a comfy six figures.

Dallas Children's Advocacy Center's Back To School**

Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s Back To School**

Thanks to CPD and the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC), more than 4,000 in-need kids started the 2016-2017 school year in stellar condition. Both were record breaker campaigns!

Pats on the back for CPD, DCAC and all the individuals and companies that came together for the children.

* Graphic provided by Community Partners of Dallas 
** Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Advocacy Center

2016 Parade Of Playhouses At NorthPark Center Marched Off With A Record-Breaking Amount For Dallas CASA

Dallas nonprofits are on a roll with good news. Now word comes from Dallas CASA about the results from the 2016 Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark. The Kappa Alpha Thetas have spent the last couple of days tallying the results. The total was so astonishing that they triple checked their findings. But the numbers added up to 15,546 raffle tickets being purchased. Adding that amount with sponsorships and text voting, “more than $200,000” went to Dallas CASA and it was a record breaker!

But the smiley faces weren’t just on the Dallas CASA staffers and volunteers. Nope. More good news was being spread all around. Here’s a snapshot of other results from the “parade” from Dallas CASA’s Rosanne Lewis:

Kid Cottage (File photo)

Kid Cottage (File photo)

Say Cheese (File photo)

Say Cheese (File photo)

The Lookout*

The Lookout*

  • “’The Kid Cottage’ by LRO Residential (copper roof) was won by a Preston Hollow family with 3 kids under three. They have two boys and a girl and the boys were hoping for the Crest CASA Garage but mom split the tickets because she wanted the Cottage!
  • “’Say Cheese’ was won by one of our new volunteers. In her email she said, ‘Winning a playhouse was almost as exciting as becoming an advocate.’
  • “’The Lookout’ was won by a family who also have three children, a little 3-year-old boy and infant twins (a boy and a girl), who were born premature and are still in the hospital. On Sunday they won their playhouse, and on Monday they finally brought their babies home.”

And how about the playhouse builders? Which ones were voted the most popular via text ballots? Here’s the answer:

  • African Safari Adventure by Harman
  • Basecamp by Redlee/SCS with Sketchup
  • Crest CASA Garage by Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti


African Safari Adventure (File photo)

African Safari  (File photo)

Basecamp (File photo)

Basecamp (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Tomorrow and Thursday the playhouses will be delivered courtesy of Glazers to their new homes. One of them is going to Celina!

The only question remaining is what the heck are the builders going to come up with next year?  Perhaps a playhouse with a storm shelter?

2016 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s Debutante Presentation Results Reported

Melissa Lewis and Nancy Labadie (File photo)

Melissa Lewis and Nancy Labadie (File photo)

The two biggy fundraisers for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra are the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s spring Debutante Presentation Ball and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Association’s Dallas Symphony Gala that kicks off the black-tie fundraising season in the fall.

How big? Well, 2015-2016 DSOL President Melissa Lewis just sent word that thanks to “the Ball (along with our other fundraisers), the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League raised over $773,000 which was given back to the Dallas Symphony in support of their outreach and education programs.”

A tip of the hat to 2016 Ball Chair Nancy Labadie and the rest of the DSOL-ers on a mission well done.

Canine Companions For Independence At Baylor Scott And White Health — Kinkeade Campus Graduation Had Tears And Cheers

Box of tissues

Box of tissues

Most graduations boast mortar boards, robes and cheers as the grads leave their comfort zone for the next step of life. But unlike other more typical ceremonies, the one taking place at noon on Friday, May 13, had no caps and gowns. Instead there were boxes of tissues and tears along with tail wagging and cheers.

The event was the Canine Companions for Independence graduation of ten dog-and-human teams at its Baylor Scott and White Health — Kinkeade Campus in Irving .

Graduation program in Canine Training Center

Graduation program in Canine Training Center

After years of being trained for their roles as life-changing companions for “individuals with physical and developmental disabilities” from Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Keller, Cleburne and others areas of North Texas, these ten dogs were all summa cum laude graduates.

Puppy being turned in for formal training program

Puppy being turned in for formal training program

With an SRO crowd filling the Canine Training Center, it was heart rending to see the puppy raisers formally present their canines to the human, who “will begin their journey toward a more independent life.”

Prior to graduation, the human partners spent two weeks bonding with their dogs at the Campus thanks to cottages on the property.

And while this part of the program was truly gratifying, the teary part of the day’s activities was the handing over of the new class of 17 Labradors and Golden Retrievers for their formal training by their families who have raised them for more than a year. Even the most hardened observer found it hard to believe that after living and working with these remarkable animals that the puppy raisers could give them up. For puppy raiser Dawn Thompson, Freckles was the first puppy that she had raised for the program. Just prior to the handover as she and Freckles checked out the new dog-friendly pond with Diane Howard, she admitted that it was going to be a rough experience.

Freckles, Dawn Thompson and Diane Howard

Freckles, Dawn Thompson and Diane Howard

Freckles and her classmates would go through a carefully monitored six-to-mine-month training course at the facility. Those that passed the initial temperament and health evaluation would be trained to work around wheelchairs and learn more than 40 commands like pulling, switching on-and-off lights and retrieve.

But as difficult as it was to turn over their puppies, all the raisers were reminded that the pooches were destined for a greater mission.

In addition to donations, Canine Companions for Independence at Baylor Scott and White Health – Kinkeade Campus is looking for volunteers. Information on both can be found here!

Northwood Woman’s Club Hands Out Checks Totaling $255,250 To Seven Very Happy Area Nonprofits

It seems like there’s a lot of hoop-la when groups announce the amount of money raised from fundraising activities. But real news is how much of that fund raised actually, really, truly goes to the beneficiary.

Confused? Totally understand. Here’s an example: Let’s pretend The Mosquito Preservation Society announces their black-tie brunch “raised” a whopping $5.5M. But when the dust settles and expenses are accounted, no one fessed up that only $1.99 went to the society. Well, after all when you’re serving Cristal mimosas in Baccarat flutes, white truffle-laden omelets on Bernardaud china and have Adele on stage for 10 minutes, it does cost a pretty penny. And that’s not to mention thank-you gifts for the committee like Birkin bags for the ladies and Dallas National Golf Club memberships for the men.

Ah, but there are other groups that proudly show-and-tell the amounts presented to the beneficiaries. One such organization is the Northwood Woman’s Club. No, they don’t have the over-the-top grandiose galas, but they are so typical of the fundraising groups that dig their stilettos in the ground and keep their eyes on the outcome, not the partying. As proof, the Northwood gals just presented $255,250 to their 2016 beneficiaries.

Happy Northwood Woman's Club members*

Happy Northwood Woman’s Club members*

Here’s a breakdown of the checks that were distributed:

  • Austin Street Center — $50,000 to renovate the showers and improve the women’s dressing area within the Austin Street Center facility serving homeless women.
  • New Beginning Center — $54,000 to provide programs and services for families affected by domestic violence.   Services include emergency shelter, case management, legal advocacy, food, clothing, counseling, and economic literacy in a safe environment.
  • New Friends New Life — $47,000 to support programs designed to restore and empower formerly trafficked girls and sexually exploited women and their children.
  • Nexus Recovery Center — $33,000 to support the services provided in the Pregnant or Parenting Women with Children Program.  Services include trauma-based drug and alcohol addiction treatment, counseling, food, shelter, education and access to after school care and childcare for their children.
  • Rainbow Days — $21,250 to provide supplies and trained staff to provide weekly support groups to homeless children. The children, ages 4-12, receive social, emotional, mental and behavioral health support and guidance using a research-based curriculum.
  • St. Simon’s After-School — $38,000 to support after-school programs for low-income children in DISD which provide care and academic assistance, remedial reading programs and enrichment activities.
  • University of Texas Dallas Scholarships — $12,000 to pay tuition for two high-achieving students who have demonstrated both a financial need and a strong desire to continue their education at UT Dallas.
* Photo provided by Northwood Woman's Club

Hoda And Hegi Girls Netted $217,800 For Interfaith Family Services

Amy Hegi, Hoda Kotb and Libby Hegi (File photo)

Amy Hegi, Hoda Kotb and Libby Hegi (File photo)

The Hegi gals (Amy and Libby) are high-fiving about the results from the first Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon that was such a gangbuster in April with Hoda Kotb as the headliner at the Dallas Country Club. The ladies netted a sweet $217,800 for Interfaith Family Services (formerly known as Interfaith Housing Coalition), which “empowers families in crisis to break the cycle of poverty through comprehensive programming that builds stability, self-worth and skills.”

In the middle of a $7M capital campaign, “the Dallas nonprofit organization provides transitional housing, counseling, training, job search support, financial coaching and childcare to help parents and their children create a strong foundation for self-sufficiency.”

JUST IN: Nancy And Richard Rogers’ Million-Dollar Challenge For Genesis Women’s Shelter And Support Was Matched Today

While most folks would be crying their eyes out if they were a million dollars poorer today, ’tis not the case for Nancy and Richard Rogers. Sure, they’re out $1M, but they aren’t boo-hooing one bit.

The reason is that they challenged folks to raise money for Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support. The challenge was a million-buckaroo match for the Genesis Luncheon that Nancy was co-chairing with her legal eagle buddy Gina Betts today at the Hilton Anatole.

Nancy and Richard Rogers

Nancy and Richard Rogers

Ron Corning and Tyler Perry

Ron Corning and Tyler Perry

Last night at the underwriter party, Nancy was fretting a bit on whether the match was gonna happen.

Word just arrived that thanks to 1,500+ luncheon guests, sponsors, underwriters and friends, the challenge was indeed met. The Rogers are thrilled that they’ll be writing a million-dollar check to support Genesis’ battle against domestic violence.

BTW, Tyler Perry’s talk and conversation with WFAA’s Ron Corning on stage at the luncheon knocked it out of the park. But more about that later.

Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor Rebekah Gregory Tells About “The Best And Worst Day Of My Life” At Dallas Junior Forum

Leave it to the Dallas Junior Forum to have a luncheon that snuck under the radar with a knock-out speaker on Wednesday, April 13, at Belo Mansion. The speaker was Rebekah Gregory, who survived the infamous Boston Marathon bombing. While the news accounts of her life-changing experience have been covered ad nauseam, hearing Rebekah in person was another thing entirely. Here’s a report from the field:

Dallas Junior Forum sponsored its annual Spring Event at Belo Mansion and Pavilion Wednesday, April 13. The theme was “DJF Celebrates Service from the Heart” which embodies the goal of each member as she works with the organization’s seven core agencies throughout the greater Dallas area.

Texas Tea and silent auction*

Texas Tea and silent auction*

Festivities began with a reception and silent auction as guests were served “Tipsy Texas Tea,” a cocktail sponsored specialty from Belo Mansion. Theme colors of black, hot pink, and white adorned the auction tables as patrons had an opportunity to bid on amazing items in the silent auction. A vast array of over 300 auction items included beautifully framed original artwork by Sherri Alexander; a 48” by 34” Limited Edition Silkscreen on canvas entitled “Desert Beauties” by local artist Bonny Leibowitz; beautiful jewelry items; a fabulous Santa Fe Getaway; airline tickets and tickets to exciting entertainment venues; numerous food, spirits, and dining options; and boutique, children’s, gardening, and sports auction areas.

Karen Borta*

Karen Borta*

Raffle tickets were sold for items “All from Deep in the Heart of Texas” in keeping with the Dallas Junior Forum’s motto, “Service from the Heart.” Offerings included a Ruthie’s Rolling Café Party for 50. Ruthie’s is Mobile Cuisine’s 2015 Grilled Cheese Food Truck of the Year. Continuing the celebration with Texas style, a lucky guest won a $1,500 shopping spree at NorthPark Center, one of the retail wonders of the modern world. Another raffle item included a luxurious getaway at San Antonio’s finest luxury hotel, Eilan Hotel and Spa. The winner will relax and rejuvenate with an indulgent spa gift basket including champagne, gift certificates for spa services and fine international dining as well as round-trip airfare from Dallas.

At noon, guests were welcomed by Mistress of Ceremonies Karen Borta of CBS 11 News. At 12:05 p.m., the luncheon was served on tables adorned with white clothes, black and white stripped runners, and black and white polka dotted napkins in heart shaped gold napkin rings. Fresh flowers in myriad shades of pink and white adorned each table.

Guests enjoyed a delicious lunch which began with fried green tomatoes and black eyed pea caviar, with buttermilk ranch drizzle. An Entrée Salad followed with sliced southern fried chicken breast, colorful salad greens, jicama, sweet red bell pepper, carrot, granny smith apple, blueberries and Honey mustard dressing. A Belo Mansion bread basket and butter were included. Delightful desserts were wafer banana pudding or strawberry shortcake trifle along with coffee service.

Lexia Allen and Gay Nassri*

Lexia Allen and Gay Nassri*

At 12:35, Karen introduced Luncheon Chairs. Dallas philanthropist Faye Briggs was honorary chair of the event. Event co-chairs were Lexia Allen and Gay Nassri. Host committee was comprised of Linda Claycomb, Cathy Marquis, Cathy Packard and Steven and Misty Smathers. Committee Chairs were Maritza Acosta, Candy Carby, Kathy Caywood, Helen Curtis, Mary Lou Fleming, Vanessa Hoffman, Ann M. Jones, Nancy Malooly, Valerie McMahan, Diana Melendez, Kristin Parrino, Sandra Prater, Mary Preslar, Penny Sanders, Julie Sheridan and Kay Trapp. Carly Madison is vice president of development.

Mary Cartwright*

Mary Cartwright*

DJF President Mary Cartwright remarked on the mission and agencies served by the organization and the four core areas addressed by volunteers including Nourish to Flourish, Child Stars, Golden Friendships, and At Your Service.

“Dallas Junior Forum extends our sincerest thanks to all our sponsors, donors, contributors and special friends,” Cartwright said. “Your generosity enabled us to directly improve the lives of thousands of individuals across North Texas. It is only through your support we are able to continue to commit financially to the North Texans in need.”

Next, Karen introduced guest speaker Rebekah Gregory, who is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings three years ago. With tears and with laughter Gregory told the story of “The Best and Worst Day of My Life.” It was the worst day because her world and her body were shattered by a bomb planted three feet behind her by two brothers bent on destroying our American way of life. It was the best day because she survived, and because her five-year-old son Noah was sitting on her feet when the bomb exploded, his life was spared. Gregory sacrificed her left leg for the life of her son. She said she would do it over again in a heartbeat. She said that she and her son have learned to deal with the cards they were dealt by using humor.

Rebekah Gregory*

Rebekah Gregory*

Noah is proud of his mom because none of the other kids have a “robot” mom. Gregory named her prostatic leg “Felicia” after a character in the movie “Friday.”

“I saw a quote on Pentrist right before my amputation, and it just said, ‘I wish I had Felicia’s life; she’s always going somewhere,’” Gregory said. “That was perfect. I’d been completely wheelchair bound for a year-and-a-half, and when I got this new leg, there was no stopping me.

Since her recovery, Gregory has traveled all over the United States and internationally telling her story. Guests at the luncheon laughed and cried with her as she shared her journey over the last three years.

Although Gregory had planned to spend this April at home in Houston, trying to keep life as normal as possible, she changed her mind and came to Dallas to speak at Dallas Junior Forum’s Spring Event.

“I’m so excited to be a part of this today because these ladies are absolutely phenomenal,” she said. “When I read about the work that they do and the hours that they put in – that is leading a meaningful life. Women’s inspiring other women is so important and powerful. Anytime I can be involved in something like this, I’m 100 percent all for it.”

About Dallas Junior Forum

Dallas Junior Forum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded in 1977. Last year DJF members volunteered more than 14,700 hours of work valued at more than $362,500 and awarded more than $103,000 in grant and non-grant funding to nonprofit agencies in the greater Dallas area. DJF is one of nine chapters of Junior Forums, Inc., a Texas-based service organization founded in 1959. For more information, visit

* Photos provided by the Dallas Junior Forum

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

Ronald McDonald’s “Under The Moonlight” Had A Tail Wagging And A Tale To Hear With A Surprise Ending

At this year’s Ronald McDonald of Dallas‘ Under The Moonlight gala on Saturday, April 2, at sixty five hundred had a backstory that raised funds and spirits. Here is a report from the field:

Pat Hyland, Blake Hyland and Cindy Hyland*

Pat Hyland, Blake Hyland and Cindy Hyland*

Two years ago, the Hyland family from Waco, Texas, had plans to go to Hawaii. It was a place they had always dreamed about going, but in one night this trip and their lives were put on hold.  At his weekly gymnastics practice, fourteen year-old Blake Hyland, suffered a traumatic head injury that had him fighting for his life. The doctors didn’t know if he would survive, let alone walk again. He was moved to Cooks Children’s Hospital to undergo surgery, and after two months, he and his family moved into the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. They needed a place to stay whilst he underwent extensive rehabilitation in Dallas. For over a year, Blake and his mother Cindy [Hyland] stayed at the Ronald McDonald House Dallas with visits from his father Pat [Hyland] every weekend.  The impossible turned possible and with support from family, friends, staff, volunteers and an entire community, Blake turned his fight into inspiration.

Drew and Natalie Dossett and Nancy and Mike Kerr*

Drew and Natalie Dossett and Nancy and Mike Kerr*

It was this story that was shared at the Ronald McDonald House Dallas annual gala, Under the Moonlight, on Saturday, April 2. Held at sixty five hundred, chairs Lindy Berkley and Hadley Galt and Honorary Chairs Natalie and Drew Dossett and Nancy and Mike Kerr drew a young, vibrant crowd to shine a light on the trials and triumphs of the “house that love built.”

Hadley Galt and Lindy Berkeley*

Hadley Galt and Lindy Berkley*

Blake Hyland and Shiloh*

Blake Hyland and Shiloh*

Board Chair Doug Smellage, Pat and Cindy Hyland and long-time volunteer Mark Adelstein all spoke passionately about the impact of the Ronald McDonald House Dallas on families from across the world. But, it was 16-year old Blake Hyland who stole the show. Decked out in a sharp suit and bow tie, he had a peaceful moment with Chief Cheer Officer, Shiloh, he had the crowd laughing with his mic checks, and he strutted his moves on the dance floor to DJ Chicken George.

Mack and Stacy Hicks and Melissa and Travis Hodges*

Mack and Stacy Hicks and Melissa and Travis Hodges*

As he kicked off the live auction, all the guests, including Mack and Stacey Hicks, Melissa and Travis Hodges, Bert and Hayley Crouch, James Carroll, Holland Burian, Cate Biggs, Kathleen and Keith Cargill, Cate and Jeremy Ford, Lauren and Stephen Swann, Katie and Nathan Walters, Amy and Chase Laws, Dr. Nathan and Katie Walters, Cecilie and Ronnie Holman, Melinda and David Emmons, Dr. John and Radha Michels, Bunny and Harold Ginsburg and Anne and Kathy Musgrave gave him a standing ovation.

Noelle Petty, Christina Gray, Courtney Barrow and Kelly Slaw*

Noelle Petty, Christina Gray, Courtney Barrow and Kelly Slaw*

Not only did the evening raise crucial funds for deserving families to have comfort, shelter and support in their time of need, it also created one more gift. As the dancing was in full swing, CEO Jill Cumnock pulled the Hylands to one side, and gave them some surprise news. The donor who had purchased the trip to Hawaii in the evening’s live auction had gifted it back to the Hylands.

The family will get their trip to Hawaii after all.

* Photo credit: Rhi Lee

An Unexpected Change Proved A MySweetCharity Boon



Change is disrupting. And when it happens unexpectedly, it can really throw a wrench in the familiar routine. That’s what happened this week at MySweetCharity. On Tuesday, the usual “eblast” to subscribers missed the “automatic” 6:03 a.m. delivery. To get the news out, it had to be sent out manually by the MSC elves. But what was delivered was a different format than the usual. And the feedback was immediate and remarkable about “the new look.”

Uh, oh. How to make that “new look” happen again but on time? Well, the MSC elves tried to make it happen on Wednesday and Thursday, but there were hiccups. Today, success.

We apologize for any inconvenience due to the disruption, but Tuesday’s lemon has resulted in today’s lemonade. The elves appreciate your patience and understanding.

DFW Restaurant Week Organizers Reveal Breakdown of 2015 Funds – $736,826 – And Plans For 2016

Despite the thunder, lightning and basic end-of-the-world features that kicked off the morning, good news broke through all the clouds. The results of last summer’s DFW Restaurant Week fundraising for the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope have just been finalized. The total added up to a whopping $736,826, with NTFB receiving $565,446 and $171,380 going to Lena Pope.

According to NTFB Foodie Empress Jan Pruitt, “We are incredibly grateful to the restaurants, diners and sponsors who ‘dine out and do good’ in support of the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope each August. DFW Restaurant Week is our organization’s largest fundraising event and the money raised goes a long way in support of our work to put food on tables for hungry North Texans.”

With all that good news, credit should be given to the restaurants that provided the greatest donations. In the Dallas area that group included Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Al Biernat’s, Abacus, The Capital Grille – Plano, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, III Forks Dallas, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House – Dallas, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Chamberlain’s Steak & Chop House, The Capital Grille – Dallas, The Mansion at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Jasper’s, Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck, Chamberlain’s Fish Market Grill, Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille – Uptown, Del Frisco’s Grille – Plano, Table 13 and Café Pacific.

Restaurant Week logo*

Restaurant Week logo*

On the western side of the North Texas hood, the following dining spots should get pats on the back: The Capital Grille – Fort Worth, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse Fort Worth, Clay Pigeon Food & Drink, Del Frisco’s Grille – Fort Worth, Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Grille – Southlake, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine and Silver Fox – Fort Worth.

Looking ahead to the 2016 Restaurant Week, the organizers have just unveiled a brand new logo and revealed the dates for this summer. The 19th Annual DFW Restaurant Week will run from Monday, August 15, thru Sunday, August 21, “with most restaurants offering dining extensions through Sunday, August 28.

But don’t go making your reservations quite yet. They won’t be taking ‘em until sometime in July. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start gathering your posse together for the feasting.

* Graphic provided by DFW Restaurant Week


Baylor Health Care System Foundation Luncheon Was The Scene Of Amazing Developments In Physical Rehabilitation

Most folks associate physical rehab with AARP types who are having hips, knees and what all repaired. But on Tuesday, February 9, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation Board luncheon was filled at Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center to learn about the amazing progress being made dealing with the thousands of spinal cord and traumatic brain (TBI) injuries. Each year Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in partnership with Select Medical Corporation deals with 40,000 patients in their road to recovery.

Patti Foster

Patti Foster

From the invocation by former Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation patient Patti Foster to Baylor Scott and White CEO Joel Allison hinting at what lay ahead, the program was going to run the gamut of personal and breathtaking stories. As Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson advised one guest, “We’ve got Kleenex available.”

And right he was about the need for tissue. From corporate executives to community volunteers like Margo Goodwin, Pryor Blackwell, Nancy Dedman, Lisa Troutt, Richard Holt, Jill Smith, Steve Lieberman, Trisha Wilson, Pierce Allman, Nancy Carter, Kathy Crow, Barry Andrews, Jeff Staubach, Linda Custard and Mike McGuire, all were amazed at what was presented.

Jill Smith, Robin Robinson and Nancy Dedman

Jill Smith, Robin Robinson and Nancy Dedman

Joel Allison and Richard Holt

Joel Allison and Richard Holt

Jeff Staubach, Barry Andrews and Mike McGuire

Jeff Staubach, Barry Andrews and Mike McGuire

First on the program were members of the BIR medical team including physiatrist Dr. Randi Dubiel and clinical researcher Dr. Simon Driver. Randi revealed that traumatic brain injuries have almost become “a kind of epidemic of sorts” with 2.2M victims in the U.S. each year, and 5.2M live with traumatic brain injuries. The BIR team works with the patient to deal with more than the initial physical damage. They work with the patients to adjust to their long-term care and “not just survive their injuries but thrive” in the years to come.

Randi Dubiel

Randi Dubiel

Simon Driver

Simon Driver

Surprising some of the guests, it was revealed that spinal cord and traumatic brain patients have greater problems dealing with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and depression.

Simon reported that the research at BIR is “very patient centered.” Involving the patients in the project, he works on the therapy floor with the clinicians to research and develop new techniques to better understand the challenges of the patients. BIR is just one of 16 systems in the country that is recognized as a model system by the National Institute of Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research.

Simon told of two projects underway at BIR:

  1. Persons suffering TBI are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease and diabetes than the general population. Those suffering from spinal cord injuries also share this likelihood. BIR is creating a modified weight-loss program incorporating nutrition and physical activity for spinal cord injured patients.
  2. The development of health literacy to provide patients with a better understanding of their health needs. Too often patients may not fully understand or be uncertain of what the doctor said or how they should proceed. This situation is especially true for TBI and spinal cord patients. BIR is placing an emphasis on better communication between the healthcare providers and the patients.

Then the personal testimonies took place, leading off with a young mother who had been on the Orix legal team. In 2010 she and her kids were in a neighbor’s yard pet sitting when a tree fell. Luckily, her children were spared, but the attorney found herself suffering from a devastatingly complete spinal cord injury paralyzing her from the waist down, resulting in her being dependent upon a wheelchair.

Joel Allison, Elizabeth Dane, Jim Thompson and Robin Robinson

Joel Allison, Elizabeth Daane, Jim Thompson and Robin Robinson

Thanks to the BIR team and her bosses at Orix like Jim Thompson, she slowly adapted to this dramatic life-changing development and rejoined the workforce. But the efforts continued and thanks to advancements in technology, the Ekso-skeleton was developed. Assisted by Joanna Weakley and Dr. Chad Swank, Elizabeth Daane entered from the back of the room. All eyes focused on her as she slowly navigated her way through the tables and chairs in her Ekso-skeleton with the assistance of Chad and Joanna and crutches. Thanks to a computer and battery, Elizabeth was able to stand, walk and move around. It was obvious that the skeleton was not an easy device to maneuver. As Elizabeth demonstrated the skeleton walking through the room, she proved that she hadn’t lost her sense of humor. When asked a question, she responded, “I can’t walk and talk.”

But the skeleton does more than allow the patient to be more mobile. Elizabeth explained how in her case the skeleton’s ability to move the limbs also allowed her to exercise and deal with chronic nerve pain. As Elizabeth described it, “It’s not like the pain when you pull a muscle at the gym. It sounds crazy. So I don’t have normal sensation in my legs. But I feel kind of a sensation that is burning, stabbing, scorching pins and needles on steroids. And I feel it all the time. One thing the Ekso-skeleton does is changes the sensation. It doesn’t make them go away, but it moves them. And when you’ve had the same burning sensation in the same spot for five years, just shifting it from the back of your calf to the front of your calf feels like major relief.”

Chad Swank, Joanna Weakley and Elizabeth Dane

Chad Swank, Joanna Weakley and Elizabeth Dane

While Chad admitted that the Ekso-skeleton price ($175,000) is prohibitive for many, the future of such technology holds even greater opportunities for patients. He explained that it can also be used for stroke victims and anybody with a neurologic injury can potentially benefit from this type of technology.

As Elizabeth left the room, Robin returned to the podium and explained that they were going to switch gears to a TBI case. He introduced Julie Self, who had been a victim of a dramatic car accident. No, Julie had not been in the accident, but outgoing, bright daughter Audrey had been. In November 2013, the SMU coed had just celebrated her 20th birthday. She had been awarded a full academic scholarship and was studying at the Cox School of Business majoring in accounting. On November 21, the entire family including her father Mike and brother Avery undertook saving Audrey’s life and her recovery along with the medical staff. She remained in a coma for 30 days. Coming out of the coma, she was eventually moved to BIR, where “breathing was literally the only thing she could do.” For four months, the team worked with her. Despite her being physically dependent and having very limited short-term memory, the decision was to move her home in April 2014. Still she continued her therapy including occupational therapy at the Tom Landry Center for her hand. She connected with her therapist and talked about him when she got home. “This was a huge step for Audrey. It proved her short-term memory was finally beginning to improve.”

Avery Self, Audrey Self and Mike and Julie Self

Avery Self, Audrey Self and Mike and Julie Self

After two years, the Self family feels that the team of therapists and doctors are like family bringing Audrey through this journey.

Julie then introduced Audrey, who was seated at a nearby table. The 22-year-old looked nothing like the photos of the patient in the hospital bed that had been shown on the screen. She had a beautiful smile and a twinkle in her eye.

Audrey told the room of executives, philanthropists and community leaders: “Life is hard for everyone. We make the choice every day whether or not to make the best of what we have in front of us. I have always been someone who likes to set goals and plan ahead. But life is not like writing a book. We cannot plan for the unexpected. And we cannot control our outcome in everything we do. The little things, the baby steps add up to be the big steps. This impacts every aspect of our lives from recovery, relationships and overall life. With hard work, patience, perseverance and time, each baby step adds up and suddenly we realize we are making significant strides.”

She feels that she is the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and that “Hope means nothing is impossible.”

After the applause settled down, Robin told how last fall the Foundation team arranged for Don Wills and Don Jackson of the Ginger Murchison Foundation to meet Audrey. Then he asked her what her future plans were. She said that she’s going back to SMU in the fall.

Robin said, “Let me stop you right there.” He told her how 46 years ago he had been a student in Don Jackson’s finance class at SMU. Robin then let Julie pick up the connection between Don Jackson and Audrey. It seems that due to the accident, there had been some issues dealing with Audrey’s full scholarship and her returning as a part-time student.

Learning of the situation, Don got the situation straightened out and the next day the Selfs received a call saying that her scholarship had been adjusted to meet her needs.

Don Jackson and Audrey Self

Don Jackson and Audrey Self

Surprising all, Don presented Audrey with a SMU cap and told how SMU, like Baylor, would “be ready in every way possible to make her life easy. We are going to find her the best faculty. We’re going to find her the best ways to get around with our special people who work with students with special needs. Her scholarship can be for one hour at a time or one course at a time and she can take 20 years, if she needs to … like some guys. But she’s so clever, I expect her to be threw quickly…. I’m going to watch over her and make sure that she gets the best classes she can get. We’re gonna see her walk across that stage one day.”

Robin then made one request of Audrey: that when she gets her degree, she’ll return to tell of her journey at SMU. Without hesitation, she said, “Absolutely!”

As a follow up, Robin then asked Lauren Rachal to stand up. He told that when he met with the two Dons, they talked with Lauren, who had been Audrey’s physical therapist. When they saw a patient who was struggling just to stand with the help of three therapists, someone said, “How sad.” Lauren told them that, “If you walk through BIR one day, it would probably be depressing. But come back the next day and come back the next week and to see the progress that people make and the many things people do turning tragedy into triumph. It is one of the most motivating and inspiring places they could be.”