MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: After-School All-Stars North Texas’ Rising Stars Luncheon

Jack Betts and Gina and Ken Betts

It was only After-School All-Stars North Texas’ second Rising Stars Luncheon. And like some newbies on the fundraising scene, it can be tough to draw a crowd or get the organization’s message across. But ASAS Advisory Board Chair Ben Lange drafted Gina Betts, whose reputation in local nonprofit circles is daunting. And she proved that her rep is well deserved on Wednesday, May 17.

Dak Prescott and Brad Sham

Joanna Hernandez

Ben Lange

Thanks to “connections,” Ben and Gina arranged to have Dallas Cowboys quarterback wunderkind Dak Prescott on stage for a chat with Dallas Cowboys voice Brad Sham before an SRO crowd including Mark Cuban and Charles Haley at the Dallas Country Club.

But it was ASAS teenager Joanna Hernandez who stole the show and Dak’s heart with her story.

While the post is being prepped, check out the photos  on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Itty-Bitty Gold Medalist Simone Biles Scored A Perfect Ten For Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar” Luncheon Guests Of All Ages

Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki

If Episcopal School of Dallas or The Hockaday School staffers noticed that their lunchrooms were a bit scant of students on Tuesday, April 25, they were right. The lasses were at the Hilton Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom with their parents’ permission.

The occasion was Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar Luncheon.” Now, normally it might be considered a grown-up event, but this one had two mega-athletes — Olympian God Medalist/former foster child Simone Biles on stage and Maverick main man Dirk Nowitzki as one of the day’s award recipients.

As mom Tracy Lange surmised, a couple of the moms hosted a table for their girls, and others quickly followed suit filling the ballroom with 700.

Tracy Lange, Livia Lange, Amelia Schoellkopf, Olivia Hohmann, Mary Ellen Schoellkopf, Kate Eastin and Monica Eastin

Sydney Hoyl and Kristi Hoyl

While some might question pulling the young ladies out of school, others reasoned that in addition to seeing world-class role models, the girls had the opportunity to be part of a grownup fundraising experience.

Some of the young luncheoners, like Livia Lange, Amelia Schoellkopf, Olivia Hohmann, Mary Ellen Schoellkopf, Kate Eastin and Caroline Bagley, were dressed to the nines. Too bad they’re too young for 10 best Dressed. Others like Sydney Hoyl opted to stay in their school uniforms.

Simone Biles and Ron Biles

The photo opp for guests and Simone was a bit of a ramble scramble due to Simone’s late arrival. She had been delayed due to an interview in another area of the hotel with KXAS/emcee Meredith Land.

Walking to the front of the room with her father, Ron Biles, Simone’s 4’9” size seemed even more so standing next to 7’0” Dirk. Still her smile was as big as ever despite having taken a flight from Los Angeles following her appearance on “Dancing With The Stars” the night before.

Even before folks like Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Jenny and Trevor Rees-Jones III, Stacey Walker, Jessica Nowitzki, Lydia Novakov, Tracy Rathbun, Monica Eastin and Pam Busbee took their seats, the raffle tickets were sold out.

Pam Busbee

Tracy Rathbun

Stacey Walker and Bryan Dunagan

Following the welcome by Luncheon Co-Chairs Julie Bagley and Rachel Stephens, the invocation by Highland Park Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Bryan Dunagan and a luncheon of pecan crusted chicken breast salad, the following awards were presented:

  • Award of Compassion to Dirk Nowitzki
  • Award of Excellence to Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones
  • Award of Service to Gary Borofsky representing Dillard’s

Jonathon’s Place’s CEO Allicia Graham Frye told the group that last year, 277 children were handled by Jonathan’s Place. She finished her remarks saying, “My wish is that every child that comes across my path would feel loved.”

Allicia Graham Frye and Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones

It should be noted that unlike the Chick Lit Luncheon, the audience was silent during the award presentation and Allicia’s remarks.

It was then time for Simone to chat with Meredith Land on stage. The undercurrent in the room seemed to race, as if Santa had just popped down the chimney. For those close to the stage, they got a pretty good look at the twosome. However, the quality of the lighting and video created shadows, making the on-screen presentation challenging.

Simone Biles

Still, Simone did not disappoint with such revelations:

  • “I was just a crazy kid.”
  • She started gymnastics at the age of six and loved it immediately.
  • Her routine was an hour and half of conditioning, going to school and returning to the gym for her real workout. Such a regimen required more than dedication, it demanded sacrifice like, “I’ve never been to a prom. I cried a lot. Sasha (Farber, her ‘DWTS’ partner) was the first guy that she had really danced with and “he was 20 years old.”
  • Regrets — “I shouldn’t say that I do because of all of the accomplishments that I have from it. It’s all worked very well.”
  • Bullying — “Rise above it and use it as a motivation to do anything that you want to do and to always prove them wrong.”
  • Confidence — “I have very down-to-earth parents. I have amazing friends. My brothers, as well, are supporting me. It’s kind of easy to do that. But at times it gets hard because I want to be a normal kid and do other things. At the end of the day it’s my goal that I want.”
  • Olympics — “I actually didn’t really want to go to the Olympics when I was younger. I said I did because every little girl wanted to, so I would say, ‘I want to go to the Olympics.’ At a time in my career I knew I could be the best and it scared me so much that I would sometime sabotage my gymnastics. I knew I had the potential, but I didn’t want all that attention on me. It scared me so much. So I would do things on purpose. But I got out of it…. In February 2016 I had a really big breakdown. I had been at the top for three years and I thought this is my really big year, but what if I get hurt. And I started thinking of all these things, so I was too scared to even tumble. I thought if I land wrong, there goes my Olympic game. I would go to the bar and start bawling. It happened for two weeks. I cried a lot. I would go to practice and my coach would be like, ‘Just go home.’ My Dad told me to call my sports psychologist and I said, ‘No, I just want to cry.’ And my dad called him. He came into my room and handed the phone to me and I usually don’t cry in front of him or really anybody, and I just started bawling my eyes out — ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m not going to make the team. Blah, blah, blah.’ He (the sports psychologist) said, ‘Simone, what was the first thing I said to you when you came into my office?’ We chatted about it.”
  • Sports Psychologist — “For three years your parents, your coaches, your mentors, it’s good to have someone that knows your sport, but it helps that it’s not the same person over and over again.”
  • Whom did she not want to disappoint — “I didn’t want to let down America because they had such big goals for me. They expected me to get five gold medals and I only walked out with four, so I felt like I let them down a little bit.” Afterwards she was asked in an interview about how badly she felt getting a bronze instead of a gold, her response was, “I’m sorry if that was your goal. I’m sorry if you guys had to backspace on your typewriter. I’m pretty happy. This was my first Olympics and I’m 19 years old and I’m walking out of here with five medals. My goal was to make the finals. Whatever happens happens. I came out with four golds and one bronze and pretty proud of myself. I’m sorry if I disappointed you because they already crowned me with five gold medals. I think they (the interviewer) was trying to put it on me, so that’s what hurt a little bit.”
  • On the podium — “You feel like you’re a princess up there. It never feels real. I would always look at my parents. They would be bawling and I would then start tearing up. I’m an ugly crier.”
  • Post Olympics — “I haven’t worked out since the Olympics. It is my year off, so that is why I chose ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ I’m going on a vacations with my family this summer.  One is Hawaii and the other is Belize… I eat ice cream every chance I get.”
  • 2020 — “I’m going to train for the 2020 Olympics.”
  • What makes Texas special — “It’s the people. I’m in L.A. right now and it’s very different. I think it’s the southern-ness.”
  • What she misses — “I miss my bed and my dogs. I cook for my dogs. They’re spoiled little things. They have monogrammed beds. They’re not little. They’re German Shepherds. We have three.”
  • First Date — “It was like low key. I had never been on a date before or had a boyfriend. So, it’s all new. We just went to get frozen yogurt. It was a little scary. I’ve trained all my life to go to the Olympics, not to go on a date.”
  • The future — “I think I want to do something with sports management.”
  • Foster care — “[Being a foster parent] really does change a child’s life. It does give them a home, love. A lot of them age out at the age of 18 and that makes me sad. I was very fortunate for my situation. It really does make difference in the kids’ eyes.”
  • She recalled that before being rescued from her birth mother, there were days when she ate her cereal with white.
  • She felt that she would not win “Dancing With The Stars.”

At the end of the conversation, Simone looked out into the audience with each member holding a card reading “10.”   

She was then off to Jonathan’s Place to visit with children waiting for a foster parent.

What Do A Buffalo And A Maverick Have In Common? Jubilee Park!

One wouldn’t necessarily think that a buffalo and a basketball player would have much in common. But on Thursday, September 15, these two got together at Jubilee Park and Community Center. The occasion was the reopening of Jubilee Park with new playground equipment, walking paths and the dedication of a new basketball court for kids and families from the surrounding area.

Ben Leal, George McCleskey, Jeff Rice, Floyd Jahner and Mavs Man*

Ben Leal, George McCleskey, Jeff Rice, Floyd Jahner and Mavs Man*

The court was the result of a partnership between PlainsCapital Bank and the Mavs Foundation. And while such heavy-hitting execs like PlainsCapital Bank Dallas Region Chair George McCleskey, Dallas Mavericks COO and Mavs Foundation Floyd Jahner and Jubilee Park Executive Director Ben Leal and Board Chair Jeff Rice were in shirt sleeves and sundresses, the scene stealers for the kids were PlainsCapital’s Mo the Buffalo and Mavs’ wing 22-year-old Justin Anderson.

Mo the Buffalo*

Mo the Buffalo*

While Mo leisurely just grazed on hay and was gazed upon, the Mavericks Dancers, Drumline and ManiAAcs and Mavs Man were in high gear. But towering above the rest, Justin recalled the crowd, “When it comes to outdoor court, I remember being young, and it’s almost like everything else that’s been going on that day, that week. It’s all erased, and you’re just out there and you’re just soaking up each moment. I’m so excited to be able to see the smiles on their faces once again and be able to shoot hoops with them, because I know how much as a child it meant to me of the older kids to let me shoot around and player with them.”

Justin Anderson demonstrating a free throw*

Justin Anderson demonstrating a free throw*

Following the speeches and dedication complete with plaque, Justin shot the inaugural free throws with the children from Jubilee Park followed by a mini-basketball clinic.

* Photo credit: Danny Bollinger

2016 Art Ball Auction Item #3: VIP Front Row Experience

In North Texas, not all art is confined to the AT&T Performing Arts District. There is a large number of folks who swear that Dallasites consider sports to be an art form. So, naturally 2016 Art Ball Live Auction Chair Trisha Wilson whipped up a live auction package that is strictly top-drawer sports for this Saturday’s Dallas Museum of Art fundraiser.

VIP Front Row Experience (Value: Priceless)

_MG_5714 Gene and Jerry Jones File photoEven if you don’t like sports, you’ll love making your friends envious as they see you where they only dream of being. For the Dallas Cowboys, the winner of this package will be joined by three guests in Gene and Jerry Jones’ personal box. And you just know what that means. Loads of top-notch food and beverages, pre-games festivities and appears by the Cowboys cheerleaders. And, of course, there will be exclusive access to the field, so you can wave at all of you buds in the stands.

For a Texas Rangers game, there will be box seats for 12. And instead of just taking home a program and selfies, the winner will have a Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar autographed jersey and baseballs autographed by retired Rangers battling champ Michael Young, Rangers’ Manager Jeff Banister and retired Rangers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

As for the Dallas Mavs, no box seats here. No, siree. There will be four courtside seats and, of course, a lot of folks up in the stands wondering, “How come?”

The only problem with this package is that it will totally spoil you for future games. But why not spoil yourself or your favorite sports aficionado?

Compliments of Gene and Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Julie and Jim Turner (Dallas Mavericks) and Taunee Taylor (Texas Rangers)

* Graphics provided by the Dallas Museum of Art

MySweetWishList: CARE

According to CARE Executive Director Pam Murray,

Pam Murray*

Pam Murray*

“CARE has been educating children and parents on the dangers of drug and alcohol use for over 30 years. The average age a child becomes addicted is now around 12. It is important to educate kids before they become closed off to the true information about substance abuse. Evidence shows that teaching kids the truth, while helping them learn to make better decisions and feel better about themselves will have a much stronger impact when a child is faced with the inevitable decision of whether to try an illicit substance.



“In 2013 we took our CARE programs to Collin County and began working with school districts to continue early education and intervention programs. On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, CARE will hold its first ever Youth Rally featuring Chris Herren, former NBA star and sober since August 1, 2008. Chris will share his story of abuse and recovery with hundreds of youth from Collin and Dallas County in hopes of reaching at least one person and making a difference in their lives. Our venue holds 3000 youth and adults and our goal is to fill that to capacity. With the cooperation of school districts, kids from around the city will arrive on buses for the rally to participate in entertainment, giveaways, enjoy vendors and to hear from Chris Herren.

“CARE’s SweetWish for this year is to acquire sponsors who wish to make this event happen. Sponsorships start at $500 and can be in-kind donations that would appeal to a high school audience. Partner with CARE in 2016 to work to end adolescent addiction in our community.”

-Pam Murray, CARE executive director

* Graphic and photo provided 

Kim And Tyson Chandler Families Hit Target With Single-Parent Families For Holiday Shopping

A fellow at Target on Marsh Lane was sorta wondering what was going on. It was about 4 p.m. on Friday, December 19, and the store was prepared for Christmas shoppers, but things seemed different. Out front was parked the Dallas Mavericks bus and a whole lot of media was gathered around at the store’s side door.

As a taller-than-tall man with three children at his side strolled through the door with the entourage of Maverick handlers, security and media inches away, a couple of women stayed behind. Leaning on a block, one tied her shoe laces. They looked just like a couple of shoppers, but they were Dallas Maverick’s Tyson Chandler’s wife Kimberly Chandler and her mom Danielle “Danny” Brown.

Kimberly Chandler

Kimberly Chandler

They quickly followed the crowd into the Target inner sanctuary.

In the employee lunch room were a coterie of single-parent families. The less-than 3-foot-tall munchkins didn’t seem to care about their families’ status as they bent their heads far back looking at the 7’1” Dallas Maverick Tyson Chandler. He looked like Gulliver surrounded by Lilliputians. Just making his way into the room required a little head bending by the basketball center.

Vernie Threadgill, Kimberly Chandler and Danny Brown

Vernie Threadgill, Kimberly Chandler and Danielle Brown

He had brought his family including Kimberly, their kids (Sacha, Tyson II and Sayge), his mom Vernie Threadgill, Danny and other members of the Chandler/Brown clan to meet these families for a shopping spree.

With the help of Hain Celestial US, the Mavericks, Chase and Target, it seems the Chandler clan had arranged for each family to have $250 Target gift cards, tickets to soccer games and Christmas dinner. And each of the Chandlers were going to escort the families on their shop-athon.

Tyson Chandler and little shopper

Tyson Chandler and little shopper

As the adults and kids headed into the aisles pushing carts, it was obvious that the Chandler household was pretty typical. Mom Kim was like a benevolent general commandeering her brood and her assigned family. Meanwhile Tyson pushed a cart with one of the children in the seat and Vernie in the lead. The tyke explained to Tyson “that toys are more important than clothes.”

The occasion for the Chandlers’ emphasis on single-parent families was the result of Tyson and Vernie having had lean Christmases and having been on the receiving end of others’ generosity.

By the way, someone asked Tyson what he was going to give his mom and Danny for Christmas. Like an embarrassed teenager, his face lit up with a big smile and he admitted that no matter how he tried, he had learned they both wanted purses. Despite other attempts, it was always the same — purses.

Hey, Tyson! It’s a girl thing.

Round Robin November 20: Tyson Chandler Delivery, DSOL Debs, A Night Of Light And Vine And Dine

Just a week before Thanksgiving and a whole lot of nonprofits were squeezing in events before folks headed out of town or shut down for the holiday. Thursday, November 20, had everything from basketball stars to debs.

Tyson Chandler Delivers

Tyson Chandler and Sayge Chandler

Tyson Chandler and Sayge Chandler

When Dallas Maverick Tyson Chandler makes a home delivery, he does it in a big way and he brings along the entire Chandler clan. Need proof? How about his pulling up to the Vogel Alcove to deliver full-fledged Thanksgiving dinners for single-parent families in the Mavericks bus? And he was in the driver’s seat. Well, he was squashed into the seat. After all, the driver isn’t normally 7’1” tall.

Tyson specifically wanted the meals provided for single-parent families because he had been raised in such a family headed up by his mother Vernie Threadgill.

According to Tyson, “I watched my mom struggle to provide and just keep our heads above water. So, for someone in my situation, there’s so much pleasure to give back to families who are there, too. I’m just as thankful as they were for the opportunity. Meeting them was my favorite part.”

Kimberly Chandler

Kimberly Chandler

Along with him was his sharper-than-a-stiletto and gorgeous wife, Kimberly, and their munchkins — Sacha, Tyson II and Sayge. It was important for the parents that the children come along to distribute the food. They wanted the kids to understand that such things as Thanksgiving dinners were important to families who might not have all the advantages that the Chandler children enjoy.

Dallas Mavericks crew

Dallas Mavericks crew

Evidently, the adult Chandlers have little to worry about. All three schlepped the bags, along with the Mavs Dancers, Mavs Man and Champ and ManiAACs, to the third floor, where the recipient families waited. Just watching Tyson slightly bend over to make it through the doorway amazed children and parents alike. But after the initial photos were taken, the Chandlers got about the handing out of food with Kimberly at one end of the lengthy table and Tyson at the other end.

Debs Sip And Slip On Slippers

With the holidays comes the battle royale for parking at Highland Park Village. But the sparkling lights in the trees and the lights glowing from the shops ease the search for a parking spot.

Dixey Arterburn and Annabel Toole and Catherine Toole

Dixey Arterburn and Annabel Toole and Catherine Toole

According to 2014 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Deb Chair Dixey Arterburn, she had gotten her destinations mixed up and mistakenly marched up to the Goop party. Giving her name and saying that she was meeting So-And-So inside, she gained entry. Once inside, she didn’t recognize any of the 20- and 30-something gals and got that feeling that something just wasn’t right. Then she realized the DSOL party was taking place across the way at Louboutin.

Amita Singh, Brice and Cynthia Beaird and Jennifer Hudson

Amita Singh, Brice and Cynthia Beaird and Jennifer Hudson

Talk about a change in atmosphere. The 2015 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League debs, moms and past participants like Honorary Co-Chairs Cynthia and Brice Beaird and 2013 DSOL deb Annabel Toole and her mom Catherine Toole were happily sipping champagne while trying on Cinderella-style slippers that feet dream of, thanks to the Louboutin team of Amita Singh and Jennifer Hudson.

A Night of Lights

Though it was “downsized” from a three-course dinner for a large crowd at the Hilton Anatole last year to “family-style” grazing at the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Center for Nonprofit Management’s 2014 Awards of Excellence program on Nov. 20 was received no less enthusiastically by the evening’s 400 or so guests.

Before the 2014 “A Night of Light” event, the program—which recognizes and celebrates nonprofit excellence in North Texas—had given out $375,000 to 75 nonprofit agencies and the people who lead them. The totals swelled by $25,000 with the 2014 excellence awards, which honored five winners in categories including Nonprofit of the Year, Nonprofit CEO of the Year, Nonprofit Communicator of the Year in Honor of Robert Miller, Corporation of the Year, and Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year.

Dan and Tina Weinfurther, Catherine Cuellar and Paul Williams,  and Sara and Cass Robinson*

Dan and Tina Weinfurther, Catherine Cuellar and Paul Williams, and Sara and Cass Robinson*

Following a reception attended by the likes of Yvonne Crum, Bobby Lyle, Jan Langbein, and Nikki and Crayton Webb, the program got underway with Dave Lieber of the The Dallas Morning News serving as master of ceremonies. Leiber called the Awards of Excellence the “Oscars of the nonprofit world,” and said he had learned the essence of being a Texan: “It’s not what kind of car you drive, but what charity do you volunteer with?”

Latoya Stewart and Dana Beckman*

Latoya Stewart and Dana Beckman*

Following brief talks by Cass Robinson, the CNM board chair, and Dana Beckman of Alliance Data—Alliance was the presenting sponsor—Honorary Chair Catherine Cuellar took the stage. Cuellar, who’s executive director of the Dallas Arts District, told the crowd that they could see “effective nonprofit management” everywhere they turned in the Arts District, from Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Performance Hall to the Dallas Opera and the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Larry James and Charles Elk*

Larry James and Charles Elk*

Then, after a video featuring Tina Weinfurther, the CNM’s president and CEO, it was finally time for the awards. This year’s winners, who each received a $5,000 cash award, were:

  • Nonprofit of the Year — The Concilio;
  • Nonprofit CEO of the Year — Larry James of CitySquare;
  • Nonprofit Communicator of the Year — Fort Worth Opera;
  • TXU Energy (Corporation of the Year); and
  • Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year — Tim Durst, Leukemia & Lymphona Society.

Vine And Dine

Clay and Brenda Cockrell*

Clay and Brenda Cockrell**

And finally, a report from the field, or rather Neiman Marcus Downtown,

“The seventh annual Vine and Dine dinner and charity auction supporting Ability Connection Texas was a delightful success! The intimate setting of the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus downtown combined with wonderful wine provided by Brenda and Clay Cockerell, Coquerel Family Wine Estates and delicious cuisine, was one of the must attend events in Dallas.

“Event chair couples Suzanne and Don Laidlaw and Christie and John Reniger, along with honorary chairs Sue and Bill Knudsen, President and CEO, Ability Connection Texas, greeted everyone at the VIP reception where hors d’oeuvres of pizzettes eggplant caviar, baby stuffed purple potatoes with caviar and sour cream and more accompanied a Le Petit Coquerel Sauvingnon Blanc, Napa Valley 2012 and the specialty drink of the evening, spiced appletinis.

Neva Hall, Inette Brown, Laurie-Jo Staty and Amy Hughes

Neva Hall, Inette Brown, Laurie-Jo Staty and Amy Hughes**

“Don and John welcomed the crowd, thanking Neiman Marcus for their longtime support, having hosted the event since its beginning seven years ago and especially Neva Hall and Marjon Henderson, for achieving excellence in every detail. The room was dazzling elegance as tables were dressed in mint satin cloths, topped with white hydrangeas and roses overflowing in their vases and silver service matching the silver and mint holiday wreaths and the Zodiac décor.

Meredith Woodworth and Katy Moore*

Meredith Woodworth and Katy Moore**

“Special recognition went to Meredith and Jack Woodworth for their major sponsorship and special thanks to the Ability Connection Texas team, including Mark Denzin, incoming President and CEO.
Brenda announced the wines for the evening, sharing the story behind the name of the dessert wine La Douce Revanche, meaning “sweet revenge.” In 2008 a frost killed the fruit and the Cockerells recreated it. And a very special surprise, she and Clay will donate 15% of each case of wine purchased that evening back to Ability Connection Texas.

“Jack Woodworth a member of the board, shared the news of Bill Knudsen leaving ACT, saying Bill has always been the clients’ best friend. During his ten year tenure the number of people served has increased 640%. For the past 25 years, he has put clients and their families first.

Bill Knudsen*

Bill Knudsen**

“Bill took the stage, saying he had to put on his reading glasses – huge clown glasses and a red rubber nose and toasted the crowd to cheers! With heartfelt gratitude, he recognized current and past board members and ended saying, “On behalf of everyone we serve, you are the wind beneath their wings,” to a standing ovation.

“Mark thanked Bill saying for the past seven and-a-half years he has helped him to grow and be ready for the next step in his life. Clients served have grown from 200 to 1,500 each day and ACT is now regional in four states with 2.4 million hours provided by the ACT team.

“Jay, a client who resides in Jubilee House, told how since he moved there, this is his first time to be independent and through the Impact program, he grows each day, ending with an enthusiastic, ‘It’s a wonderful place.’

“Neiman Marcus Corporate Director and Chef Anita Hirsch and Zodiac Executive Chef David Crow served a fabulous gourmet three course dinner and as the name suggests, luscious wines. A Terrior Coquerel Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011 accompanied the first course of seared day boat scallops, parsnip puree, brussels sprouts leaves, apple and kohlrabi salad. Second course included grilled filet mignon, wild mushrooms and autumn vegetable succotash, potato gnocchi and a caramelized shallot demi-glace with a Coquerel La Petite Sirah, Napa Valley 2010. Topping it all off was a dessert of flourless chocolate cake and amaretto crème brulee gelato with a Coquerel La Douce Revanche, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2009.

Hayden Hrncir and Kendall Jennings*

Hayden Hrncir and Kendall Jennings**

“The lights went up and Mike Sadler of Heritage Charity Auctions took the stage and began the exciting live auction as guests snapped up fabulous items including a Givenchy handbag, Brioni custom suit, U.S. Capitol trip, Parigi Prepared Evening, Cucinelli Shopping Spree, Kevin Garvin Personal Chef Experience, Custom Made Lukken Leather Boots and more.

“The mission of Ability Connection Texas is to provide a full range of services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities as they strive to achieve their highest level of independence. Whether advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, teaching the letters of the alphabet to a child with autism, or training an adult with a head injury to re-enter the workforce with the use of adaptive technology, Ability Connection Texas is the preeminent organization leading the way for people with any type of disability.

“As a regional health organization, Ability Connection Texas takes pride in its excellent stewardship of funds raised with 90 percent of contributions going directly to programs and services. The important work of Ability Connection is supported by tax-deductible contributions from individuals, companies and organizations.

Visit the website for more details about Ability Connection Texas and their mission at

* Photo credit: James Edward 
** Photo credit: Andy Keye and Whitney Keye

Despite Cowboys Loss To The Cardinals, CARE Breakfast Patrons Partied On Without A Care At Natalie And Mike McGuire’s Home

Despite the Cowboys loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, November 2, the 75 guests including Paula McLeod, Brenda and Bob White, Allie Beth and Pierce Allman and CARE Co-Founder Steve Schiff at the CARE Breakfast patron party were in a great mood. But how could it be otherwise at Natalie and Mike McGuire’s wonderful Park Cities home?

Scott and Jan Osborn, Steve Schiff and Natalie and Mike McGuire

Scott and Jan Osborn, Steve Schiff and Natalie and Mike McGuire

Natalie’s dad, Barry Andrews, who hasn’t missed a Cowboys game in 20 years, admitted that loss without quarterback Tony Romo “was a tough one.”

Barry and Lana Andrews

Barry and Lana Andrews

When CARE Board Chair Jan Osborn was asked if keynote speaker retired Celtic Chris Herren would be at the party on the eve of the breakfast, she explained that he was on his way….from New York. It seems that he had run in the New York Marathon earlier in the day and was flying in. Wasn’t that calling it close? After all the breakfast started bright and early at 8 a.m. at the Omni Hotel with 600 expected to attend. With total confidence, she said he would indeed make it. But again, what if? Then Jan smiled, “Then I’ll get up there and talk.”

Husband Scott smiled, knowing darn well that Jan would handle any situation that might arise.

Speaking of husbands, Honorary Co-Chair/Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw was looking a bit overwhelmed by all the guests. Luckily, Honorary Co-Chair/wife Ellen Kershaw eased his concerns during a brief time out in the hallway.

Bob and Brenda White and Ellen and Clayton Kershaw

Bob and Brenda White and Ellen and Clayton Kershaw

Then the golden Highland Park High School sweethearts posed for photos. When asked if they had been in Africa for their projects in Zambia, Ellen smiled and said that due to circumstances, they’d had to put the trip off to 2015. That circumstance is the upcoming January birth of their first child…a daughter.

How was Clayton handling the arrival of Baby Kershaw? Ellen glowed, “He’s thrilled.”

But before that took place, the Kershaws were carrying on with business as usual, including the Kershaw’s Challenge at the Rustic later in the week. It’s been a success in Los Angeles and this would be the first for their hometown.

Dallas Historical Society Has A Touchdown With Texas Sports Legends At The Hall Of State During The Fair

Leave it to the Dallas Historical Society to set a mighty fine exhibition when the State Fair brings throngs of folks to Fair Park. Knowing how folks love sports, they are showcasing a collection of memorabilia that would set fans’ hearts fluttering — Texas Sports Legend. From championship rings and belts, a Heisman Trophy to an Olympic unitard, all types of sports and champs are right there in the Hall of State. Here’s a recap from the Tuesday, September 23rd “sneak preview:

Texas Sports Legends*

Texas Sports Legends*

“On September 23, the Dallas Historical Society’s Fellows received a sneak preview of this exhibit. Fellows are those who donate at least $1,500 to the Society. They receive exclusive invitations for exhibits and events at some of the most historically significant places in the city.

“Those in attendance included Alicia Landry, Tom Landry Jr., Norma Walker and her family, Veletta and John Lill, Margaret and Lester Keliher, Kathleen and Ban Bywaters (known for helping the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas launch its Trains exhibit).

Kathleen and Ban Bywaters*

Kathleen and Ban Bywaters*

“They viewed interesting items in the exhibit such as:

  • Tom Landry‘s Championship Rings
  • Curtis Cokes' championship belt*

    Curtis Cokes’ championship belt*

    Curtis Cokes’ Championship Belt

  • Nastia Liukin‘s World Championship Medals and Olympic Unitard
  • Roger Hornsby‘s Cardinals Uniform
  • Davey O’Brien‘s Heisman Trophy
  • Michael Johnson‘s Track Shoe
Tom  Landry Jr., Margaret Keliher, Lynn and Allan McBee*

Tom Landry Jr., Margaret Keliher, Lynn and Allan McBee*

Lynn and Allan McBee, Dallas Historical Society’s co-chairmen of the board of trustees, said, “Since it was founded in 1937 by some of Dallas’ most prominent leaders, Dallas Historical Society’s Fellows have provided one of the strongest funding sources, public endorsement and valuable special events’ financial resources for the Dallas Historical Society. For those interested in seeing historically significant exhibits, such as the Texas Sports Legends, we encourage you to join the Fellows. We also have a series of programs and events especially for this membership group.”

“Those interested in joining can go online at Dallas Historical Society.

“’Whether they grew up here or became a member of a Texas-based team later in life, there are many legends to be honored who have contributed to Texas athletics,’ said State Fair of Texas President Mitchell Glieber. ‘We know that we cannot honor them all, but we thank the Texas Sports Hall of Fame for loaning us a selection of sports memorabilia for fairgoers to enjoy during this year’s Fair, themed “Deep in the Heart of Texans.”’

“A selection of the inductees from the Texas Sports Hall of Fame who will be highlighted in this exhibit include: auto racing legends – A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford; baseball legends – Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan; basketball legends – Rolando Blackman and Clyde Drexler; boxing legend – George Foreman; football legends – Joe Green, Tom Landry, and Doak Walker; golf legends – Ben Crenshaw and Lee Trevino; hockey legend – Mike Modano; rodeo legend – Don Gay; soccer legends – Mia Hamm and Kyle Rote Jr.; swimming legend – Eddie Reese; tennis legend – Zina Garrison; and track and field legends – Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.”

The exhibition will be on display until Sunday, October 19 (aka the last day of the State Fair).

Photo credit: Steve Foxall

MySweetCharity Opportunity: CARE Breakfast

According to the CARE Annual Breakfast Chair Shirley Cohn,

Shirley Cohn*

Shirley Cohn*

“The annual CARE Breakfast is crucial to supporting the mission of CARE and its programs that serve those within our community suffering from drug and alcohol dependencies.

“We are thrilled to have Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, and his wife, Ellen, as honorary co-chairs, and former Boston Celtic’s basketball player, Chris Herren, as the featured speaker at the breakfast. Herren, who struggled with substance abuse for much of his basketball career, has been alcohol and drug-free since August 1, 2008. He has shared his harrowing story of abuse and recoveryin his memoir, Basketball Junkie, as well as in numerous interviews throughout the Emmy-nominated ESPN Films documentary Unguarded. Herren will continue to share his story at the CARE Breakfast in hopes of reaching just one person and making a difference in his or her life.

Chris Herren*

Chris Herren*

CARE (Chemical Awareness, Resources & Education) was established in 1984 as a response to the increasing problems related to drugs and alcohol. CARE is a valuable community organization that funds education classes for families struggling with substance abuse and provides speakers for students, parents and educators throughout the greater Dallas area. Guests are invited to enjoy breakfast while supporting CARE and the crucial assistance they provide for individuals and families who struggle with the challenging repercussions of substance abuse.

Pam Blankenship*

Pam Blankenship*

“CARE Executive Director, Pam Blankenship, adds, ‘We are honored to have Chris share his powerful story and bring awareness to the work CARE is doing in Dallas and Collin County to help those struggling with addiction. The Kershaws are true advocates, and their dedication to helping others is extremely inspirational. This is going to be a truly special 30th anniversary breakfast.’

“The breakfast will be held Monday, November 3, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. at the Omni Hotel. Individual tickets for the breakfast are $150 each and sponsorship opportunities begin at $600. For tickets or sponsor information, please contact the CARE office at 214.526.8986 or email [email protected]. Space is limited and reservations are required.

“We hope you will grab your sports-loving family and friends, and join us for this special morning!”

* Photos provided by CARE

Matthew Perry Sends His Regrets

Matthew Perry*

Matthew Perry*

If you had your hopes up about becoming “friends” with Matthew Perry, reconsider.

He ain’t coming to town for the CARE breakfast after all. Seems that his new series got the “go-ahead” and he “sends his deepest apologies.”

In his place, former NBA player Chris Herren will be the featured speaker for the November 3 fundraiser that starts at 8 a.m. at the Omni.

Everything else stays the same. Shirley Cohn is still the chair. Ellen and Clayton Kershaw are still the honorary co-chairs. Bank of Texas is still the presenting sponsor. And the proceeds go to CARE (Chemical Awareness, Resources & Education).

Back on Matthew. He’s been a busy boy. In addition to playing Oscar in the remake of “The Odd Couple” series, he just put his “Perry House” rehab center in Malibu overlooking the Pacific on the market. It can be yours for a very friendly $12.5M.

* Photo provided by CARE

Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational Gala Honors Magic Johnson With Roger Staubach Award And Parties With Darius Rucker

While Central Expressway was backed up to Richardson on Friday, May 9, the cools and ultra-cools were gathering at the Omni for the super-duper gala prepping for the Emmitt Smith Invitational the next morning. Included in the mix were Roger Staubach after whom the Roger Staubach Award was named, and Magic Johnson, who had been dragged into the Donald Sterling mess. Here’s a report from the field:

“Almost 1,000 guests packed the Omni Dallas Hotel for the Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational, presented by SoftLayer, on Friday, May 9. They were there to pay tribute to Earvin “Magic” Johnson– an iconic NBA superstar who has inspired millions on and off the court with his philanthropy who also happens to be a powerhouse entrepreneur – and his wife Cookie as they received the first-ever Roger Staubach Award.

Magic Johnson, Lance and Cheryl Crosby and Emmitt Smith*

Magic Johnson, Lance and Cheryl Crosby and Emmitt Smith*

“And before the weekend was over, $1 million had been raised for the Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities, which creates and funds unique educational experiences and enrichment opportunities for underserved children.

“The Staubach Award has been established “to recognize individuals who have brought together the world of sports/entertainment and business to make an extraordinary impact on the lives of children and youth.” Named for the legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback and real estate icon, the award is given to recipients who exemplify excellence personally, professionally and philanthropically. It is the only award to be named in Staubach’s honor other than one established at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy.

Emmitt Smith, Pat Smith, Roger and Marianne Staubach, Cookie and Magic Johnson*

Emmitt Smith, Pat Smith, Roger and Marianne Staubach, Cookie and Magic Johnson*

Guests entered the Friday Night Party, sponsored by Albertsons,on the traditional “Dallas Cowboy” blue carpet, sponsored by Cigna. When Emmitt and Pat Smith, Roger and Marianne Staubach and guests-of-honor Cookie and Magic Johnson arrived at the same time, it was a mad crush as the three couples posed for pictures, and a throng of photographers fired away.

Alfonso Ribeiro*

Alfonso Ribeiro*

“Pat and Emmitt’s longtime friend, Alfonso Ribeiro (best known as Carlton on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) emceed the event, launching the program with the famous Carlton dance to Tom Jones hit It’s Not Unusual.

“Former Dallas Mavs great Mark Aguirre gave a heartfelt introduction to the buddy he met thirty-something years ago, presenting Magic and Cookie with a sterling trophy created by Tiffany & Co.

Cookie and Magic Johnson*

Cookie and Magic Johnson*

“Magic said that, as he got toward the end of his NBA career, he was looking for a role model outside of sports to follow, ‘someone with a blueprint for giving back and touching the world … but also to show me that athletes could be business leaders.’

“Magic started reading up on Hall-of-Famer Roger Staubach, a person he idolized because of his success and grace moving from the football field to the boardroom ‘without missing a beat.’

“’I decided that’s who I want to be like – Roger Staubach. I’ve been chasing this man for years like a big defensive lineman,’ said Magic.

“Magic added that he was thrilled to get the award from his close friends Emmitt and Pat noting, ‘I’m going to get my hero’s award; this is crazy.’

Magic and Cookie Johnson and Team 22*

Magic and Cookie Johnson and Team 22*

“Magic also praised Pat and Emmitt for their generosity, love and good work benefiting the Team 22 students, who are being mentored and provided with incredible opportunities, and the thousands of North Texas youth.

“When Roger Staubach took to the podium, he started by jokingly stating that he was ‘glad to be alive because most of these kind of awards come after you’re dead.’ He also expressed his enormous respect for and deep friendship with the Johnson and Smith families.

“He added that he and Magic have played hoops together in the Staubach’s backyard, although Roger was quick to point out that it was just HORSE!

“’I can’t think of a better way to kick off our fifth year than with a new award named after our good friend and hero, Roger Staubach,’ said Pat Smith. ‘And it’s such a thrill to give the first award to Cookie and Magic, an incredible power couple who have set the bar very high and been a true inspiration to Emmitt and me.’

Darius Rucker*

Darius Rucker*

“After the program, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Darius Rucker sang over an hour and finished by donating a guitar that he and Emmitt signed. It was auctioned off for $25,000.”

“Alfonso later joined Emerald City to perform Billie Jean, channeling his good friend Michael Jackson with his high notes and dance routine.

Marion and Bennett Glazer*

Marion and Bennett Glazer*

Christie and Robert Ferguson and Marion and Bennett Glazer were the weekend’s honorary chairs. Event chairs were Lisa and Steve Lieberman. Other major sponsors that presented events leading up to the tournament include Ascientia Dallas, Faye C. Briggs, Waste Management, Healthcare Highways, Brown Forman – Tequila Herradura, Big D Party Rentals, GoVision, Dee Lincoln’s Dining Room & Bubble Bar, Starpower, Metro Linen and Murray Media.

Steve and Lisa Lieberman*

Steve and Lisa Lieberman*

Table sponsors for the evening include Andrews Distributing, Fluor Corporation, Jan and Jeff Rich, WorldLink, The Saint Hotel New Orleans, Southlake Medical Supplies, Inc., Marianne and Roger Staubach and Weber & Company.

“There were celebs aplenty from NBA, WNBA, NFL and Major League Baseball and a local star of TV’s The Bachelor (Jake Pavelka) – Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, Joe Carter, Richard Dent, Eric Dickerson, Michael Finley, Charles Haley, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Jay Humphrey, Rickey Jackson, Daryl Johnston, David Justice, Nancy Lieberman, Kenny Lofton, Roland Martin, Coach Will Muschamp, David Nelson, Nate Newton, Drew Pearson, Preston Pearson, Alfonso Ribeiro, Donna Richardson, Trent Richardson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Winfred Tubbs, Nick Van Exel, Clay Walker, Spud Webb and Darren Woodson.

“During the Saturday golf tourney held at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney and sponsored by American Airlines, the $1 million mark was hit, thanks to fundraising held on the course and a special donation from Healthcare Highways owner Michael Wilson. The Ryan Foundation presented breakfast and lunch; DAPPER Magazine presented the “Dapper Den” gifting suite; Informatica presented the driving range; and Park Place Lexus presented the VIP Pavilion. Food for the award ceremony was donated by Cattleack BBQ. Scott Murray was the master of ceremonies.

Kenny Lofton*

Kenny Lofton*

“The team led by Kenny Lofton, MLB All-Star and Golden Glove winner, won the tournament. They were sponsored by the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities.

“Other major Saturday Supporters were Bethany Healthcare, ESmith Realty Partners, Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation, Cookie and Gary McCollum, PlainsCapital Bank, Reliant Home Health, Service King Collision Repair Centers, Shell, Todd Wagner Foundation, Tolleson Wealth Management, Fossil Group, Pegasus Ablon, Jones Lang LaSalle, Beth and Jim Gold and The Plank Companies.

“A portion of the proceeds from the weekend will be distributed to beneficiaries in North Texas chosen through a grant process this summer. Applications and criteria can be found at Other proceeds will be used to fund the Smith’s own Team 22 to attend Camp Champions, travel to Washington DC and participate in other unique experience throughout the year.”

* Photos provided by 2014 Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational

Round Robin April 8 (Part I): Linz Award, Cherish The Children And Just Say “Yes!” Luncheons

Tuesday, April 8, was one of those days that poets write about. The skies were magnificent with just enough clouds to break up the all blue look. The temperatures were so friendly that new spring clothes made their seasonal debut without fear of needing a pashmina. It was almost as if Mother Nature realized that the day would be filled with countless fundraising activities and she’d better cooperate.

Due to the number of events, the day’s Round Robin is broken into two posts — daytime and night-time. Thank you for bearing with the MSC team.

85th Annual Linz Award

85th Linz Award program and friend*

85th Linz Award program and friend*

Attendees at the VIP reception before the 85th annual Linz Award luncheon at the Omni Dallas were a virtual who’s who of Dallas civic leadership. From Ruth Altshuler and Jennifer Sampson to Walt Humann, Caren Prothro, Laura Johnson, Kate Newman, Bea and Walt Humann, Pat Patterson, Dolores Barzune, Susan McSherry, Carol and Don Glendenning, Margot Perot, Bobby Lyle, Erle Nye, Margaret Keliher, Kern Wildenthal and Luncheon Chair Sandy Ammons, the group was beyond stellar. Then again, what would you expect at an event honoring Forrest Hoglund, the man who raised more than $185 million toward construction of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and one of the most respected civic leaders in Dallas?

Ruth Altshuler, Margot Perot , Lyda Hill and Caren Prothro*

Ruth Altshuler, Margot Perot , Lyda Hill and Caren Prothro*

“We love the Hoglunds,” Paige McDaniel of Community Partners of Dallas was saying, referring to Forrest and his wife Sally Hoglund. “They give to every nonprofit in town. And, they really care. They’ll call and ask, ‘How’s it going?’ That’s why you see so many agencies here today.” Not far away, Forrest was basking in congratulations from, among others, Lyda Hill, Lee Jackson and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. How did he feel, being chosen for the prestigious Linz honor? “I’m surprised,” Forrest replied. Really? “Well, you know,” he went on, “everybody else does all the work, and I get the credit!”

David Dewhurst*

David Dewhurst*

Inside the ballroom, where 700 had gathered for a luncheon of garden spinach brie en croute, petit filet of beef, seasonal vegetables, and chocolate or key lime pie desserts, SMU President Gerald Turner reviewed the history of the Linz Award, which is presented annually by the Zale Corp. and the Dallas Morning News. Turner pointed out that Hoglund represents the “rock chop [University of Kansas] Jayhawk” contingent in Dallas. “But, due to a twinkle in his eye named Kelly, SMU is a close No. 2,” Turner contended. “Forrest had hoped Kansas would win the NCAA [basketball tournament], and then we’d just slide on into this. At least he got in the tournament! Some of us are still smarting from that …”

Forrest Hoglund*

Forrest Hoglund*

Next Jim Moroney of the DMN said the Linz was awarded in part for Hoglund’s “civic engagement,” while Jack Lowe, a board member for Zales, lauded Forrest’s money-raising—$30 million so far—on behalf of Reasoning Mind. That’s a pioneering, Web-based program that helps elementary students learn math, including students in the Dallas Independent School District. Then Nicole Small, former CEO at the Perot museum, called Hoglund the “ultimate cheerleader, “a man caller ID almost put out of business,” and “a big thinker who’s not afraid to challenge” the status quo.

Forrest, for his part, made an acceptance speech that was brief, gracious and to the point. Calling the luncheon “a rush” for him, Hoglund thanked a number of people including his wife and daughters, applauded Small, and humorously recalled one of his first fundraising experiences, in Houston at the age of 26. Calling on a crusty oil-and-gas mogul on behalf of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Forrest said the energy magnate told him point-blank: “I ain’t givin’ no friggin’ money to no museum.” But, Hoglund hastened to point out, the donation would be to benefit the Houston community, not just the museum. Retorted the oilman: “I hate this g-d city.”

But Dallas, Forrest concluded, is “on a roll [these days] like I can’t imagine. … Everybody’s trying to do great things in Dallas—and getting them done.” If that’s true, the 85th Linz awardee is one big reason why.

Cherish The Children Luncheon

Tea party chair

Tea party chair

Like Goldilocks, the 300+ guests at the annual Dallas CASA’s “Cherish the Children” fundraising luncheon had to check out the designer chairs and furnishings in the silent auction at the Ritz Carlton’s lobby. There was a white chair all prettied up with satin trim and pillow that included a “goodie basket of MacKenzie Childs.” Nearby was an art “full” toy chest. On the other side of the tables of items that extended the full length of the lobby were two chairs with teddy bears in coveralls and yellow plastic “hard hats.”

A treasure chest of art

A treasure chest of art

But the one that literally stopped traffic was the green lounger near the check-in. Valued at $1,700, it was a magnet for eyes and try-ons. While guests like Caroline Rose Hunt and Dedie Leahy watched, others like Lara Tafel and CASA Executive Director/President Beverly Levy gave the “Fit” chair a try.

Beverly Levy, Caroline Rose Hunt and Dedie Leahy

Beverly Levy, Caroline Rose Hunt and Dedie Leahy

But the luncheon was more than bidding and sitting. It was “to raise critically needed funds for Dallas CASA to recruit and train volunteer advocates who help ensure that abused and neglected children are safe, healthy and protected with loving families.”

To inspire guests, decorated U.S. Marine vet/Princeton and Harvard Business School grad/author Donovan Campbell was the keynote speaker. In addition to sharing “how he led his men through some of the worst battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was able to translate those experiences into a life of servant leadership upon his return home.

“Campbell described the three values that underlie his belief in servant leadership:

“Be humble — ‘At its essence, humility is nothing more than a realistic and unflinching view of yourself and your relationships.’

“Give your best everyday — ‘Today I have given all that I have, that which I have kept I have lost. Effort is good, but direction is better.’

“Challenge yourself — ‘What is it that I want to be known for when my life is over?’”

Regarding troops returning from overseas, he stressed that “the best way to say ‘thank you’ . . . is to make sure that they come home to a country worth fighting for.”

Just Say YES! Pointing Youth In The Right Direction Luncheon

Lisa Troutt and Dan Bailey

Lisa Troutt and Dan Bailey

It was a spectacular day with just the right amount of sunshine, breeze and temperatures to enjoy the outdoors. Ah, a true rarity in these parts. But the perfect spot to enjoy these conditions was Lisa and Kenny Troutt’s estate. For about 300 very fortunate guests at the annual “Just Say YES Pointing Youth in the Right Direction Luncheon,” they not only got to take in the incredible grounds during the reception, they learned and were inspired by the work of Just Say YES! established by Dan Bailey back in March 2002.

_MG_5388 Dan BaileyThe program helps “equip teens to succeed by educating them through student assembly speakers and classroom curriculum. Our goal is empowering students to say ‘Yes’ to their dreams and goals and ‘No’ to destructive choices.”

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson

On this day, the guests got a double whammy! Not only was the speaker Gabe Salazar, but he was introduced by Luncheon Chair Avery “Coach” Johnson, whose legendary basketball acumen is quickly being surpassed by his motivational talks.

Sue Bailey and Gabe Salazar

Sue Bailey and Gabe Salazar

And, yet, the young Latino Gabe gave Avery a run for his money in the speaking department. The adorable Latino with his wife, Nancy, tableside told of his first-hand knowledge of being homeless, gang influence and being the first in his family to go to college. Blending humor with touching compassion, his message ranged from a skit depicting a disabled teenager to frank talk regarding the following:

Too many kids are wishing and not dreaming big.

No teenager’s goal is to be homeless, in jail, strung out on drugs or dead.

There is hope. No one was born an accident. When students tell him, “I was an accident. My parents were married. My mom was a teenager, etc.” Gabe’s response is, “Your life is not an accident. You are here for a purpose.”

Tavia and Clark Hunt, Knobel Hunt and Nancy and Gabe Salazar

Tavia and Clark Hunt, Knobel Hunt and Nancy and Gabe Salazar

Turning to the adults, like Honorary Chairs Tavia and Clark Hunt with their son Knobel, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, Heather and Ray Washburne, Sue Bailey, Jennie Gilchrist, Janet McColloch, Bill Nowlin, Craig Vaughn, Phillip Wise and Robbie Fusch, seated at luncheon tables throughout the room, Gabe said, “Be a mentor.” To the students, he advised, “Find a mentor.”

But there was still a third speaker, student Chris Caldwell, whose message summed up the program’s message perfectly: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”

* Photo credit: Lisa Stewart

The Great Sports Partied Up At Club 41 On The Eve Of Dirk Nowitzki’s Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game

It was the big old secret of the summer. Organizers were prepared to go to Guantanamo before leaking the pop-up location of the VIP party on Friday, June 28, on the eve of Dirk Nowitzki’s Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game. Like a speakeasy at the height of Prohibition, only special folks were provided an address for the one-night-only “Club 41.” But even if the word escaped, entrance was forboden unless you had a cherished pass and your name was on “the list.”

Screen dancers

Screen dancers

But even before that could take place, bouncers as tall as a Mavericks’ eye were on hand to guarantee only the privileged made it in the hallway check-in with a wall of bright colored panels showcasing silhouettes of dancers.

David Trowbridge and Stephanie Wilcox

David Trowbridge and Stephanie Wilcox

Even then, your wristband sealed your fate in the club. The hoi polloi enjoyed the good life on the ground level, including a dazzling white-tiled dance floor that was occasionally cloaked in fog. Overhead were 17 discos balls slowly spinning in place around the mother of all disco balls. They took on a rainbow of colors when the disco LED wall and laser show ramped up to meet the beat of the music. At different locations on the edge of the dance floor were towering mini-stages with dancers just beyond reach in one-piece costumes, chains, heels and fishnet stockings.

But like the Greek gods of old, the XXX VIP’s had their places above the fray in a modern-day version of Mount Olympus. Instead of Titans guarding the lounge of the gods, there were even more bouncers. If you had the right wristband, you may have scored a smile as they allowed your entry. If not, a stern shake of the head and upheld hand stopped even some of Dallas’ most boldface types.

David Justice, Rebecca Villalobos and Goose Gossage

David Justice, Rebecca Villalobos and Goose Gossage

This modern day version of Olympus had seating arrangements with ice buckets with Piper-Heidsieck champagne and Remy Martin Cognac on coffee tables, a bar in the back and waiters with trays of food. Heroes White Sox coach Goose Gossage hunkered down with Heroes Blue Sox coach David Justice and his wife Rebecca Villalobos watching the millennials schmoozing and dancing below. Toward the back of the room, former Playboy Cyber Girl of the Month Meghan Allen was talking with Brittany Kumm and Brendan McMahon. J.J. Barea was taking photos with his phones.

Meghan Allen, Brittany Kumm and Brendan McMahon

Meghan Allen, Brittany Kumm and Brendan McMahon

J.J. Barea

J.J. Barea

Newly engaged Allison Micheletti and Mike Modano were as giddy as a winning quarterback and homecoming queen revealing that they plan to wed in Dallas come September. Mike, who had been with the baseball fundraiser for the past 10 years, was going to be MIA for the baseball game because he had to be in New York with the Stars for the NHL draft, “representing the team, making our picks and so on.”

Mike Modano and Allison Micheletti

Mike Modano and Allison Micheletti

Heroes Baseball Founder Charlie McKinney explained that when Modano no longer wanted to be head man of the game, Charlie knew he needed either Tony Romo or Dirk to take it over. With 7,000 expected for the Saturday game, they had added an online auction, including a dinner with Dirk, with a goal for the year of $200,000 to be split between Dirk’s foundation and the Heroes Foundation.

Dirk Nowitzki and Casey Alexander

Dirk Nowitzki and Casey Alexander

In the back of the room, Dirk was showing photos on his phone to Charlie’s assistant Casey Alexander and talking about the old days, when Casey was a friend of Dirk’s sister in Germany. Earlier in the day he had been working on his batting during “training camp” at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Last year he got two singles, but his goal was to score this year.

And like the mythological legends, these gods of sports didn’t stay put in their lofty confines. The moving-and-shaking seemed to be happening on the ground level with such types as Nick Lachey and Justin Whitman making their way through the jam, the dance floor being filled with professionals and should-be’s (Robin and David Trowbridge, Stephanie and Ryan Wilcox, Molly Bonner and Alyson Griffith) and watching/talking on the sideline Stacy and Kris Kristynik, Beth and David Thames and Tricia Ward and Jon Clark.

Travelocity gnome and Jonathan Rogers

Travelocity gnome and Jonathan Rogers

The face that received the most second looks was the Travelocity gnome and his escort, Jonathan Rogers. Seems the twosome have literally traveled the world to such events as the NFL draft, NBA finals and Coachella music festival. Want proof? They’ve been photographed with Charles Barkley, Simon Cowell and Kevin Bacon.

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban

Leader of the pack was Mark Cuban in a “You Are Uniqe” (sic) T-shirt and well-worn jeans. When asked about Ron Kirk’s revealing that Cuban had called Kirk at home on the night of 9/11 and quietly donated $1M for the widows of all those first responders, Mark added, “Nine out of 10, I say, I’ll give if you don’t give my name. . . That was a long time ago!”  Regarding the T-shirt, Cuban explained, “Somebody gave it to me and I thought it would be fun to wear.”

Lara Beth Seager

Lara Beth Seager

As for his playing Saturday, Mark admitted, “I don’t know. I was out there at batting practice today. I’ll see. Oh, I hit the ball. But that’s not the point. The point is whether I can stand up in the morning.”

About the location? It turned out to be Wendy Krispin’s new 129 Leslie event venue in the Dallas Design District, but even Wendy admitted that it had been transformed thanks to event producer Lara Beth Seager. Looking around the place as the 300 guests arrived, Wendy said that three days before all had been white and totally different. The question had to be asked — “Was the major transformation by Seager a pain?” Without hesitation, Wendy emphasized au contraire, adding that Seager was one of the best that she had worked with. No stress, no strain, no problemos. Just a delightful experience.

For more photos from the party, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Coach Avery Johnson To “Just Say Yes” To Area Students This Week

Avery Johnson and Trevor Rees-Jones (File photo)

Avery Johnson and Trevor Rees-Jones (File photo)

While Coach Avery Johnson‘s household was not all that pleased about his departure from the Brooklyn Nets, locals were probably secretly delighted because it meant his spending more time in the area.

In addition to his basketball coaching achievements, Coach is an amazing speaker, especially when it comes to young people. His enthusiasm and positive attitude are contagious.

This week thanks to the “Just Say Yes” program he will be sharing his words with students at:

Wednesday, February 27

  • 10:30 am Richardson High School – 1250 Beltline Rd., Richardson, TX 75080 (student athletes)
  • 1:30  pm Lake Highlands Freshman Center- 10200 White Rock Trail, Dallas, TX 75238 (student body)

 Thursday, February 28

  • 9:45 am Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center – 2940 Singleton Blvd., Dallas TX 75212
  • 10:45. a.m. L.G. Pinkston High School – 2200 Dennison St., Dallas TX 75212

Suggestion: If you know of a student body that might benefit from hearing Coach, contact Celia Weitzel at 972.437.0002 x227 or [email protected] Better yet make a donation to Just Say Yes to keep the words coming.

Avery Johnson Tells “Kids” At KL Troutt High School To “Just Say Yes”

Troutt basketball court

The crowd of 300 hardly noticed that Lisa and Kenny Troutts’ indoor basketball court was transformed into a banquet hall last Wednesday for  Just Say YES luncheon with former Dallas Mavericks’ coach Avery Johnson.

Will Allen and Kenny Troutt

Toward the front of the room were the likes of the Troutts, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Lillie Romano, Alicia Landry, Sue Gragg and Dee Wyly.

Lillie Romano

Lisa was still a little amazed at all the hubbub over the recent rumor about her being involved in a reality show. One would suspect that a drive-thru beer barn would open in HP Village before Lisa would be on a unreal drama show.

Avery Johnson and Trevor Rees-Jones

Before Avery addressed the group, the audience learned that girls who are sexually active are seven times more likely to drink alcohol and 46 times more likely to use marijuana.

Lessons to be learned in raising healthy kids from the information:

  1. Parent-child connection like having five family meals a week is a powerful weapon;
  2. Positive role models are essential;
  3. Connection to dreams and goal are key.

As Just Say Yes Founder/President Dan Bailey introduced Avery, he described him as a “Master at Connecting With Teens” and went on to tell the group that Avery “has been to 23 schools talking with teens. . . Off-season in basketball is the on-season for him at Just Say Yes.”

Avery’s commitment to the program was emphasized by his arriving at 1:30 a.m. immediately following a game in New Jersey, where his New Jersey Nets played the night before.

To show their appreciation, Avery was presented with two gifts:

  1. A sleeping mask to wear on the flight home.
  2. A donation in Avery’s name to Hunger Busters.

Following a brief video, Avery took over the microphone telling the room full of adults that they were to “transform yourself into being a student at KL Troutt High School.”

The “kids” gave him a standing ovation. Don’t know if it was him just being Avery or letting them return to their youth.

Avery started off by telling the kids how he met his wife, Cassandra, 24 years ago. “She’s the sugar in my tea. She’s not Sweet and Low. She’s the real thing. This is the first time for her to hear me speak to high schoolers.”

Throughout his talk, he referred to himself at “Coach.” Avery told the “youngsters” that 30 years ago, people  used mailing addresses and phone numbers. But now there are different ways to communicate.

Using Facebook as the backdrop, he proceeded to walk them through, “What are the chapters of your Facebook?”

According to Avery, the chapters should be:

  • Chapter 1 — “I’m Special. I’m not an Accident.”
  • Chapter 2 — “Compete and Don’t Complain.” He then shared a touching story about his youth. It seems from the ages of 14 to 20, he got a job as the “warehouse boy” at Crescent Plywood. Despite offers, Avery refused to succumb to “offers” to provide a little more than the customers paid for. As he prepared to head to college and a long daily commute, the mill’s owner told Avery to go to a neighborhood car dealership and pick out the kind of car he would get for himself. The next day the car — an $8,500 Escort —  was waiting for him. When Avery asked, “Why?”, the owner said that he had watched Avery over the years and appreciated his honesty.
  • Chapter 3 — “Expect Conflict. (You Can’t Get to the Top Without Conflict)” Conflict will help train you. You sometimes need failure to get success. Frustration is the cocktail for depression.
  • Chapter 4 — “Exploring the Other Side”
  • Chapter 5 — “Say ‘No’ to Drugs”
  • Chapter 6 — “Under Construction”

In closing, he also told the “children” that the photo that they post on their Facebook is important. It’s got to reflect their character.

Needless to say, the students at KL Troutt H.S. gave him another standing ovation and this time there was no doubt that it was for Avery being Avery.