Golf Analyst David Feherty Was A Keynote Hit At 32nd Annual CARE Breakfast Blending Addiction Struggles With Irish Humor

One behind-the-scenes story speaks volumes about the irreverent, freewheeling nature of the sold-out 32nd annual CARE Breakfast, which was held Wednesday, November 9, at the Belo Mansion and “starred” keynote speaker David Feherty, the hilarious NBC Sports pro golf reporter—and recovering addict.

It seems, we were told, that David learned about the kidney replacement surgery undergone a while back by Norm Bagwell, husband of CARE Dallas mainstay Robin Bagwell. Once Norm received his new kidney from Robin, David was told, his golf handicap plummeted from 14 to 5. Whereupon the morning’s keynoter cracked that if Norm “had only had his spleen taken out, he could have been a scratch golfer!”

Robin Bagwell, David Feherty and Norm Bagwell*

The golf theme—Irish-born Feherty, after all, is a former pro on both the European and PGA tours—was prominent during the breakfast, a big fundraiser for CARE Dallas and its work to educate the community about the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. The table centerpieces, for example, were clever decorations consisting of green felt, two golf balls, and a spray of red tees.

Following the “serenity” prayer delivered by the Rev. Paul Rasmussen, CARE’s new executive director, Susan Morgan, explained that CARE Dallas is a “safe and confidential place for families to learn about resources that are available to fight addiction.” In 2017, she added, the nonprofit plans to start up several new support groups.

Scott and Jan Osborn*

Then Robin, who’s been involved with CARE for 16 years, presented the group’s Margaret Sharpe Community Service Award to her pal Jan Osborn, an eight-year veteran of the group and the board chair for three years. Said Robin: “My greatest accomplishment was bringing Jan Osborn on to the board.” When Jan proceeded to deliver the world’s shortest acceptance speech—basically just saying thanks—Terry Bentley Hill took the stage and quipped, “If this was the Academy Awards, the orchestra hadn’t even pulled up the violins yet.” With that she introduced the keynoter, Feherty, calling him a “combination of Oprah and Johnny Carson.”

Terry Bentley Hill*

It was an apt description, if a little too G-rated.

At the lectern, Feherty set the tone right off the bat: “The first thing I thought this morning when I woke up was, ‘Hey, shit. I need a drink!’” After some jokes about the weak urinary stream of a 58-year-old man—that’s him—he quickly turned serious. “There’s no such thing as ‘recovery,’” he said. “Any addict knows that. I don’t need to be sober the rest of my life. I just need to be sober today.”

But then, soon enough, he was back to cracking wise: “The doctor asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about getting help?’ And I said, ‘No, I can drink it all by myself!’ ”

With that Feherty took off on the “dark sense of humor” found in his native Northern Ireland: “I don’t know if my father was an alcoholic, but he made a solid attempt at being one.” He introduced his 86-year-old mother, Vi Feherty—she was sitting in the audience—and said she’s been married for 63 years to Feherty’s 91-year-old father, Bill Feherty, who’s suffering now** from Alzheimer’s. The disease has its upside, Feherty said, explaining that Billy “broke out of his assisted living home, but couldn’t remember why he broke out. So he broke back in.” When Billy would come home late years ago after drinking at the club, Feherty recalled, his dad would ask Vi, “Is my dinner still warm?” And she would reply, “Yes. It’s in the dog.”

David Feherty*

Then came a series of random—and hilarious—stories and quips:

  • “A cop says to a drunk, ‘Sir, can you step out of the car?’ ‘No, I’m too drunk. You get in.’ ”
  • “The only reason I’m here today is because [Jan] Osborn has pictures of me with a goat.”
  • “I love Texas. It’s like America—except better.”

Concluding his entertaining talk, Feherty waxed serious again about his struggles with addiction. After his “career and marriage ended on the same day,” he recalled, he began taking 20 to 30 pills, plus two bottles of whiskey, daily. … “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great drunks and with some bad drunks,” Feherty said. “I was a spectacular drunk!

“I was sober the best part of 10 years, until 10 months ago,” he went on. “Like most alcoholics, I can’t believe it came back to bite me. I ended up in the Mayo Clinic rehab center in Rochester [Minnesota]. There are more friggin’ bars in that town! It was probably the worst 11 days of my life.” Turns out, Feherty had been suffering from a neurological disease in which “the frontal lobe of the brain doesn’t work properly,” he said. “It’s called the Comic’s Disease—Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters had it. … But, I’ve been sober for a few months now—again.” (At that, the crowd applauded enthusiastically.)

He ended on a poignant note: “I can drink it all by myself,” Feherty said. “But I can’t be sober without your help.”

Many in the crowd, it seemed, could relate.

* Photo credit: Rhi Lee 
** Editor's note: Billy Feherty died two weeks later on Thanksgiving morning

Charles Haley Tackles Addiction And Recovery At CARE Breakfast

If you want to know what it’s like grappling with drug addiction and mental illness, you really should hear it first-hand from someone who’s been through it—like NFL Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboy Charles Haley, for example. Haley, a notoriously aggressive player who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder only after he retired from the NFL, talked about his struggles during a lively onstage conversation with Scott Murray on Monday, October 5, at the 31st annual CARE (Chemical Awareness Resources and Education) Breakfast.

CARE Breakfast*

CARE Breakfast*

During his football days, “They called me Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was either bouncing off the walls or talking to everybody,” Haley told the early-morning crowd of more than 500 at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. “I didn’t play well with others. I never fit in with nobody. I was always in attack mode. Emmitt [Smith] said, ‘You don’t let anybody be your friend.’”

After struggling unsuccessfully to deal with his daughter’s leukemia—and abandoning his wife, to boot—Haley said he “started doing cocaine and drinking a lot.” Eventually, though, he decided to enter a treatment center for alcohol, drugs, and bipolar disorder and started seeing a psychiatrist. “When the pain gets overwhelming—that’s when change happens,” Haley said.

Then he turned to the topic of teenage drug use. “Most kids do drugs because they want to fit in,” Haley said. “They feel lost and abandoned. They have hopelessness. [But to get well], they have to set goals for themselves.”

One big factor in his own recovery, Haley said, was his Christian religion. “The reason why I didn’t kill myself was because of my faith,” he said. “God put me in the Hall of Fame when I was ready.” (That happened just this year, in August.)

Emmitt and Pat Smith, Charles Haley and Natalie and Mike McGuire*

Emmitt and Pat Smith, Charles Haley and Natalie and Mike McGuire*

The only player with five Super Bowl rings (three with the Cowboys, two with the San Francisco 49ers) to his credit, the ex-linebacker and defensive end attracted a rapt crowd at Frontiers of Flight including Pat and Emmitt Smith, Michael Hinojosa, Lee Ann White, and Natalie and Mike McGuire, who served as honorary chairs.

During preliminary remarks, CARE Executive Director Pam Murray announced Becky McCamey as this year’s recipient of the group’s Margaret Sharpe Community Service Award. Murray also announced that the event had raised $215,000, just shy of its $235,000 goal.

* Photo provided by CARE

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.