Actress/Advocate Geena Davis Was Part Of The Top-Tier Panel For The Dallas-Fort Worth Comerica Bank Women’s Business Symposium

Comerica provided 500 gals the opportunity to hear from a top-tier line up of females about the challenges, opportunities and advances for women in business. On hand to be part of the panel on Friday, October 13, at the Dallas Mariott Las Colinas was actress/advocate Geena Davis, who created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender. But it was more than listening and learning. It was also celebrated with a nice check presentation for ChildCareGroup. Here’s a report from the field:

Five hundred guests gathered to learn, connect and grow at the inaugural  Dallas-Fort Worth Comerica Bank Women’s Business Symposium, a sellout, on Friday, October 13, at the Dallas Marriott Las Colinas.

Julia Wellborn, Nina Vaca, Deborah Gibbins, Geena Davis and Jennifer Sampson*

Geena Davis, award-winning actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, headlined the event, while the luncheon opened with a local Power Panel featuring Deborah Gibbins – CFO, Mary Kay Inc.; Barbara Lynn – Chief District Judge, United States District Court for Northern District of Texas; Jennifer Sampson – CEO and President, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; and Nina Vaca – Chairman and CEO, Pinnacle Group / Comerica Incorporated Board of Director Member.

Jamie Gwen*

Peter Sefzik*

Long-time California Comerica Women’s Business Symposium emcee Celebrity Chef Jamie Gwen made sure the jam-packed program flowed smoothly with Texas Market President Peter Sefzik on-hand to welcome guests and share how Comerica is not only investing in women externally, but also internally with professional development opportunities for its colleagues.

The Power Panel moderated by Julia Wellborn, Comerica Bank’s Executive Director of Wealth Management, proved to be a lively discussion and dialogue — the panelists covered a variety of topics from mentoring, landing that coveted seat at the table to how they have dealt with gender discrimination.  They also provided insight on their road to success and the importance of helping other women succeed.  

Vaca applauded Comerica Bank Chairman and CEO Ralph Babb for his commitment to empowering women and fostering an environment for them to succeed. Comerica Inc. recently appointed its third female, president and CEO of Commercial Metals Company Barbara R. Smith, to its Board of Directors, which also includes Vaca and Jacqueline P. Kane, retired Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs at The Clorox Company.

Davis then shared her perspective on gender equality and why it should matter to us all with the underlying theme that if women are seen in certain positions and/or roles, it encourages other girls and women to pursue these opportunities / careers.  She also highlighted a few key studies conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media that indicated there still is a significant gender gap in the entertainment and media industries as it relates to casting roles and featuring women in a non-traditional sense in media campaigns.

Margareth Aviles, Tori Mannes, Catherine Pistor and Julia Wellborn*

Haynes & Boone, Winstead PC and Bodman PC sponsored the Women’s Business Symposium — a portion of the event proceeds benefited the ChildCareGroup. Comerica North Texas Women’s Initiative representatives presented Tori Mannes, the CEO of the ChildCareGroup, with a check for $10,000. The ChildCareGroup provides or manages the early care and education for more than 14,000 Dallas-area children from low-income families. Because of donor support, these children have better learning environments; well-educated, caring teachers; and involved parents—key components to a good start in life and a solid foundation for the future.

The Women’s Business Symposium concluded with an open networking reception, providing an opportunity for guests to mix, mingle and exchange business cards and contact information in support of helping each other further their careers and personal growth.

* Photo credit: Lisa Means

Chi Omegas Gave More Than A Hoot To Area Nonprofits and Scholarship Funds

Just as the Crystal Charity Ball gals were doling out the dough a couple of weeks ago for its beneficiaries, so the Chi Omega Alumnae were recently handy with checks. The funds came from their 2016 Chi Omega Christmas Market that was held last fall at Fair Park.

2016 Market Co-Chairs Amy McAleavey and Mandy Escobedo admitted that their goal of providing $258,000 for the 2016 beneficiaries was a daunting one. But evidently it wasn’t as challenging as they thought, as they provided $320,000 to the following beneficiaries:

Mandy Escobedo and Amy McAleavey*

  • ChildCareGroup,
  • Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support,
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas®,
  • New Friends New Life,
  • Promise House,
  • Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas,
  • Trinity River Mission,
  • VMLC (Vickery Meadow Learning Center) and
  • the Chi Omega Alumnae of Dallas Chi O Christmas Market Endowed Scholarship fund and collegiate scholarships.

According to Amy, “The total amount raised at the 2016 Market is a 24% increase from our set goal and allows us to fully fund our wonderful beneficiaries.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s Market with Alex Bjornnes serving as chair. The 2017 event will be the 40th anniversary of the Market and will return to Centennial Hall in Fair Park from Wednesday, November 15 thru Saturday, November 18.

* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron

2017 Great Adventure Hunt Provided Brainbusting Puzzles Throughout The Perot From Mother Goose To Fencing For ChildCareGroup

While the black-tie-optional Catholic Charities group was filling the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom on Saturday, January 28, nearly 320 more casual types were on the other side of downtown Dallas at the Perot Museum.

Tori Mannes and Bart Showalter

Joe Mannes and Michael Newman

The occasion was the Great Adventure Hunt benefiting ChidCareGroup and chaired by Erin Nealy Cox and Trey Cox and Nicole and Justin Small and presented by
Data Alliance
. According to CCG President/CEO Tori Mannes, last year’s GAH wizard-behind-the-scenes/journalist Tom Shroder had begged off  this year, due to his writing two books. To seek a replacement puzzle strategist, Tori killed two birds with one stone. She asked past champ team members John Harris, Joe Mannes, Tom Nynas, Kemp Sawers and Elizabeth and Bart Showalter to create the puzzles for the night. Not only did she come up with some real insiders creating the evening’s challenges, she also allowed for a new team to score the top prize.

Wendy Moore Oglesby,, Peggy Allison, Edward Oglesby Gladys Kolenovsky and Lyda Hill

Rena Pederson

One of those vying for the trophy was the infamous Lyda Hill team (Peggy Allison, Gladys Kolenovsky, Wendy Moore Oglesby, Edward Oglesby and Rena Pederson), whose captain, Lyda, has played in every GAH except the very first one. In preparation for the evening, Lyda reported her team had met twice to strategize and to allow each of their strengths to shine. Lyda recalled that her team had won the competition “several times in a row, but not recently. We have to let others win!” she joked.

When asked about her upcoming Linz Award, Lyda admitted that she was truly taken by surprise. She was told about the honor over the phone while she was driving, and was caught totally speechless.

Doug Murray

On another subject, Lyda was asked why time and time again people think her middle name is “Hunt.” While her brother (Al Galatyn Hill Jr.) and sister (Alinda Hunt Hill Wikert) both have middle names, Lyda doesn’t. But she recalled that years ago, everyone was into monogramming. Since a great monogram had three letters, young Lyda gave herself a temporary “H” to fill the bill.

While the cocktail reception carried on in the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall on the third level, production coordinator Doug Murray was preparing the acoustics for the dinner on the first level. Some guests didn’t recognize Doug. The reason? He’s lost 50 pounds—going from a 17 1/2 shirt-neck size to a 15 1/2—by exercising and eliminating soft drinks and breads from his diet. However, he admitted that on Sundays he may cheat and have a pizza. His goal is to lose 15 more pounds.


As for the competition, the puzzlemasters proved their worth.The very first challenge took place at the dinner tables with a round of Bingo, Then they were off and running with “puzzles featuring unique items such as edible clues, Mother Goose, a fencing match, ‘The Hokey Pokey’ and Twister. Some team solved the puzzles with ease, and other chose to receive extra hints.”

Tori Mannes, John Matthews, Kat Kunze, Suzanne Smith, Ben Mackey, Melanie Ferguson and Evgeniy Gentchev*

After the final team “crossed the finish line” and made it back to their tables for dessert and the results, it was team Matthews Southwest (John Matthews, Kat Kunze, Suzanne Smith, Ben Mackey, Melanie Ferguson and Evgeniy Gentchev) that not only took home the prize but also proved to have the distance in their effort. Boss John Matthews had flown in from Canada just to participate in the Hunt.

Other winners included the following:

From the left: (back row) Kathy Touchstone, Jenny Murphey and Jason Arneson; (front row) Kathryn Treece, Alyson Trout and Andrea English*

  • Second place — Kick-Off Party Sponsor Pegasus Bank and Bright and Bright LLP (Kathy Touchstone, Jenny Murphey, Jason Arneson, Kathryn Treece, Alyson Trout and Andrea English.
  • Third place — Meredith and Scott Wallace team
  • Rookie team — Meredith and Scott Wallace team
  • Best Team Name — Valet sponsor Roach Howard Smith and Barton for “Can’7 5OLV3 TH15”
* Photo provided by ChildCareGroup


7th Annual Great Adventure Kick-Off Party Put “Train Your Brain” Sessions With The Puzzle Pros Up For Auction

January may seem a long time off, but it isn’t for the dedicated players of the 7th Annual Great Adventure Hunt. The Kick-Off Party at Nicole and Justin Small‘s home revealed some new twists and turns for the ChildCareGroup fundraiser, including the addition of the introduction of the Puzzle Pros. Check out this report from the field about the Pros and more:

Garrett Shipman, Danielle Ricketts, Nannette and Rodney Swift

Garrett Shipman, Danielle Ricketts, Nannette and Rodney Swift*

The first social event held at Nicole and Justin Small’s newly-renovated home was the Kick-Off Party on the evening of Tuesday,October 25, for the 7th Annual Great Adventure Hunt, benefiting ChildCareGroup. The expansive patio of the Small’s elegant mid-century modern North Dallas home and the beautiful fall weather created the perfect backdrop for nearly 100 guests including ChildCareGroup CEO/President Tori Mannes, Jennifer Sampson, Garrett Shipman, Danielle Ricketts, Nannette and Rodney Swift, Rena Pederson, Gladys Kolenovsky, Jenny Murphey, Amber Neroes and Kathy Touchstone to mingle and practice puzzles for the most unique fundraiser in Dallas.


Jenny Murphey, Amber Neroes and Kathy Touchstone

Jenny Murphey, Amber Neroes and Kathy Touchstone*

Nicole Small and Erin Nealy Cox*

Nicole Small and Erin Nealy Cox*

The 2017 Great Adventure Hunt, presented by Alliance Data and co-chaired by the Smalls, along with Erin Nealy Cox and Trey Cox, will take place at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on the evening of Saturday, January 28.  Returning to the Perot Museum will be déjà vu for Nicole, who was the Museum’s CEO for 12 years, leading the successful completion of the world-class downtown museum.

Pegasus Bank and Bright & Bright LLP sponsored the Kick-Off Party where the co-chairs made the exciting announcement of the event’s Puzzle Pros sponsored by Lyda Hill. The masterminds behind the Hunt’s fun and challenging puzzles are John Harris, Joe Mannes, Tom Nynas, Kemp Sawers and Bart Showalter. Longtime Hunters will recognize the puzzle gurus, who collectively have either won or placed in the event at least 10 times.

Kemp Sawers, Joe Mannes, John Harris and Bart Showalter*

Kemp Sawers, Joe Mannes, John Harris and Bart Showalter*

Nicole ended the evening by auctioning off three “Train Your Brain” sessions with the Puzzle Pros. Winners will enjoy exclusive, insider tips on solving puzzles for the Hunt over cocktails with the Pros.

The Hunt takes over the Perot Museum for the evening and turns the museum’s five-floors into fun and unexpected puzzle sites. During the Hunt, teams of six players compete against other teams to decipher wacky clues and solve puzzles. From inflatable gorillas and disappearing ink to edible clues, you never know what you will find! Judges tally the scores, and teams who solve the most puzzles correctly in the shortest amount of time receive special prizes and bragging rights.

The event annually raises $300,000 to support ChildCareGroup’s early childhood education programs. For 115 years, ChildCareGroup has been offering high impact, holistic services for vulnerable parents and children. By helping children start kindergarten ready to excel and giving parents the chance to pursue better educations and careers, ChildCareGroup empowers two generations to lift themselves out of poverty.

Since children learn through play, the Great Adventure Hunt allows to the community to give through play. The Hunt is a unique opportunity to have loads of fun while having a significant impact in the community.

Another sell out is anticipated and teams are going fast! Click here for more information or to reserve a team, or contact Kendal Kramer at 215.905.2404 or [email protected].

* Photos provided by ChildCareGroup

ChildCareGroup Nets A Sweet $250,000 Thanks To Its Great Adventure Hunt Orchestrated By Tom Shroder At The Perot

The brainiacs and puzzle-lovers were MIA around town on Saturday, January 23. The reason? They were hunkered down at the Perot Museum for the Great Adventure Hunt and to bring in a net total of $250,00 for ChildCareGroup. Under the supervision of Great Adventure maestro Tom Shroder and ChildCareGroup President/CEO Tori Mannes, this year’s event divvied players like Kit Sawers, Lisa Levy, Diane Colpack, Andrew Gregory, Nicki and Tom Nynas and Amy Tolleson into two divisions. But more about that and the winners of the night in this field report:

Kit Sawers, Lisa Levy and Diane Colpack*

Kit Sawers, Lisa Levy and Diane Colpack*

A night of raising funds to support ChildCareGroup’s early childhood care and education programs doesn’t involve a traditional black tie gala. Instead, on the night of Saturday, January 23, supporters of CCG gathered in teams of six at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science prepared to race through the museum’s 11 exhibit halls searching for clues and solving mind-bending puzzles as part of the nonprofit’s annual Great Adventure Hunt.

Before kicking off the puzzle competition, guests enjoyed a cocktail reception in the Lyda Hill Gems & Minerals Hall, where a Hunt Briefing Station and practice puzzles were available for those interested. This year, CCG introduced new rules for the Hunt that involved two levels of competition—Division 1: In It To Win It, and Division 2: Just For Fun—which were explained in detail during a seated dinner following the cocktail hour.

Tori Mannes and Amy Vanderoef*

Tori Mannes and Amy Vanderoef*

Leading guests throughout the evening as emcee was Amy Vanderoef, TV and radio personality best known from her role as a host on WFAA’s “Good Morning Texas.” As a single mother, Vanderoef’s passion for early childhood care and education made her the perfect match for CCG’s Great Adventure Hunt.

After each team received a bag of hints and the first clue was presented on stage, guests took off from their tables in pursuit of more clues and puzzle answers. The puzzles were designed by Tom Shroder, award-winning journalist and former editor of The Washington Post Magazine and author of “Acid Test: LSD Ecstasy and the Power to Heal.” Shroder is known for his creation, along with humorists Dave Barry and Gene Weingarten of the Herald Hunt in Miami and the Post Hunt in Washington.

Lyda Hill, Edward Oglesby and Gladys Kolenovsky*

Lyda Hill, Edward Oglesby and Gladys Kolenovsky*

At this year’s Great Adventure Hunt, Shroder’s puzzles involved unique items such as a large, inflatable globe and a ginormous pair of dice. Another clue at one of the puzzle sites involved volunteers acting out a scene from “Romeo and Juliet.” Nonetheless, there were teams that cracked the clues with ease and others that made use of their golden tickets and easy buttons, which are tools that can be used to receive extra hints in exchange for fees or small penalties.

John Lindgren, Jennifer and Kurt Pankratz, Elizabeth and Bart Showalter and Jeff Becker*

John Lindgren, Jennifer and Kurt Pankratz, Elizabeth and Bart Showalter and Jeff Becker*

Once the time was up and all answers had to be submitted, teams returned to their tables for dessert while anxiously awaiting for the winner to be revealed. After a few prizes were awarded for the most creative name, most uses of the easy button, etc., Baker Botts L.L.P was declared the winning team of the 2016 Great Adventure Hunt.

Having raised a net amount of more than $250,000 at the event, Co-Chairs Christy and Robby Berry, Tessa and Bob Mosteller and Barb and Mike Tonti deemed the Hunt a success. The event was made possible by presenting sponsor Alliance Data, puzzle master sponsor Lyda Hill and kick-off party sponsor Bank of Texas. Other major sponsors included: HFF, M.C. Smith Interests, Pegasus Bank, Springfield Consulting Services LLC, Tolleson Wealth Management and Tonti Properties.

* Photos provided by ChildCareGroup

RR 10/13: Great Adventure Hunt And Notre Dame School

The charming lanes of Preston Hollow were packed with cars for fundraising on Tuesday, October 13. Interestingly, two of them were just a block or two away, and they both dealt with youngsters’ well-being and education.

Great Adventure Hunt Kick-Off

In the backyard of Barb and Mike Tonti’s marvelous estate were hi-top tables adorned with orange tablecloths. On the evening of Tuesday, October 13, as guests gathered for the Great Adventure Hunt kick off, someone asked GAH Co-Chair Barb if she’d arranged for the touches of orange because it was well-known that it was longtime GAH supporter/puzzle master sponsor Lyda Hill’s #1 color. Barb fessed up that it was not a one-night-only splash of color. She just liked orange, too.

Peggy Allison

Peggy Allison

As it was, Lyda wasn’t able to make it due to a prior commitment, but her teammate Peggy Allison was on the scene to learn about plans for the next GAH at the Perot Museum on Saturday, January 23.

As the family’s 11-year-old Yorkie wandered in and out of the stiletto heels and loafers belonging to such guests as Deborah and Arthur Budge, Kemp Sawers, Co-Chairs Christy and Robby Berry and Tessa and Bob Mosteller, Tom Shroder mingled in. Little did many of the guests realize that Tom in his unassuming black T-shirt was the GAH puzzle master. Newbie game player Bob White admitted that he had heard about the ChildCareGroup fundraiser from Norm Bagwell and been curious about it. (The fundraiser has grown steadily over the years, raising $50,000 in 2012 and $350,000 last year.)  Luckily, Bob got some one-on-one time with Tom.

Tori Mannes, Tom and Barb Tonti, Tom Shroder, Christy and Robby Berry and Tessa and Bob Mosteller

Tori Mannes, Tom and Barb Tonti, Tom Shroder, Christy and Robby Berry and Tessa and Bob Mosteller

Tom Shroder

Tom Shroder

Off to the side, Tom revealed that puzzle mastering was as much fun for him as it was for the game players. Pulitzer-Prize winner Tom, who used to work at The Washington Post, has the Pulitzer in his gene pool. His grandpa MacKinlay Kantor won the coveted award for his “Andersonville.” Since leaving the Post, Tom has focused his writing talents on books. His “The Hunt for Bin Laden” became a #1-bestselling Kindle book. Tom’s most recent work, “Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal,” deals with the medical community reconsidering the possible use of psychedelic drugs.

This fundraiser is one of the true-blue fun events, especially since it has moved to the Perot which has become the ultimate Chuck E. Cheese for adults.

If you’re one of the lucky team members playing, leave the silks, satins and tuxedos at home. But pack laughs and curiosity with a smidge of All-American competition.

Notre Dame School

When folks hear Notre Dame, a lot of ‘em think of the Paris cathedral and the South Bend university. But Dallas has its own Notre Dame that is both legendary like the church and bent on education like the college.

Since 1963, Dallas’ Notre Dame School has been “exclusively devoted to educating those with intellectual disabilities.” It provides students with IQ scores ranging from 30 to 70 with programs focusing on reading, technology, vocational training and extracurricular activities that “aren’t available in any public institution.”

With a curriculum that is tailor-made for each of the 150 student’s needs, the student-to-teacher ratio is 5:1.

A year ago non-stop philanthropist Mary Terry kicked off the Hearts & Hammers Capital Campaign to raise $11M with three goals in mind to:

  • renovate the 61-year-old school
  • provide for current and future faculty needs and
  • double the size of the school’s endowment.
John and Vicky Day, Micki and Mike Rawlings and Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones*

John and Vicky Day, Micki and Mike Rawlings and Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones*

Dallas First Couple Micki and Mike Rawlings held a reception at their home that included Vicky and John Day and Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones to celebrate the progress of the campaign. To date, $10M has been raised. They just have $1M rest to raise and then it’s “Mission: Accomplished”.

Perhaps Notre Dame’s Affair of the Heart on Saturday, November 7, at the Hilton Anatole will help do just that.

* Photo provided by Notre Dame School


Let’s start the week off with good news. This Saturday’s ChildCareGroup’s very first ever Great Big Jam is sold out! What? You didn’t know about it? What’s it about? No, it’s not a get together to make preserves.

Great Big Jam*

Great Big Jam*

It’s kid-oriented at the Dallas Country Club from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with activities and crafts. Ah, but the real emphasis is going to be on literacy. To do that, Great Big Jam Co-Chairs Elizabeth Malone, Leigh Mundinger and Winifred Mundinger have arranged to have New York Times best-selling author Eric Litwin entertain the children. Eric not only wrote “Pete the Cat” but also the new musical series, “The Nuts.”

According to Leigh, “We are so excited about the overwhelming response to the first-ever Great Big Jam. There are very few fundraising events in Dallas where children can get involved and engaged in philanthropy. We are thrilled that the Great Big Jam provides that opportunity, in a fun, family event.”

In addition to wearing their fav PJ’s, munchkin guests “are asked to bring new pajamas to donate to the children served by ChildCareGroup.

While he’s in town, Eric will also perform for the youngsters and families at ChildCareGroup’s MLK Center. And Half Price Books is donating books for the children at MLK.

* Graphic provided by ChildCareGroup

Tally-Ho, The Great Adventure Hunt Was Underway At The Perot Museum For ChildCareGroup With King Kong In Attendance

What’s the old expression? Something about the apple not falling far from the tree? So, proof of that was the Great Adventure Hunt at the Perot Museum on  Saturday, January 24. Orchestrating the event was ChildCareGroup CEO Tori Mannes, who had loved “The Hunt” before she ever joined CCG. Like her mother Gail Thomas, who runs the mammoth The Trinity Trust, Tori is definitely a hands-on community supporter who makes fundraising an art form.

Tori Mannes

Tori Mannes

For this year’s far-from-black-tie party, Tori arranged to have Caroline and Rick O’Brien and Cameron and Clay Smith serve as co-chairs and Micki and Mayor Mike Rawlings as honorary co-chairs. For the emcee, she tapped Kidd Kraddick in the Morning’s Kellie Rasberry.

With Alliance Data as the presenting sponsor, the CCG fundraiser broke records with 50 teams of six. It was a perfect storm of brainiacs in jeans and corporate types playing mind-boggling games with age-old dinosaurs looking on.

Like the year before, Tori arranged to have former Washington Post Magazine editor Tom Shroder to serve as Puzzle Master. But the big change this year was the location. In years past it had been held at NorthPark Center and last year at The Joule. Tori called the Perot Museum the day after the 2014 hunt because she felt the Perot was just made for the brain-teasing exercise. She’s so committed to it that she’s locked down the Perot for 2016 as well.

Purchasing hints

Purchasing hints

The lowest level of the Perot was the scene of the reception. As guests lined up to buy a precious hint for $180, it was apparent that there two types of players on hand — those having fun playing and those playing for keeps.

True blue vet and longtime champ Lyda Hill’s team was easy to spot in their orange T-shirts. There was no truth that Hill’s team had a ringer with former Perot Museum CEO Nicole Small on their team. She may have been very familiar with the surroundings but the questions were another thing entirely. Teammate Rena Pedersen was bubbling over the reviews her book, “The Burma Spring,” had received. But the team couldn’t chat long. They were off to strategize.

Rena Pederson, Peggy Allison, Lyda Hill, Justin and Nicole Small and Gladys Kolenovsky

Rena Pederson, Peggy Allison, Lyda Hill, Justin and Nicole Small and Gladys Kolenovsky

It appeared the Hill team had their work cut out for them. Confidence was riding high. According to Tori, “The teams love to trash talk each other.”

Regen Fearon

Regen Fearon

Joe Mannes

Joe Mannes

MIA was Jeffrey Fearon, who was in Canada where he was helicopter skiing. Wife Regen, who has “played The Hunt since it started in Dallas 25 years ago,” represented the Fearon family, joining up with Tori and her husband Joe Mannes. Because she’s not too fond of the cold temps, Regen opted to stay in Dallas. When asked if Regen was concerned about Jeffrey’s safety, she admitted that she “was a lousy nurse,” adding that she had told him, “You can come back in a coffin, or in one piece, but not broken!”

Following the reception and the dinner on the ground level, The Hunt was on. At differnt times during the evening players ran into such critters as a gigantic inflatable King Kong and mermaids.

By 10:30, the game was over and the results were in. The winners were

  • 2015 Champion
    • 1st Place — Team TTB (Maggie and Greg Langston, Amanda and Byron Neuhoff and Kit and Kemp Sawers
    • 2nd Place — Last year’s winners Baker Botts L.L.P. (Crickett  and John Lindgren, Jennifer and Kurt Pankratz and Elizabeth and Bart Showalter)
    • Third place — Matthews Southwest team (Melanie Ferguson, Katherine Kunze, Ben Mackey, John Matthews, Julian Mensah and Marcus Shropshire)
  • Best Rookie TeamGardenuity team (DeeAnn and Gregg Anigian, Diane and David Laner, and Donna and Scott Letier)
  • Best Team Name —“Here for the Whiskey,” was awarded to the Jack Daniel’s team (Darla Branson, Suzanna DeLeon, Dan LaPace, Michael Rasp and Cindy and Bruce Treager)
  • The SAMCO Capital Markets team (Regen Fearon, Ann and Trey Fielder, Tori and Joe Mannes, and Kellie Rasberry) solved the overall End Game puzzle.

But it wasn’t all fun, frolic, friends and food. Nope. At one point in the evening “Inspired Gifts” allowed guests to sponsor children served by CCG with an anonymous donor pledging to match all funds raised.

As for the sponsors, who deserve a pat on the back for supporting CCG’s mission “to promote, deliver and expand the best early care and education programs for children, parents and early childhood professionals,” follow the jump: [Read more…]

MySweetWishList: ChildCareGroup

According to ChildCareGroup’s President/CEO Tori Mannes,



“At ChildCareGroup, our goal is for each child to graduate from our early care and education programs with a strong foundation for the rest of their education. We place a strong emphasis on developing pre-literacy skills and a habit of reading with their parents. It’s hard to believe, but some of the children in our programs do not have any books at home.

“Our holiday wish is that each child would have at least one book of their very own. We welcome new or gently used books for children ages 0-5. For more information, please contact Lori Carey at 214.905.2463.

Tori Mannes and children*

Tori Mannes and children*

“Thank you and Happy Holidays from your friends at ChildCareGroup!”

-Tori Mannes, ChildCareGroup President/CEO

* Graphic and photo provided by ChildCareGroup

Round Robin November 13: Crystal Charity Wrap-Up Luncheon, Great Adventure Hunt Kick-Off And Trains At NorthPark Patron Party

Ah, those delicious homes in the Preston Hollow hood and close cuzzins. They have everything but curbs. That was the case on Wednesday, November 13.

Crystal Charity Wrap-Up Luncheon

With their legendary gala less than a month away, the ladies of Crystal Charity Ball held their annual wrap-up luncheon at Mercury courtesy of Northern Trust. It allows those who went way beyond the call of duty to be recognized. The top ten in solicitation of funds receive a charm from Lyles-DeGrazier. The top money raiser receives a gold one, while the remaining nine get silver.

The one who raised the biggest, “OMG, did you hear that?” was the member who raised $560,000 — Michal Powell, who just so happens to be chairing the 2015 CCB.

And then there were those who scored accolades in more than one category, like Lynn McBee and Carol Seay.

Great Adventure Hunt Kick-Off

Years ago Kit and Kemp Sawers talked their buds Diane and Daryl Johnson into joining their team for the Great Adventure Hunt benefiting ChildCareGroup. One of the Johnstons questioned their friends’ choice of teammates for this puzzle-oriented game — a model and a jock? Silly! When it comes to a twosome that is not only gorgeous but smart as a Jeopardy finalist, then the Johnstons are at the top of the list.

The Johnstons got hooked on the game playing event. So much so that they along with the Sawers and fellow teammates Amanda and Byron Neuhoff are co-chairing the February 8 fundraiser sponsored by Alliance Data. To get things going, the Johnstons hosted the kick-off party sponsored by Bank of Texas at their PH home with a perfect fireplace blazing on this chilly night. Why, even the bartender taking care of the drinks next to the pool and spa had a patio heater to keep him company.

But this wasn’t just any kick-off party. No, it was more like a reveal, since major changes were announced. For instance, the 2014 games will take over the Joule Hotel with clues. Another change is the emcee. It will be WFAA morning cup-of-coffee Ron Corning.

Still another change in the POA is the puzzle master. The brain teasers will be the handiwork of Tom Shroder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who, along with Dave Berry and Gene Weingarten, orchestrated the hunts in Miami and Washington, D.C.

The word at the party is that 2013 champs Thompson & Knight Foundation are determined to maintain their standing. According to Kit, “We think this year’s Hunt will be the best yet, and we encourage new participants to come out for a fun night that supports ChildCareGroup’s quality, educational child care programs benefiting the youngest and neediest citizens of Dallas County.”

The event is limited to 240 contestants (aka 40 teams) and their goal is to raise $200,000 for ChildCareGroup, so put your team together. Hey, here’s a thought — Why not book a room at the Joule for February 8, so you don’t even have to worry about the drive home and you can enjoy room service Sunday morning?

Trains Of NorthPark Patron Party

Karen Seanor all in black sat on the couch in her PH mansion. She looked around the rooms of guests and admitted that while she hadn’t known much about the Ronald McDonald House’s folks, she was mighty impressed with what she saw.

The occasion was the patron party for the Ronald McDonald House of DallasTrains at NorthPark, and the crowd was sleek.

Ronald McDonald House of Dallas CEO Jill Cumnock reported that the 26th annual miniature train extravaganza had some changes in store. . . literally. Instead of being adjacent to the old Barney’s location on the upper level between Nordstrom and Neiman’s, the trains would be chugging merrily across the way. According to Jill, these new digs will have white carpeting that will add to the wintry holiday feel.

Presented by Bank of Texas, the trains start their choo-chooing Saturday, November 23, and will continue to breeze through the most amazing scenes until Sunday, January 5. Even if you don’t have a munchkin, this ever-active 4,000-square-foot exhibition is one for kids of all ages, plus it benefits the Ronald McDonald House.

Great Adventure Hunt Changes Its Sights On A New Site For 2013

Great Adventure Hunt 2012 (File photo)

 The Great Adventure Hunt  has moved its brain-twisting scavenger fundraiser. For years teams of six searched high and low at NorthPark among the shoppers for clues to solve riddles. This year there has been a definite change in the locale. On Saturday, April 20, the ChildCareGroup benefit will be held at Dallas Marriott City Center.

Uh, where’s that? Ah, come on, you know exactly where it is. Think former Plaza of the Americas. Just like a newlywed bride, it takes some time to get used to the name change.

This year’s event is being chaired by Elizabeth and Bart Showalter with Honorary Chair Lyda Hill, who is legendary for her team’s scorecard of wins.

Besides loads of fun and food, another selling factor is the attire — strictly casual. So, if your silks and tuxedoes want a weekend for refreshening at the cleaners, start organizing your team now.

* Photo provided by The Great Adventure Hunt

What Do Greer Garson Gala And Great Adventure Hunt Have In Common? April 21

Let’s talk about extremes. On Saturday, April 21, everyone who could hobble around was drafted into valet parking duties. There were more events taking place than the State Fair on the weekend.


Brooke and Aaron Shelby*

At Union Station the Greer Garson Gala‘s “The Golden Age of Hollywood” was the perfect opportunity for the finest jewelry, fashions and autos to have a night on the town. Greer would have felt right at home thanks to Gala Co-chairs Brooke and Aaron Shelby and Honorary Chairs Amy and Corey Prestidge.

1941 Mercury

Before guests like Lee Bailey, Karen and Bill Seanor, Elizabeth and Carlton Ferguson, Janet and Hugh Hackney even got out of their Bentleys and Mercedes, the glitz and glamour of the ’40s was curbside with a 1941 Mercury parked on a red carpet with stanchions surrounding it. But before anyone could really get a gander at the black convertible, a couple of paparazzi blinded them with faux cameras but real flashes. Inside they were photographed officially between a couple of Gulliver-huge Oscars and in front of a mammoth red curtain.

Lee Bailey*

Greer would have loved all the glitz and good times that were raising funds for Women and Infant Services at Texas Health Dallas.

Upstairs the gambling and bidding on such things as movie posters from Greer’s movies, trips and Bachendorf’s jewelry took place in the Frisco Room with lavish banquettes and bars.

Grand Hall

Then guests discovered the Grand Hall all dressed up like it was Academy Awards night. Rows of tables covered in Oscar-gold clothes with sateen red napkins filled the room. Every other chair was dressed up with gold pashminas. Behind the stage was a huge screen between two more enormous Oscar statues and Palm trees in front of still more red draping.

And, of course, dinner was prepared by Wolfgang Puck, who is an old hand at feeding Hollywood types and Oscar affairs.

The Andrews Sisters*

And that stage got used royally by Groucho Marx doing magic tricks and games, and the Andrews Sisters performing as if they were back entertaining the WWII troops.

It was a grand evening in memory of the silver screen’s most elegant red-haired Oscar winner.

* Photos by Kristina Bowman


Across town at NorthPark, ChildCareGroup‘s Great Adventure Hunt once again took over the center. Well, not exactly. Shoppers kept shopping, but they did wonder why 200 normal-looking people were scampering around the place.

Dave Harris**

As usual, the troops gathered at Maggiano’s Little Italy for dinner and marching orders from Hunt mastermind Dave Harris. While the aroma of garlic filled the air, the 31 teams went over strategy. Returning for a second year were Diane and Daryl Johnston with teammates Kit and Kemp Sawyers and Amanda and Bryon Neuhoff.

Kemp and Kit Sawers, Diane and Daryl Johnston and Amanda and Bryon Neuhoff***

Just as the Greer Garson guests were dressed to the nines for their soiree, these adventurers were strictly casual. After all, they had to hit 10 different locations including AMC Theatres, Eiseman Jewels, Nike, La Madeleine and Thirsty’s to solve the riddles that Dave had planted. And when Dave comes up with a problem to solve, you just never know what it’s going to require.

Andrew Melsheimer, Toni and Marvin Brown, Joshua Russ, John Cohn and Tyree Collier**

As soon as the teams completed their missions, they headed back to Maggiano’s for desserts and results.

Want to know who won? Follow the jump. But before you do, you should know that this harum-scarum event raised $110,000 for ChildCareGroup.

** Photos by Sean Richards

*** Photos by Philip Magalois

[Read more…]

The Great Adventure Hunt Returns To NorthPark And The Great Hunters for ChildCare Group

Years ago the Great Adventure Hunt used to take over NorthPark when evening traffic in the center was not high density. Teams would scramble around trying to solve puzzles to help raise money for charity. Then it took a break for about five years and NorthPark expanded its size and traffic big time.

But good things never totally go away, so the Great Adventure Hunt returned to NorthPark on March 5 to raise funds for ChildCare Group thanks to co-chairs Pamela Merritt and Kirstine Rogers and honorary co-chairs Tori and Joe Mannes. However, this time NP was bulging with customers. So much so that Great Adventure Hunters found the valet parking filled to capacity upon arrival. That was okay. The hunters had their running shoes on and were rearing to go, so a little walk to home base in Maggiano’s upstairs dining room was a snap.


Lyda Hil, Gladys Kolenovsky and Peggy Allison

As the 25 teams of six people compared notes, it was pretty obvious to tell the veterans from the newcomers. Lyda Hill and her seasoned pros (Rena Pederson, Gladys Kolenovsky, Peggy Allison and Susan and Warren Foxworth) in “Lyda orange” T-shirts hunkered down at a table in the corner comparing notes and strategy while eating. The team was legendary for taking no prisoners and capturing the top prize.

Lyda shared part of their strategy: “Hurry up and get back before anyone else for the desserts!”


Diane and Daryl Johnston

Across the way first-timers Diane and Daryl Johnston on Trophy Level Sponsors Kit and Kemp Sawers‘ team were studying the rules and trying to figure out what exactly was on plan for them. Teammate Daryl Johnston admitted that his mom used to do “treasure hunts” for Daryl’s birthday, so participating was partly for old-time memory’s sake. Plus the fact that Kit and Kemp asked them.

NP General Manager Billy Hines looked like a proud papa overseeing a family reunion. He was so pleased to have the brainy scavenger hunt up and running again.

Just as the teams were finishing their meals and reviewing their instructions, a young woman rushed into the dining room and said, “We’re gonna win this. We are. We got it!”


Clay Huffstutter and Amy Taylor

As the aroma of garlic from the buffet filled the room, Great Adventure Hunt guru Dave Harris took the microphone and started explaining. There were 10 different clue sites throughout the mall where teams would have to solve puzzles. Some of the teams had actually paid for runners like Clay Huffstutter in track shorts with backpack. The trick was to solve all the puzzles first.



Dave Harris

Then Dave launched into some of the hints of game playing. For instance — every solution is a number solution.

Again there was a division between the two camps. Veterans recognized the genius sharing tricks and finer points of the game. Lyda commented, “He’s really brilliant. He’s giving lots of clues.”

New kids on the block just wanted to break like colts from their stalls.

At 7:36 p.m. just as the urge to break and run was swelling, the teams received their bags, discovered the first clue locations and were gone.

Pity the poor shoppers who saw the 150 contestants racing to Pinto Ranch, the Train at NorthPark, the cafe outside of Nordstrom’s, Bookmarks, the Apple Store, Puzzle Zoo, the former Starbucks location under AMC, the space next to Bebe or Williams-Sonoma. It was like a wave of Jessica Fletchers.


Anna Harris

At Williams-Sonoma, Anna Harris, Kelsey Weir and Ty Johnson were stationed to provide the clue and make sure no misdoings took place. It was Kelsey’s and Ty’s first hunt, but Anna was a 35-year veteran. After all, she’s Dave wife.


Ty Johnson and Kelsey Weir

Suddenly from nowhere Lyda and her team appeared on the scene for their first clue — six pieces of chocolate in a box. Each piece of chocolate contained a number. The puzzle was to make a phone number out of it.

They immediately hunkered down in front of William Sonoma and started working the puzzle.


Hunkering down

A second team looking a little bewildered arrived. Just as they received their box of chocolates, someone said, “She’s (Lyda) out there!” One of the second team commented, “She’s way out there!”

Fast forward to the finish line. Wanna know the results of the hunt? Follow the jump! [Read more…]

Share-A-Date: The Great Adventure Hunt

Saturday, March 5: The Great Adventure Hunt is heading to NorthPark to benefit ChildCareGroup. Simply put — it’s a scavenger hunt with the focus on excellent fun. No, you don’t have to drive all over kingdom come. The whole hunt takes place in NorthPark. Want an idea of what the evening includes? Here goes —

Best described as an intellectual scavenger hunt, the Great Adventure Hunt is the most unique fundraising event in all of Dallas and will benefit ChildCareGroup. Teams of six players each will gather for a buffet dinner and strategy session at 6:00pm in the banquet room upstairs at Maggiano’s NorthPark. At 7:30 p.m., participants will get their first clue and be off and running through the mall to solve all 10 puzzles for the evening. All players will return at 9:30 p.m. to Maggiano’s for dessert and to hear the solutions to the puzzles.

Strong suggestion: Gather five of your buds and register your team. You’ll never look at NorthPark or your friends the same way again.

Exhale Spa to Benefit ChildCareGroup Thursday

Tax time is behind us. We need to take a chill pill. It can be easily done and help ChildCareGroup, the non-profit child care organization serving children in Dallas County. Exhale Spa at the Palomar is donating proceeds from “select services” and the Exhale Soul Classes Thursday.

The services include facials, fusion massages and healing therapies.

And what’s a fund raiser without a silent auction? Just knew you’d ask. So, here’s the answer — the silent auction and reception will take place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in the Spa’s lobby.

Make your reservations by calling Jessie Stansberry @ 214.295.2545.