A Beacon of Hope Luncheon Introduced Faces Of Hope And Had Glennon Doyle Melton Mix Humor And Honesty About Mental Health

As final preparations were underway on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel for “A Beacon Of Hope” silent auction and luncheon benefiting the Grant Halliburton Foundation, a VIP reception was taking place on the fourth floor’s City View room on Thursday, February 23.

Foundation President/Founder Vanita Halliburton was surrounded by people whose had been touched by teenagers dealing with mental health issues. She herself had created the foundation due to the suicide of her son Grant Halliburton at the age of 19 in 2005 after years of suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.

Dealing with teen mental health is very difficult issue for a fundraising event. It’s a delicate weaving of the emotional turmoil and hope for helping others overcome such challenges. On this occasion, Vanita was celebrating the launch of a new program — Faces of Hope. As Faces of Hope Chair Barb Farmer explained, the collaboration between the foundation and Gittings was to honor people within the community who “work in diverse ways to promote mental health every day.”

This year’s group of Faces included Suzie and Mike Ayoob, Senior Corporal Herb Cotner, Julie Hersh, Terry Bentley Hill, Patrick LeBlanc, Sylvia Orozco-Joseph, Sierra Sanchez and Priya Singvi.

Sierra Sanchez, Priya Singhvi, Sylvia Orozco-Joseph, Mike and Suzie Ayoob, Terry Bentley Hill, Julie Hersh, Herb Cotner and Patrick LeBlanc

In addition to pieces of crystal being presented to each of the Faces, their portraits were displayed in the lobby on the second floor.

Gittings Faces of Hope portraits

Following the presentation, Vanita had the day’s speaker author/blogger/newly engaged Glennon Doyle Melton briefly talk. Her message was that you can let tragedy drive you forward for the better or let it drive you further down.

Then, right on cue at 10:55, Vanita directed the patrons to the second floor to check the silent auction and buy raffle tickets. On the way down, Barb showed a bracelet that she got from last year’s raffle. It seems her husband bought ten tickets and claimed it was his. Luckily, he gave it to Barb.

Tom Krampitz and Terry Bentley Hill

Hailey Nicholson and Shannon Hollandsworth

The patrons discovered the lobby and ballroom jammed with guests like Tom Krampitz, Shannon Hollandsworth with daughter Hailey Nicholson. Dixey Arterburn was walking through the crowd with a Starbucks cup and a very hoarse throat. Seems she lost her voice at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Ball the Saturday before.

Dixey Arteburn and Ginger Sager

Taylor Mohr and Amanda Johnson

Taylor Mohr was with her buddy Amanda Johnson, who lost her sister to suicide resulting in Amanda’s working with others involved in such emotional crisis. Unfortunately, there were many in the audience with similar reason for being there. Luckily, they were there to not just support Grant Halliburton Foundation but each other.

Steve Noviello and Vanita Halliburton

Just past noon, KDFW reporter/emcee Steve Noviello recalled that the first year only 100 people attended the luncheon. Now eight years later there were more than 400. In introducing Vanita, he told how when he first met her in her office, he had remarked about the art on the walls, only to learn that it had been done by Grant.

Vanita told about the Foundation and its purpose to help young people struggling with mental health crises. In the past suicide had been the third leading cause of death among young people from ages 15 to 24. It is now second among those between 10 and 24. In Texas, the average is one suicide per week among young people.

After a break for lunch, Vanita and Glennon took their places in chairs on stage. Less than 30 seconds into the conversation, Glennon’s headset mic wasn’t working. A man hustled to the stage with a handheld. Despite the change of mic, there continued to be rustling noise over the PA. Another handheld was brought to the stage for Vanita. It didn’t seem all that necessary, since Glennon appeared to need no help in sharing her life of bulimia, alcoholism, drug addiction and her personal views.

Glennon Doyle Melton

She got sober when she was 25 after being in addiction for a decade and a half. Then she got married and life was good until her husband told her that he had been unfaithful. Learning that news, she just couldn’t stay in her house, so she headed to her yoga class, where they had her go to a hot yoga room. Upon entering the room, Glennon thought, “What the hell is this?”

When the question was raised about what the yoga members’ intentions were that day, Glennon admitted, “My intention is sit on the mat and not run out of the room.” The results? “It was the hardest 90 minutes of my life.”

While her talk was a mix of self-deprecating humor and brutal honesty, it was definitely not a scripted speech but rather just Glennon just being Glennon. 

But her message was clear — “My entire life is to not to avoid the pain of life.” She also said that as a parent, “It’s not our job to protect our children from pain.”

In closing, she consoled those who had suffered the loss of loved ones to mental illness by saying, “Grief is just the proof of great love.”

Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton Shared Her Ups And Downs At Beacon Of Hope Thanks To Years Of Being Undiagnosed Bipolar

The VIP reception for the 7th Annual Beacon of Hope Luncheon had just finished up on the second floor of the Westin Galleria on Wednesday, February 3. As guests took the escalator to the crowd gathered in the ballroom’s reception area on the third floor, Grant Halliburton Foundation Executive Director Diana Weaver herded keynote speaker Suzy Favor Hamilton, Dallas District Attorney Susan Hawk and Honorary Co-Chair Barbara Farmer into the ballroom to review plans for the luncheon benefiting the Foundation’s mission to stop teen suicides.

Susan Hawk, Suzy Favor Hamilton and Barbara Farmer

Susan Hawk, Suzy Favor Hamilton and Barbara Farmer

Petite Suzy was easy to spot. She carried no purse and had a handful of papers. In a short sleeve black dress and black boots, she admitted that it was chilly in the ballroom. It was true that the A/C was in a healthy mood but the temperature outside accompanied by the wind was even chillier.

Also looking trim, Susan looked great in a black-and-red form fitting dress. Her eyes were bright; her blonde hair was shoulder-length; and her lips seemed to have returned to a less plump size than in the past. When asked how long the luncheon was going to last with a start time of 11:45, Diana said it will end at 1 p.m. …”We have to respect the time of our guests.”

Just before the doors were to open, group photos were taken on stage. Someone suggested having the women all line up with one hand on their hip.

At 11:42 the doors were opened to the ballroom. Over the PA system, “What A Wonderful Life” was played as the ballroom filled with more than 400 including Collin County Judge Cynthia Wheless and Jackie Moore, who after taking 17 years off to raise her two kids and chair such events as Soup’s On!, reported that she’s getting back into the mental health field and involved with the Grant Halliburton Foundation.

Promptly at high noon Terry Bentley Hill started the program, describing the gathering as “the room of the brave.” Following a 15-minute break in the program for lunch, Terry recalled how just last year Teen Contact closed unexpectedly and that Grant Halliburton took it over.

Event Co-Chairs Susan Odom and Connie Stephens then introduced Honorary Co-Chairs Barbara and David Farmer. As Barbara stood nearby, David recognized with pride Barbara’s launching “Coffee Days” in 2009 at which mothers could come together to discuss the problems facing their children.

Following a video, Grant Halliburton President Vanita Halliburton presented the 1st Hope Award To Susan, who told how she had contemplated suicide, spent nine weeks at a rehab center in Houston and “crawled out of the black hole.” In admitting, “I’m proud of what I’ve overcome,” she was given a standing ovation.

Vanita Halliburton and Susan Hawk

Vanita Halliburton and Susan Hawk

Vanita then reminded the audience of the recent loss of four teenagers to suicide, adding that this past year Grant Halliburton had experienced more growth than ever before. This development has resulted in Grant Halliburton needing more volunteers “to stem the rising tide of teen suicide.”

At 12:51, Suzy arrived on stage wearing a sweater on top of her black dress. The former three-time Olympic runner, who to all the world seemed like the golden girl, told of a story that was tarnished. Suzy started off apologizing that she would be reading from her notes, since this was a relatively new speech. She recalled how when her brother’s struggle with bipolar disorder resulted in his suicide, her family tried to protect her from recognizing the issues that might be included in her life. Instead she focused on what she did so well — running. By 2000, she was the “fastest woman in the world and was named USA Track & Field’s Female Distance Runner of the Year.”

But then the signs of destructive behavior started creeping up. While Suzy and coaches were focused on the finish line, bipolar disorder condition was taking its toll on her physical prowess. “I was a ticking time bomb.”

There was the fall at the 2000 Olympics. It appeared to be an accident, but Suzy admitted she had had done it on purpose. After pulling back from running and focusing on her marriage and having a baby, she started showing more signs, which her doctor wrote off to post-partem depression and put her on Prozac and then Zoloft. Unfortunately, no one suggested that she see a psychiatrist and the diagnosis only escalated the situation. The highs were incredible, resulting in more dangerous behavior to create even greater highs. In her condition, she was only able to see the immediate outcome, not the long-term ramifications. She ended up spending “thousands of dollars on crap and drinking during the day.”

Then she and her husband decided to go to Las Vegas to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. For a thrill, she jumped from a plane, but that wasn’t enough. So, she got her husband, Mark Hamilton, to agree to a ménage à trois with a paid escort. Still that wasn’t enough. She took on a double life as a Las Vegas escort. That’s a nice way of saying a “prostitute.” She juggled her double life for a while. One day she ran a race in the morning, hopped a plane to Las Vegas and had “five appointments.”

Suzy Favor Hamilton

Suzy Favor Hamilton

But it all came to an end in 2012, when a story went public in Las Vegas about the former Olympian who was now an escort. Suzy admitted that she became suicidal and isolated due to the tabloid. That first year following the story was “a living hell.” She lost endorsements. Her marriage was in shambles.

Finally in 2013 she saw a psychiatrist for the first time and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But that didn’t end the problem. There was the challenge of getting the right balance of medication and adjusting to a life without the extremes highs. Finally, she took a new drug that provided clarity and the realization of her situation.

Did she blame Zoloft? No. She admitted that it can be “an incredibly effective drug” for those suffering from depression, but it also can be harmful for those suffering with bipolar disorder. The problem was the diagnosis. To back her concern about mental health, she said:

  • More than 6M people in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder
  • 5M Americans experience mental illness in a given year, while 1.7M were diagnosed with cancer in 2015.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people.
  • 20% of suicides in the U.S. are vets.

Suzy admitted that there have been times when her brain tempts her to return to the old ways of bipolar highs, but she is committed to her new, healthier way of life. While Mark has been able to forgive her, her family isn’t happy with her being so public about her condition and the death of her brother. And Suzy still can’t forgive herself — “Shame creates depression.”

As Suzy concluded her remarks, a buzzing was heard over the PA, distracting a bit from her message. But luckily, the audience heard her loud and clear and gave her a standing ovation.

If you weren’t able to attend the luncheon, or even if you were, you might want to read Suzy’s “Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness.”

A Beacon Of Hope Luncheon Father-Daughter Speakers Reveal How The McIngvale Family Work Through Mental Illness

The father-daughter team of Jim “Mattress Max” McIngvale and Elizabeth McIngvale-Cegelski brought their story of struggling with Elizabeth’s obsessive-compulsive disorder to the Beacon of Hope Luncheon on Wednesday, February 11.

With more than 450 guests attending the Grant Halliburton Foundation fundraiser at the Westin Galleria, they kicked things off w

Elizabeth McIngvale-Cegelski and Ann Mirabito*

Elizabeth McIngvale-Cegelski and Ann Mirabito*

Jim McIngvale*

Jim McIngvale*

ith a video interview with Barbara Walters that aired on “Good Morning America” 10 years ago. That’s how long the McIngvales have been warning the world of the “horrors and feelings of hopelessness mental illness brought to their family.”

Elizabeth’s “hope is given in the form of education and empowerment, removing the stigma of mental illness and improving access to help.”

Neatly coinciding with the McIngvales’ focus on young people and their families battling emotional and mental issues was the announcement regarding Teen Contact. Despite the Contact Crisis Line being shuttered in December, the Grant Halliburton Foundation has integrated the Crisis Line’s Teen Contact into its own programming by training more than 3,200 students and staffers.

This development fits with the Foundation’s mission “to help prevent suicide, promote better mental health and strengthen the network of mental health resources for teens and young adults.”

(Editor’s note: Someone might want to update the Grant Halliburton Foundation’s website. It still lists the Contact Crisis Line’s services as being in operation. Families in distress don’t need to get an “out-of-service” message.

UPDATE (Saturday, February 28, at 4:18 p.m.): A Grant Halliburton Foundation representative just reported the following: “The GHF website has been updated.” Congratulations on a speedy response, GHF! BTW, it’s a very thorough list of services available to help those seeking better mental health.

* Photo credit: Dana and Daniel Driensky

Houston’s Mattress Mack And Daughter Liz McIngvale To Headline “A Beacon Of Hope”

Back in the 1980’s, Houston had three legendary personalities known to insiders as “The Three M’s.” That’s because each of their first monikers started with a “M” and they were bigger-than-life — Houston Chronicle columnist Maxine Mesinger, KTRK consumer reporter Marvin Zindler and Mattress Mack (aka Jim McIngvale), whose TV commercials for his furniture store literally jumped off the screen.

Jim CIngvale*

Jim McIngvale*

Both Maxine and Marvin have gone to the Big H in the sky, but Mack is still rocking and rolling. Having graduated from Dallas’ Bishop Lynch High School in 1969, he headed down to Houston to make his fortune. But Lady Luck wasn’t being very nice at first.

First a potential investor in his Gallery Furniture bailed on him. Then the oil industry did the same thing to Houston as a whole. With his last $10,000, Mack put it all in area TV commercials in 1983. Not happy with what was being produced, he took over appearing in the commercial pulling money out of his pocket and shouting, “Gallery Furniture saves you money!

Over the years, Mack and Gallery Furniture grew in size, success and fame. He was the P.T. Barnum of furniture. There was the unmarked truck episode. Originally marketing to lower-income customers, Mack announced that he had arranged for an unmarked truck to deliver his furniture to West University clients so as not to embarrass them.

And then there was the Super Bowl XLVIII promotion that guaranteed a full refund on any purchase of more than $6,000 if the Seattle Seahawks won. Sales boomed with furniture being delivered up to the fourth quarter. The Seahawks won. He refunded $7M to customers. Mack told ABC13, “As far as financially, we didn’t do well,” he said. “But we did a great job building the brand and delighting customers and if we do that, the business will continue to grow.”

He most recently refunded more than $4.2M to 420 customers who bet against the Astros this past October. Again, his attitude was “The customers are happy. We’re happy.”

Liz McIngvale*

Liz McIngvale*

But Mack wasn’t just all business. He was into philanthropy raising money for the Houston Symphony and The Salvation Army and funding the U.S.’s first mobile stroke unit.

Mack has also been a parent and that’s what bringing him to Dallas on Wednesday, February 11, for “A Beacon of Hope Luncheon” at the Westin Galleria. He and his daughter Liz McIngvale-Cegelski will “share the compelling story of their family’s journey through years of battling severe mental illness, told from the viewpoints of both parent and child.”

There were times when Liz’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder had her washing her hands more than 100 times a day and and then trying to open doors with her foot.

Bob and Maloree Banks*

Bob and Maloree Banks*

Presented by the David B. Miller Family Foundation, the luncheon is being chaired by Maloree and Bob Banks to raise funds for the Grant Halliburton Foundation.

This luncheon may not “save you money,” but it just may save your well being.

* Photos provided by
 A Beacon of Hope

Suicide Survivor Kevin Hines Emphasizes The Importance Of Pursuing Treatment At Beacon Of Hope Luncheon

Jackie Moore and Dee Velvin*

Jackie Moore and Dee Velvin*

During the holidays, depression seems more prevalent and for some it’s just too overwhelming. So overwhelming that they consider and unfortunately take drastic steps. So, it was timely that the Grant Halliburton Foundation held its annual Beacon of Hope luncheon chaired by Dee Velvin and Jackie Moore with suicide survivor Kevin Hines as the keynote speaker. The following report was provided for your consideration:

The cold, blustery polar plunge that blew in on Thursday, January 23, did little to dampen the mood of the more than 420 people who gathered for the Grant Halliburton Foundation’s fifth annual Beacon of Hope luncheon and heard Kevin Hines’ mesmerizing account of surviving a suicide attempt off the Golden Gate Bridge.

The luncheon, held at the Westin Galleria Dallas, was founded in 2010 by community volunteer Barbara Farmer and is dedicated to helping to raise awareness of mental illness in teens and young adults and fighting the stigma that often accompanies the disease.

Vanita Halliburton and Barbara Farmer*

Vanita Halliburton and Barbara Farmer*

An estimated one in five young people is suffering from a mental illness; yet most do not receive treatment, says Foundation President Vanita Halliburton. She also points out that in the DFW Metroplex we lose a young person to suicide at the rate of one every four days.

Farmer was recognized at the luncheon with a special award in honor of the luncheon’s fifth anniversary. Vanita recalled their first meeting, when Farmer approached her and said, “I think we have a common cause at heart and I’d like to come meet with you about it.”

Terry Bentley Hill*

Terry Bentley Hill*

“From that meeting, A Beacon of Hope luncheon was born and five years later this event is still growing and has brought so many people and organizations to our cause,” said Halliburton.

Emcee Terry Bentley Hill captivated the lunch crowd with her own story of losing both her husband and 14-year old daughter to suicide.

Hines—one of the few people who have survived the 220-foot jump from the Golden Gate Bridge—is now a leading mental health advocate in the U.S. He took the audience through his struggles with mental illness as a teen before finding himself on the Golden Gate Bridge in September 2000.

Kevin Hines*

Kevin Hines*

“If just one person walks up and asks me if I’m OK, I won’t jump,” he thought to himself as tears streamed down his face. Sure enough, a few minutes later a woman walked up to him.

“Would you take my picture?” she asked. He took five photos of her, then walked to the edge and jumped.

Hines recalls that the minute his feet left the bridge, he knew he did not want to die. What happened in ensuing the moments is nothing short of a miracle. While he still has bipolar disorder, Hines maintains a strict regimen to ensure his wellness and is a living example that a person with mental illness who gets the right treatment can live a productive life.

“Kevin’s story—and the lessons woven into every aspect of it—touched everyone in the room with messages of hope—hope for the times of deepest despair, hope for surviving and thriving through the worst, and hope for healing of mind and spirit,” said Vanita.

The Grant Halliburton Foundation (GHF) was established in 2006 in memory of a gifted Dallas artist and musician who battled depression and bipolar disorder for several years before taking his own life at the age of 19. The Foundation is working to promote awareness and understanding of teen and young adult mental health, to prevent suicide, and to improve the way we serve the mental health needs of young people.

* Photos provided by Grant Halliburton Foundation

Olympian Amanda Beard To Speak At Beacon Of Hope Luncheon Benefiting Grant Halliburton Foundation

Back in 2005, 19-year-old Grant Halliburton had absolutely everything going for him. He had graduated from Plano West Senior High School, where “classmates voted him Most Likely to Become a Recording Artist and elected him King of the Valentine’s Day Dance. He was featured in the senior yearbook as Coolest Kid on Campus.” On top of that he was “awarded scholarships by The Art Institute of Chicago, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Kansas City Art Institute. He also was accepted to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston.”

In the fall of 2005 he attended the University of Texas at Austin, but dropped out after a few weeks returning home. Something just wasn’t right. It was just weeks later in November that Grant was overcome by “depression and bipolar disorder.” He killed himself by leaping off a building in downtown Dallas.

While most parents would have buried themselves in grief and anger, Grant’s family and friends directed their emotions and energy into creating the Grant Halliburton Foundation “to help prevent suicide, promote better mental health and strengthen the network of mental health resources for teens and young adults.” They didn’t want other children and families to suffer.

Today the foundation is more than a memorial to a gifted young man. It’s a desperately welcome effort that recent headlines amplify, demonstrating as they do the need for mental health solutions, especially for young people.

Here are two facts provided by the foundation that you might unfortunately find interesting:

  • The American Psychiatric Association estimates that one in five young people in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable, treatable mental illness. Yet, nearly two-thirds of them get little or no help.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents. No other disease claims more young lives than mental illness.

Unfortunately, Grant was not an exception to this situation. No, he was just greater proof that youngsters, who seem to have everything, are just as vulnerable to mental illness as anyone else.

Amanda Beard

Take, for example, seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard. You remember her. Ah, sure you do. She was the 14-year-old girl who carried the teddy bear at the 1996 Olympics. Not only did she pick up two silver and one gold medal at that Olympic game, she competed in three more.

Amanda eventually wrote of her suffering clinical depression, self-destructive behavior like cutting herself, bulimia and alcohol and drug abuse in her book, “In the Water, They Can’t See You Cry.”

According to Vanita Halliburton, president of the Grant Halliburton Foundation, “Amanda Beard’s story of unrecognized psychological distress is one we hear often and parents need to hear. Depression affects young people in many different ways and often teens mask their depression from those they love but express it in self-destructive behavior.”

Beacon of Hope luncheon Co-chairs Lee Michaels and Candace Swango have arranged for Amanda to be the keynote speaker at the foundation fundraiser presented by W-H-E-R-E on Wednesday, January 30, at the Ritz-Carlton.

During a time when mental health is a top-tier topic, this lunch is going to be very interesting and necessary.

Photo courtesy of the Grant Halliburton Foundation

Former Detroit Lions QB Eric Hipple’s Loss Will Help The Grant Halliburton Foundation Save Other Young People

Eric Hipple

So the Cowboys aren’t in the playoffs, but football is still on the brain. And if your memory goes back to the 1980’s, you might recall the name Eric Hipple. He was the Detroit Lions quarterback from 1980 to 1989, who appeared to all the world to have it all. Unknown to most folks, the Lubbock native suffered from undiagnosed depression as a teenager. Then to add to his dilemma, his son Jeff committed suicide at the age of 15. It only heightened Eric’s emotional turmoil, resulting in his going into bankruptcy and being arrested for DWI. But through therapy, commitment and a lot of work, Eric undertook his recovery and his writing of “Real Men Do Cry.”

Sorry to be so depressing, but it’s the only way to address the problem. That’s the reason Women  H•E•R•E (W•H•E•R•E) is hosting “A Beacon of Hope Community Luncheon” on Wednesday, January 25, at Northwood Club with Eric as the featured speaker. 

In an effort to raise funds, awareness and education to improve mental health resources for young people, the luncheon benefits the Grant Halliburton Foundation that was established in 2006 in memory of a gifted Dallas artist and musician who battled depression and bipolar disorder for several years before taking his own life at the age of 19.

Photo provided by the Grant Halliburton Foundation.