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


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

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.

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

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