Not Even A Rainy-Day Delay Could Put The Whoa For The Equesters Galloping Ahead From Their “Field Of Dreams” Gala

One thing is for sure. Those horse-loving Equest folks are flexible. When radar showed threatening weather storming into North Texas for Saturday, April 29th’s Equest Gala at Texas Horse Park, cool minds ruled, coordinated with vendors, sponsors, guests and the ponies and moved the whole kit-and-kaboodle to the next day. Here’s a report from the “field of dreams:”

Kelly Howard, Blair Dwyer and Elizabeth Schwartz*

Ray Johnston*

The Equest Gala, themed “A Field of Dreams,” was truly an inspirational evening of hope, determination and joy. With Saturday’s forecast of severe storms, a difficult decision was made to reschedule the gala to Sunday, and the Equest team, Gala committee, and event planner Katy Sky Group produced the unthinkable: a beautiful fundraising gala for 450 guests complete with all the bells and whistles. The 36th annual Equest Gala was another example of Equest’s can-do spirit.

Jocelyn White and Jody Dean*

Finely dressed in their equestrian best, guests perused the magnificently decorated Equest barns and arena at Texas Horse Park. Ray Johnston performed an acoustic set during the reception – providing the perfect soundtrack to the blue skies and cool temperature. Sipping on signature “Field of Dreams” margaritas and sampling the Bourbon and Biscuits Bar, guests cozied up with the lipstick-wearing Equest Mini-Ambassadors Cisco and Dare at the Mini Kissing Booth. Just as festive was the Tequila with Taco station where delighted guests enjoyed Milagro tequila and a photo with Equest’s famous donkey, Taco.  One of the best parts of the night was seeing the proud smiles worn by the Equest riders during Horse and Rider demonstrations.

Andy Steingasser*

Guests enjoyed a family-style southern gourmet dinner from Farm to Market Catering, while Emcees Jocelyn White of Designing Texas and Jody Dean of KLUV 98.7 FM introduced Equest CEO Lili Kellogg, Equest Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser, and Equest Gala Co-Chairs Kathy and Jeromy Fielder, among others.

Kathy Fielder, Bella Fielder and Jeromy Fielder*

Cary Pierce*

A compelling video touched charitable hearts before the start of the live auction. Over $50,000 was raised during the fund-a-mission and five Equest therapy horses were sponsored by generous donors. Other guests bid on stellar live auction items including a four-night vacation in Breckenridge, a Napa Valley Getaway, a live painting by Dace Lucia Kidd, and a Belize Dream at the Las Terrazas Resort. Guests also had the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind silent auction items, and purchase a key for $100 that the lucky winner could use to unlock a $2,500 Neiman Marcus gift card.

An equestrian chic gala – especially one located in a barn – would not be considered a success without two-stepping. Dancers from Arthur Murray Dance Studio opened the dance floor, quickly followed by guests’ cowboy boots shuffling to the musical lead of Cary Pierce, and surprise musical guests Crystal Yates and Jon Christopher Davis.

Phyllis Comu and Susan Schwartz*

Darin and Margot Ruebel*

Additional attendees included: Equest Co-Founder Susan Schwartz, Bill and Lezlie Noble, Monique and Reed Williams, Margot and Darin Ruebel, Phyllis and CJ Comu, Phyllis Glazer, Bridget and Tom Black, Jessica and Michael Barnett, Ricky Callahan and Jennie Healy, Connie Sigel, Mimi and Rich Sterling, Patrick and Kristy Sands, Carolyn and Romy Anderson, and Alanna Smith of WFAA Good Morning Texas, among others.

* Photo credit: Thomas Garza

MySweet2017Goals: Jody Dean

Jody Dean (File photo)

According to 98.7 KLUV’s The Morning Team ringmaster Jody Dean,

“Just found out my first grandchild is due in April. A little girl. My goal is to not turn into a complete mush.”

The Two-Day “Christmas Is For Children Radiothon” Resulted In A Record-Breaking $1,262,704 For Children’s Health

KLUV’s Jody Dean seemed to put an extra “oomph” in this year’s two-day “Christmas is for Children Radiothon.” Perhaps it was because he will have his first granddaughter born this April.

And that “oomph” on Thursday, December 8, and Friday, December 9, at Children’s Medical Center resulted in a record-breaking sweet deal — a check for $1,262,704 for Children’s Health.

Jody Dean (File photo)

Jenny Q (File photo)

El Chiquilin (File photo)

Chris Sommer (File photo)

As part of the partnership with Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals, Jody was joined by other CBS Radio DFW folks like KLUV’s Jenny Q, La Grande’s El Chiquilin, KRLD’s Chris Sommer and 26 patients and families like Lacey Parker and her mom Renee Parker for the 26-hour fundraiser.

Why La Grande alone broke another record by bringing in a record-breaking “$558,199, making it the No. 1 CMN Hispanic Radiothon in the country.”

Lacey Parker and Renee Parker

According to CBS Radio DFW Senior Vice President/Market Manager Brian Purdy, “CBS Radio DFW began the Radiothon partnership 11 years ago to support the incredibly amazing work of Children’s Health. Year after year, the generosity of our listeners continues to humble us as we are reminded of how truly blessed we are here in North Texas.”

In addition to the VIP guests like Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher and former Foundation President Dr. Kern Wildenthal dropping by to visit with the radio personalities, teams from area companies manned the phone accepting contributions.

Local sponsors of the event included presenting sponsor FairLease, phone line sponsor Credit Union of Texas, child champion sponsor Neighborhood Credit Union and others (Albertsons-Tom Thumb, The Children’s Courtyard, Granite Properties, Padrino Foods, Skanska, ReTrak, Dallas Fort Worth Acura Dealers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, ADT Security, Cisco, Marquis Group, UBC and El Rio Supermercados).

If you missed the opportunity to support the Radiothon, you can still support Children’s Health via the Children’s Medical Center Foundation by donating here!

JUST IN: 2016 Radiothon Breaks A Record For Children’s With A Whopping $1,262,704

Well, dang it. All those hours and heart-wrenching stories for the past two days on Children’s Medical Center’s Radiothon made an impression and fueled future life-saving stories. And you came through big time!

Children’s Medical Center Foundation bean counters put their abacuses together  with CBS’s KLUV, KRLD and La Grande accountants and reported that a whopping $1,262,704 was netted.

Jody Dean, Jenny Q, Lacey Parker and Renee Parker

Chances are that KLUV’s Jody Dean doesn’t know. He’s probably in sleep mode after spending countless hours on air interviewing munchkins and parents like Lacey Parker and her mom, Renee Parker, on their OMG relationship with Dallas’ pediatric Trauma One facility.

If you don’t know the importance of this healthcare oasis for kiddos, you’ve probably never held your breath, said a prayer and watched your child struggle for good health.

And while some may regret the cancellation of the Children’s Health Holiday Parade, the patients at Children’s Medical Center are more than grateful for the support of all who supported 2016 Radiothon.

Give yourselves a pat on the back.

Radiothon Revealed A Story How Lacey Parker’s Half Heart Was Made Whole At Children’s Medical Center 12 Years Ago This Month

Jody Dean, Lacey Parker, Renee Parker and Jenny Q

Lacey Parker and her mom Renee Parker came from DeSoto to chat with KLUV’s Jody Dean and Jenny Q this afternoon at Children’s Medical Center for the fundraiser Radiothon, joining folks like Tom Thumb’s Connie Yates, Children’s Medical Center Foundation’s former President Dr. Kern Wildenthal and ADT’s Jessica Short and Dolly Lynch.

Lori Wagoner, Kern Wildenthal and Heidi Cannella

Jessica Short and Dolly Lynch

Connie Yates

That doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Only it wasn’t DeSoto, Texas. The pair came 200 miles from Stonewall, Louisiana, where Lacey attends North DeSoto Middle School.

But the trek wasn’t new for the two. They’ve made the trip twice a year for the past 12 years.

It was in 2004 that Renee discovered that she was six months pregnant and ended up giving birth to Lacey two months later. The moment she saw her daughter, she knew Lacey had Down’s Syndrome. No problem for the Parker family.

But there was a problem. The infant was blue. The doctors at the first hospital more or less told the parents to love Lacey as much as they could, because she probably wouldn’t last three weeks.

Upon hearing the news, Renee was so upset, she went to the bathroom and cried. So much so that the janitor had to remove the door to get Renee out.

Luckily, the Parkers sought a second opinion at Dallas’ Children’s Medical Center and learned that the bottom of Lacey’s heart was missing. So, at the age of six months, she had open heart surgery at the hands of Dr. Stephen Leonard.

But before the delicate, six- to eight-hour-long surgery took place in December 2004, Dr. Leonard and the Parkers made an agreement: if it appeared that they were losing Lacey, he would call them to the “back door” to say “good-bye.”  

After four hours, they got the call. Arriving at the doors and prepared for the worst, they saw Dr. Leonard with Lacey in his arms. For the first time ever, their little girl had a healthy pink color. She went home four days later.

Lacey Parker and Renee Parker

Since that time, Lacey has been picked for her middle school cheerleading team and was named Miss Amazing for Louisiana and then Miss National Princess for Miss Amazing.

Her reaction at becoming a cheerleader was taped and went viral and was viewed by millions. The result? Lacey was featured on “Good Morning America,” CNN and the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

That story had those in Children’s Medical Center’s Butterfly Atrium spellbound. But then Jody, Jenny Q and Lacey broke the moment with the question of, “What’s your favorite professional football team?” Louisiana Lacey replied, “The Saints.” Jenny Q pushed the envelope and asked what Lacey’s second favorite team was … “Perhaps a Texas team?” Lacey didn’t hesitate: “No.”

La Grande team

Those are the kind of stories that are being broadcast Friday over KLUV 98.7 and La Grande.

The hope is that donations will be made for little ones like Lacey to have a chance to cheer.

Christmas Is For Children Radiothon Is On Air Thursday And Friday

No sooner was the Children’s Health Holiday Parade’s cancellation in the rear-view mirror, then the Children’s team focused their attention on Children’s Medical Center becoming a radio station Thursday and Friday. No, they’ll still be handling the patients’ needs, but Children’s Medical Center will also be part of the 11th annual Christmas is For Children Radiothon. Broadcasting on 98.7 KLUV in English and La Grande 107.5 in Spanish, local celebrities and kids like Abel Escamilla Jr., Ace Shelton, Lacey Parker, Maddie Smith, Makenna Rodolph, Matthew Maurer, Rina Cantrell, Russell Vitrupp, Serene Zimmerman, Sim Scott, the Sutton Family and Tatum Teague will come together to raise funds benefiting Children’s.

2015 Christmas is For Children Radiothon results*

2015 Christmas is For Children Radiothon results*

Why last year Morning Drive Anchor Jody Dean and the crew provided a check reading $1,003,236 for Children’s Medical Center Foundation.

So while you’re driving around town, switch you radio to KLUV or La Grande and learn about the miracles that happen at Children’s. Who knows? You just might want to add your two cents to the efforts. And if you’re desk-bound, you can always listen via your computer.  

* Photo provided by Children's Medical Center Foundation

Dallas International Film Festival And Mad Hatter’s Tea Are Going To Have A Star

According to the weather guessers, all of this wet and chilly stuff is supposed to be in the rearview mirror come Thursday. And Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Jocelyn White is betting that they’re right on target for the annual Dallas Arboretum’s Women’s Council fundraiser.

Mad Hatter's Tea (File photo)

Mad Hatter’s Tea (File photo)

Of course with Joce at the helm, there will be some well-known faces underneath those brims. In addition to emcee Kellie Rasberry and live auctioneer Jody Dean, plans call for actresses Linda Gray and Janine Turner to be on hand.

Yipes! What does one talk with Janine about? She’s probably a little weary of recalling the good old days of “Northern Exposure.” So, why not be cool and current by asking her about “Occupy, Texas” that premiered Friday at the Angelika as part of the Dallas International Film Festival, that’s running through Sunday, April 24.

"Occupy, Texas" at the Dallas International Film Festival*

“Occupy, Texas” at the Dallas International Film Festival*

Here’s some scoopy, so you’ll sound so in. It was co-produced by a bunch of locals including Steve Stodghill and siblings Libby Hunt and Wayne McCullough. Booker T. Washington grad Gene Gallerano wrote the screenplay and stars in the 93-minute film about Beau Baker who has been living in a tent in Zuccotti Park as part of the “Occupy, Wall Street” protect. He gets word that his “upper-class” parents in Texas have died and he must return to take care of his teenage sisters and the estate.

BTW, one of the teenagers is played by Lorelei Linklater, the daughter of director Richard Linklater.

Some of the locals seen in scenes include co-producers Libby and Steve, Cannon Wise, Gail Cronauer, Nikki Moore, Terri Cooklin and Tim Lovick. BTW, this is the fourth time at bat as a producer for blonde Libby.

Just think how smart you’re gonna look with that cute chapeau and that head filled with that in-the-know-info.

* Graphic courtesy of the Dallas International Film Festival

Mad Hatter’s Tea’s Chair Jocelyn White’s Arranged For A Passel Of Celebs To Be On Hand For “Steel Magnolias”

Jody Dean and Jocelyn White (File photo)

Jody Dean and Jocelyn White (File photo)

When Jocelyn White becomes the trail boss of a fundraiser, she brings her posse of celeb pals in on the fun and the raising of money. So, it’s only natural that her chairing the Mad Hatter’s Tea’ “Steel Magnolias” on Thursday, April 21, at the Arboretum would be her cup of tea, literally.

Where to start? Well, it’s already been revealed that fashions will be from Tootsies and blonde Connie Carreker will be the honorary chair, but the newest well-knowns to join up are Celebrity Co-Chairs Linda Gray and Janine Turner. BTW, Linda will be doing double duty while in Big D. In addition to her helping Joce at the Arboretum, she’ll be the headliner the next day at “Authors at The Adolphus” luncheon in the hotel’s French Room chatting with Joce about her memoir, “The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction.”

Linda Gray (File photo)

Linda Gray (File photo)

But back to the Mad Hatter’s. Serving as emcee Jocelyn has tapped KISS FM 106.1 Kellie  Rasberry with KLUV 98.7’s Jody Dean handling the auctioneering.

But there’s still more. The announcement of the hat judges has just been announced. Now, before the names are listed, remember that bribes are tacky. Well, they are if you’re caught. Here is the rundown of the judges:

  • Karen Carroll, contributor, Flower Magazine;
  • Kathy Fielder, lifestyle designer, creator and manufacturer;
  • Janelle Friedman, author of “You Are Invited: How to Plan Everything from Intimate Gatherings to Texas-Sized Parties” and executive with Friedman & Feiger, Attorneys At Law;

    Diane and Daryl Johnston (File photo)

    Diane and Daryl Johnston (File photo)

  • Diane and Daryl Johnston, professional model and former National Football League fullback with the Dallas Cowboys/current NFL analyst, respectively;
  • Matthew Campbell Laurenza, jewelry designer. His jewelry will be in the Fashion Show and the Live Auction;
  • Robert Leleux, editorial director, Domino Magazine;
  • Jane McGarry, host, “Good Morning Texas” on WFAA Channel 8;
  • Gary Riggs, interior designer and owner, Gary Riggs Home.

As for the categories that are in keeping with the “Steel Magnolias” theme, here’s the list:

  • Most True-To-Theme:  Magnolias in ev’ry incarnation. Faux or real.
  • The Southern Belle:  Shelby’s girly-girl look. Can you say pink?
  • Simply Elegant:  Beautifully chic!  If Audrey Hepburn had been Southern …
  • Mother Nature Winks:  Makin’ Mama Nature proud with the best use of her bounty.
  • The Social Sorority:  Best Sisterhood (Brotherhood?) award.  We come in groups.
  • Miss Merry Christmas:  Crowns, Tiaras, Headdresses. Oh, my Stars!
  • What Was She Thinking?: The Ouiser Boudreaux Award. It’s what YOU think!
  • Best of Show/People’s Choice: Self-explanatory. The Steel Magnolia.   Best of the Best!

Don’t you just know somebody’s gonna should up with a red-velvet armadillo!

A Woman's Garden (File photo)

A Woman’s Garden (File photo)

Tickets and sponsorships are available here with proceeds going to the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden.

MySweet2016Goals: Jody Dean

According to 98.7 KLUV Morning Team Leader Jody Dean,

Jody Dean (File photo)

Jody Dean (File photo)

“Less stuff, more living.”

MySweet2014Goals: Jody Dean

Jody Dean (File photo)

Jody Dean (File photo)

According to KLUV’s morning drive chieftain Jody Dean,

  • Spend more time loving
  • Spend more time laughing
  • Spend more time living
  • Remember where I put my keys

Family Gateway’s 2012 Celebrity Waiter Luncheon Ramped Up Its Raucous Status With Chaotic Results And Riotous Fun

Two years ago the Celebrity Waiter Luncheon was a cute little affair with a dozen local celebs working for tips. Kim Fischer led a group of gals in a spontaneous “Baby Bump,” and polo-playing Vaughn Miller rode Brendan Higgins around one of the Ritz-Carlton ballrooms with 150 guests looking on. Luncheon Chair Kristi Bare was thrilled that this first-time venture earned $55,000 for Family Gateway.

Last year Co-chairs Maggie Cooke Kipp and Shay Geyer more than doubled the guest and waiter count. Instead of ramping up the activity one or two cautious steps, the luncheon was the topic du jour for weeks and months to come. Why, there were those who claimed they could hear Steve Kemble leading the guests in “YMCA” during poor old Mike Modano‘s farewell press conference in the next ballroom. The walls shook and a legend was created.

The only problem with a legend is keeping up the legend. That was the issue facing returning Co-chairs Maggie and Shay. Could they actually top last year? Or, would it be a snore in comparison?

The twosome were taking on the challenge without hesitation. They combined all three Ritz ballrooms, arranged for around 50 waiters, upped the guest count to more than 450, and had one lengthy main stage in the middle of the room and four mini-stages in the corners of the ballroom.

Rhonda Sargent Chamber’s table

Veteran waiters dressed up their tables with all types of goodies. They just knew that in order to get tips, they had to impress. Rhonda Sargent Chambers draped pashminas around chairs and had gift bags filled with Laura Mercier makeup products and jewelry.

In keeping with the tradition of the past, the waiters arrived around 9:30 to prep with makeup artists and camaraderie in a meeting room. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, by the time all the waiters arrived, the room seemed like a size six sausage-wrap dressed for a full-figured gal. Any wallflower or sorta-shy-type didn’t stand a chance in this crowd.

One of the waiters had even had a banner made to add to the decor, but the Ritz folks wouldn’t allow them to hang it. However, for $75 the Ritz staff would post it on poles. The fee was paid and the sign was displayed.

Maggie Cooke Kipp, Faye Briggs, Scott Murray and Shay Geyer

As Maggie, Shay and emcees Scott Murray and Steve Kemble started to explain the POA, someone announced that Honorary Chair Faye Briggs had arrived. The applauding crowd made way for the petite patron saint of celebrity waiters. All wanted their picture taken with her.

2012 Celebrity Waiters

But then it was time for the annual celeb group photo and there was no room in the prep area, so an adjacent empty room was opened up. Like college kids at Padre Island, the crowd partied their way from room to room. With Faye seated in the very middle, photos were taken.

D’Andra Simmons, Jeremy Lock and Pamela Martin-Duarte

Then the celebs’ official cocktail hour was underway. D’Andra Simmons was introducing her new boyfriend, Master Sergeant Jeremy Lock to one and all. He’s a six-time winner of the Military Photographer of the Year. . . Matt Nordgren was in the hallway getting friendly with Sydney Kaplan. . . Jane McGarry was catching up with old buddy Brendan Higgins. . . It got so loud in the room that you couldn’t even hear Dee Lincoln laugh!

Daylon Pereira, Sydney Kaplan and Matt Nordgren

In the meantime, the guests were checking out the silent auction items and each other in the lobby outside the ballroom.  Some were comparing notes on Thursday’s overload of fashion experiences (Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show & Luncheon and Fashion’s Night Out); others were looking forward to the formal launch of the social season with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra gala Saturday night.  

But as soon as the ballroom doors opened, the guests quickly made their way to their tables like children to a Christmas tree on the 25th. They all knew surprises were in store.

On the main stage, Scott welcomed all saying that “this is one of the most fun, exciting events. We’re here to have fun.” After a brief summary of Family Gateway’s program including the fact that on any night, 3,000 children are on the streets of Dallas, the first cannon blast exploded in the room with the arrival of Steve K.

Running up on the stage, he pointed out Faye Briggs seated at a front row table, saying, “She’s such a special person. Thank you so much for everything you do.”

Steve Kemble and Teresa Frosini

The ballroom lights then dimmed for a video to be shown explaining how waiters earned tips from guests. Beyond the ballroom doors, cheers from the waiting waiters were heard. Following the video, with the lights still turned down, slides of the waiters appeared on the screen. Hardly a dozen pictures had been shown when two doors at the far end of the ballroom opened to a nonstop flow of manic celebs. Some headed to their tables, but the multitude seemed to go straight to a stage, dancing to “Call Me Maybe” and then “Celebrate.” Rhonda, Courtney Kerr and Maria Sullivan danced on one of the mini-stages near their tables. Jewel Shona Gilbert joined them, waving her boa around.

Even guests got into the action. Or, rather, were drafted. Realtor Doris Jacobs found herself dancing on the main stage between Karen Lukin and LeeAnne Locken. Courtney left the mini-stage and headed to the big-time main stage. She waved a sign reading “Courtney Loves Family Gateway” as if she were a presidential candidate looking for votes.  

Karen Lukin, Doris Jacobs and LeeAnne Locken

Great! The luncheon started where the last one left off, with raucous singing and dancing. Now it was time for the waiters to sell silverware for tips and perform requested acts of embarrassment. Well, that’s not exactly what happened. There were savvy veteran guests like Lynn Dealey, who brought their own knives and forks. But throughout the rest of the day there were flashmobs of celeb waiters back on stage, dancing wildly. It was starting to take on the appearance of a Celebrity Entertainers Luncheon.

Instead of past luncheons, where the emcee would announce the next stunt to be performed for a tip, the developments seemed more like a three-ring circus with no rings. The roof was being raised along with the much-needed funds.

According to Family Gateway Executive Director Rob Alberts, last year’s event netted “right under $100,000,” but the demand for Family Gateway services had increased 500% in the last two years in terms of the number of families served. This day’s luncheon was the organization’s major single event. But Rob also admitted that the Celebrity Waiter Luncheon was not the norm. As he stood in the back of the room watching the over-the-top antics, he admitted that he had earlier told his staff, “The train just left the station. All we can do now is hold on.”

Hunter Sullivan and and Janet Ivy

Benny Black did a lap dance for a female guest on stage. . .Crooner Hunter Sullivan earned $150 serenading Janet Ivy. . . One of the guy waiters did an impression of Ethel Merman singing Happy Birthday. . . A fully-clothed Teresa Frosini belly danced. . . Dallas police celebrity Rich Emberlin made a thong out of yellow caution tape, when he wasn’t handcuffing people including a major law firm partner . . . Brendan chop-chopped a board with his hand. . . Reality TV

50 Shades of Fabulous waiters

personality Connie Dieb and her Fifty Shades of Fabulous entourage commandeered the mini-stage near the screen. . . Marco Rivera and Ashanti Blaize did 15 pushups on stage. . . Hamilton Sneed, Dawn Neufeld and Yolanda Banks hip-hop danced on stage. . . NFL types Marc Colombo and Ryan Neufeld did whatever they wanted. . . Dan Pritchett sans his usual hat

Jackie Pittman and Ty Treadway

brought his guitar for strumming. . . Ty Treadway, who had donned pink rabbit ears and a matching hula skirt, got on stage and slowly started stripping items off. To the disappointment of many of the ladies at his table, he stopped at opening his shirt. New mom Jackie Pittman immediately jumped up on stage for a photo with the bare-chested hunk. . . Jody Dean started to do the Centipede Dance and ended up being wheelbarrowed by LeeAnne Locken. Afterwards, Jody grabbed his stomach, confessing, “You don’t do that if you’re wearing a belt buckle.”

First-time waiter Terri Provencal admitted to being overwhelmed, saying, “Next year I’ll be a guest. I’m not good at being a waiter.”

Unfortunately, Honorary Chair Faye, who had been applauded by the celebs and treated like a princess during the lunch, was met with reality at the valet stand. She found herself among those waiting for more than half an hour for her car. Ah, how fleeting the place of honorary chair can be.

For more photos, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Top Hat & Tails Was Dog’s (And Cat’s) Best Friends With Dancing Celebs And Awards

Photo Gallery Alert: Additional photos are available for viewing at MySweetCharity’s “Photo Gallery”


Phoenix looked a little confused Saturday night. Instead of hanging out in his foster home, he was high rolling it with a bunch of swells at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Obviously, this was his first Top Hat & Tails. But in a form-fitting T-shirt that covered the scars of being scalded, he fit in nicely. . . especially when some of the gorgeous gals held him. But did any of the beauts want a long-term commitment? More later.

As mentioned above, the Paws In The City event always seems to bring out the beauties and the beasts. Perhaps it’s pitting local celebs in a “Dancing With The Stars” competition for The Lucy Award. This year’s competition was fearsome. Little did the 700 guests checking out the pooches, kittens and silent auction goodies have any idea of the weeks of training that had taken place by the eight contestants (former NFL-er Tony Casillas, KLUV’s morning drive man Jody Dean, KXAS traffic reporter Tammy Dombeck, restaurateur Gilbert Garza, actor Burton Gilliam, KDFW weather gal Fiona Gorostiza, WB33’s meteorologist Rebecca Miller and philanthropist Krystal Schlegel). Jody had lost 20 lbs. due to the rehearsals plus had an angiogram; Krystal had only three weeks to train; Tammy had to make a three-hour round-trip for her dance lessons; and so on.

Jack Knox

While the anxious dancers were upstairs getting coiffed, lip glossed and dolled up, families, friends and animal lovers were chatting it up downstairs. Jack Knox, who was to receive the Man’s Best Friend Award, spoke of his brood of rescued critters with pride. One is a Bichon/Shih-Tzu/poodle mix named Wal-mart because he hailed from Operation Kindness via a Wal-mart parking lot. His close friends call him “Wally.” Jack’s second pooch is a 2-year old mix-breed named Woodrow. He joined the Knox household after Jacquelin Sewell found him in a ditch on Northwest Highway. The last animal in Jack’s collection is a calico cat of undetermined age name Callie. According to Jack, the Knox sleeping arrangement in the king-size bed is, “I share their bed, not the other way around.”

Speaking of living arrangements, when asked if a street rumor that the Schlegel estate was on the market, Bob Schlegel looked surprised at the very idea. Seems the palatial house was indeed undergoing some major construction right now. So major, he joked, they’ve “almost had to move out!” Evidently during the frigid blast during the Super Bowl, some of the Schlegel pipes busted. As a result they’ve had to redo the kitchen and at least two other rooms. In the meantime, the Schlegels were also orchestrating the mega wedding of their daughter Kari to Troy Kloewer on May 7.

Puppy and Tara Harper

Lila Cotran was kissing up to an adoptable kitten; Rich Emberlin was escorting two of his favorite gals — his daughter and Honorary Chair LeeAnne Locken; ­­­­­­­­­­­­ PITC’s Tara Harper arrived midway during the reception. Seems she had been at the Dallas Animal Shelter rescuing a wee mother with her three pups. Showing up in a flowing gown with two crates, Tara presented her new fosters for possible forever families.

Speaking of the DAS, the event had new and old faces on hand. One was Dallas Police officer Scott Walton, who stepped in this past year when DAS was lacking top management. “There’s still a lot of work to be done there, but real improvements have been made.” A couple of the greatest improvements have been the morale of the staff, as well as an increase in adoptions under Scott’s leadership.

Scott Walton, Jonnie England, Jody Jones and Andy Allen

In the meantime, he’s been helping new DAS Division Manager Jody Jones around. Having held a similar position in Richmond, Virginia, Jody said, “Everybody is ready for the success of the shelter. I see huge opportunities.”

Joining Jody and Scott were longtime animal advocate Andy Allen and Director of Animal Advocacy and Communications for the Metroplex Animal Coalition Jonnie England, who was having a busy evening. Not only was she with her best gal pal, 92-year-old mother Lil, but Jonnie was receiving The St. Francis of Assisi Award. Among her many, many contributions to the animal efforts, Jonnie got PITC on both the

Lil England

Russ Martin and Jody Dean radio shows, as well as going to the DAS weekly and sending photos of adoptable animals on the euthanasia list. Thanks to this combined effort of Jonnie, PITC and the DAS, hardly an adoptable animal has been euthanized this year. However, as Top Hat & Tails host Preston Pearson later told the well-heeled audience from the stage, 200,000 animals are “killed” each year in the Metroplex. Please note: Preston did not use the word “euthanize”.

But soon emcee Scott Murray called the group together, so the show could go on. After all, the contestants had taken at least 10 lessons and they wanted to show their stuff. But first

Scott Murray, Janie Tilford, Mike Woodyard and Preston Pearson

there was a call out for donations. To remind guests of why they were there, some of the adoptable pooches (Sheba, Gizmo, the DAS pups and Phoenix) were brought on stage. Mike Woodyard called  Preston  over to the side of the stage. Preston then announced to the sell-out crowd that Mike had agreed to “match everybody up to $2,000.” Asked why he did it, Mike said he had “zero” animals now, but did it “because of my personal friendship with Preston and Janie [Tilford],” Preston’s wife.

Next up was the live auction. While Tara and Becky Haisma stood on the sidelines with fingers crossed, Scott and Preston worked the room like burger slingers at In-n-Out. Most interesting item up for bid was La Dolce Vita, a trip to Venice. A bidding war developed on either side of the stage between Mike Woodyard and Jack Knox. After Scott negotiated a truce of selling the trip twice for $10,000, the dust didn’t settle. Not only did Mike and Jack agree to the deal, Jack gave the trip back to raise an additional $5,000.

Claudia Marshall

Finally it was time for the dancing to begin. First to be introduced were the trio of judges — local Arthur Murray Studios owner Claudia Marshall, Dallas Cowboy great Drew Pearson and

Drew Pearson

ever-quotable philanthropist Angie Barrett. Alas, Angie was minutes late coming onstage. Some

Angie Barrett

reminded the group that Angie had been a contestant in a previous year, to which Scott said, “How’d she do?” Preston answered, “She was excellent.” Not enough for Angie, who coyly had the last word saying to Scott, “Don’t you remember?”

Then it was time for the dancing to begin. Each couple took to the stage to perform, be interviewed by host Preston and face the judges’ reviews:

Sarah Dantes and Tony Casillas

Tony Casillas with partner Sarah Dantes did a merengue/samba. Preston told the audience, “He was worried a little about his hips, and thinking too much.”

  • Claudia’s score – 9 saying, “Only thing better than a football player is a dancing football player.”
  • Angie’s score – 8 saying, ”I felt the testosterone.”
  • Drew’s score -9 mentioning he and Tony were both inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame together (in 2008).

Jody Dean and Adriann Alexander

Jody Dean with partner Adriann Alexander did the Swing. Jody told the audience, “If she can teach me, she can teach anyone.” What he didn’t tell was that through his efforts he had raised $15,000 from KLUV listeners and put a shout out to Janice and Bob Carter of Panda Energy to support PITC. Boy, what a shout out! The Carters wrote a check for $20,000.

  • Claudia’s score – 7 asking, ”Do you still need a quart of vodka, Jody?”
  • Angie’s score -7 saying, ”Great chemistry. If only you could find that chemistry in your personal life, Jody.”
  • Drew’s score – 8 saying, ”Nicely done.”

Tammy Dombeck and Justin Brown

Tammy Dombeck with partner Justin Brown did a rhythm medley. Like the other female contestants, her outfit was one of those worn by the “Dancing With The Stars” contestants. Tammy’s outfit had been worn by Cheryl Burke. Afterward Tammy said, “My dad wanted me to wear a turtleneck. I did!” and then added, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad!” Regarding her previous stage appearances, she said, “When I was 7, I was in a Bambi play. I was a fawn.”

  • Claudia’s score – 9 saying, ”Did great.”
  • Angie’s score – 8 saying, ”You look amazing. A lot of men out there would love for you to unlock their grids.”
  • Drew’s score – 9 saying, ”If I had legs like that, I’d wear that red dress too.”

Gilbert Garza and Bailey Kenzington

Gilbert Garza with partner Bailey Kenzington did a 3-step. When asked by Preston if he had any pets, Gilbert proudly said, “I have an 8-year-old Chihuahua named Lucy.” During his performance, a spray of black rubber spiders were showered on the stage evidently thrown by Gilbert’s friends.

  • Claudia’s score -7.
  • Angie’s score – 6 saying, ”At dance school, maybe one child should have been left behind.”
  • Drew’s score – 7.

Spider sweep-up squad


Lindsey Jordan and Burton Gilliam

Burton Gilliam with partner Lindsey Jordan did a country western/paso doble finishing up flat on the floor. When Preston asked Burton if he had any pets, a big old smile broke out on the contestant’s face. He told the crowd that he had “two Pomeranians, Sophie and Sadie — best in the world.” The Pomeranian lovers in the audience went wild.

  • Claudia’s score – 9 saying, ”Extra points for entertainment.”
  • Angie’s score – 8 saying, ”Awesome.”
  • Drew’s score – 8 saying, ”Where do you find moves like that? The key was attitude.”

Fiona Gorostiza and Ian Kelley

Fiona Gorostiza with partner Ian Kelley did a rumba/samba. After raising the roof with both her outfit and her moves, Preston informed the audience that she holds three world championships in taekwondo. When asked about her pet ownership, Fiona reported she had had two rescue “multi-poos,” but both “have passed.”

  • Claudia’s score – 10 saying, ”Fluid, fantastic.”
  • Angie’s score – 9 saying, ”Some Wesson oil and tarps and this would be a pay-per-view.”
  • Drew’s score – 10 saying, “She can kick my ass anytime.”

Rebecca Miller and Daniel Dellucci

Rebecca Miller with partner Daniel Dellucci did a cha-cha. Known for baking doggie cookies, Rebecca fessed up to having a 14.5-year-old Border Collie rescued from euthanasia; a sheltie and a Schnauzer, both rescued from puppy mills; and a cat she found in a dumpster.

  • Claudia’s score – 9 saying, ”Like a sunny day with a little thunder.”
  • Angie’s score – 9 saying, “Amazing.”
  • Drew’s score – 9 saying, “Great coordination.”

Krystal Schlegel and Duce Roddick

Krystal Schlegel with Duce Roddick did a cha-cha. Scott asked if her father (Bob Schlegel) had seen her outfit before its onstage debut. The yorkie-poo owner giggled, “No.”

  • Claudia’s score – 9.
  • Angie’s score – 9 saying, ”You’re beautiful girl. Did an amazing job. We girls have to stick together. Except for that Fiona chick; she’s on her own.”
  • Drew’s score – 9 saying, ”Too bad Duce is so shy. I used to wear shirts like that. When I had a chest.”

But the final decision was not left to the judgmental trio. The audience was given a short break to cast their ballots for their picks. Someone asked Preston how the Dallas mayor’s runoff results were coming in. Knowing how to keep interest high, he said results would be announced after the winner was revealed. People started hitting their smartphones to learn the early returns.

Fiona Gorostiza

Soon Scott called all back to hear the results. Little did Scott and Preston realize that all the contestants were on stage except for Fiona. Perhaps that’s why they went ahead and announced the winner. Preston looked at the results and said, “Ooooh.” Scott got a gander at the winning name and went, “Aaaaaah.” They announced together, “Fiona.” Everyone looked around. No Fiona. Her name echoed through the hall and still no Fiona. A minute later, she scurried up to the stage and like a naughty child explained, “I was about to adopt a dog. I’m sorry.”

“Aaaaaaw,” was heard throughout the room. Fiona was forgiven.

Being presented the Lucy Award and a bouquet of flowers, Fiona said, “This is awesome. My instructor Ian has been fantastic. I’ve been in and out of town. . . Thank you!”

Oh, you wanted to know about what happened to Phoenix. Well, guess which pooch Fiona was considering for adoption?