Double Centennial Celebration Of DCMSAF And Aldredge House Included Memories Of A Disrobing Sue Ellen And “The Country Club Girls”

Susan McSherry was on the verge of moving from a home that her family had carefully restored. She was amazed that despite the meticulous restoration, potential buyers were wondering where the playroom and/or media room was.

Joel and Susan Williams

Caroline Rose Hunt and Dedie Leahy

Max Wells

Anne Hobson

Nancy Carter

Stuart Bumpas

How ironic on a day when 340 guests like  Susan Williams and husband Highland Park Mayor Joel Williams, former Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm, Veletta Lill, Marj Waters, Robin Robinson, Caroline Rose Hunt, Max Wells, Anne Hobson, Nancy Carter, Debbie Francis, Sara Martineau, Carlton Adams, Margo Goodwin, Marilyn Augur, Aileen Pratt, Jill Smith, Ann Dyer, Barbara Sypult, Stuart Bumpas, Christie Carter, Angie Kadesky, Dedie Leahy and noted local historian Virginia McAlester were celebrating a double centennial of the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation (DCMSAF) and the historic Aldredge House at the Dallas Country Club.

Mary McDermott Cook, Debbie Francis and Barbara Sypult

To add to the occasion, Co-Chairs Sharon and Mike McCullough arranged to have 105-year-old Margaret McDermott and Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler on hand as honorary co-chairs.

Barenda Hino

Pierce Allman and Marj Waters

With history-loving Pierce Allman serving as emcee introduced 100th DCMSAF President Barenda Hino.

Highlights of the luncheon included Lunch Co-Chair Lindalyn Adams without notes telling the 100-year founding of DCMSAF with DCMSAF historian Elizabeth Gunby looking on. Lindalyn had both honorary co-chairs speak.

Having grown up on Swiss Avenue, Ruth told of her childhood growing up with her two big brothers, Jim Collins and Carr Collins. It was Carr, who raced up stairs telling mother Collins, “Mother, come get Ruthie. She’s showing off again.”

Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler

Margaret Milam McDermott

Next to speak was “the heroine of cultural arts” —Margaret Milam McDermott. Staying in her wheelchair, she thanked the crowd and had her daughter Mary McDermott Cook speak for her.  Mary turned the mic over to Joel, who said he had a special honor being seated between the two honorary co-chairs. He then said that if the group wanted to raise some money, he would be willing to auction off his seat. Joel then told how Margaret moved into the city of Highland Park in 1919 and has lived in the town longer “than anyone else that we know.” He went on to recall that each year Margaret has been invited to light the Highland Park Christmas tree on Armstrong, which is the oldest Christmas tradition in Dallas County. For the past five years, “Margaret has shown up and lighted that 152-year-old tree.”

After lunch Lindalyn and Pierce were joined on stage by American historian/author Dr. William Seale, who is a rock star in the world of historic renovation and preservation. When asked if the younger generation was appreciating and supporting past works, he said, “Most definitely. In fact, there are magazines devoted to it. The mistake that sometimes made is to try to convert a house into what you already understand is how the house should be rather than knowing it and basing your renovations on the building, letting the building be itself. That is one of the big things in architectural design and remodeling houses today is to understand the past of the house and honor that.”

Lindalyn Adams

Lindalyn recalled when a TV crew that had worked with “The Waltons” program negotiated to film a new show at Aldredge House. The only caveat was that they ‘wouldn’t say anything derogatory about our city.” They agreed saying it was a family show. The pilot aired with Sue Ellen Ewing forced to disrobe in Mrs. Aldredge’s parlor. The phone lines lit up. The show turned out to be “Dallas.” 

When Aldredge family member Betty Aldredge Slater was later in Europe, word got out that it was her family’s parlor that Sue Ellen shed her clothes, the BBC interviewed her. Betty’s doctor also noted that he “particularly liked your stables.”

William told how visitors to historic homes want “authenticity. They’re very honest. If you’re honest to them, they’re honest to you. You don’t have to recreate the battle on the front yard. You just have to be accurate. In this world the historic building or house is a very worthwhile thing. In a world that we live in that doesn’t have a lot of accuracy. Most of what we look at or see on television is inaccurate. If you know anything about it, you know it’s inaccurate. It( the historic building) is the real thing. That’s what people appreciated in these places.”

William Seale

When asked if The Aldredge House belonged on a national register of historical places in addition to its being recently receiving  a Texas Historical Marker, William said, “Absolutely. Absolutely.” 

Admitting that it would never be a mass tourist attraction due to logistics and the Alliance not want it to be, William went on to say that for people who seek it out, it will always provide for them what they’re after. 

Going a bit off subject, he told how President Woodrow Wilson “hadn’t liked women, but he was controlled by women. As the war approached, suffrage, you know had organized the ladies everywhere. They demanded that a women’s commission for the government on the war and finally Wilson grudgingly did it. They laughed about it and called them ‘country club girls’ in Washington and they were kind of poo-pooed and made fun of. It is true that the first thing they did was to sponsor a law that removed brothels and saloons from being near the Army camps. There is an old story in New Orleans about Lulu White, the famous madame in Storeyville, being in a bread line. When asked why she was there, she said, ‘The country club girls have put us out of business.'”

Alas, just as the celebration was scheduled to conclude with a champagne toast, it had to be done with ice tea. Seems behind the scenes the bottles of bubbly hadn’t been uncorked in time.

For more pictures from the event, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: A Double Centennial Celebration

More than 300 folks gathered at the Dallas Country Club to celebrate a double centennial and that doesn’t happen every day. But on Tuesday, May 16, the celebrants were the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation and the historic Aldredge House, both dated back to starts in 1917.

Margaret Milam McDermott

Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler

On hand were Honorary Co-Chairs 105-year-old Margaret Milam McDermott and young whippersnapper Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler, who grew up down the block from Aldredge House.

Lindalyn Adams

William Seale

But don’t go thinking this was a dusty old celebration. Thanks to history preservationist Lindalyn Adams and noted historian/author William Seale, the crowd learned historic tidbits, from the filming of the “Dallas” pilots to how “the country club girls” put Lulu White on the breadline.

While the post is being prepared including Sue Ellen and Lulu, photos are available at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for your perusal.

Dallas County Medical Society Alliance And The Aldredge House To Hold Double Centennial Celebrations With Historic Marker And Luncheon

Margaret McDermott (File photo)

What were you doing 100 years ago? Probably the only one who could answer that is Margaret McDermott, who just celebrated her 105th birthday on February 18. It was when she was a five-year old living in Dallas that two totally different undertakings launched.

First, a stately mansion joined the other grand residences along Swiss Avenue. Taking two years to build by Dallasite Willie (Newberry) and her West Texas rancher husband William J. Lewis, the English Georgian/French Renaissance residence was designed by architects Hal Thomson and Marion Fooshee. Four years later the home was purchased by Rena (Munger) and her husband/banker George N. Aldredge, resulting in the residence being called “The Aldredge House.”

The Aldredge House*

Remember, at this time the population of Dallas was less than 158,000. The Park Cities was just a development in progress and considered by many to be a suburb of Dallas. The Highland Park Village wouldn’t open for 14 more years. Since there was no such thing as air conditioning, these showplaces that fronted Swiss had large windows that would allow the air to flow and fireplaces to warm the rooms with their tall ceilings. Word has it that Swiss Avenue was one of the first to be paved.

The Aldredge House*

Ironically, the same year that the Lewises moved into their home, the Woman’s Auxiliary to the Dallas County Medical Society was established. What most folks don’t know is that it “was the very first permanent woman’s county medical auxiliary in the nation, organized by a group of Dallas doctor’s wives. Mrs. John McReynolds was elected president and the group voted to support Red Cross work.”

Other auxiliaries sprung up throughout the country using the Dallas organization as the model. Over the years, the Dallas auxiliary grew both in membership and mission of supporting the Dallas County medical community. Eventually the name was changed to Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation (DCMSAF).

Rena Munger Aldredge*

Lindalyn Adams (File photo)

It was in the early 1970s that Rena and the Foundation found each other. The 80ish widow of George Aldredge had decided to give her mansion to a nonprofit to “preserve her home and to maintain it as a welcoming part of the Dallas community.” It just so happened that DCMSAF President/historical preservationist Lindalyn Adams was seeking a permanent home for the Auxiliary at the same time. The match was made!

The grand lady on Swiss entered a new phase of life. In addition to serving as home base for the Foundation, it was also the Kappa Alpha Theta show house and provided interior scenes for the TV show “Dallas,” as well as serving as a meeting place for the Auxiliary. In 1982, the House was recognized as a Record Texas Historic Landmark.

But over the years, the old gal needed updating and upkeep and that required funding. So after various efforts, the Auxiliary realized that they had a perfect opportunity to fund-raise coming up — the Double Centennial Celebrations of the Auxiliary and the House!

Such a momentous celebration deserved more than just one event to raise monies and awareness.

According to Foundation President Barenda Hino, “The DCMSA Foundation is seeking community support, so they can continue to preserve the rich heritage of this magnificent house.”

To kick the double centennial activities off, the official Texas Historical Marker will be dedicated at Aldredge House on Wednesday, April 5, with city, county and Medical Society leaders taking part.

The second event will be a luncheon taking place on Tuesday, May 16, at the Dallas County Club.

Barenda has arranged for Sharon and Mike McCullough to serve as co-chairs of the luncheon’s Advisory Host Committee “because of their belief in historic preservation, its importance in an ever-changing society and their great respect for the outstanding preservation of the Aldredge House by the Medical Alliance.”

Mike and Sharon McCullough (File photo)

Ruth Altshuler (File photo)

Lindalyn, who arranged for the Foundation’s acquisition of Aldredge House, and noted author/White House historian Dr. William Seale will be co-chairing the luncheon. Serving as honor co-chairs will be Ruth Altshuler and Margaret McDermott.

Tickets to the luncheon are available by calling 214.521.4108. If you can’t make it to the fundraiser, you can still donate to The Aldredge House Preservation Fund.  

* Photo courtesy of Dallas County Medical Society Auxiliary Foundation

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon Celebrated Equest’s 35th Anniversary With Guests Ponying Up For A Match Offer

Amigo, Rico and Teddy found Brook Hollow Golf Club to their liking on Tuesday, October 4. After all, the weather was perfect, the grass was green and they were the center of attention as guests arrived for the 2016 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon’s “Riding High.” For their being part of the greeting lineup, Equest‘s Amigo, Rico and Teddy had come all the way from Equest’s Wylie facility and they definitely didn’t use Uber. The three equines opted for trailer accommodations with their handlers (Alyssa Cigainero, Shelby Nicoletti, Lizzie Ball and Tia Turkeulainen) and riders (James Taylor in English attire and Ryan Wolf in chaps) in tow.

Teddy and Alyssa Cigainero

Teddy and Alyssa Cigainero

Rico and Tiia Turkulainen

Rico and Tiia Turkulainen

Ryan Wolf, Amigo and Shelby Nicoletti

Ryan Wolf, Amigo and Shelby Nicoletti

Program Director Joan Cutler, who started out as an Equest volunteer back in the ’90s, couldn’t have been happier with her crew of horses, volunteers and staffers on the country club’s grounds.

Inside the clubhouse, Equest Women’s Auxiliary President Di Johnston was also all smiles about the day. Thanks to fashion producer Jan Strimple and Highland Park Village’s Lela Rose, Alice and Olivia, St. John, Market, Etro, Akris, Carolina Herrera and William Noble Jewels, there would be more than 70 outfits on the runway.

But before the fashions would be presented to guests like last year’s Honorary Chair Carolyn Lupton, Jean Lattimore, Lisa Cooley, Elisa Summers, Heather Washburne, Nancy Carter, Jill Rowlett and Bela Piertrovic, the program got underway with Di revealing that one of the best days during her presidency was the one in which Kara Axley agreed to chair the luncheon.

Carolyn Lupton and Jean Lattimore

Carolyn Lupton and Jean Lattimore

Kara recognized the partnership that Equest has had over the years with Highland Park Village and its being this year’s presenting sponsor. She then introduced Park Cities Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor Dr. Pete Deison, who reminded guests that “the heart of Equest is compassion. It is a value that is slowly and sadly waning in our society because we have become a society that is more interested in what we see on our computers and on our phones that we do reaching out and touching other people. We are also interested in the things that go fast rather than the time it takes to saddle a horse and touch an individual that needs our help.”

Following the invocation, Kara introduced 2016 Honorary Co-Chair Bill Noble, who described the love that he and wife/2016 Honorary Co-Chair Lezlie Noble have for Equest as a star with the five points — the staff, the volunteers, the horses, the clientele (handicapped children and military veterans) and the donors. “Equest cannot do what they do without you guys.”

Equest CEO Lil Kellogg then described how children who spend most of their days in wheelchairs are taller than all others when they ride their therapy horses.

Following Lili, a video was shown with Equest Founder Susan Schwartz and others recalling Equest’s 35 years of providing equine power for those with physical and emotional challenges.

Louise Griffeth, Kara Axley, Lindalyn Adams and Di Johnston

Louise Griffeth, Kara Axley, Lindalyn Adams and Di Johnston

As the lights went up, Equest Women’s Auxiliary Founder Louise Griffeth was at the podium introducing the 2016 Equest Award for Community Service honoree Lindalyn Adams. Louise described Lyndalyn as a “Superwoman” who has been the driving force for countless nonprofits and community organization, as well as being a great grandmother of four.

Following Lindalyn’s being presented with an award from Tiffany, Louise said that she had more news. An anonymous donor had agreed to match any monies raised at the day’s luncheon in honor of the 35th anniversary of Equest.

Annie Griffeth

Annie Griffeth

She then added that the poster at the entrance of the clubhouse would report the tally of the day, and that the illustration had been created by her new daughter-in-law Annie Griffeth.

Kara provided one more bit of news. Fashion producer Jan Strimple and Akris would be hosting an event benefiting Equest in the Akris store on Thursday, October 6, featuring their new Aidentity handbag from 1 to 6 p.m.

She also announced that Beth Thoele would be chairing the 2017 luncheon.

With the removal of the podium, the fashions started parading down the runway.

The only oops of the day occurred when a couple of guests managed to sit down in front-row seats that had been assigned to others, driving the real seat-holders away to the north 40. Then the same twosome arrived at one of the big-buck tables, forcing one of the assigned guests to hit McDonalds for a bite—and the venue’s staff to squeeze in an extra chair and place-setting at the table for the other displaced guest. Confused by the situation, the table host thought the event organizers had reassigned her/his original guests with the permission and approval of the castaways. Oh, well, mix-ups do happen. But even a McDonald’s Southwest salad can’t hold a candle to Brook Hollow’s pecan crusted chicken.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon

According to Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon Chair Kara Axley and Auxiliary President Di Johnston,

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

“Equest has enhanced the lives of children and adults using horses to bring hope and healing through equine assisted therapies for thirty five years. The annual Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon, Riding High, will be Tuesday, October 4, at Brook Hollow Golf Club and will continue the 35th anniversary celebration by raising much-needed funds for Equest’s unique therapy programs.

“Today, Equest is the leader in equine assisted therapy and serves hundreds of riders annually. These riders include those with cerebral palsy and autism as well as orthopedic ailments. Additionally, Equest serves our country’s brave veterans through our ‘Horses for Heroes’ program.

“When Equest Women’s Auxiliary founder Louise Griffeth started the organization thirty years ago, Equest was known as Freedom Ride and many people were unfamiliar with the cause and how to become supporters. A lot has changed in the past three decades as Equest has received national recognition for its work and the Women’s Auxiliary is a thriving organization comprised of hundreds of dedicated women who work tirelessly to provide invaluable funding.

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

“Riding High will be a fun-filled day of fashion, great food and a glimpse into the workings of Equest programming. Fashion icon Jan Strimple will produce the fashion show with some of Highland Park Village’s most noted international retailers showing their collections.  Highland Park Village is the presenting sponsor of the luncheon and we are most grateful to the Al Hill Jr. family for their generosity.

“In addition to the fashion show, we will honor beloved community leader Lindalyn Adams with the 2016 Equest Community Service Award for many contributions and advocacy for Equest over three decades. We are also pleased to have longtime Equest supporters Lezlie and Bill Noble serve as Honorary Luncheon Chairs.

“We hope you will join us for this worthy and life changing cause. Please visit www.equest.org for more information.”

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon Chair Kara Axley Finds A Match Made In Shopping Heaven

Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Fashion Show Chair Kara Axley is having a real relationship with high-end merchants. The matchmaker is fashion-loving producer Jan Strimple. To have the most marvy fashions on the runway at Brook Hollow on Tuesday, October 4, the following merchants will be showcasing the fall fashions: Akris, Alice and Olivia, Carolina Herrera, Etro, Lela Rose, Market and St. John.

Akris (File photo)

Akris (File photo)

Lela Rose (File photo)

Lela Rose (File photo)

Caroline Herrera (File photo)

Caroline Herrera (File photo)

Adding to the luxury feel is the couple, who will be the honorary co-chairs. Yup, longtime supporters Lezlie Noble and her HPV jeweler husband Bill Noble.

Lezlie Noble in the center (File photo)

Lezlie Noble in the center (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams (File photo)

And still another plus is the presentation of the Special Recognition Award to Lindalyn Adams. No, Lindalyn has not taken up residence in HPV, but she does shop and lunch there.

This fashion show is always a home run with handsome gents in riding attire as window dressing and, if the weather is user-friendly, the Equest Mini-ambassadors will be grazing on the lush Brook Hollow grounds.

Funds raised from the event will “benefit Equest’s therapeutic programming for children and adults with all types of physical, cognitive, emotional and learning disabilities.”

Oh, and, yes, HPV is the presenting sponsor for the 2016 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon And Style Show.

2016 Celebrating Women Plans Revealed Including Rita Wilson And Diane And Joel Allison Plus Sponsorship Opportunities

The couture salon of Neiman Marcus Downtown looked like a high-price trunk show collection on the morning of Tuesday, April 5, with loads of the fashionable fundraising types checking out the clothes. Actually, they were there for the announcement of the Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon.

Outside the flagship store, Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Jen Huntsberry waited. It was such a beautiful day compared to a year ago when it was damp and rainy. But Jen wasn’t just taking in the rays. She was waiting for Baylor Scott And White Health COO John McWhorter. This was his first time to attend the annual reveal.

Robin Robinson, Gloria Eulich Martindale, Aileen Pratt and John McWhorter

Robin Robinson, Gloria Eulich Martindale, Aileen Pratt and John McWhorter

No sooner had John appeared on NM’s second floor than he was being photographed with 2016 Celebrating Women Chair Aileen Pratt, Underwriting Chair Gloria Eulich Martindale and Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson.

Barbara Stuart, Lindalyn Adams, Robin Robinson, Christie Carter, Nancy Carter, Margo Goodwin, Pam Perella, Carol Seay and Susan McSherry

Barbara Stuart, Lindalyn Adams, Robin Robinson, Christie Carter, Nancy Carter, Margo Goodwin, Pam Perella, Carol Seay and Susan McSherry

And then he watched as various photo setups took place including all the past luncheon chairs like Nancy Carter, Christie Carter, Barbara Stuart, Susan McSherry, Margo Goodwin, Carol Seay and Pam Perella and Celebrating Women Luncheon Queen Mother Lindalyn Adams.

Rita Wilson*

Rita Wilson*

As deviled eggs made the rounds, the gals and fellas found themselves herded into the Glass House to hear that Tom Hanks’ sweetheart, Rita Wilson, would be the featured speaker on Thursday, October 20, at the Hilton Anatole.

As for the honorary co-chairs, this year is gonna be a couple that has been part of the Baylor effort to treat and research breast cancer — Diane and Baylor Scott And White Health President/CEO Joel Allison, who is making his victory lap to his stepping down on February 1, 2017.

Tickets are on sale now, plus all types of sponsorship opportunities. The following sponsorships have already been snapped up: Presenting Sponsor — Tom Thumb, Patron Party — Comerica Bank, VIP Reception — PlainsCapital Bank, Luncheon Invitation — Sidley Austin LLP and Luncheon Program — Allie Beth Allman.

Celebrating Women Luncheoners Celebrate Surprise $1M Gift With Standing O’s For Amy Robach And Lindalyn Adams

Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson was nursing a secret Friday, October 24. He was busting to share the news, but he had to wait until the Celebrating Women Luncheon.

Celebrating Women

Celebrating Women

While luncheon patrons were starting to arrive for the VIP reception in the Wedgwood Room, mic checks were being held in the Chantilly Ballroom. Luncheon Co-Chairs Lisa Longino and Daffan Nettle were being asked if they were able to read the teleprompters. Like everything in the days, weeks and months beforehand, all was fine and dandy.

Among the crowd was a dazzling blonde with beautiful blue eyes in a hot pink dress. It was the keynote speaker/ Good Morning America’s Amy Robach, who had flown in the night before. It was hard to imagine looking at her that it had been just a year and 23 days ago that her seemingly perfect life that been turned upside down. But now she was heading to the Wedgwood Room to meet with others touched by breast cancer.

Lindalyn Adams, Fredye Factor and Christie Carter

Lindalyn Adams, Fredye Factor and Christie Carter (Scott Pharr in the background)

While Amy was handling the meet-and-greet beautifully at one end of the room, a second photo session developed at the other end. It all started when Anatole Catering Manager Scott Pharr asked to have his photo taken with Lindalyn Adams, the Foundation’s sweetheart and the one who years ago suggested the event to raise funds to battle breast cancer to Baylor Health Care System CEO Joel Allison. Then another person wanted their picture taken with Lindalyn and another and another and another.

Melissa Macatee, Robin Robinson and Barbara Stuart

Melissa Macatee, Robin Robinson and Barbara Stuart

In the meantime, others like Barbara Stuart, Melissa Macatee, Christie Carter, Fredye Factor, Angie Kadesky, Dian Malouf, Laura Stockdale, Lydia Novakov, Isabell Novakov, Carol Seay, Nancy Carter, Anne Reeder, Emilynn Wilson, Virginia Chandler Dyke and Luncheon Underwriting Chair Maggie Kipp, were just plain catching up. A couple wondered if there would be no-shows due to the funerals of Bunker Hunt and Pat McEvoy Sr. taking place that morning.

Just as the time was approaching for the ballroom doors to open for guests, a short presentation was made with Robin, Tom Thumb’s Connie Yates and Joel. Just as quickly, the room emptied with all heading to join the 1,200 in the ballroom.

Were there empty tables? No. It seems that the guests, who had attended the funerals, managed to make it to the luncheon, too, without missing the surprises of the day and a talk by Amy that had tears welling up throughout the room.

Robin Robinson

Robin Robinson

First the surprises. Following a welcome and acknowledgments by Lisa, Daffan and Joel, Robin just couldn’t contain his secret any longer. He revealed that just the day before he had received a surprise email from Erich Spangenberger, who wanted to pledge a $1M gift in honor of his wife Audrey. In his email, Erich wrote, “Even though it was almost 15 years ago, I wake up all the time from a dream, where I remember how sick Audrey was and that helpless feeling of just praying that she would last just another couple of days. There was not a good time in our lives and of all the things I’ve faced in my life this was by far the most difficult…. I hope that anything we can do will bring some comfort and hope to the women and families who have to endure this miserable experience. It is our honor to do so.”

Joel Allison

Joel Allison

Then it was Joel’s turn to reveal a surprise. He started off by saying, “No one can say, ‘No” to Lindalyn.” Then a video tribute commenced followed by Lisa and Daffan presenting a book with notes from all the past luncheon chairs and committee members to Lindalyn. Seated at the front row table with Amy, it was obvious from the expression on Lindalyn’s face that it had caught her totally off guard. She hardly had time to recover, when the mass of guests rose to their feet to applaud the 84-year-young breast cancer survivor. If she was blown away by the folks wanting to have their photos taken with her in the reception, she was in tears by this act.

Amy Robach, Lindalyn Adams, Daffan Nettle and Lisa Longino

Amy Robach, Lindalyn Adams, Daffan Nettle and Lisa Longino

Robin held up a small battery-operated tea light like the ones at each of the guest’s place. The lights in the room be dimmed. He asked for any who had lost someone to breast cancer to turn on their candle. Throughout the room tiny light appeared. Then he requested that all who had survived breast cancer turn on their candles, too. More beams of light appeared. Then co-survivors were asked to turn on their tea lights. Finally, he asked anyone who knew someone touched by breast cancer to turn their candles on. With that the ballroom looked like a universe of pink stars.

Following lunch (savory butternut squash bisque en croute; grilled breast of chicken with assorted Fall greens, red wine poached pear, pecan crusted goat cheese wafer, fresh fava beans and petite tomatoes with champagne vinaigrette; spicy cheese straw; and chocolate dipped cheesecake with berries), Robin presented the Circle of Care Award to Connie on behalf of Tom Thumb, that has been the presenting sponsor of the luncheon for that past 10 years. Connie’s own sister “went to heaven” five years ago because of breast cancer.

Amy Robach

Amy Robach

It then time for Amy to speak. Ever since Rob Lowe spoke at the luncheon a couple of years ago, there’s been a daunting challenge to match the “Wow!” factor. He was Hollywood cool, charming and had lost his mother and grandmother to breast cancer. Like Rob, Amy had incredible looks and was charming. But she had only recently encountered breast cancer firsthand. In fact, it was just 51 weeks ago that she had been diagnosed with the disease. True, her GMA buddy Robin Roberts had battled the disease, but until a producer suggested that she had a mammogram in a mamo-van live on air in Times Square, she’d never even had a mammogram. In fact, she thought the pitch to be rather ridiculous. What next? A pap smear? But she had absolutely no family history of breast cancer and “to be totally frank, I thought I was the last person in the world who could have breast cancer.”

When she sought advice from Robin, Roberts said, “Oh, you’re the one they asked?” Then Robin persuaded Amy to do it, if for no other reason than it might get another woman to have a lifesaving mammogram. She added that 80% of breast cancer patients have no family history. Amy was convinced.

So, she did her very first mammogram with cameras showing the exam to millions of people. Amy thought all was fine and the whole issue was behind her. There was a call to go over some questions and they wanted to take another look. Even then she thought it was just a “oops” in the film or just a calcium deposit. At this point, she “just annoyed.”

On October 30, she entered NYU for an 11:15 a.m. appointment thinking she would “be in and out.” After all she had to be at work at 1 p.m. — “I never made it to work that day.”

Amy Robach

Amy Robach

One after another image was taken. She was starting to get nervous but still didn’t think this could be cancer. Then they took a sonogram and she saw a mass in her right breast. It was followed by a biopsy. The radiologist said they would have the result in five to ten minutes and then asked if she had anyone who could be with her. Her response was, “I don’t have anybody.” Her family lived in another state and her husband, Andrew Shue was traveling. She put Andrew on the speakerphone. The radiologist said, “Mr. Shue, I need to ask you a question before I give you the results — “Are you driving?” It was that question that slapped Amy in the face that her life was changing dramatically. She had two malignant tumors in her breast that had spread to her lymph nodes. Like so many in the ballroom, she was overwhelmed with fear, confusion and anger.

She called her mom. With her voice quivering, Amy admitted that it was the hardest call she’d ever made. Her mother’s response was just two words — “We’re coming.”

Two weeks later she went public with her situation and leaned back in her chair saying, “Well, that’s over.” Robin said, “No, it’s just begun.”

She underwent a double mastectomy, the removal of her lymph nodes and chemo.

Ironically, it was Amy, who had replaced Robin on GMA while Roberts underwent treatments for cancer. When Amy arrived for that first chemo treatment, there was Roberts in the waiting room, who said, “I heard you’re sitting in my chair again.” Then she escorted Amy to the same chemo chair where she had had her treatments.

Now that’s she finished the chemo and the surgeries, she’s figuring out how to live. Cancer made her realize her own vulnerability. As her “husband likes to say, ‘Don’t die before you die.’”

She recalled a recent plane ride where she was seated next to a woman, whom she hadn’t seen in years. The woman started complaining about being in her 50’s and complaining about all of her wrinkles. “A year ago, I would have been commiserating and it was so interesting that I’m a completely, completely different person than I was a year ago. The first thought that ‘God, I hope I have wrinkles. I hope I see my 50’s and 60’s and 70’s.’ I now look at wrinkles as a badge of honor. And it’s just a completely different way of looking at life.”

Her oncologist has asked breast cancer survivors, “If I took away your cancer experience, would you go back?” According to Amy, “Not a single one of them would take you up on the idea. Because the people they became, the people they emerged were far superior to anything they would have been, if it hadn’t gone through this… I never knew how beautiful life was until I had cancer.”

Amy’s delivery was remarkable in its sincerity and brutal honesty resulting in a kindred spirit and a standing ovation. In the years ahead, the challenge will be to top Amy Robach.