JUST IN: Crystal Charity Ball’s 2017 Ten Best Dressed, Hall Of Fame Honoree And A Change Of Fashion Show/Luncheon Location Revealed

This morning the Crystal Charity Ball’s 2017 Ten Best Dressed were announced at Neiman Marcus Downtown. Fashionable drum roll, please.

This year’s collection of clothes-loving and community-supporting ladies include: Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven, Pat Harloe, Julie Hawes, Amy Hegi and Piper Wyatt.

Amy Hegi, Piper Wyatt, Julie Hawes, Pat Harloe, Janie Condon, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Tucker Enthoven, Katherine Coker, Delilah Boyd, Anita Arnold and Lisa Cooley

Also making the runway on Friday, September 15, for the annual Fashion Show and Luncheon, will be Hall of Fame Honoree Charlotte Jones Anderson, daughter of 2012 Hall of Fame Honoree Gene Jones. It was the first time in the TBD history that a mother and daughter were in the TBD Hall of Fame.

Charlotte Jones Anderson and Gene Jones

And speaking of the catwalk, it won’t be in a tent. Nope! After three years of camping out in the adjacent parking lot, the Neiman Marcus crew is bringing it back inside the NM Downtown mother ship complete with designer Zac Posen and his Resort 2017 collection.

CCB Chair Pam Perella and Fashion Show and Luncheon Chair Christi Urschel reported that tickets to the fundraiser will go on sale later this month. Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted on when they’ll be available.

But you’d better be swift turning those checks in, because this one usually sells out within minutes. And remember — the bigger the check, the bigger the perks. The Platinum Circle donors will be treated to a seated dinner sponsored by Comerica Bank on Tuesday, September 5, and Platinum Patrons will be invited to a cocktail buffet sponsored by J.P. Morgan the night before the fashion show and luncheon.

This year’s plan calls for $5.8M to be raised and provided for seven beneficiaries — Autism Treatment Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Medical Center Foundation, Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance, Hunger Busters, Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation, Rainbow Days and Santa Clare of Assisi Catholic Academy.

JUST IN: Top-Tier Moms And Daughters Are Coming Together For Family Gateway To End Homelessness For Children And Their Families

This year’s Family Gateway’s Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon on Thursday, September 7, at the Omni Dallas is simply brimming with all types of mother-daughter relationships. To begin with, the organization was founded by the late Mayor Annette Strauss 31 years ago to “create sufficient stable housing and to expand availability and access to life-changing services to that every homeless child and their family has a path out of poverty to a brighter future.” With Annette’s inspiration in mind, Luncheon Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz have arranged to have Annette’s daughters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr to serve as honorary co-chairs.

Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr (File photo)

But wait! There’s more.

The keynote speaker will be former first lady Laura Bush, whose daughter Jenna Bush Hager addressed the group last year with mom in the audience.

According to Family Gateway CEO Ellen Magnis, “We are honored to have Mrs. Bush’s involvement in our Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon and to have her support of our agency. As an advocate for education and the empowerment of women and girls, Mrs. Bush understands how critical early childhood education is to breaking the cycle of homelessness. Education is an important part of our program at Family Gateway, and we are grateful for Mrs. Bush’s efforts to raise awareness.”  

With MetroPCS as the presenting sponsor, underwriting co-chairs will be another mom-dotter team —Lisa Cooley and her daughter Ciara Cooley.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available now. How about getting that Mother’s Day gift locked down now?

2016 Partners Card Total Take Of $1,050,000 Revealed Plus Plans For The 2017 Fundraiser For The Family Place

Just a few blocks away from Communities in Schools at Samuel Lynne Galleries, The Family Place crowd was at Bungalow 5 to celebrate the year’s take of the annual Partners Card and to hear plans for the 2017 fundraiser.

As The Family Place’s Paige Flink and Melissa Sherrill in black and white scurried through the 100+ guests, Catherine New made her 2017 debut following breast cancer reconstruction surgery. While she admitted to Anne Conner and her daughter-in-law Ryan Conner that heading back to work at the Hilton Anatole that week had been a bit too much, she was better managing her return to full form for the spring season.

Ryan Conner, Anne Conner and Catherine New

In another part of Bungalow 5, Honorary Chair Lisa Cooley and Susan Farris were asking if there had been any news about new Crystal Charity Ball members. That would come later in the evening. 

Lisa’s escort for the evening, Larry Hackett, told how he had lost 150 pounds due to a gluten-free diet and twice-a-day exercise program.

Lisa Cooley, Larry Hackett and Susan Farris

Joyce Fox arrived with Doris Jacobs on the scene just before the reveal of the final total earned. Doris reported that husband Jack Jacobs was on the mend from surgery.

With 2016 Partners Card Co-Chairs Elizabeth Dacus, Jane Rozelle and Samantha Wortley smiling, Paige revealed that $1,050,000 had been provided for the organization thanks to the annual spend-around-town fundraiser.

Paige added, “These funds are critical and will provide over 15,000 nights of shelter and support to the women, men and children who come to The Family Place to escape a violent situation.”

The amount was thanks to presenting sponsor Bank of Texas, 2016 top sellers Sara Robinson and Cass Robinson, who sold 162 Partners Cards; Paula Davis, who sold 155 Partners Cards; and Nancy Scripps, who sold 130 Partners Cards.

It was also revealed that plans for the upcoming 25th anniversary of Partners Card are already locked down. According to Bank of Texas Market President Ryan Suchala, the bank will once again be the presenting sponsor with Brynn Bagot Allday and Jennifer Burns serving as co-chairs with the help of “other past Partners Card chairs, who are joining together to make the anniversary year the best yet.”

JUST IN: Lisa And Clay Cooley To Chair 2017 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala With Yo-Yo Ma As Featured Musician

The day is already starting with breaking news. This announcement comes from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra about its 2017 DSO Gala on Saturday, September 16. DSO President/CEO Jonathan Martin just revealed that Lisa and Clay Cooley will be co-chairing this year’s black-tie gala at the Meyerson.

Clay and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

According to Jonathan, “We are delighted that Lisa and Clay have agreed to chair this year’s gala. Their philanthropic work in Dallas is strongly recognized in our community, and we know they will lead an event that will be a night to remember.”

Among the Cooleys’ numerous philanthropic involvement are The Crystal Charity Ball, The Cattle Baron’s Ball, The American Cancer Society, The Family Place, New Friends New Life, Family Gateway, American Heart Association, The Dallas Opera, Callier Center for Communication Disorders, St. Mark’s School of Texas, The Hockaday School and Southern Methodist University.

The gala event is considered the fall season opener for black-tie fundraising with photographers hustling to snap the elegant crowd during the reception preceding the seated dinner in the Meyerson lobby and the concert in the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall.

But there’s still more news from Jonathan! Internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will be the guest musician performing the Dvořák Cello Concerto with DSO Music Director Jaap van Zweden and the DSO. 

Japp van Zweden and Yo-Yo Ma (File photo)

Jonathan said, “There is no bigger soloist in classical music than Yo-Yo Ma. He is revered for his musicianship as well as his commitment to education. We are so pleased that he will be the Gala guest artist to kick off and celebrate the 10th and Farewell Celebration Season of Music Director Jaap van Zweden.”

Yo-Yo is a perfect pick. In addition to being over-the-top brilliant with a bow, he’s incredibly fun and, like the Cooleys, has a killer smile.

There are three opportunities to join the fun:

  • For full blown gala tickets, table purchases and gala sponsorships, contact Tab Boyles at 214.871.4045.
  • If you’re a season subscriber or were thinking about it, you can purchase concert/after-party tickets starting Saturday, February 11.
  • Single tickets for non-subscribers will go on sale Wednesday, April 12.

For a complete read of all the deets, follow the jump for the full release. Then get your reservations in and go shopping for that pretty new frock. [Read more…]

JUST IN: Actor, Businessman, Thorn Co-Founder Ashton Kutcher To Be New Friends New Life 14th Annual Luncheon Speaker

Tanya Foster and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

This spring’s lineup of luncheon speakers/special guests was sorta looking like a girls-only situation (Simone Biles for Jonathan’s Place, Bethenny Frankel for Community Partners of Dallas, Robin Roberts for Interfaith Family Services, Rachel Zoe for Mad Hatters Tea, Nancy Kerrigan for The Elisa Project and Arianna Huffington for Genesis).

But leave it to New Friends New Life’s 14th Annual Luncheon Co-Chairs Lisa Cooley and Tanya Foster to provide someone smart, influential, successful and of the male gender to serve as guest speaker — Ashton Kutcher.

Ashton Kutcher*

Whoa! Why Ashton? Yes, he’s hot. Yes, he’s a movie star. Yes, the last time he was seen in this neck of the woods was for the iced-over Super Bowl with then-wife Demi Moore. And, yes, he’s now happily married to Mila Kunis and the very cool father of two.

So, what does he have to do with New Friends New Life’s mission of restoring and empowering formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teens and children?” A heck of a lot and it ain’t no recent undertaking!

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (File photo)

When he was married to Demi, the couple founded Thorn, an organization that develops innovative technology solutions to fight the sexual exploitation of children.

According to Ashton, “Technology has completely changed the landscape when it comes to the abuse and exploitation of children. We created Thorn as a way to turn the tables and leverage technology to be a part of the solution, instead of a part of the problem.”

While the marriage didn’t last, Thorn did. It has “helped law enforcement identify and recover over 6,000 domestic human tracking victims to date (with 474 of those victims being received in the state of Texas).”

And Dallas is a major point of interest for his work.

Tanya pointed out that “In Dallas alone, sex trafficking is a $99 million criminal enterprise. Enlightened by so many staggering statistics and stories from survivors, Lisa and I are committed to rallying the support needed to bring an end to this injustice. There is much work to be done. ”

The luncheon will take place on Wednesday, May 10, at the Omni Dallas Hotel with Gail and Gerald Turner serving as honorary co-chairs. Sponsorships are now available ranging from $2,500-$100,000. Individual tickets will be available in March, but don’t wait. Splurge and become a sponsor by calling Jennifer Yarbrough at 214.965.0935.

* Photo credit: Nigel Parry/CPI Syndication

St. Valentine’s Day Luncheon Chair Heather Randall Revealed Plans For February Event, As Leukemia Survivor Bennett Williams Made Funny Faces

Having recovered from Halloween and heading toward the fall/winter final fundraising period, the St. Valentine’s Day Luncheon crowd gathered some 75 strong at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s sweet estate. Thanks to a delayed start by the rain gods, the golf-cart shuttle moved seamlessly across the bridge and to the main house.

Lisa Cooley and Jill Rowlett

Lisa Cooley and Jill Rowlett

Dee Wyly

Dee Wyly

There, such folks as Jill Rowlett, Dee Wyly, Kris Sanger, Elizabeth Gambrell, and Claire and Dwight Emanuelson settled in the living room to hear the plans, except for Angela Nash, who hunkered down in the balcony overlooking the first floor.

Clay Cooley and Dwight Emanuelson

Clay Cooley and Dwight Emanuelson

Heather Randall

Heather Randall

St. V-Day Luncheon Chair Heather Randall reported that the presentation of Highland Park Village fashions would take place on Valentine’s Day itself (aka Tuesday, February 14) at the Meyerson Symphony Center. This year’s theme would be Affair Of The Heart with Tracy and Ben Lange serving as honorary co-chairs, Gina Betts and Michael Flores as advisory co-chairs and Daffan Nettle and Yvette Ostolaza as underwriting co-chairs.

Kirsa Willliams, Bennett Williams, Keith Williams, Ava Williams and Ellie Williams

Kirsa Willliams, Bennett Williams, Keith Williams, Ava Williams and Ellie Williams

She then reeled off some of the sponsors (the fundraising goal is $1M) and introduced Spirit of Tom Landry Character Awardee Bennett Williams. While his mom, Kirsa Williams, thanked guests for making funds available for leukemia and lymphoma research and development, Bennett sat on a couch with his dad, Keith Williams, and his sisters, Ava Williams and Ellie Williams. Kirsa’s sincerity was so moving as she described her son’s being diagnosed at 13 months (imagine: 1,207 days of chemotherapy). Still, she was a bit upstaged by Bennett’s making funny faces. Hey! He’s just a kiddo surrounded by a room full of adults, and the hour was getting late. And, like his predecessors, who have also managed to conquer the blood disorder, he’s still a youngster at heart.

Big surprise for some was the presenting sponsor news — Nancy C. and Richard Rogers. The surprise was due to Nancy’s claiming that she was officially retiring. However, if you read between the lines, she probably meant that she was just backing off of chairing events, but would still support certain fundraising with her attendance and support.

Tickets are already available starting at $300 and, of course, sponsorships run the gamut.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Partners Card

According to Partners Card Co-Chairs Elizabeth Dacus, Jane Rozelle and Samantha Wortley and Honorary Chair Lisa Cooley,

Jane Rozelle, Lisa Cooley, Elizabeth Dacus and Samantha Wortley*

Jane Rozelle, Lisa Cooley, Elizabeth Dacus and Samantha Wortley*

“Shop Like a Hero by saving money and a life during Partners Card, presented by Bank of Texas. With the purchase of a $70 card, cardholders will receive a 20-percent discount at some of their favorite stores and restaurants while supporting The Family Place, Dallas’ longest-serving family violence agency. The annual 10-day shopping extravaganza is set for Thursday, October 28, through Sunday, November 6, and 100% of the proceeds from card sales directly benefit The Family Place and its programs.

“With more than 750 participating retailers and restaurants in Dallas, Arlington, Grapevine, McKinney, Plano, Southlake, Richardson, Frisco, Flower Mound, Addison, Garland, Rockwall and Lewisville, Partners Card is one of the most highly anticipated shopping events in the Dallas Metroplex.

“The money raised through the Partners Card program is crucial to providing support for the women, men and children who are victims of family violence. Partners Card has become the largest fundraiser for The Family Place, and in its history, has helped raise more than $16 million.

“Partners Cards go on sale in September. New this year, individuals can download the Partners Card app from the App Store or Google Play to purchase the card and view available stores to shop. You can also purchase a Partners Card from any participating retailer or restaurant, card-selling individual, through direct mail or by visiting www.partnerscard.org. For more information, contact the Partners Card Hotline at 214.443.7754 or email [email protected].

“Our goal this year is to sell 16,000 cards. We hope you will help us reach this goal and Shop Like a Hero during the 24th Annual Partners Card fundraiser!”

* Photo provided by The Family Place

Young Women’s Preparatory Network Reports Evelyn Henry Miller To Chair Board And Adds Three New Board Members

It must be harvest time for area non-profits. The crop of new board members seems is flourishing. Now the Young Women’s Preparatory Network has added three new members to its board and announced that longtime board member Evelyn Henry Miller has been named board chairman.

Evelyn Henry Miller*

Evelyn Henry Miller*

Christine Breck*

Christine Breck*

The newbies include financial expert Christine Breck, philanthropist Lisa Cooley and education consultant Stef Mauler. They will be joining the current board made up of Matt Adams, Laura Estrada, Margaret Keliher, Barbara D’Auria Lerner, Marion Flores, Camie Shelmire, Michele Snyder, Kelly Tacke and Michele Vobach. Honorary Directors are Gina Betts and Todd Williams.

Lisa Cooley (File photo)

Lisa Cooley (File photo)

Stef Mauler*

Stef Mauler*

According to YWPN CEO Lynn McBee, “Evelyn has been a founding board member and has helped guide the organization from the very beginning and continues to do so because she’s passionate about our mission. We’re also pleased to have Christine, Lisa and Stef join us as their experience, leadership and energy are what the network needs to serve our young women.”

* Photo provided by Young Women's Preparatory Network

For more details about the new board members and Evelyn, just follow the jump! [Read more…]

Former First Twin Jenna Bush Hager To Be Keynote Speaker For Family Gateway’s Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

North Texas was starting to take on the profile of Seattle South thanks to the deluge of May rain. It would have been a perfect format for bumbershoot jokes, except the loss of life and property weren’t the least bit humorous.

But thanks to a break in the rain on Wednesday, June 1, the skies cleared for the Family Gateway Kick-Off Party at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s home.

Christie Carter, Angie Kadesky, Lisa Cooley and Anne Davidson

Christie Carter, Angie Kadesky, Lisa Cooley and Anne Davidson

Chef Kent Rathbun told Christie Carter that the rain had indeed filled his towering cisterns. He added that the gallons could easily be drained in a week to water his acreage. What Kent wasn’t talking about was the behind-the-scenes issues that were developing in his relationship with his majority partner Bill Hyde. But who wanted to chat up business entanglements; Kent and wife Tracy Rathbun were focused on their duties as honorary co-chairs for the Family Gateway’s Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel with former first twin Jenna Bush Hager as the guest speaker.

Speaking of acreage, another fellow looking at the Cooley grounds wondered aloud if Clay ever tossed a line for fishing from the bridge over the property’s creek. The answer? According to Clay, he doesn’t fish the property. He feeds the finny residents. Only problem? The koi on the upper pond keep tumbling down to the lower pond. Plans are underway to resolve the southward swim.

Marissa Castro Mikoy, Ben and Tracy Lange

Marissa Castro Mikoy, Ben and Tracy Lange

Others in the crowd were Ben Lange, who will chair the After-School All-Stars, AFAS Executive Director Marissa Castro Mikoy, Britton Lynn, Angie Kadesky and Anne Davidson.

Paula Miltenberger

Paula Miltenberger

Ciara Cooley and Clay Cooley

Ciara Cooley and Clay Cooley

The guests moved into the den to learn more about Family Gateway and plans for the upcoming Gateway To Opportunities that will be co-chaired by Tracy Lange and Paula Miltenberger. Underwriting will be handled by Lisa and daughter Ciara Cooley, who is the youngest member of Family Gateway’s board.

Sponsorships start at $7,500 and tickets can be snapped up for $

JUST IN: Lisa Cooley And Tanya Foster To Co-Chair New Friends New Life Luncheon

The flood of news continues! Initial plans for the annual New Friends New Life Luncheon are already underway. It will be held on Wednesday, May 10, at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Heading up the New Friends New Life benefit will be gal pals Lisa Cooley and Tanya Foster.

Tanya Foster and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

Tanya Foster and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

Despite all types of cajoling and downright begging, neither of the ladies is letting on who the speaker will be. Hmm, in the past the luncheon has had Nicolas Sparks, Barbara Pierce Bush, Sally Fields, Kevin Costner and Amal Clooney on stage. The mind boggles trying to figure out what name will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

Stay tuned. Oh, and don’t bother signing up for a ticket. They ain’t available right now, but sponsorships are. Feel free to ask about ’em.

BTW, it’s no longer called the Wings Luncheon. Guess too many peeps thought it was a fundraiser for retired flight attendants.

2016 Crystal Charity Ball Theme Revealed There Is A Season For Everything

It almost seemed surreal. On Tuesday, May 3, Lisa and Clay Cooley’s estate could have easily given Versailles or the Dallas Arboretum a run for glory. With fountains flowing on one side of the bridge and a tennis court on the other, pink, white and red flowers highlighted the Bluffview estate. Trams breezed the guests from the valet at the front gate to the Cooleys’ front door. For those who wished to take in the beauty of the grounds, it was perfect weather to stroll to the scene of the 2016 Crystal Charity Ball theme announcement party.

Lisa and Clay Cooley estate

Lisa and Clay Cooley estate

Early arrivals Dwight Emanuelson and Gregory Dunbar talked with Clay, who joshed about having spent the day planting the hundreds of flowers. Later Clay told how he just followed the marching orders from General Lisa. When asked about the upcoming nuptials of son Chase Cooley to Bela Pjetrovic, he admitted that his input was not gonna be necessary. As for high school graduating son, Chance Cooley, Clay said the youngest Cooley had scatted in his white Jeep when he saw the lineup of cars arriving at the front gate.

Violinists

Violinists

Along with the guests, a handful of violinists arrived and were soon located under the winding staircase to provide music. On the other side of the stairway was a decorative easel with a plaque bordered with beautiful flowers. In the center was written, “To everything there is a season.” A clue of things to come.

Plaque

Plaque

When the two-story living room filled with guests, the great room filled the bill for the overflow. Everywhere one looked were food, flowers and flickering candles in votives. Upstairs it was another story entirely. Designer Nardos Imam was literally sewing willowy Jan Strimple into a gown specifically created for the occasion.

Then word was passed downstairs to gather in the living room, where the announcement of the 2016 Crystal Charity Ball theme would be announced by CCB Chair Christie Carter, who was now on the stairway introducing the evening’s sponsor Bank of Texas Dallas Market President Ryan Suchala, who graciously thanked the CCB-ers and then turned the focus on the seven beneficiaries including the Paiges (Flink and McDaniel).

Christie Carter, Jan Strimple and Ryan Suchala

Christie Carter, Jan Strimple and Ryan Suchala

Christie then returned to reveal that Tom Addis would be the event producer, with Junior Villanueva providing the floral highlights and Lambert’s the greenery. As for the  theme, Christie announced it would be, “To everything there is a season.”

On cue, Jan in gown and a floral headdress created by Junior serenely descended the staircase. In her right hand was a silvery gray folder with flowers that matched those on her gown. Looking at the crowd of men and women who were mesmerized by the tall red-haired spring nymph, Jan opened the book and read the verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

No sooner had Jan closed the book and the applause had died down than she was surrounded by guests wanting to have their photo taken with her or asking about her gown and head dressing.

Children’s Cancer Fund’s “An Evening In Oz” Broke All Previous Records With Cancer-Fighting Kids And Celebrity Escorts

Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley

Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley

Unlike years past, this year’s Children’s Cancer Fund annual fundraiser for Children’s Health took on a different spin on Friday, April 22. Instead of a luncheon, Event Co-Chairs Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley moved it to nighttime with “An Evening In Oz” as the theme. And the only thing missing was the horse of a different color! And the decision to move it worked, because the evening’s net … oops, can’t reveal it because the board is keeping that number under wraps. Still word has it that it was a record breaker.

But from the beginning of the night, it was obvious that more than Dorothy’s red slippers had been clicking for wishes to come true. As the girl from Kansas and her pals welcomed more than 900 guests at the Anatole, the munchkin artists and models were hunkered down in the Wedgwood Room with makeup being applied, hair curled and partying. In the meantime, the older high-paying kids were in the Peacock Room for the VIP meet-and-greet with Honorary Co-Chairs Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach.

Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Tin Man

Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Tin Man

Over to the side, Marianne Staubach reported that they had just returned from Disneyland with daughter Amy Mentgen and her kids. She admitted that after making the rounds of the park with the grand-kids, the adults were worn out.

Bela Pjetrovic and Chase Cooley

Bela Pjetrovic and Chase Cooley

In another part of the room Bela Pjetrovic and mustachioed Chase Cooley were being congratulated on their recent engagement. Has a date been set? Nothing definite yet, but April 2017 is looking good. And speaking of mustaches, Cooley dad Clay recalled that when he and wife Lisa met, he also had a mustache and long hair.

Another dad in the crowd was Ben Lange, sans son/T-shirt entrepreneur Luke Lange, who was at Benihana for a birthday. The mention of Benihana set off a memory for Clay, who remembered how in the early days, Chase’s birthdays were celebrated there.

All too soon the VIPs adjourned to join the hundreds of others checking out the silent auction in the Chantilly Ballroom reception area just as the ballroom doors were opened.

Missy Chami and Anne Davidson

Missy Chami and Anne Davidson

Inside the ballroom, it appeared as if the Emerald City of Oz had indeed taken up residence, with a stage for the Emerald City band at one end and the presentation stage with runway at the other. All around were tables with folks like presenting sponsor Anne Davidson, Cindy Turner, Suzy Gekiere, Patti Flowers, Tanya and Pete Foster, Mary Meier, Betty Turner and Mary Poss.

Serving as background for the stage were mega scenes straight from “The Wizard of Oz,” including the yellow brick road leading through the field of poppies to the city of Oz.

First on stage were Roger and Troy, joined by Lisa with Emme Nees and Giora with son Jack Barker. The exchange between Rog (this was his 28th CCF appearance) and Troy (it was his 20th) proved their ongoing commitment to battling children’s cancer as well as their mutual respect and friendship for each other.

Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

Following Lisa’s and Giora’s personal testimonials about each of their reasons for undertaking the fundraiser, Tom Gilchrist sang a capella the Lord’s Prayer. (Quipped Roger afterward: “I’d trade my Heisman for a voice like that.”)

Under the direction of special events producer Rhonda Sargent Chambers, not a moment was lost for the fashion show of Dillard’s kiddo clothes. As Rog, Troy et al left the stage, emcee Scott Murray arrived at the podium to introduce the Children’s Cancer Fund artists and their celebrity escorts including

  • 6-year-old Cooper Dorr with Roger
  • 10-year-old Hayden Ritchie with Troy
  • 12-year-old Mercedes Howdeshell with Tara Pavlock and Ashleigh Panelli
  • 9-year-old Myles Allison with Jason Garrett
  • 13-year-old Carsyn Sapp with Sunny Malouf
  • 7-year-old Corbin Glasscock with Terrance Williams
  • 5-year-old Kamryn Rakestraw with Jim Stroud
  • 11-year-old Maxwell Matlock with members of the Dallas SWAT
  • 5-year-old Reese Skelte with “Dorothy”
  • 11-year-old Keamus Bryant with Medieval Times Red Knight
  • 8-year-old Trip Rowley with Brandon Carr

Unfortunately, 5-year-old Flick Blevins was under the weather and couldn’t make the event. In his stead, Dallas Fire Department #19’s Jerry Hooker, Michael Wolfe, Derrick Brouhard and John Keeler walked the runway holding his photo.

At this point, Scott introduced KDFW’s Clarice Tinsley to introduce the other cancer-surviving children and their celebrity escorts, including:

  • 13-year-old Andrew Russell with Kaitlyn Wade
  • 16-year-old Sabeen Wazir with Jake Pavelka
  • 6-year-old Jackson Houser with Morris Claiborne
  • 6-year-old Rina Cantrell with Jane McGarry
  • 15-year-old Saket Ashar with Dr. Ted Laetsch
  • 9-year-old Laura Beth Rote with Brianna Kiesel
  • 10-year-old Brady Pampilonia with Kliff Kingsbury
  • 9-year-old Julissa Garcia with Jocelyn White
  • 11-year-old Juan Lopez with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and Rowdy
  • 7-year-old Jordan McDowell with Miss Texas America
  • 16-year-old Averi Moya with Mitch Gaylord
  • 10-year-old Julia Brown with Amy Vanderoef
  • 12-year-old Christian Arroyo with Byron Jones
  • 9-year-old Lynette Quintana with the Pink Heals Firefighters
Andrew Russell and Kaitlyn Wade

Andrew Russell and Kaitlyn Wade

As 18-year-old Kaitlyn Wade escorted child artist Andrew Russell, Marianne recalled how, years ago, Rog had escorted the pretty blonde on the runway when she was presented. Yes, she had conquered leukemia, but her story of challenges hadn’t end there. After winning the battle, she was the victim of a drunk driver. As the result of the horrendous car accident, 9-year-old Kaitlyn “spent two months in a coma and six months at Cook Children’s before she could return home.”

But on this evening, the emphasis was on the current crop of cancer-conquering kids as they mugged, twirled and charmed their way on the catwalk. Blonde Brill Garrett cheered each one like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Okay, so maybe she had an extra whoop when husband Jason took his turn in the spotlight with Myles Allison.

All of this was building up to the live auction. Troy won the trip to the Masters and learned from Rog all the perks associated with the package. Jana and Mike Brosin won the artwork created by CCF Gala artists and Christopher Martin.

To the delight of many of the ladies in the audience, Jake “The Bachelor” Pavelka was doing double duty. In addition to walking the runway, he also was part of the “Dancing With The Stars” package. Shoot! They could have auctioned off pictures with Jake and won a passel of dough, as lady after lady wanted a quick cell-snap with the cutie. But it was Tracy and Ben Lange who won the package. So, watch for them during Season 23 that is scheduled to air this fall.

As soon as the live auction ended, the focus shifted to the other end of the ballroom, where Emerald City took over to get guests on their feet and dancing the night away.

For more pictures from “An Evening in Oz,” check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2016 Children’s Cancer Fund’s “An Evening In Oz”

Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley

Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley

Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

The annual Children’s Cancer Fund’s super-duper fashion show with celebrities escorting cancer-surviving children on the runway in Dillard’s clothes took a turn on Friday, April 22. Co-Chairs Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley shifted the usual luncheon fundraiser to “An Evening In Oz” at the Hilton Anatole.

Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Tin Man

Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Tin Man

Joining Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man were Honorary Co-Chairs Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach and nearly 900 other pals.

While the post is being finalized, check out the scenes at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

2016 Crystal Charity Ball Frosh Class Of Members Were Honored At Luncheon In The Zodiac Room

Unlike freshmen, the Crystal Charity Ball newbies don’t have to go through all types of tests and teases. Instead they’re treated a bit like Princess Charlotte as they learn the organization’s fine art of fundraising. One of the perks is a lunch, where they get to meet and break bread with the upperclass(wo)men. This year, unlike others, it was held at Neiman Marcus Downtown on Monday, April 18.

Surprise! For the early arrival types, they checked their cars at the parking area adjacent to the flagship store. Alas, pity those who were tardy. After waiting a minute or two or three or five, they were waved off being told the lot was full.

After word was passed on by the rejected ones, NM Downtown VP Jeff Byron corrected that situation. According to insiders, the problem was due to NM staffers now officing in the store who parked their wheels in the lot.

Katherine Coker, Cheryl Joyner and Mary-Elizabeth Carrell

Katherine Coker, Cheryl Joyner and Mary-Elizabeth Carrell

(Shades of yesteryear, when there was a hyphen between Neiman and Marcus and the parking lot had been verboten for any but customers. Oh, well, those were the days when there were actual signs of the zodiac on the walls of the restaurant, gents had to wear jackets to dine and models visited tables showing new items for purchase.)

Muffin Lemak

Muffin Lemak

Layne Pitzer and Louise Griffeth

Layne Pitzer and Louise Griffeth

But back to the day’s events. As the ladies gathered, unofficial news filled the room. Amy Hegi and newbie Libby Hegi were still receiving kudos on their co-chairing the Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon… Newbie Lisa Cooley was just days away from co-chairing the Children’s Cancer Fund’s first night-time gala…Muffin Lemak was looking great despite a battle with shingles in her eye, even though she’d had the shingles vaccination…Tiffany Divis was being asked about the past weekend party at the Bush Center hosted by Laura and George W. for their past staffers…Paige Slates and other moms were comparing notes about kids’ summer camps and trunks being personalized by Camille’s Creations….Sporting a new haircut, Louise Griffeth was back in town after spending months in Houston with husband Guy Griffeth.

Christie Carter and Lisa Cooley

Christie Carter and Lisa Cooley

Debbie Oates and Alison Malone

Debbie Oates and Alison Malone

Soon, the gals took their seats and Jeff introduced CCB Chair Christie Carter, who asked “den mothers” Heather Esping and Kim Miller to introduce the newest CCB members (Lisa Cooley, Michaela Dyer, Libby Hegi, Stacey McCord, Alison Malone and Layne Pitzer).

Marie Dean, Daffan Nettle and April Abney-Lambert

Marie Dean, Daffan Nettle and April Abney-Lambert

Then it was time to chow down. While some were a little surprised that there were no models showing off CCB Fashion Show designer Carolina Herrera’s designs, others were hungry for the legendary NM mouthwatering popovers. Despite requests, only one or two tables got the goodies. Oh, well, guess breaking bread just wasn’t on the agenda.

JUST IN: 2016 Crystal Charity Ball’s Theme Announced

Jan Strimple demonstrates the season of spring

Jan Strimple demonstrates the season of spring

The news that will determine the gowns and gems that will scene steal at the 2016 Crystal Charity Ball was just announced a few minutes ago at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s breathtaking Bluffview estate. It’s the mega-fundraising gala’s theme!

With CCB Chair Christie Carter revealing the theme would be “To Everything There is a Season,” czarina model Jan Strimple read the verses of the theme after doing a jaw-dropping strolled down the Cooley stairway wearing an amazing floral headpiece and a killer gown especially created for the announcement.

With a goal of $5.6M to benefit Community Partners of Dallas, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, Hope Supply Co., Notre Dame School, Parkland Foundation, Teach for America and The Family Place, the black-tie gala will take place at the Hilton Anatole on Saturday, December 3. The fundraiser will be orchestrated by veteran event producer Tom Addis and supported by The Garden Gate’s Junior Villanueva and Lambert’s Landscape Design’s Paul Fields.

The announcement party was underwritten by Lisa and Clay and was sponsored by Bank of Texas.

Designers, get your creative juices going to come up with knock-out looks for the December ball.

More deets to follow, but gee-whiz. Let’s see. So many seasons to pick. Spring blossoms? Summer’s red-white-and-blue? Fall’s golden colors? Hmm. The wintry season glistening ice (aka diamonds)? Can’t wait to see the picks of the season in fashion.

Fashion Guru Tim Gunn, Who’s In ‘Awe’ Of Dallas Women, Attracts Huge Crowd To CPD’s 10th Anniversary Chick Lit Luncheon

Anyone doubting the popularity in Dallas of “Project Runway” co-host/producer Tim Gunn should have checked out the scene at the Friday, April 1, Chick Lit Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole. The event benefiting Community Partners of Dallas and featuring the author and TV star drew a crowd of 1,100—up from the annual luncheon’s 650 or so that it’s usually drawn at its longtime venue, Brook Hollow Country Club.

This was Chick Lit’s 10th anniversary luncheon, but surely the huge crowd wasn’t due only to that? “I give credit to our chairs—and to Tim,” CPD President and CEO Paige McDaniel said before the luncheon at the VIP reception in the Anatole’s Stemmons Ballroom. “All girls like fashion, and he’s just … well, when Joanna [Clarke, CPD’s development VP] and I used to talk about guests at our fantasy dinner party, we each had two people in common: Tim Gunn and Jesus!

“So, it was easy this year,” McDaniel went on. “Everybody wanted to come.”

Tim Gunn, Lara and Robert Tafel*

Tim Gunn, Lara and Robert Tafel*

At that moment, the star of the day was demonstrating his charisma across the room at the step-and-repeat, where guests were lined up to meet Gunn and have their photos taken with him. Among them were Elizabeth Gambrell (she’s a CPD director), Anne Stodghill, Dee Simmons, D’Andra Simmons, and Lara Tafel, who was once again the luncheon’s presenting sponsor along with her husband, Dr. Robert Tafel.

Megan Flannagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo and Samantha Wortley*

Megan Flannagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo and Samantha Wortley*

Jennifer Evans Morris, Krissy Turner and Lauren Reed*

Jennifer Evans Morris, Krissy Turner and Lauren Reed*

Soon Dr. Bob joined his wife for a photo with Gunn, who promptly remarked on the doctor’s colorful pocket square. The TV star pulled the handkerchief out of Tafel’s suit coat, demonstrated another way to fold such an adornment, and then stuffed it back into Bob’s breast pocket—much to Bob and Lara’s delight.

Soon enough, the 1,100 guests including CPD Board Chair Krissy Turner, Jocelyn White, Lee Bailey, Lisa Cooley, Faisal Halum, Holly Davis, Lori Williams, Alissa Gearing, Jennifer Evans Morris, Lauren Reed, Megan Flanagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo, Samantha Wortley, Katherine Coker and Simona Beal began making their way into the Imperial Ballroom upstairs.

Kristi Hoyl*

Kristi Hoyl*

Nancy Rogers and Brian Bolke*

Nancy Rogers and Brian Bolke*

Luncheon Chair Kristi Hoyl made the welcoming remarks, thanking the Tafels, Honorary Chair Brian Bolke, Underwriting Chairs Cindy Stager and Jill Tananbaum, and Paige and Joanna (“they are angels walking on the earth”). Then Kristi brought up Rev. Elizabeth Moseley from Highland Park United Methodist Church, who delivered the invocation. (Rev. Moseley, BTW, was introduced as a “minister of discipline,” rather than with her actual title, “minister of discipleship.” Hmmmm. Maybe Queenie needs to hire a minister of discipline for misbehaving elves.)

Paige McDaniel and Jill Bee*

Paige McDaniel and Jill Bee*

After lunch was served—a delicious Mediterranean chicken salad and a strawberry “Happy Birthday” cupcake—videos were played honoring Jill C. Bee with the 2016 Partners for Children Award and the Tafels, who were presented with the 10th Anniversary Champions of Hope Award. Then Paige took the stage, telling how all the guests had “agonized over our outfits” trying to impress Gunn, before launching into a tearful talk about children who’d been helped by CPD, like two toddlers nicknamed Princess and King. Paige gave way to Bolke, who introduced the featured speaker as one of two people who’ve had a profound recent influence on the fashion world (the other, he said, was Sarah Jessica Parker of TV’s “Sex and the City”).

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Tim Gunn*

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Tim Gunn*

With that, Gunn—a former chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne Inc. who’s written four books—mounted the stage along with Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, who would interview him. Kim began by asking the fashion guru what led him to write books (his latest is titled “The Natty Professor: A Master Class on Mentoring, Motivating, and Making It Work!”). Gunn, the son of an FBI agent, grew up with words and books, he replied, and developed an interest in fashion history as an academic at the Parsons School of Design. “Most of the books [about fashion] are giant snoozefests,” he said. He set out to take a livelier approach, crediting the success of such works as “Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible and “Gunn’s Golden Rules in part to his editor and co-writer, Ava Calhoun.

Kim asked next what’s behind Gunn’s “kind but firm” approach to young designers on Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” now entering its 14th season. “I can’t want you to succeed more than you do,” Gunn said he tells the fledgling designers. In lieu of direct criticism he peppers them with questions about their design choices, hoping they’ll eventually see what he sees. What’s his favorite of Gunn’s “golden rules”? “The world owes you absolutely nothing!” he replied quickly. “Even though young people don’t like it. … We each have to make our own way and establish our value.” Gunn also explained his “TEACH” philosophy with students and mentees, using an explanation for each letter in the acronym: Truth-telling; Empathy; Asking lots of questions; Cheerleading; and Hoping for the best.

Tim Gunn*

Tim Gunn*

Prompted by his interviewer, Gunn said that when it comes to fashion, “I’d rather work with women than with men. Women are more open to experimentation, and men are so ridiculously intractable. I’ll tell them, ‘Good heavens, it’s a shirt. Put it on!’ ” He also complimented Dallas women on their fashion sense, adding, “I’m in awe of you! … I’d like to take you home with me!” Expanding on fashion in general, he said most people wear their clothes too big. (“Never use the phrase, ‘I only dress for comfort’ with me,” he said. “If you want to feel like you’re in your pajamas, don’t get out of bed.”) He also ripped the current “athleisure” trend including yoga pants, tights, and leggings worn as pants. “It’s an excuse to be a slob,” he said, calling leggings “a form of underwear.”

Wrapping up with a few questions from the audience, Gunn was asked his advice for budding designers. Since designers are barometric measures of our culture, he answered, they should watch TV and movies, read blogs and newspapers, and “assimilate it all” in order to “have a point of view and know who you are. [Knowledge of] construction is important, too,” Gunn said in conclusion, “as are perseverance and tenacity.”

The thunderous applause from the big crowd that followed was a testament to the fashion guru’s tremendous popularity, as mentioned by Paige at the VIP reception. But so, too, was the long wait for their cars that some in the huge crowd had to endure in the lengthy valet line. Although the luncheon wrapped up by about 1:15, some 50 guests were still standing outdoors in the cold breeze, scanning the horizon hopefully for their vehicles, nearly an hour later. There were just too darn many cars, it seems, for the valets to easily handle.

* Photos provided by Community Partners of Dallas

A Super-Duper Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4 Is Being Raffled Off For Children’s Cancer Fund’s “An Evening in Oz” Gala

Recently a cluster of kids and their moms headed to Clay Cooley Chevrolet in Irving. They weren’t going to buy a car or trade one in. No, they were there for a photo shoot.

As one mom and her kids left their car in the parking lot, she brushed her teenage daughter’s hair to be picture perfect. The daughter, Carsyn Sapp, looked smashing in black printed leggings and matching boots.

As they headed into the mammoth showroom, they were greeted by other mothers and their pre-teen munchkins. Some, like pretty-in-pink Kamryn Rakestraw, had bows in their blond hair. There was a whole gaggle of red-haired tykes including Reese Skelte, who was ready to rock and roll in multi-colored socks. But they all had one thing in common — each family had had a youngster who had emerged victorious in the battle against cancer.

The gathering was to promote the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala raffle of a very hunky Jeep. While the moms acted like everybody’s mom fussing with their kiddos, these moms were proven vets in the hand-holding department. Each had held the hands of one of their children through tests, diagnoses and treatments for cancer. And while a lot of parents may complain about waiting for ages in the car pool lane, these moms had held their breath too many times in waiting rooms.

Lisa Cooley, Kamryn Rakestraw, Carsyn Sapp, Reese Skelte and Clay Cooley

Lisa Cooley, Kamryn Rakestraw, Carsyn Sapp, Reese Skelte and Clay Cooley

As for Carsyn, she was the senior member of the cancer survivors at the shoot. Perhaps that’s why her smile seemed both youthful and ages old.

And what about the Jeep that is being raffled off at the Friday, April 22ndAn Evening In Oz” gala at the Hilton Anatole? Well, hold on to your steering wheel. This “customized 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4 valued at over $60K” is not some grocery-shopping SUV. Thanks to NTX Auto Master and Epic 4×44 Off Road, it is fully tricked out and a traffic stopper. The only thing missing is a microwave.

And how did CCF Gala Co-Chair Lisa Cooley manage to get the Jeep as the raffle prize? Well, it helps to have “friends” in the car business. You know…friends like husband Clay Cooley and his Clay Cooley Automotive Group that donated the fully-equipped Jeep.

If you want a gander at this sweetheart on wheels, it will be on display on NorthPark Center’s lower level between Nordstrom and Macy’s from Friday, April 1 through Monday, April 11. Raffle tickets are going for $100 per ticket or six for $500.

Thanks to funds raised at the April 22nd gala and by raffling off the Jeep, more research and treatments will help handholding moms and their kids like Carsyn, Kamryn and Reese.

BTW, if you see Carsyn, Kamryn and Reese on the runway at the gala, wave at them. They just might wave back.

2016 Children’s Cancer Fund Will Be A Nighttime Soiree And Roger Staubach Wants “To Beat The Hell Out Of This Disease”

The calm before the storm. That was Wednesday, November 4. By evening WFAA’s Pete Delkus still had his jacket on. It would soon to be removed. But before all heck broke loose for another bout with Mother Nature’s rocky personality, lucky fundraisers took a deep breath and filled the day with activities. It started just after 7 a.m. and ended past 9 p.m. Face it — fundraising doesn’t know an eight-hour day.

The launch of the Children’s Cancer Fund Kick-Off breakfast at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s wasn’t supposed to start until 7:45 a.m. But folks were showing up at 7:15 a.m. and the Cooleys were ready.

Lisa had been up at 5 and the crew of caterers and valets were in place at 7 for the near 200 to hear about plans for the 2016 fundraiser.

Jack Barker and Chance Cooley

Jack Barker and Chance Cooley

One of the guests in the crowd was Jesuit student Jack Barker, who was also a former classmate of Chance Cooley. Sure, his mom Giora Barker was co-chairing the 2016 Children’s Cancer Fund event with Lisa, but there was more to his being there and that would be revealed later.

Speaking of Chance, he couldn’t stay for the presentation. Had to head off to school in an ultra-cool car. As he prepared to drive off, Clay advised his son to drive safely.

Another cute fella in the crowd was Luke Lange, who posed with his folks Tracy and Ben Lange and Children’s Cancer Fund Honorary Co-Chair Roger Staubach.

Clay Cooley, Luke Lange and Ben Lange

Clay Cooley, Luke Lange and Ben Lange

With guests having business commitments at 9, the program ran like an atomic clock.

Lisa thanked folks for coming and Roger recalled how 28 years ago, when they held the first Children’s Cancer Fund event, “It was beautiful women in lingerie. Boy, we used to have a great turnout for that luncheon…and they still have a great turnout.”

He admitted that over the years there have been some very sad stories, but there have also been some great stories as a result of the Children’s Cancer Fund’s efforts.

Stephen Skapek

Stephen Skapek

Roger then turned the program over to Dr. Stephen Skapek and Dr. Patrick Leavey, who provided updates on children’s cancer.

Despite the barrage of statistics and facts that have been reeled off in the past, the cold reality of Stephen’s voice when he said, “I’m sick of children dying of cancer.”

To put a face with the situation, Giora and Jack took their places in front of the fireplace in the living room that was packed with people. They told of Jack’s successful battle against cancer and how it was due to the funding of research and treatments. Jack, who was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 12, spent the next three years with Children’s Health healthcare professionals and his family to beat the cancer. In 2010 he was one of the Children’s Cancer Fund’s artisans, who had an army supporting him. Today the 18-year old is on the Jesuit crew team, loves to scuba dive and ski and is his mother’s inspiration. He quickly became an inspiration for the early-morning risers in the room that included Children’s Cancer Fund Board President Karen McClard, Children’s Cancer Fund Executive Director Brittney Bannon, Coley Clark, Scott Murray and Children’s Cancer Fund Co-Founder Fred Shapiro.

Karen McClard, Lisa Cooley, Roger Staubach, Giora Barker and Brittney Bannon

Karen McClard, Lisa Cooley, Roger Staubach, Giora Barker and Brittney Bannon

Patrick Leavey and Fred Shapiro

Patrick Leavey and Fred Shapiro

Unlike years past, The Children’s Cancer Fund Gala fundraiser will be a nighttime affair on Friday, April 22, at the Hilton Anatole. Lisa explained that by having it at night, it would allow more men to attend and there wouldn’t be the problem of having to leave for an afternoon meeting.

In addition to the fashion show and auction, there will be dinner and entertainment by Emerald City. Tickets start at $300 per person.

According to Roger, they’ll be raffling off “a Clay Cooley car — a 1952 Plymouth.” No, that was just Roger joshing about the Plymouth, but he was right about a Cooley care being raffled off.

But Roger was serious when he said, “We need to beat the hell out of this disease.”

True to their promise, the breakfast meeting was a done deal in time for peeps to be off to those 9 o’clock commitments.

Lisa And Clay Cooley Host Cattle Baron’s Ball Research Reception With Hospitality, Golf Carts And Cancer Experts

Lisa Cooley knows her Texas weather. As she said on Tuesday, April 21, there are just a couple of perfect days when you can open the doors and let folks enjoy the great outdoors. And when it comes to spreads, Lisa and her Clay Cooley brood have quite a place.

Clay and Lisa Cooley, Chance Cooley and Ciara Cooley

Clay and Lisa Cooley, Chance Cooley and Ciara Cooley

Originally scheduled for Thursday, April 9, the weather boded end-of-the-world conditions with hail, winds and flooding against Cattle Baron’s Ball holding its research reception. But on this evening everything was as perfect as the Cooley grounds.

Why, shoot! There are country clubs that are smaller than these palatial digs.

Just transporting guests from the front gate past the tennis court and fountains to the mansion, the Cooleys arranged for golf carts. Hey, Clay’s an expert when it comes to transportation, don’t you know!

Lisa and Clay Cooley estate

Lisa and Clay Cooley estate

One guest quipped as they wandered the property, “This isn’t a house. It’s a resort.”

Alex Laurenzi and Elizabeth Tripplehorn- Laurenzi

Alex Laurenzi and Elizabeth Tripplehorn- Laurenzi

Chase Cooley

Chase Cooley

While the property was amazing, the people watching held its own. Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi and Alex Laurenzi arrived with Alex on crutches due to hip surgery…Cooley kids Ciara (her dad claims she rules the roost), Chase and Chance were on hand…Chick Lit Chair Wendy Messmann was preparing for the luncheon featuring author Stacey Ballis.

And that combination of incredible surroundings and boldfacers held things up a bit and a bit more. Just trying to get everybody together was a challenge. The Cooley hospitality was just too inviting to settle down, but they eventually did because of the cause — learning about developments in the battle against cancer.

Mary Martha Pickens and Amy Schisler

Mary Martha Pickens and Amy Schisler

But before the crowd came together in the two-story living room, CBB Co-Chair Mary Martha Pickens was apprehensive. She was concerned about sharing her personal story in such an open venue. But it was necessary. Too often cancer is about someone in a video or another person, who is just passing through town. In this case, Mary Martha had lived from childhood with cancer on her life story. It was a time before emails, cellphones and major developments in children’s cancer. Thanks to a loving family that went beyond the extra mile and doctors committed to saving a 12-year-old, Mary Martha survived with a glorious smile. But the battle cost her right leg. One on one, she doesn’t shy away from talking about her three prosthetic legs — one for athletics like hiking and running, one for scuba diving and one  is her “pretty leg” for dress up occasions like this one. Now, she was having to tell friends and potential supporters about her successful battle against cancer thanks to the dollars donated to research.

The good news is that she was perfectly eloquent and touching. As husband Dr. John Pickens watched on, Mary Martha said that too many times the families of cancer patients are forgotten. She recalled how her parents and brothers were vital to her treatments and recovery. Still — “It is totally devastating for all.”

She added that despite the prosthetics and years of having them, she still falls many, many, many times, “just as those suffering with cancer have setbacks over and over.”

Tia Wynne

Tia Wynne

Rene Galindo

Rene Galindo

Yonghao Yu

Yonghao Yu

To emphasize the progress that has been made thanks to funding, she and Co-Chair Tia Wynne had Dr. Yonghao Yu and Dr. Rene Galindo discuss the developments being made in cancer research. To say that the two noted experts used language that may have been over most folks’ heads is an understatement. Still the promise of advancing the war against cancer was obvious, especially when Yonghao said to go out and “Kick cancer’s butt.”