MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Esteem Fashion Show

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

According to Esteem Fashion Show Founder and Show Coordinator Rhonda Sargent Chambers,

We hope you will join us for the 8th annual Esteem Fashion Show, sponsored by Lisa Cooley on Saturday, September 16, at 10:00 a.m. at Tootsies, 8300 Preston Center Plaza in Dallas.  

Chaired by Whitney Kutch, with Honorary Co-Chairs Rhonda Marcus and Emmy Marcus, Esteem is a celebration of body image and self-Esteem. By helping to increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image, Esteem encourages people to love themselves while striving to be healthy.  Proceeds support The Elisa Project (TEP) and the important programs dedicated to fighting eating disorder illnesses through awareness, education, support and advocacy.

Whitney Kutch (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

This year, fashion sponsor Tootsies will highlight the hottest fall trends, including designs from featured brand Cinq a Sept, with local celebrities and notables walking the runway and former reality personality Courtney Kerr serving as emcee. Chosen for their support of The Elisa Project and for serving as mentors by giving back to the community and to those with eating disorders, this year’s models include: fitness instructor and model Melissa Rountree and daughter Morgan; community volunteer Yvonne Crum and granddaughter Samantha Crum; lifestyle expert Amy Vanderoef; award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Kellie Rasberry, co-host of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning and daughter Emma Kelly; jewelry designer Amanda Sterett Albritton; blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas” Jane McGarry; designer and creator of BAHZ jewelry Britt Harless; FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny AnchondoCatherine Lowe, mom, owner of local luxury stationary line LoweCoand founder of Hello Whitney blog and Esteem Chair Whitney Kutch.

2016 Esteem Fashion Show*

Esteem will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a Mimosas and Munchies reception featuring trunk shows for featured brand Cinq A Sept and jewelry designer Auden, including a personal appearance by the designer. Raffle tickets will be on sale with prizes such as designer Elizabeth Showers jewelry, a gift card from Tootsies and more. Raffle tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50. The celebrity fashion show will begin at 11:00 a.m.  

Tickets are $75 each for VIP seating or $20 each for student/standing and are on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.theelisaproject.com or dial 214.369.5222.

I cannot believe it has been eight years since we started this awareness fashion show and now it has turned into so much more! Our mission is to lead by example… teaching healthy lifestyles, supporting one another and encourage others to love themselves. We hope to see you on September 16!

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

MySweetCharity Opportunity: First Sight/First Night

According to First Sight/First Night Co-Chairs Dianne B. and Mark H. LaRoe,

Dianne and Mark LaRoe (File photo)

Two of the most captivating fundraisers of the fall are First Sight Fashion Show and Luncheon and First Night Pre-Performance Dinner and After Party, The Dallas Opera’s season kick-off events. Important revenue is raised and awareness is gained for the company’s splendid 2017-2018 programming. The festivities surround the opening night of the opera “Samson and Dalila” by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Many North Texas patrons are aware of The Dallas Opera’s world class opera productions, but may not be familiar with all of its activities. More than 87,000 people were reached last year with the non-profit arts organization’s traditional and non-traditional formats. Family Programs, free simulcasts, student dress rehearsals and matinees, school presentations, opera camp, and performances at community partners all help to attract and serve patrons of every background, educational level, and ethnicity.

David Haemisegger and Nancy Nasher

We have long recognized The Dallas Opera as a top notch arts organization presenting magnificent opera productions, and as a company that does tremendous work serving our community with its comprehensive education and outreach programs. We are so pleased to chair the wonderful Season Opening celebrations and invite everyone to join us, take part in the fun, meet new people, and enjoy some quality entertainment! Our hope is that our participation will encourage new supporters of this great company. We are also thrilled that Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger are serving as honorary co-chairs of the events.

We believe our guests will be excited to experience the fashions by Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo that will grace the runway at First Sight Fashion Show and Luncheon with NorthPark Center serving as presenting sponsor. The fete will take place on Thursday, October 19, at 11:00 a.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House and culinary master Wolfgang Puck will cater the gourmet luncheon. We know Rhonda Sargent Chambers, of RSC Productions, will produce a magnificent show for us! Lisa Cooley, her daughter Ciara Cooley and daughter-in-law Bela Cooley are co-chairs, so we’re expecting something exquisite! Sponsorships, tables which start at $7,500, and individual tickets at $500, are available.

Then on Friday, October 20, First Night presented by Deutsche Bank Wealth Management will be chaired by wonderful patrons Betty and Steve Suellentrop, in Sammons Park in front of the Winspear. We begin at 5:30 p.m. with a red carpet entrance and guests then flow into an elegant black-tie pre-performance dinner, which starts at 6:00 p.m. We hope everyone will enjoy the scrumptious epicurean specialties, also by Wolfgang Puck, in a beautifully adorned tent enhanced by the creative team of Jeffrey Horn and Larry Leathers.

After dinner we will head into the opening night performance of “Samson and Dalila” which begins at 8:00 p.m. The festivities continue following the opera at the After Party. The cast will join us to mix and mingle with guests, more delicious Puck noshes will be on hand, and everyone will dance the night away, reveling in anticipation of more of the incredible season to come! Sponsorships, tables which start at $10,000, and individual tickets at $1,000, are available. Please join us!”

For more information, please visit www.dallasopera.org/firstnight.

8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show Tickets And Raffle Chances Just Went On Sale For The Elisa Project

Tickets have just gone on sale for the 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show benefiting The Elisa Project. Chairing this year’s runway action is Whitney Kutch, with Rhonda Marcus and her daughter Emmy Marcus serving as honorary co-chairs.

Whitney Kutch (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

Sponsored by Lisa Cooley, the event will take place at Tootsies on Saturday, September 16. Things kick off at 10 a.m. with Mimosas and Munchies followed by the fashion show featuring local celebs modeling Tootsies fashions.

2016 Esteem Fashion Show*

Established in 1999, The Elisa Project has a mission of helping “increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body images” for young people and adults.

This year’s raffle will include Elizabeth Showers jewelry and a gift card from Tootsies.

Tickets are available now with VIP seats going for $75 and students/standing placement available for $20.  

* Photo credit: Thomas Garza

The Elisa Project’s Life Lessons Luncheon Had DWTS’s Nancy Kerrigan, Unexpected Add-Ons To The Program And Rumbling Tummies

After years of holding luncheons at hotels and last year’s breakfast at the Belo, The Elisa Project held a luncheon for its Life Lessons fundraiser at the Belo on Friday, March 3. It kicked off with a VIP reception at 11:00, but, unlike other meet-and-greet receptions with the celebrity du jour, this one had no grip-and-grin photo opp with luncheon speaker Nancy Kerrigan, or even a sponsor backdrop. Instead, guests passed the word that “She’s over there” and “She’s so sweet” and “She looks wonderful” and snapped photos with the accommodating Kerrigan.

Kim Bannister, Ariana Luterman, Nancy Kerrigan and Allana Luterman

Alas, a photo of Co-Chairs Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Melissa Rountree, Kerrigan and Honorary Chair Toni Munoz-Hunt was stalled. Word was passed that “Toni is on her way” as the doors to the ballroom opened just after 11:30. Then tall, gorgeous Toni gathered with Nancy, Rhonda and Melissa for a snap.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Toni Munoz Hunt, Nancy Kerrigan and Melissa Rountree

In the crowd of supporters were Kim Bannister, Holly Davis, Pamela Graham, Carlotta Lennox, mom-to-be Jenny Anchondo, Ellen Winspear, Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and daughter-in-law-to-be Bela Pjetrovic, Tiffany Divis, Lynn McBee and Nancy Gopez.

Nancy Gopez and Tiffany Divis

Carlotta Lennox and Pamela Graham

Lisa Cooley, Jenny Anchondo and Bela Pjetrovic

As The Elisa Project Executive Director Kim Martinez stood on the floor with mic in hand, she called the group to their seats at tables pre-set with salads, desserts, a bowl of bread, a floral arrangement, water and ice tea. More about this setup later.

The printed program set out a plan for just five speakers — Kim, The Elisa Project Board Chair Dr. Stephanie Setliff, Star of Hope Awardee Dr. Andy McGarrahan, LEAD Awardee Ariana Luterman and keynoter Kerrigan. Instead, the program was extended with multiple unscripted speakers.

Following the invocation, Stephanie had Rhonda and Melissa come to the podium to talk about their helping those with eating disorders. They, in turn, thanked Toni, whom they asked to address the group.

It was then announced that the Esteem Fashion Show fundraiser would be held once again at Tootsies in the fall.  When the announcement of the Esteem honorary chair was made, the supposed honorary chair looked stunned. She had already told them she couldn’t do it. Oops.

Stephanie presented the Star of Hope Award to Dr. Andy McGarrahan, who twinned humility with humor in accepting the award.

Stephanie Setliff

Andrew McGarrahan

After Andy’s acceptance, Stephanie announced she was going off-script. Co-Chair Rhonda looked at her timeline and looked a bit baffled. But before she could figure out what was going on, she heard Stephanie tell of Rhonda’s commitment to the organization over the years and asked her to come back to the stage to receive a token of appreciation. Despite being caught off guard, Rhonda thanked her mom and dad (“Perhaps you should have worn a tie”), her husband and family, and told how much The Elisa Project meant to her.

Kim then presented the LEAD Award to Greenhill student wunderkind Ariana for her volunteering to handle The Elisa Project’s social media. In the audience, Ariana’s mother, Allana Luterman, recorded her daughter’s acceptance on her cellphone.

As a video was shown about The Elisa Project, some guests were starting to wonder if the seasonal mixed salad with herb vinaigrette had been the entrée. After all, it was 35 minutes into the program and the salads and dressing were long gone. All that remained were the empty salad plates putting the desserts just beyond reach. At one table a guest with long arms reached for the passel of rolls and started to pass it around. As more presentations of speakers and a video continued, the floral arrangements were starting to look downright tasty.

Whitney Kutch

In making a call for money at the 45-minute mark, Elisa Board Member Whitney Kutch came to the stage and announced that she and Melissa were issuing a $4,000-challenge for guests to match. 

Finally, Kim announced there would be a break for lunch. Quickly, the staff replaced the salad plates with dishes of chicken, carrots and whipped potatoes. Luckily, Nancy’s table was one of the first to be served. She managed to take a couple of bites before being called to the podium.

Her life story has truly been challenging. There had been the Tonya Harding episode; the heart-breaking efforts for Olympic gold; her brother’s being on trial for their father’s death; her recently announced joining the “2017 Dancing With the Stars” cast.

Would she speak on all, or just one, of those subjects? Instead, she spoke extemporaneously for 30 minutes about everything from her kids to her own challenges of looking figure perfect and fitting into costumes. A couple of times during her talk she admitted that she was bouncing from subject to subject.

Nancy Kerrigan

Then she teared up and told how she had truly been touched by Leslie and Rick McCall’s motivation in creating The Elisa Project to fulfill their late daughter’s wish to help prevent others from the agony of eating disorders. That would have been the perfect place to have ended the talk. But Kerrigan continued, with some guests slipping out at this point and others sneaking peaks at their watches.

Nearing the end of her talk, Nancy admitted she had been guilty of unhealthy care-taking. She had put others’ needs before her own and had worked to overcome that practice. However, she revealed that she was helping one of her sons, who seemed to be following his mother’s care-taking role.

Instead of allowing guests to head to their cars, Kim took to the floor with mic in hand for questions from the audience. Less than a handful of hands were raised, while others headed for the door.

MySweet2017Goals: Melissa Rountree

Melissa Rountree (File photo)

According to 2017 Life Lessons Luncheon Co-Chair Melissa Rountree,

“One of my 2017 goals is to raise awareness and funds for The Elisa Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight against deadly eating disorders by promoting the importance of healthy living, positive body image and self-esteem in all youth; through education, case management resources and advocacy efforts.

“On behalf of my Co-Chair Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Honorary Chair Toni Munoz-Hunt, I invite you to support the important work of The Elisa Project by attending the 12th annual Life Lessons Luncheon on Friday, March 3.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Toni Munoz Hunt (File photo)

Nancy Kerrigan*

“This year’s event will feature two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan as the featured speaker.  As one of America’s most recognizable spots icons, Nancy will share her journey as an athlete, mother, and now executive producer of an upcoming documentary, ‘Why Don’t You Lose 5 Pounds?,’  which addresses the connection between athletes and eating disorders, something Nancy has experienced personally.

“The Life Lessons Luncheon benefiting The Elisa Project will be held on Friday, March 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Belo Mansion located at 2101 Ross Avenue in Dallas. 

“Sponsorships begin at $1,750 and are on sale now; limited $175 individual tickets will go on sale Wednesday, February 1.  For more information or to purchase tickets or sponsorships, visit 12th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon or  contact  The Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez at  866.837.1999  or  [email protected].”

* Photo provided by 
The Elisa Project

JUST IN: Figure-Skating Great Nancy Kerrigan To Be Keynote Speaker for 12th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon

Plans are already underway for spring 2017 with announcements of plans and peeps. One of the first is The Elisa Project’s 12th Annual Life Lesson Luncheon. Co-Chairs Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Melissa Rountree, along with Toni Munoz-Hunt, have arranged for the fundraiser to take place at The Belo Mansion on Friday, March 3.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Melissa Rountree (File photo)

Melissa Rountree (File photo)

Toni Munoz Hunt (File photo)

Toni Munoz Hunt (File photo)

Nancy Kerrigan*

Nancy Kerrigan*

Got that date down? Now, for the big news — the keynote speaker. It will be figure skating icon Nancy Kerrigan, who won the 1992 Winter Olympics bronze media and the silver medal at the 1992 World Championships. In 1993 Nancy took home the silver medal in figure skating from the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.

Following her days on the ice, she has been active in everything from the entertainment industry to corporate endorsements.

One of her most current projects is serving as executive producer and appearing in “Why Don’t You Lose 5 Pounds?” The feature-length documentary will “focus on the difficulties and pressures faced by athletes in so-called ‘lean’ sports such as figure skating.”

She brings her concern about “the struggle athletes at all levels of competition face in returning to competition after being diagnosed with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Despite affecting more athletes than concussions, eating disorders get relatively little attention in the popular sports world.  Eating disorders kill more people annually than any other mental illness, and many athletes find themselves at a higher risk for a problem.”

According to Rhonda, “We are absolutely thrilled to have Nancy Kerrigan join us as the keynote speaker for the Life Lessons Luncheon. While many of us have admired Nancy for her Olympic skating career, we look forward to her sharing her journey as an athlete, mother, and now executive producer of an upcoming documentary which addresses the connection between athletes and eating disorders, something Nancy has experienced personally as well.”

Sponsorships are currently available starting at $1,750. Individual tickets won’t go on sale until Wednesday, February 1.

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

JUST IN: Melissa Rountree And Morgan Moore To Co-Chair 7th Annual Esteem Fashion Show For The Elisa Project

The third Friday September is gonna kick off 24 hours of fashionable whoop-de-dos. On Friday, September 16, Crystal Charity will hold its “already-sold-out” Ten Best Dressed Luncheon and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala will officially launch the 2016 fall black-tie season that night.

The next morning the 7th annual Esteem Fashion Show benefiting The Elisa Project will take place at 10 a.m. at Tootsie’s. Chairing the event will be Melissa Rountree and her daughter Morgan Moore.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Holly Pelham Davis (File photo)

Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Holly Pelham Davis (File photo)

Founded in 2009, Esteem was created by Rhonda Sargent Chamber “to increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image.

According to Melissa, “It’s a thrill to host Esteem with my daughter Morgan, benefiting The Elisa Project. The event provide an opportunity to appreciate that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes and ages. We hope to spread a message that being generous and loving, can improve inner confidence and respect for oneself.”

Gloria Campos and Lynn McBee (File photo)

Gloria Campos and Lynn McBee (File photo)

Joining the effort are Honorary Chair Lynn McBee, Emcee Gloria Campos and models Amanda Sterett Albritton with daughters Anna Albritton and Olivia Sterett, Shelly Slater, Holly Pelham Davis with daughter Landry Davis, Jocelyn White, Scott Murray, Janet Dorsett, Dawn Mellon, Gina Miller, Jackson, Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha Crum, Gary Walden, Dawn Neufeld with daughter Bryn Neufeld, Hilary Kennedy, Pam Skaggs Frank with daughter Bridget Frank and Kim Bannister with daughter Sawyer Bannister.

Scott Murray (File photo)

Scott Murray (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

Tickets go on sale Friday, July 1. VIP seating will be $75 and student/standing will be a couple of sawbucks (aka $20).

MySweet2016Goals: Rhonda Sargent Chambers

According to RSC Show Productions owner Rhonda Sargent Chambers,

Callahan Chambers, Kit and Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Ford Chambers*

Callahan Chambers, Kit and Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Ford Chambers*

“As my teenage boys are getting older, I want to savor all of our family time as long as possible. Being in the moment, being present and slowing down. It is very important to my husband and me that we lead by example; teaching our sons now what is really important in life…God and family! When you are a tight family, everything else falls into place. A family that plays together, stays together. Mindful living is priority now!”

* Photo provided by Rhonda Sargent Chambers

Rhonda Sargent Chambers Named Honorary Chair Of The Family Place’s Partners Card 2015

After years on the runway, in print ads and on billboards, Rhonda Sargent Chambers has been spending more and more time behind the scenes heading up RSC Show Productions.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

While the ever-smiling blonde has been involved with all types of events, she has earned a reputation for being involved with nonprofits in creating unique fundraising events. Need examples? The Children’s Cancer Fund Fashion Show, Dallas Opera’s First Sight/First Night, Baylor’s Celebrating Women Luncheon, The Elisa Project’s Esteem Fashion Show, Children’s Medical Center Plano’s Legacy of Love Fashion Show and this past spring’s DIFFA’s gargantuan fundraiser.

When she’s not working in the production booth, she’s also donating her time and services for such events as the former Celebrity Waiter Dinner, Big Thought, The Child Abuse Prevention Center and DIFFA.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She’s been awarded the Humanitarian Award for Children’s Cancer Fund 2009, Inaugural Award for the Dynamic Women of Dallas in Modern Luxury Magazine 2005, and Volunteer of the Year for The Council October 2013.

Now, The Family Place is adding their name to her list of honors by having her the honorary chair for Partners Card 2015. Makes perfect sense. After all, Partners Card shoppers love to use their discounts on clothes, accessories and shoes.

According to The Family Place Executive Director Paige Flink, “As a fashion expert for more than 30 years, it is a privilege to recognize Rhonda Sargent Chambers as Partners Card 2015 honorary chair. She has given such wonderful support of this program throughout the years, and we are excited to celebrate her, as well as her endeavors.

You just know Rhonda already has her Partners Card and will put it to good use during the 10-day spendathon from Friday, October 30 through Sunday, November 8, at 750 participating retailers and restaurants.

MySweet2015Goal: Rhonda Sargent Chambers

"Bowling With Daddy"*

“Bowling With Daddy”*

According to special events producer Rhonda Sargent Chambers,

“….. Always spending more time with my parents is a priority, but I want to go bowling more often with my Dad in 2015. He is a proud member of the ‘300’ club, so it is always humbling!”

* Photo provided by 
Rhonda Sargent 
Chambers

MySweet2014Goals: Rhonda Sargent Chambers

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

Rhonda Sargent Chambers (File photo)

According to event producer extraordinaire/ community volunteer/mom/wife Rhonda Sargent Chambers,

“My hope for the new year is to continue to be inspired by my children, family, parents and friends.”

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.

Last-Thank-You-Note: Rhonda Sargent Chambers

Rhonda Sargent Chambers

“If I could send a thank you note to heaven…Kim Dawson would be my choice!  So many doors were opened, so many life lessons taught and she had so much faith in me.

“I could never repay her for her loving direction, thoughtfulness, kindness and sincerity!  Although I had written her many thank you notes, I wish she was still here!”

-Rhonda Sargent Chambers