Awardee Kern Wildenthal Highlights A ‘Perfect’ Callier Cares Luncheon At The Dallas Country Club

Even before the doors opened to the Dallas Country Club ballroom, the Callier Cares Luncheon VIP reception filled the Founders Room on Thursday, April 20. Luncheon Chair Emilynn Wilson was with husband Claude Wilson and Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Awardee Dr. Kern Wildenthal and all smiles over the sold-out Callier Care Fund fundraiser.

Kern Wildenthall, Emilynn and Claude Wilson

In another part of the room, Beth Layton was sporting a new haircut and talking with Chick Lit Co-Chair Tricia George.

Beth Layton and Tricia George

Barbara and John Stuart

Dee Wyly and Jill Rowlett

Marnie Wildenthal and Cyndi Bassel

Others in the crowd were Callier Center Foundation Chair John Stuart and his wife Barbara Stuart, Callier Center for Communications Disorders Executive Director Dr. Tom Campbell, Dan Branch, Angie Kadesky, Brent Christopher, Heidi Cannella, Lindalyn Adams, Dee Wyly, Jill Rowlett, Dee Collins and Kern’s wife Marnie Wildenthal and longtime assistant Cyndi Bassel.

Callier Cares Luncheon table

When the doors did open to the ballroom, it was pretty obvious that Emilynn had definitely filled the room to capacity. It was surprising that she didn’t try to put a table on the stage.

As guests like Keith Cerny, Caren Prothro,  Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, Lynn McBee, and Dr. Lynn Markle made their way into the room for lunch—Southwest Roasted Chicken Chop Salad and Chocolate Caramel Cake were on the menu—Tom welcomed everyone and kicked off the program. The annual Callier Prize in Communication Disorders Award, it was announced right off the bat, would go to Dr. Sharon G. Kujawa, an associate professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Kujawa graciously accepted the award, which came for her groundbreaking work that has instigated a paradigm shift in the way researchers and health workers think about noise-induced and age-related hearing loss and inner ear injury. She gave way to luncheon Chair Emilynn and then to Stuart Bumpas and Dr. Ken Altshuler, who presented the annual Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Award to Kern.

During his many years as president of UT Southwestern Medical Center, Kern had helped nourish a relationship between UT Southwestern and the Callier Center that resulted in the Callier Child Development Program, the Cochlear Implant Program, and a joint program to evaluate and treat children with autism.

“I couldn’t have been more pleased, knowing that Emilynn Wilson would chair this event, because I knew it would be perfect in all regards,” Kern told the guests. “Callier is an organization I heard about many years ago. It epitomizes the best of what all academic institutions try to do … and it does so in an impeccable manner, and in collaboration with other institutions.

“For four decades I’ve wanted to add Ken and Ruth Altshuler’s name to my name,” Kern concluded with a smile. “And, now I can!”

Then, following an informative video and just before keynote speaker Richard Neely was to deliver his remarks, the podium microphone went dead for some reason. That gave Richard—an emeritus trustee of the Callier foundation and a profoundly deaf person who has cochlear implants—the perfect opening to begin his talk. “When the mic went out, I thought, to the people who could hear: welcome to my world!” Richard joked.

The former CFO for a local real estate investment company and a former SMU football star, Richard recounted his struggles with hearing loss and, ultimately, how he overcame them—with no small thanks to the cochlear implants. After he got his “first one in 2008,” he laughed, he complained to his wife that “she was crinkling the newspaper!” 

According to Emilynn, the 2017 luncheon will provide a whopping $278,450 for the Callier Center for Communication Disorder’s Callier Care Fund at the University of Texas at Dallas. 2018 Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele was already making plans for her effort to help “ensure that resources are available for patients and families” in need of financial assistance for speech, language and hearing disorders..