MySweet2018Goals: Kimberly Martinez

According to The Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez,

Kim Bannister and Kimberly Martinez (File photo)

“One of my goals for 2018 is for the community to join me, alongside 13th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon Chair Kim Bannister and Honorary Co-Chairs Sandra Estess and Elizabeth Estess Hughes, for the 13th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon benefiting The Elisa Project.

“This year’s luncheon, which will be held on Wednesday, February 28, at Brook Hollow Golf Club, is not to be missed as we will welcome Golden Globe-nominated actress Chrissy Metz, star of the critically acclaimed hit NBC series ‘This is Us,’ as our featured speaker. The day will include a reception, seated luncheon and a conversation with Metz, moderated by Southern Living Editor-At-Large/author/lifestyle expert Kimberly Schlegel Whitman.  

Chrissy Metz (File photo)

“The Elisa Project is dedicated to the development of healthy children and adolescents by raising awareness of body image and self-esteem issues and the prevention of life-threatening eating disorders. We know Chrissy will truly captivate attendees as she shares her own inspirational stories of courage and self-acceptance. 

“Chrissy Metz stars on the critically acclaimed hit NBC series ‘This Is Us’ which has been renewed for two additional seasons and just received three nominations for the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, including Best Support Actress for Metz. Chrissy plays Kate, a woman struggling with her weight, eating habits, and body image. ET named her as one of six ‘breakout stars you will fall in love with this fall.’ People magazine named her to the ‘One’s to Watch.’ We could not be more thrilled to have her in Dallas!

“We expect a sold-out event, so please don’t wait! Only a limited amount of tickets will be available closer to the event. Tables begin at $2,000 and are on sale now; individual tickets will go on sale in early February if space permits. For more information, visit”

JUST IN: Golden Globe’s Nominee “This Is Us” Chrissy Metz To Be Keynote Speaker At The Elisa Project’s Life Lessons Lunch On February 28

The Golden Globe nominees were revealed Monday and Chrissy Metz is once again nominated for her role as Kate Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us.” But her success and fame didn’t come overnight or easily. Chrissy’s life story is one that screenwriters dream of. Sure, she went through the trials and tribulations that many actresses face like being out of work, surviving thanks to friends and family, watching roles won by others and learning to accept rejection.

Chrissy Metz*

But Chrissy dealing with a literally “bigger” issue — her weight. Admitting that she was born chubby, she was just 11 when she went to Weight Watchers. Her weight jumped up and down the scales at one point losing 50 pounds only to “gain back 100 pounds due to depression and ‘eating my feelings.’”

Then the moment came when all the stars were in alignment and she landed the role of Kate, whose storyline was so akin to Chrissy’s. But even more than the role, Chrissy’s popularity has been due to her being so open about her dealing with her weight issues.

For that reason, The Elisa Project organizers are thrilled that they have just gotten word that Chrissy will be at the 13th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon on Wednesday, February 28, at Brook Hollow Golf Club for a conversation with Kimberly Schlegel Whitman.

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

According to Luncheon Chair Kim Bannister, “As an organization dedicated to the development of healthy children and adolescents by raising awareness of body image and self-esteem issues and the prevention of life-threatening eating disorders, we know Chrissy will truly captivate attendees as she shares her own inspirational stories of courage and self-acceptance. This year’s luncheon is not to be missed!”

Honorary co-chairs will be Sandra Estess and Elizabeth Estess Hughes.

Starting at $2,000, tables are available for purchase now. If space permits, individual tickets will go on sale in early February. Suggestion: Gather up pals and get a table locked down now. Don’t depend on those individual spots coming available.

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

Veteran Celebs And Babes In Arm Took The Runway At Tootsies For The 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show

As the swallows return to Capistrano in March, so the season’s fashions were hitting the North Texas catwalks in September. On the heels of the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show with its dozens and dozens of professional models, The Elisa Project‘s 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show also had fashions on the Tootsies runway on Saturday, September 16. But these models were volunteers ranging in age from infant to AARP. Here’s a report from the field:

Rhonda Marcus, Emmy Marcus and Whitney Kutch*

Event Chair Whitney Kutch, with Honorary C0-Chairs Rhonda Marcus and daughter Emmy, were joined by nearly 160 attendees for the 8th annual Esteem Fashion Show presented by Lisa Cooley, on Saturday, September 16, which benefited The Elisa Project (TEP).

Partygoers arrived at Tootsies and mingled while enjoying mimosas while perusing Tootsies collections. With 10% of all purchases benefiting TEP, patrons shopped the latest fall fashions, as DJ Blake Ward provided the vibe. Raffle tickets were available for sale featuring fabulous prizes including, a $100 gift card to Tootsies; an Elizabeth Showers Soleil station 18 karat gold chain in hand-carved white quartz over Kingman Mine turquoise; an Amanda Sterrett jewelry suite; hair and makeup services from The Makeup Zone; an original watercolor painting by Sherri Jones; and Chili’s restaurant gift cards.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Kim Stephens-Olusanya, Holly Davis and Landry Davis*

At 11:00 a.m., patrons gathered upstairs for the much-anticipated fashion show. Whitney took the podium and thanked everyone in attendance for their support of The Elisa Project and this year’s event. TEP’s board President Dr. Stephanie Setliff followed by adding her thanks and recognized Whitney for her hard work as event chair, as well as those in the room who had made the day possible including Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, TEP staff and board of directors, and Esteem founder, event coordinator, and board member, Rhonda Sargent Chambers. She then shared details about some of the work The Elisa Project is doing in the community through advocacy, education and support, which touches the lives of more than 31,000 individuals suffering from eating disorders each year.

2017 Esteem models

Emcee Courtney Kerr, founder and editor-in-chief of, took the podium and got right to the fashion show, which featured notable community members wearing the latest looks from Tootsies with children’s fashions provided by KidBiz/The Biz.

Jenny Anchondo and Brighton Valentina*

Courtney Kerr and Kellie Rasberry*

2017 models were: FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny Anchondo with 15-week old daughter Brighton Valentina; Carlotta Lennox, Kim Dawson model and entrepreneur; Landry Davis with friends Aubrey and Gracie O’Banion; community volunteer Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha; designer and creator of BAHZ jewelry Britt Harless; host of nationally syndicated morning show, Eye Opener, blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; Jane McGarry, host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas;” Sabrina Harrison, co-owner and interior designer Mint Dentistry and founder of Equipped by Faith Ministries, with children Christian and Camila; Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Melissa Rountree, owner of activewear brand Level 3 Active and board member of The Elisa Project; licensed professional counselor and CEO of Park Cities Counseling, Elizabeth Scrivner with daughter Katherine; Catherine Lowe, owner of local luxury stationary company LoweCo, with son Samuel; host of “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning,” Kellie Rasberry; honorary co-chairs Rhonda Marcus, and daughter Emmy; and event chair and TEP board member Whitney Kutch.

Carlotta Lenox and Courtney Kerr*

Melissa Rountree*

As the show came to a close, Kimberly Martinez announced the lucky winners of the raffle prizes before encouraging all in attendance to continue shopping in support of The Elisa Project. Before departing, patrons grabbed their swag bags which included goodies from Tootsies and stationary from LoweCo.

Esteem is a celebration of body image and self-Esteem. In its 8th year, Esteem helps 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.

* Photo credits: Bob Manzano and Thomas Garza


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 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

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Came Off Flawlessly Despite Some Behind-The-Scenes Hiccups

There was the most glorious, huge orange sphere hovering over North Texas on Saturday, June 10. After days of drizzle, lighting and thunder, the skies were pristine. And this was summer!

Over at The Fairmont Dallas, it was equally perfect for the 31st  Annual La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas … except for a needle and thread situation and too many toasts.

Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning

But first the backstory. Overseeing the months of La Fiesta preparations were Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning. Among the committee heads were the Gala Co-Chairs Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson. Those four were known for running a tight ship and still maintaining a smile and cool composure. Each year one of the six flags that had been part of Texas history was selected as the theme. This year it was France, and the ladies were delighted with the theme “La Fete Royal.” They were inspired by the 2017 beneficiaries (C.A.R.E., Connecting Points of Park Cities, The Elisa Project, The Family Place, Friends of University Park Library, Highland Park Education Foundation, Highland Park Literary Festival, HP Arts, HPHS Community Service Council, HPHS Counseling Department and Student Council, HPHS Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, HPHS Science Festival, HPHS Student Emergency Fund, HPHS Youth and Government/Moody Family YMCA and Park Cities Heritage House at Dallas Heritage Village) to raise the funds.

Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson

But hiccups happen even to the best.

The first one was a real hit. The Anatole had to pull out from holding the event due to a convention or something. Anne and Michelle put out calls and locked down The Fairmont. The smiles said it turned out to work with the French theme, since The Fairmont was French-owned.

But Anne, who will be overall co-chair with Elizabeth Gambrell for 2018, reported that not only would they be returning to the Anatole, but the Anatole team came through this year with additional staging without a charge or hesitation.  

As for the relocation, it required some adjustments. The tried-and-true, 17,967-square-foot Fairmont Regency Ballroom just didn’t have as much space as the 30,360-square-foot Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom. So sacrifices had to be made. The number one was the dance floor, which meant no post-presentation dance for the couples. Another issue was accommodating all who wanted to attend. The tables of black-tie guests were downright cozy.

But it was all coming together. After all, it was the first time that the Duchesses, who had just finished their freshman year in college, were able to see former high school classmate. It was like a black-tie class reunion.

However, the mammoth group pictures that were to be taken in the ballroom as parents and friends cocktailed in the adjoining lobby ran into a bump in the road. Photographer James French and his team were already with cameras in hand. The ladder was set dead center at the end of the runway. The idea of photographing 40 Duchesses in ball gowns and their escorts was a daunting challenge. But James and his folks were old hands at this situation.

2017 Duchesses and escorts waiting for the final four

However, it seemed that not all the Duchesses and escorts realized this wasn’t a casual selfie. There was a schedule to be kept. The escort group photo was delayed by five minutes due to some MIA escorts. Next, the group photo of all 40 Duchesses and their 40 escorts was on the list. Only when the headcount took place, four Duchesses were missing. It seems they were “being sewn into their gowns.” Five minutes passed, then 10. The couples that had stood so erect for the photo setup were now seated on the stage. The clock kept ticking, and still the foursome was missing. Evidently one designer was responsible for all four dresses. When James was asked if they should go ahead and shoot the photo without the four, the presentation photo vet knew just the right answer: “That’s not my call.”

Napkin with honey bee ornament

Still they waited. Finally, just minutes before the ballroom doors opened, the tardy Duchesses arrived to applause by the 76.

Quickly, the group photo and the Duchesses’-only photo were taken. James removed the ladder and just in time, as the doors to the ballroom opened and the chimes called all 900 guests to their seats, where they discovered elegant place settings with napkins tied in bows and topped off with French symbolic honey bee ornaments.

Eliza Parker, Jackson Parker and Gwen and Doug Parker

Rick and Allison Kraft and Angela and Brad Cheves

Jack Gosnell and Ellison Gosnell

Around the room were the Parker clan (Gwen and Doug Parker with their kids Eliza Parker and Jackson Parker) to see son Luke Parker escorting Lillian Cockerell, Angela and Brad Cheves were on hand for son/escort Conner Cheves, who was escorting Duchess Sarah Unkefer, Leslie and Jack Gosnell were front-rowing it for daughter/Duchess Ellison Gosnell. Was it really that long ago that Jack had been the escort pick of the debutante crowd?

Rock Le Minuette

Rock Le Minuette

The presentation started off with the escorts parading from the back of the ballroom via the runway to their places on the stage. Then a couple arrived on stage dressed in 18th century French attire and started performing “Rock Le Minuette,” starting with an elegant Baroque  with the escorts in the background. Suddenly, the mood changed with the male assisting the young woman out of her billowing skirt revealing long legs encased in fishnet stockings. The tempo picked up and so did the couple as the gent picked her up on his shoulder and whirled around. Still the escorts stood solemnly. 

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas escorts

After a brief welcome by Rebecca and Nancy, the escorts (Nick Alexander, Paxton Baird, Grayson Borrego, Henry  Bould, Watson Brown, Christopher Buell Jr., Harrison Buford, Ty Burke Jr., William Caldwell, Kevin Cassidy, Conner Cheves, JD Cochran, Cole Ellis, Robert Farrow, Vale Fitzpatrick IV, Stanton Geyer, Thomas Glieber, Chase Govett, Garrett Hall, Bobby Hrncir, Cade Kimzey, William Kraft V, Parker Lacour, Mitchell Laughlin, Spencer Lorio, Jack Martin III, Hoyt Matise, Charles Mencke III, Wade Nicolas III, Charlie O’Brien, Austin Overton, Luke Parker, Adam Rathjen, Turner Rejebian, Barton Showalter, Benjamin Smith, Zach Snelling, Sam Stewart, Matthew Vandermeer and Hunt Wood Jr.) were individually introduced and exited. Then the formal presentation took place, with eight Duchesses being introduced on their fathers’ arm. As each of the 40 Duchesses (Emily Anwar, Clara Beecherl, Elizabeth Bradshaw, Kate Brayshaw, Laura Brayshaw, Anna Buford, Jeanne Ann Bullington, Helena Burns, Ellie Bush, Keaton Calhoun, Emily Carvell, Lillian Cockerell, Annie Combs, Elizabeth Cooper, Katie Dalton, Elizabeth DeBeer, Fields Dunston, Maddie Fehlman, Ellison Gosnell, Claire Green, Kristen Haggerty, Elizabeth Hubbard, Shanley Huckabee, Savanna Jones, Hannah Jurgensmeyer, Kendall Klingaman, Lane McCormick, Alexandra McGeoch, Caroline McGeoch, Dorothy Meachum, Clare Obenchain, Caroline Robertson, Avery Roosien, Peyton Schlachter, Madison Stuart, Madison Tedford, Madeline Toole, Sarah Unkefer, Emily Weisfeld and Erica Yaguchi) walked the runway, emcee Al Raya described her duchy.

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses

It came off without a hitch on stage.

Jeanne Anne Bullington and Michael Bullington

Elizabeth DeBeer and Bob DeBeer

Claire Green and Arthur Green

Sam Dalton and Katie Dalton

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the same in the audience. During the early part of the presentation, the guests were quiet to hear the narration and to watch the deep bows. However, by the fourth round of eight couples, some adults had been fueled by trips to the bar, resulting in their returning to their tables and sounding oblivious that there were still Duchesses being announced. A couple of gals were feeling no pain as they greeted friends at a nearby table loud enough that the announcer couldn’t be heard.

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses and escorts

But the Duchesses and escorts soldiered on, concluding with all 80 on stage for a final bravo. They then joined their families and friends for a seated dinner, followed by dancing and a “late-night party” in the International Ballroom.

However, some of the honorees didn’t quite make it to the International Ballroom. It seems that the day’s activities may have gotten the best of one or two of them. It surely couldn’t have been due to imbibing, though, since organizers had stated in the program, “It is unlawful to serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of twenty-one. Valid identification will be required.”

For more than 50 photos of the Duchesses and guests, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

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

Esteem: A Fashion Show Had Celebs And Community Leaders On The Tootsies Runway For The Elisa Project

As if fundraisers were worn out by the Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show and Luncheon, Hope’s Door Fashion Show and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala on Friday, September 16, they were up bright and early Saturday for Esteem: A Fashion Show benefiting The Elisa Project. Here’s a report from the field:

Co-chairs Melissa Rountree and her daughter Morgan welcomed more than 250 attendees to Tootsies on Saturday, September 17, for Esteem: A Fashion Show. In its 7th year, Esteem helps 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.

Morgan Moore, Lynn McBee and Melissa Rountree*

Morgan Moore, Lynn McBee and Melissa Rountree*

As attendees perused the store’s fall fashions and accessories, with 10% of sales going to TEP, they enjoyed mimosas and tasty bites courtesy of True Foods Kitchen.  The raffle table was the place to be with a chance to win amazing prizes: including a $250 gift card to any Lombardi Family Concepts restaurant, Glamboxes acrylic makeup designer box; Elizabeth Showers earrings; 3-month membership to Veranda Health Club at the Hilton Anatole; a gold necklace with lemon-green quartz and diamonds from Pratiksha Jewelry; gift cards to get fit at Meredith Boyd-Camp Gladiator; six months unlimited classes at Bar Method, a $100 gift card to Tootsies and much more!

The crowd then moved upstairs for the much-anticipated fashion show. As patrons took their seats, co-chairs Melissa and Morgan thanked everyone in attendance before introducing TEP’s Board President Dr. Stephanie Setliff. Stephanie added her thanks and recognized Honorary Chair Lynn McBee and TEP Co-Founder Leslie McCall. She also shared details about the important work The Elisa Project is doing throughout North Texas through advocacy, education and support, which touches the lives of more than 31,000 individuals suffering from eating disorders each year.

Holly Pellham Davis, Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Landry Davis*

Holly Pellham Davis, Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Landry Davis*

Emcee Gloria Campos then took the stage and recognized TEP Executive Director Kim Martinez, the TEP staff and board of directors, as well as ESTEEM Founder/Event Coordinator/Board Member Rhonda Sargent Chambers. Tootsies store director Nerissa von Helpenstill, joined Gloria to kick-off the two fashion scenes, “Borrowed from the Boys” and “She’s a Lady” featuring local celebrities and notables in fall fashions from Tootsies, with children’s fashions provided by KidBiz/The Biz.  DJ Blake Ward provided a cool vibe as the models walked the runway.

2016 models were: jewelry designer Amanda Sterett Albritton with daughters Anna and Olivia; FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny Anchando; author, community volunteer and co-founder of Sawyer Collection Kim Bannister and daughter Sawyer; sisters Erin Bulcher, Sr. SEO and content manager for, and Nicole Bulcher, former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader; WFAA-TV’s Alexa Conomos and daughter Annick; community volunteer Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha; organic lifestyle and healthy living expert Holly Pellham Davis with daughter Landry; Jazmyn Dorsett, daughter of Dallas Cowboys legend Tony Dorsett and super mom Janet Dorsett; Lauren Foreman, community volunteer and communications manager for Thompson and Knight; Roshawnda Foster, Kim Dawson model, and daughter Logan; Pam Skaggs Frank, veteran Kim Dawson Model and owner of Gloss Luxury Rentals and Gloss Interiors; community volunteer Alissa Ferguson Gearing and daughter Ansley; community volunteer and 26-year Brinker International employee Nancy Gopez; designer and creator of Bahz jewelry Britt Harless; Tiffany Hendra, wife, television host, lifestyle mentor and creator of Sanctuary of Style blog;  founder and creator of Model Behaviors, writer and activist Toni Munoz Hunt and daughter Darlington; lifestyle management consultant Jackson; host of nationally syndicated morning show, Eye Opener, blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; Whitney Roberts Kutch, TEP board member and founder of Hello Whitney blog; Carlotta Lennox, Kim Dawson model and entrepreneur, and daughter Alle; LeeAnne Locken, author, actor, model, producer and community volunteer; wife, mother grandmother and co-owner of Lombardi Family Concepts Vivian Lombardi and granddaughter Sarah Taylor; healthcare professional and Bar Method instructor Candice Wynn Mason; Jane McGarry, host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas;” fashion stylist and blogger Dawn Mellon; sportscaster and TV host Gina Miller; Allison Mitchell, designer and founder of her namesake line of clutches; model and former Miss Texas and Miss USA Courtney Gibbs Mokarow and daughter Everett; Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Dawn Neufeld, reigning Mrs. Frisco and former cast member of VH1’s “Football Wives,” model and on-air host, with daughter Bryn; Jamie O’Banion, co-founder and president of luxury skincare line Beauty Bioscience and daughters Aubrey and Ava Grace; licensed clinical social worker Jennifer Passanante and daughters Morgan and Taylor; fashion stylist and spokesperson for Galleria Dallas Holly McCracken Quartaro and daughters Sophia, Sara and Emily; legendary Dallas real estate agent Ralph Randall; Esteem co-chairs Melissa Rountree and daughter Morgan; Amy Vanderoef, lifestyle expert and former WFAA-TV “Good Morning Texas” co-host; model and hair stylist Gary Walden; Kathryn Wahlstrom, medical marketing and media relations expert; and community volunteer Kameron Westcott and daughter Hilton.

Vivian Lombardi and Sarah Taylor*

Vivian Lombardi and Sarah Taylor*

Logan Foster and Roshawnda Foster*

Logan Foster and Roshawnda Foster*

As a thank you, attendees received a swag bag featuring items from Tootsies, Vita Coco, The Hair Bar and Scout Guide Dallas.

Esteem models and leadership*

Esteem models and leadership*

The event would have been possible without the generosity of this year’s Esteem sponsors:

  • Fashion Sponsor: Tootsies;
  • DIVA Sponsor: SAP;
  • Super Model Sponsor: Acute Center for Eating Disorders in Denver, CO;
  • In-kind donors – Bob Manzano Photography; Center for Discovery; DJ Blake Ward; Eating Recovery Center; Kid Biz/The Biz; Laureate ED Program; Lawson Event Rentals; RSC Show Productions; Scout Guide Dallas; The Hair Bar; Timberline Knolls; True Food Kitchen; Vita Coco; Elizabeth Showers Jewelry; The Bar Method; Pratiksha Jewelry; Amanda Sterett Jewelry; Abi Ferrin; Veranda Health Club; Lombardi Family Concepts; Level 3 Active; Meredith Boyd/Camp Gladiator; Tootsies; Glamboxes; and City+Sky.
* Photos 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).

Jean Kilbourne To Be Keynote Speaker At The Elisa Project’s Life Lessons Breakfast

2016 Life Lessons Breakfast Co-Chairs Catherine and Sean Lowe have locked down 2015 National Women’s Hall of Famer Jean Kilbourne as the keynote speaker for The Elisa Project fundraising breakfast.

Jean’s reputation for being “Wow!” has been built on her “groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising.”

According to The Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, “We are so fortunate to have Ms. Kilbourne as our keynote speaker. She’s an expert in how advertising affects both addictions and eating disorders — she is both entertaining and thought-provoking.”

Funds from the Wednesday, February 10th event at Belo Mansion and Pavilion will be used “for advocacy projects, referral and case management services, as well as, community education and prevention programs throughout Texas.”

Kim Bannister, Kevin Brands And Whitney Roberts Join The Elisa Project’s Board Of Directors

The Elisa Project has just added three folks to their board of directors. Organization Executive Director Kim Martinez sends word that Kim Bannister, Kevin Brands and Whitney Roberts have been tapped to join the current 13 members of the board.

Kim Bannister (File photo)

Kim Bannister (File photo)

According to Board President Alvin Wade, “Kim, Kevin and Whitney bring to The Elisa Project their passionate leadership to help families and their loved ones who are suffering with disordered eating.

“As experienced business professionals Kim, Kevin and Whitney, can assist us in developing broader options for families, an increased breadth of programming and help us make decisions at a critical time in our agency’s development. We are confident that their distinguished record as community and business leaders will help to guide our organization to make real differences.”

Founded in 1999 by Leslie and Rick McCall, The Elisa Project was created following the death of the McCalls’ 20-year-old daughter Elisa, who took her own life after years of battling bulimia, depression and negative body image. Their hope was “to provide individuals and their loved ones with education and support.”

Round Robin March 26: Celebrating Women Announcement Coffee, Life Lessons, Contact Tea And Heroes And Handbags Live Auction

Wednesday, March 26, was a black hole of activities swirling. From morning coffees to SMU basketball, it seemed like every minute of the day required families making Solomon-like decisions on what to attend/support. So, what events were so demanding attention?

How about for starters:

Nobody can say Dallas is a hayseed town! Here are some flash points of the day that started off with the butterflies that serve as the symbol for both Celebrating Women and The Elisa Project:

2014 Celebrating Women

As mentioned before, Brenda Cockrell along with her caged perky, chirpy finches hosted the 2014 Celebrating Women Luncheon Kick-Off. What was revealed was that the Baylor Health Care System Foundation fundraiser for breast cancer would return to the Hilton Anatole on Friday, October 24. Luncheon Chairs Lisa Longino and Daffan Nettle and Underwriting Chair Maggie Kipp were joined by a slew of past chairs including Celebrating Women First Lady Lindalyn Adams.

Celebrating Women leadership past and present

Celebrating Women leadership past and present

Ethel Randall

Ethel Randall

Seated near Lindalyn was Ethel Randall, who manages the remarkable Baylor mobile mammogram operation that weekly helps 100 people to learn about the health of their breasts.

The standing joke of the gathering was that Rob Lowe would not be returning this year. However, all were impressed with the final reveal of the 2014 speaker — ABC’s “Good Morning America”’s Amy Robach. And that was before she had been promoted to replace Josh Elliott!

Okay, let’s be honest. Amy may not initially raise eyebrows like the mention of Rob Lowe. But pause and recall that the 40-year-old journalist made headlines with her first-ever, on-air mammogram that revealed the she indeed had breast cancer last year.

Dr. Alan Miller

Dr. Alan Miller

But as Dr. Alan Miller, who is chief of oncology at Baylor, reported, Baylor advancements, from the mobile mammogram to the navigator program, are part of the remarkable survival rate of women . . and men … with breast cancer.

Sure, Amy may not be Rob Lowe, but she has firsthand knowledge of being an unsuspecting breast cancer patient and survivor.

As the guests headed out the door, they received delicious butterfly cookies created by Kim Crigger Warren.

Life Lesson’s Luncheon

Robin Bagwell, Kim Bannister and Jan Osborn

Robin Bagwell, Kim Bannister and Jan Osborn

Over at the Anatole, the butterflies were very much present as The Elisa Project’s mascot for the 9th Annual Life Lessons Luncheon in the Khmer Pavilion, chaired by Kim Bannister and Sawyer Bannister. As luncheon honorees Robin Bagwell and Jan Osborn schlepped signage to the Jade Pavilion in the Atrium’s lobby, a coterie of Hockadaisies gathered to meet keynote speaker, seven-time Olympic medal winning swimmer Amanda Beard.

Amanda Beard

Amanda Beard

The duo was thinking about life after the lunch. Jan had wanted to go with Robin to the SMU game or the Heroes and Handbags live auction, but she was committed to chair the Contact cocktail party at the Bush Center.

On the other hand, Robin was headed to the SMU basketball game, while husband Norm was going to host one of the tables at the VNA’s Legends and Leaders dinner at the Khmer.

As Amanda posed for photos with the schoolgirls and adult guests like Leslie and Rick McCall, Elisa Project Executive Director Kim Martinez was reporting that 540 guests were expected for the fundraiser. It was easy to spot Amanda in her cornflower blue sundress, equally blue eyes, killer looks and tattoos on her calf.

Despite having attended a patron cocktail party the night before at Matthew Trent and making the rounds of local TV programs just a couple of hours before, Amanda looked bright-eyed. Perhaps it was due to her relatively new mommy duties and/or those twice-a-day swims.

Zoe Besser

Zoe Besser

It was hard to imagine this top athletic beauty would have ever had a problem with body image or self-esteem, but she had. And she had overcome the issues and encouraged the guests: “Don’t allow what others think and say define you.

But before Amanda spoke at the luncheon, an overpowering reading of entries by Zoe Besser and others from Elisa McCall captured the importance of self-esteem for young people. It was haunting to hear the words of a little girl, whose death had inspired her parents to help others suffering from an eating disorder, struggling with her frustration, confusion, anxiety and depression. Her emotional turmoil life hit home, with many in the audience having a greater understanding for the need for The Elisa Project. Even those who never knew Elisa now knew, understood and appreciated her struggle.

Contact Tea

Just as the crowd was being let out from The Elisa Project luncheon, a Kappa Kappa Gamma tea was underway at Jan Hegi’s home-sweet-home in Highland Park.

 Jan Hegi, Benaye Rogers, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis and Leigh Anne Haugh

Jan Hegi, Benaye Rogers, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis and Leigh Anne Haugh

The reason was Contact keynote speaker/honoree/Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, who just so happened to be a Kappa and was in town as the keynote speaker for the next day’s Spirit of Contact luncheon at the Anatole’s Khmer Pavilion.

Before arriving at Jan’s, true-blue Kappa Kaitlin had visited the sorority house on the SMU campus.

As Jan and her “little sister” Marla Boone chatted in the entry hall, blonde Kaitlin took a seat on the couch in the living room. Her high heels were starting to get the best of her. Seems, like Amanda Beard, Kaitlin had been an early bird making the rounds of the local TV news shows. Learning that Amanda had also been staying at the Anatole, Kaitlin perked up. But then she learned that Amanda was already headed to the airport.

Editor’s note: Keynote and guest speakers may seem like they live an exciting life. A new city being feted, interviewed and photographed. Actually, it’s a demanding lifestyle — living out of a suitcase, being asked the same old questions, being shuttled around, trying to juggle their home life from long distance, being at the mercy of airline schedules, etc.

But back to Kaitlin. Despite having living through one of the nation’s most horrific mass murders, the 30-year-old teacher made no bones about her commitment to not let the tragedy define her or her students.

When asked if she had returned to the 3’ by 4’ bathroom where she and 15 of her students sought refuge from the murderer wandering the Sandy Hook halls, she looked a bit surprised. There was no way she would have ever returned to that room that had been demolished along with the school.

In 2012 Kaitlin admitted there were so many “angels” like her deceased grandmother who had been watching over her and her 15 first-graders, who were literally crammed in a room smaller than a coffee table. She recalled one student, who had been on vacation that day. When his parents asked her what she would have done if he had been at class, Kaitlin didn’t hesitate — “I would have put him on my shoulders.”

Heroes and Handbags Live Auction

Along with popularity comes challenges. In the case of the Knox-Henderson area east of Central Expressway, it’s parking. The guests of the Heroes and Handbags Live Auction found that out. Valet parking had been promised for the event at The Dram. But as guests trudged along Henderson, nary a parker nor sparking space was in sight.

However, nothing can prevent this crowd from getting to a Heroes for Children (H4C). Determined guests finally pulled into the lineup for Tei-Tei/The Porch parking lot that was as crowded as a Springsteen concert at the Final Four. Drivers were given understanding smiles by the parkers, who told them that they were indeed in the right lot. Once out of their vehicles, guests were directed down a walkway to the Dram.

One guest was so frustrated that he drove his SUV into the lot via the exit. To make amends with the attendants, he paid them $40 to keep his car nearby, saying, “We’re not going to be here that long.”

But once inside the dark bar with the cozy banquets and bar with a mirrored wall with glass shelves boasting loads of grown-up beverages, guests felt right at home.

Angela Choquette and Andrea Weber

Angela Choquette and Andrea Weber

H&H Chair Andrea Weber was celebrating a mommy’s night out. This was her first outing since giving birth to her daughter, Nicolette on March 5.

Darren Woodson

Darren Woodson

Andrea admitted that she indeed had had her hands full with the baby and the H&H fundraiser. But despite it all, the blonde new mom delivered more than the baby. She also arranged for adorable former Dallas Cowboy Darren Woodson to be the honorary chair. Well, she did get some help from husband John, who offices with Darren.

Taking the mic from Andrea and prodded by H4C Co-Founder Larissa Linton, Darren managed to articulately get the party-hearty crowd to face the reality of the program that helps the children battling cancer.

It was the perfect message to get the live auction hitting $37,000 for H4C.

Kristy Hensel and Larissa Linton

Kristy Hensel and Larissa Linton

Speaking of Larissa, she said that it appears that 200 handbags from the likes of Oscar de la Renta, YSL, Jimmy Choo, Susie Straubmueller, Chanel, Valentino and Rag & Bone will be up for auction at the H&H brunch on Friday, April 25, at the Omni.

Elaine Turner handbag*

Elaine Turner handbag*

Once again Elaine Turner has created a limited edition bag for the event.

In addition to having Tina “Bag Snob” Craig as the honorary chair, the H&H is being sponsored by Sewell, United Healthcare, Traxxas and TXU Energy.

If you love handbags and you just know you do, you’d better get on the stick and get your tickets. Insiders indicated “some tickets/tables are still left,” but they’re going, going, nearly gone.

* Photo provided 
by Heroes For 

JUST IN: The Elisa Project’s Star Of Hope Recipients Revealed

Jan Osborn and Robin Bagwell*

Jan Osborn and Robin Bagwell*

Word just arrived that Robin Bagwell and Jan Osborn will be awarded the Star of Hope by The Elisa Project. The presentation will be made at the annual Life Lessons Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Wednesday, March 26.

In making the announcement, The Elisa Project Executive director Kim Martinez said, “Robin and Jan are the two most deserving individuals who have continued to serve and promote our mission.  They are both former luncheon co-chairs and The Elisa Project is thrilled to honor them.”

Co-Chaired by Kim Bannister and Sawyer Bannister, the luncheon will have as its keynote speaker the world-renowned athlete Amanda Beard.

*  Photo provided by The Elisa Project


MySweetWishList: The Elisa Project

Kim Bannister and Kimberly Martinez*

Kim Bannister and Kimberly Martinez*

According to Luncheon Chair Kim Bannister and The Elisa Project Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, The Elisa Project’s wish is

“The holiday season is when wishes come true and miracles happen.  I believe in wishes and miracles, so I’m asking for your help. The Elisa Project, a non-profit that is dedicated to saving the lives of those who are suffering with eating disorder illnesses, is struggling to meet community demand for awareness and prevention education. Because everyone knows someone who is struggling with depression, low self-esteem or negative body-image, The Elisa Project’s programs (that focuses on these issues) have a waiting list of students to train.

“For that someone in your life who has everything, please purchase a table or tickets to our 9th Annual Waves of Change – Life Lessons Luncheon, chaired by Kim Bannister on March 26, 2014. Our luncheon speaker is seven-time Olympic medal winner, Amanda Beard.

“Amanda will speak frankly about how low self-esteem can lead to toxic relationships, clinical depression and self-destructive behavior.  In her late teens, with pressures to remain thin, Amanda became bulimic, abused drugs and alcohol and began cutting herself. Through the renewed faith in herself and with support from family and friends, Amanda survived her battle and will join us to share her compelling story of a woman who gained the strength to live as bravely out of the water as she did in it.  All proceeds from our fabulous day will go directly to help save lives.

“If you know someone who is suffering from mental health issues and needs help or for additional information about our event, please visit our website at or call 214.369.5222. You can make a difference today!”

* Photo provided by The Elisa Project

Second Annual The Elisa Project Open Takes The Battle Against Eating Disorders To The Courts

While some were lunching at fundraising events on Friday, November 15, others were taking full advantage of the beautiful weather to raise money for The Elisa Project. This report from the field tells the story:

“The Elisa Project held its second annual tennis tournament – TEP Open — at the Dallas Country Club.  Charlotte Alston Legg and Terri McCullough served as co-chairs for the event with The Elisa Project Co-Founders Leslie and Rick McCall as honorary co-chairs.

Charlotte Alstron Legg, Leslie and Rick McCall and Terry McCullough*

Charlotte Alstron Legg, Leslie and Rick McCall and Terry McCullough*

“Twenty-six teams of two played in the round robin and 105 tournament and raised over $10,000 for the charity.  Thanks to sponsors (Audi Dallas, Dallas Country Club, Elizabeth Showers, Cabanalife, JM Albert Photography, Skin Technology, The Scout Guide, Innergy, Spoon bar & kitchen, T Bar M Racquet Club, Royal Oaks Country Club, McCullough Mediation, Sunkissed Girl, Woodhill Dental Specialties, Vickie Brown Tenniswear and several local families), the entire event was underwritten.

“Local tennis phenom Peggy Porter also joined in by playing with the pros. The day included a ProAm and lunch on the terrace.

Kim Martinez

Kim Martinez*

“Executive Director, Kim Martinez said that success of the tournament was due to the hard work of Charlotte and Terri in addition to the support of all sponsors, the Dallas Country Club and their pro staff.

“The purpose of the event was to raise mission-critical funds for The Elisa Project that will be used to provide school-age and community education and prevention programs throughout North Texas, as well as resource and referral services to help patients and families struggling with eating disorders find treatment and support.”

Photos provided by The Elisa Project

Just In: Olympian Amanda Beard To Be Keynote Speaker At The Elisa Project’s Life Lesson Luncheon on March 26

Kim Bannister and Kim Martinez

Kim Bannister and Kim Martinez*

The Elisa Project’s Life Lesson Luncheon Chair Kim Bannister broke the news Wednesday morning at Elements on Lovers Lane. The luncheon with a theme “Waves of Change” will be held at the Hilton Anatole on Wednesday, March 26.

You’ll want to mark that date down in your agenda, because the speaker was also revealed.

"In the Water They Can't See You Cry"*

“In the Water They Can’t See You Cry”*

According to The Elisa Project’s Executive Director Kim Martinez, the speaker will be swimming great Amanda Beard, the four-time Olympian, seven-time Olympic medalist, two-time Pan-pacific Gold Medalist and New York Times best-selling author.

That last one was for her “In the Water They Can’t See You Cry,” in which she told “the battles that she fought along the way and her new-found happiness in love and motherhood.”

Hmm, do you see a thread continuing through the event “Waves of Change” and speaker being a champion swimmer?

Photos provided by 
The Elisa Project

Fourth Annual Esteem Fashion Show Raised More Than $10,000 For The Elisa Project

Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Pam Skaggs Frank*

Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Pam Skaggs Frank*

Better than orange juice or an Egg McMuffin, The Elisa Project got things moving in a fashionable way on Saturday, September 21. Here’s a report from the field of how they went about raising funds and awareness about eating disorders thanks to a sold-out event.

“At 10 guests gathered at Tootsies to watch the fourth annual Esteem Fashion Show benefiting The Elisa Project.

Bridget Frank*

Bridget Frank*

Nerissa von Helpenstill*

Nerissa von Helpenstill*

“Over 200 patrons came to watch friends, family and celebrity guests model the latest fall trends. The event was founded by Rhonda Sargent Chambers, who has produced all four Esteem shows with her company RSC Show Productions.

“Leading this year’s efforts were Co-Chairs Pam Skaggs Frank and her daughter, Bridget Frank. They worked closely with a host committee to sell out the fashion show and raised over $10,000 for The Elisa Project. Funds generated at the event will go directly to programming needs.

Dr. Stephanie Setliff gave an agency overview explaining that eating disorders is not selective in its victims.  It is a disease that affects many and can strike at any time.

Debbie Denmon served as celebrity hostess again this year.

Store manager Nerissa von Helpenstill led the audience through the fall trends as the models showed off a variety of fashions.

Sponsors included AK Kitchen, Amanda Sterett Jewelry, DJ Jason Esquire, Facelogic, Hilton Anatole Veranda Club, RSC Show Productions, Smartwater, Terlingo Go Cycle, Uber and Xen-Tan. The Elisa Project is grateful to the generosity of all the attendees and sponsors.

* Photo credit: Joseph Brewster


The Elisa Project’s ESTEEM: A Fashion Show Will Provide Fun And Funding To Help People Like “Gertrude”

Photo before and after*

Photo before and after*

Tis the season for those bulging fashion magazines to be on newsstands everywhere. Have you ever noticed how the models are so flawless? Not a strand of hair out of place. No rogue pore showing up. Not the slightest hint of fat. You don’t really believe in such perfection, do you? Course not. Thanks to the skilled hands of photo surgeons and today’s software, those doctored pictures result in images of people who would make Mattel envious.

Unfortunately, too many think such perfection is reality, and go to extremes to match it. For instance, let’s take the case of a young woman. . . let’s call her “Gertrude”. . . she had everything going for her. All throughout school, her report cards were covered with “A’s.” Her popularity with classmates was equally impressive. Anytime she ran for an office, she was elected. Her parents adored their perfect daughter and praised her every chance they got. Even her girlfriends were envious that she managed to fit into the tightest jeans with ease. Perhaps it was because she was just a wisp of a girl. Others might say she was lean, but still she had rosy cheeks, great hair and a big smile. Over the years, she graduated from university maintaining her record of perfection. The only problem was she was taking that lean look a little too far. But not to worry, her friends and family thought. . . it was just a growing phase.

Then Gertrude got a job at a prestigious specialty store. She moved up the ladder from clerk to buyer with trips abroad. But her weight didn’t move up the scale at all. No, in fact the needle on the scale was registering less and less of Gertrude. Co-workers noticed that she preferred eating lunch at her desk. Instead of bringing something in from home or the company cafeteria, she would just have a tall glass of water in which she would religiously squeeze lemons or limes. Then she would slowly sip the water while poring over Women’s Wear. There was always an excuse — a big breakfast that morning, a dinner date, an upset stomach from the night before. Gertrude was a pro in coming up with the excuses.

Eventually, Gertrude’s eyes that had been so bright and shiny seemed to sink back in her face underscored by dark circles. Her hairdresser noticed that her thick, thick hair was thinning and losing its lustre. Even her dentist commented about how her teeth were beginning to show signs of erosion. Gertrude started wearing outfits that covered her arms and neck even in the summer. Was it because they were so painfully thin that people were becoming alarmed?

They had reason to be alarmed. Gertrude was suffering from an eating disorder. Her early days of “tossing her cookies” after a huge meal had progressed to overuse of laxatives and eventually avoiding food as much as possible. Gertrude was also suffering from a case of denial. This perfect girl couldn’t possibly be out of control. But she was.

Luckily, Gertrude’s family and friends took control of the situation and had her entered into a program to handle her disorder. It was because of programs like The Elisa Project that they recognized the situation and knew how to proceed.

ESTEEM: A Fashion Show*

ESTEEM: A Fashion Show*

That’s why the Esteem: A Fashion Show on Saturday, September 21, at Tootsies is so important. Proceeds from the show will benefit The Elisa Project and its various programs offered to those suffering from eating disorders, as well as their families and friends.

Esteem Co-Chairs Pam Skaggs Frank and Bridget Frank have arranged for the event to take place just in time for the upcoming homecoming parties and holiday season. It’s an event that’s just perfect for moms and daughter, aunts and nieces and grandmothers and granddaughters.  And guys are welcome, too. Eating disorders are not a “ladies-only” problem.

* Graphics courtesy of The Elisa Project

JUST IN: Kim Martinez Named The Elisa Project Executive Director

Kim Martinez

Kim Martinez

After months of serving as interim executive director of The Elisa Project, Anne Besser can get back to her less hectic, normal life. Word has just come in that Kim Martinez has been named executive director without “interim” anywhere near the title.

According to Elisa Project Board Member Dorothy Allyn, who spearheaded the search, “With her 12+ years of experience as an executive director of other non-profits, she [Kim] truly understands the scope and commitment required to lead our organization. She is passionate about ‘making a difference in the lives of those in need’ and helping those affected by eating disorders.”  

Anne is not cutting ties with the organization that addresses eating disorders. She will return to her prior position as a board member.

Photo provided by The Elisa Project

The Elisa Project Announces Plans For Dallas National Eating Disorder Walk With Brian Cuban Serving As Honorary Chair

With the weather being not too terribly warm and no ice in sight, walkers are popping up like summer vacation plans. The latest official event for walkers to participate in is the 2013 Dallas NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association).

According to The Elisa Project‘s Interim Executive Director Anne Besser, it’s scheduled for Saturday, May 11, at Parish Episcopal School Dallas starting at 8:30 a.m. In addition to a special performance by Dallas singer/songwriter Kelsey Riddick, the keynote speaker will be Johanna Kandel, founder of the Alliance for Eating Discover Awareness.

Another impressive participant will be lawyer/author and eating disorder survivor Brian Cuban. While Brian is well known for his opinions regarding the First Amendment and social activism, he is also a eating disorder survivor. Long regarded as a “woman’s” issue, eating disorders are becoming more numerous among men. That’s why Brian’s involvement is important to spread the word.

So,  sign up and splurge — go buy some cute new walking shoes.

Day #2 With Katherine Schwarzenegger And Christopher Kennedy Lawford

First, let’s get one thing straight. Katherine Schwarzenegger and Christopher Kennedy Lawford are not direct cousins. Yes, they are both related to the late Rose and Joe Kennedy. Now, bear with us because even Chris admits that it’s a bit confusing. Chris is the cousin of Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger, Katherine’s mother. That means Chris and Katherine are “first cousins once removed.”

Told you it was going to be confusing. But get used to it, because Dallas is seeing more and more of the multi-generational Kennedy clan. Rory Kennedy and her brother Robert Kennedy Jr. were here a couple of weeks ago to chat with Charlie Rose. Anthony Shriver pops in to visit with old friends Jan Miller and Jeff Rich about his Best Buddies program.

Earlier this week author Katherine Schwarzenegger was in town for The Elisa Project’s Life’s Lessons Luncheon at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Also working the city was Chris Lawford, who was promoting his book “Recover to Live: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction” and talking with groups about drug and alcohol abuse.

Monday night found Katherine at Fort Five Ten for a patrons party while Chris was at Stephanie Curtis’s home for a private party. That was just a warmup for a busy Tuesday.


Christopher Kennedy Lawford and Katherine Schwarzenegger (Photo by Tanya Foster)

Christopher Kennedy Lawford and Katherine Schwarzenegger        (Photo by Tanya Foster)

Katherine and Christopher started off the day early at WFAA’s “Good Morning Texas.” Both had that family trait of drop-dead great looks, and were extremely articulate and focused on their reasons for being in Dallas. But it wasn’t a lengthy family reunion. No sooner were they together than Katherine was on camera and, later, Christopher.

Quickly the two headed in different directions. Chris went off to talk to McCullough Middle School students and Katherine headed to the Omni Dallas Hotel for a meet-and-greet prior to the Life’s Lessons Luncheon. In the Fair Park room, the crowd of VIP’s chatted while waiting for their chance to meet the tall, gorgeous eldest child of Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Leslie and Rick McCall looked pleased at the turnout. It was the McCalls who, in losing their daughter, Elisa, to suicide as a result of bulimia, created the Elisa Project to prevent other Elisa’s and their families from experiencing such a tragedy. Ironically, Tuesday would have been Elisa’s 34th birthday. Instead of celebrating her birthday with candles and presents, nearly 600 men, women, boys and girls came together to help others in Elisa’s memory.

Rick McCall and Katherine Schwarzenegger

Rick McCall and Katherine Schwarzenegger

One of those was jewelry designer Elizabeth Showers, who was to receive the Star of Hope Award at the luncheon for her efforts and support of the Elisa Project. As a show of her dedication to the eating disorder program, she includes a star in all the pieces in her jewelry collection.

Elizabeth Showers

Elizabeth Showers

As guests settled in for lunch in the Trinity Ballroom, Parish Episcopal School students with balloons hovering overhead made their way through the ballroom selling raffle tickets. Occasionally, the silhouette of a balloon would float by one of the two huge screens at the front of the room. Elisa Project Interim President Anne Besser seemed to visit each table. She even found time to ask the production crew to rerun the sponsors’ slides. Smart gal. Let’s keep those sponsors happy.

Co-chair Ellen Cook and Jackie Moore were joined at the podium by their daughters Caroline Cook and Hannah Moore to thank all for attending.

Katherine Scwarzenegger and Gloria Campos

Katherine Scwarzenegger and Gloria Campos

Emcee WFAA’s Gloria Campos in a turquoise suit then introduced Anne B, who briefly joined Glo, whispered something in her ear and returned to her table. Silence. Then Gloria explained that Anne couldn’t find her speech. No sooner had Gloria revealed the reason for the silence, than Anne returned to the podium ready to wing it. But magically the speech appeared on the podium and Anne was just fine thanking guests and requesting their help to grow the program.

Elisa Project Board President Alvin Wade then presented the award to Elizabeth. The blonde with the sky-blue eyes relied on notes with large fonts so she wouldn’t have to wear her glasses. She endeared herself to the audience by setting aside a page or two of her acceptance speech and instead encouraging guests to support The Elisa Project. [Editor’s note: Before the luncheon Elizabeth was still a little amazed at being given the award for something she just does naturally.]

It startled some in the audience when the 41-year-old admitted that 21 years ago, she had considered s suicide. Why would this young woman, who had talent, a wonderful family and great looks, ever consider that? Because as was emphasized time and again during the lunch, there has been and continues to be an unreal expectation for perfection and beauty in today’s society.

Katherine was up next. She, too, read directly from her notes. For a keynote speaker that may seem a bit distracting, but her message and delivery kept the entire room captivated.

No, Katherine had not suffered from an eating disorder, but she had faced the unreal expectations by society of perfection. The gal stated flatly and plainly that no one is perfect. This frustration with unreal expectation had been a driving force in her writing “Rock What You’ve Got: Secrets to Loving Your Inner and Outer Beauty from Someone Who’s Been There and Back.”  [Wonder how that title fits on the book spine?] It seems that after working on the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, she was disturbed by the attitudes that countless people have about physical perfection and the lengths to which they go to try to achieve it. When Katherine went home, it only got worse listening to her younger female relatives sound the same concerns about appearance.

Jan Miller and Katherine Schwarzenegger

Jan Miller and Katherine Schwarzenegger

It was then that she unloaded on Kennedy family friend/Dallasite Jan Miller. Jan’s solution — write a book. And that’s exactly what Katherine did. It was so successful that she’s now writing another book.

To learn the lessons that Katherine covered, you need to buy the book. But some interesting facts that she included in the talk were

  • Of the people surveyed in the Dove campaign, only 2% considered themselves beautiful.
  • 80% of girls are on diets.
  • A child will hear the word, “no” 400 times a day.

Another point of interest was Katherine’s weeding of friends. She revealed that among her college chums there was one who didn’t seem to fit. No, the friend was not vicious or mean. Katherine just had a gut feeling that the friend was not someone she wanted to include in her “friend box.” At first she hesitated to do anything, but eventually she gave in to her inner feeling. It wasn’t easy, but she discovered that her life was better for it.

As for Christopher, he was talking to McCullough students about drug and alcohol abuse. Ah, come on. Teenagers listening and paying attention to someone old enough to be their grandfather. . .  and a good-looking one at that?

Yes! After all, he had his first drink when he was 12 and his dad, actor Peter Lawford, introduced him to cocaine. So, yes, he can relate to teenagers experiencing the aura, intrigue and involvement with “stuff.”


Mike Early

Mike Early

Despite his voice starting to getting hoarse, he and Caron Chief Clinical Officer Mike Early arrived at Barnes & Noble on Northwest Highway at 6:30 for a 7 p.m. talk and book signing. As Mike parked the car, Chris got out and asked, “Where can we get a cup of coffee?”

No problem. He and Mike settled at a table in the B&N coffee bar.

As guests gathered upstairs, Chris greeted friends tableside.

Standing room only

Standing room only

Christopher Kennedy Lawford and Anthony McKelvy (Photo by Jan Osborn)

Christopher Kennedy Lawford and Anthony McKelvy (Photo by Jan Osborn)

At 7, the rows of chairs were filled, with others standing around the edges. Guests were all ages and sexes and most held Chris’s book. Downstairs Chris was delayed when his nephew/SMU student Anthony McKelvy showed up with some friends. Immediately, uncle and nephew hugged.

A few minutes later Chris and the boys rode the escalator to the upper level and the waiting fans.

Michael Fowler, Amara Durham and Christopher Kennedy Lawford

Michael Fowler, Amara Durham and Christopher Kennedy Lawford

Caron Texas’s Director of Marking and Community Relations Amara Durham introduced the best-selling author, listing his numerous accomplishments including graduating from Boston College of Law School and achieving his master’s certification in clinical psychology from Harvard Medical School.

Christopher Kennedy Lawford

Christopher Kennedy Lawford

Despite the long day, Chris’s energy level and passion went into overdrive. He was also very open about himself and his family.

On November 23, 1963, he told the crowd, his life changed forever. Before that day he had a wonderful life in California playing on the beach in the sunshine. He had two parents and three younger sisters. Then his uncle, President John Kennedy, was assassinated. His parents separated soon afterwards. According to Chris, his parents were only staying together for the sake of appearances until John was out of office. His death only sped up the process. The marriage ended. Pat packed up the children and moved to New York City. The change of family dynamics and the scene were a real shock to the young boy. And, of course, it didn’t help that Pat was drinking a lot and Peter was sinking into a whirlpool of alcohol and drug abuse.

Christopher Lawford

Christopher Lawford

After years of struggling with his own lifestyle of alcohol and drugs, Chris finally got sober and discovered that sober people could be interesting and fun, too. But he felt there was still more to do. He eventually wrote his first book that provided a platform for him to speak to groups and be on TV and radio to get his message across.

That book did so well that he decided to write a second one. So, he talked with 100 of the leading experts in the field and made amazing discoveries. According to Chris,

  • “This book provides guidance for identifying and treating the seven common habits that have the potential to become Toxic compulsions. In alphabetical order, they are:  alcohol; drugs (both legal and illegal); eating disorders; gambling; hoarding; sex and pornography; smoking.”
  • “Only an estimated one in 10 persons with an alcohol or drug addiction problem ever receives treatment. This one in 10 ratio may also apply to the other five Toxic compulsions addressed in this book, but may be even lower due to the hidden nature of these problems. As a direct consequence of this lack of treatment, aside from the human cost of deaths and illnesses associated with the undiagnosed and untreated conditions, every nation’s health care system is burdened with excessive and rapidly growing costs.”

Within weeks of publication, the book was on the best sellers list.

As Chris talked, no one left. When it came to questions, he answered one and all in the same honest, direct fashion that he had demonstrated throughout his talks in Dallas. He told how none of his sisters suffered from addiction, but that couldn’t be said for others in the extended family. Chris half-joking said that he’d offered rides to Caron to several members of the family, but none had taken him up on the offer.

Jim Hutcheson

Jim Hutcheson

After answering the last question, it was time to autograph books. The line formed almost immediately with Chairman of Caron Texas Board of Directors Jim Hutcheson at the front.

Editor’s note: Recently Texas author Larry McMurtry wrote off Dallas as second rate. During Katherine’s and Chris’s stays in Dallas, the audiences could not have been more first-class. At both The Life’s Lesson luncheon and Lawford’s book signing, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. In neither case did anyone ask off-point questions. No one asked Katherine about her parents’ headline-making marital problems. No one asked Chris about specific individuals within the well-known family who had made news via abuses and scandals.

This is only brought up because both Katherine and Chris seemed braced for potential public interrogations a la the National Enquirer. Instead they were treated with respect, interest and appreciation.

It Was 30 Years Ago That Many Learned You Can Be Too Thin

When was the first time you heard about eating disorders? For many it was the death of Karen Carpenter on February 4, 1983, at the age of 32. Anorexia nervosa changed a beautiful young women from this to this. Notice how she was in her final week. She had learned the tricks of someone suffering from the illness. She wore baggy pants and long sleeves.

Just perhaps if there had been organizations like The Elisa Project, we might not have lost such a remarkable voice.

If you know someone . . . especially a young person. . .whom you suspect might be a victim of eating disorders, buy a couple of tickets to the 8th Annual Life’s Lesson Luncheon on Tuesday, January 22, at the Omni Dallas. Even if you can’t manage to bring that “someone” along, go yourself and learn. You might be life-saving a friend or family member.