The annual Salvation Army Luncheon is an inspiration in itself. With a herd of both males and females showing their support for the 130-plus year old organization, the luncheon is the warm-up kick-off for the yearly red kettle drive. As guests arrived at the luncheon in the Hilton Anatole, they were greeted throughout the lobby by The Salvation Army (TSA) associates ringing bells.
For some reason, there seemed to be a little more pep in the step as people entered the ballroom. Perhaps it was the Cowboys’ recent wins, the very successful Bush Center groundbreaking or the slight turn in the economy. Regardless, the crowd of 1,500 was bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Charlotte Anderson was wearing many hats like —
- First Daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
- Exec VP Brand Management for the Cowboys
- President of Charities for the Cowboys
- National Advisory Board Chairperson for TSA.
No wonder the gal had a front row table! She also had by her side Mom Gene Jones at the next table with gal pals Diana Strauss and Lee Ann White, but she also was joined by Brill Garrett (pictured right with Charlotte Anderson), Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett’s better half.
No wonder Keith Urban will officially kick off the Red Kettle campaign performing halftime at the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game.
Across the ballroom was Gail Turner, who feared she was going to “have to put rocks in (husband/SMU president) Gerald‘s shoes” to bring him back to earth after the Bush Center groundbreaking two days before.
Speaking of which, Nancy Halbreich was giddy about the groundbreaking, too. Not just the event. She was just sitting among the first 10 rows with Nancy Dedman when Mitt Romney sat down next to her. When asked how the niece of former Democratic chairman Robert Strauss felt to be one of the only Democrats at the largely Republican gathering of 2,300, she diplomatically answered with a smile, “I consider myself to be an Independent.”
A few tables over, Bobby Lyle was being hugged and greeted like Santa. Luncheon Chair Joyce Fox (pictured right with Bobby Lyle) was one of the first to do the honors. Seems that Bobby was in charge of underwriting for the event and he has a reputation for making people want to give.
But more about that later.
Following the lunch’s being served, a moving video was presented telling “Edith’s Story” with the capper being the presentation of Edith to a standing ovation. Next Major Ward Matthews with the assistance of his wife Captain Michele told the group that one of the highest honors that TSA bestowed on individuals was The Others Award. It was created to recognize those outside TSA who have gone “above and beyond” to help the organization. They told how Jan Pickens, Ray Nixon (pictured) and Jim Francis had made such an impact through their efforts to raise awareness and finances for TSA that they were receiving The Others Award.
Then Gerald revealed that Bobby Lyle had given him an envelope with the amount of money raised from the luncheon. After opening the envelope, Gerald reported a whopping $3,313,154 was the magic number. But not satisfied, he suggested that everyone with a cell phone text a certain number which would result in their donating at least $10.
Immediately folks like Rena Pederson, Ann Carruth and Harriet Miers started texting. A few others raised an eyebrow. Looking a little uncomfortable, one guest whispered, “They just said that over $3 million was raised by us. Now, they’re asking for more?”
If you do your arithmetic and everyone in the room had texted $10, that would have increased the total by $15,000.
Gerald, the man who knows how to make things happen, also told the crowd that they could make a donation the old fashioned way by putting money in the little red kettles on each of the tables or buying the centerpieces.
Those Salvation Army soldiers really know how to market!
Speaking of marketing, the man of the hour and guest speaker Blake Mycoskie (pictured) took to the stage. The former SMU tennis player/founder of TOMS knew how to make an impression both visually and verbally. Doffing his brown sports jacket, the tousled brunette with the scruffy beard in the red plaid shirt with leather and beaded bracelets looked more like a beneficiary of TSA than the head of an international shoe mega-wonder. Ah, but he was just setting the well-dressed audience up.
While other speakers had used teleprompters, Blake talked non-stop for 25 minutes about his life. Sounds like half a therapy session, huh? Not Blake’s life. Having done everything from losing “The Amazing Race” by four minutes, to starting an online driver education company to playing polo and sipping fine wine in Argentina, Blake sounded like the ultimate subject of a Robin Leach segment. Then while in Argentina, he joined some English-speaking gals in delivering shoes to children in a poor village a couple of hours outside town. He was so moved by the experience that he decided to start a company that gave one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.
Blake’s tales of how he created the start-up company and in no time was overwhelmed with orders and encounters with the likes of Anna Wintour kept the audience riveted. That first summer, 10,000 pairs were sold from his 1,000-square-foot apartment. This year TOMS gave awayits one millionth pair of shoes.
“Every single person in this room can have a tremendous impact on the lives of people locally in this community and all over the world,” Blake said. “And your support for The Salvation Army is not just about breaking a record or fund raising goals, which is awesome. It has to continue day after day after day. The more you incorporate giving into your life, the more you will receive. When you leave today, think what else you can do to help someone in need.”
By the time Blake had completed his talk, not a soul had left the ballroom and all gave him a standing ovation. It’s suspected that many were wearing TOMS by dinner time.