If every fundraising event has a driving force behind it, there’s no doubt the person behind the inaugural Fashion Stars for a Cause gala at the Dallas Country Club was Yvonne Crum. Crum, who served as chair for the Friday, March 21 event benefiting the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas, was fussing like a nervous stage mother as guests thronged the club for the pre-dinner reception.
Breaking away from the excited, black-tie crowd that included the likes of Carolyn Lupton, Jean Lattimore, Jill Rowlett, Dee Wyly, Martha and Donnie Miller, Carolyn and Bryant Tillery, John Clutts and Tiffany and Paul Divis, Yvonne dashed into the ballroom to make sure everything was perfect. And everything was—including the flowers, which had been underwritten by Linda and Steve Ivy. “We’re at 279 people now, in a ballroom made for 260,” Yvonne said. And, with a $200K fundraising goal, she confided, they were at well over $150K—and still counting.
Ten or 15 minutes later, the guests filed into the ballroom for the main event. After a welcome by Beverly Drive Editor-in-Chief Taylor Bacic, whose magazine devoted a number of pages to the Fashion Stars, the partygoers tucked into a delicious dinner of poached pear salad, breast of chicken, smoked corn puree, garlic roasted mashed potatoes and chocolate mousse cake.
As they did so, Terry Bentley Hill, who would be the evening’s keynote speaker, helped bring on the Fashion Stars, who’d been outfitted in frocks from Tootsies’ with the expert assistance of Priya Rathod. One by one they strode the runway: Ashley Burghardt, Britt Harless, Janee Hill, Antonio Hubert, Toni Munoz Hunt, Hilary Kennedy, Regina Bruce, Rhonda Marcus, Robin Brock, Carla Miller, Alex Small, and Cynthia Smoot.
Then it was time for the talking. Yvonne began, naturally, and introduced the evening’s honorary chairs, Melody and Rick Rogers. Said Yvonne, “I asked Melody if she wanted to talk and she said, ‘No, you’ll do enough talking for both of us.’ ” After a few words of greeting from Margie Wright, executive director of the suicide and crisis center, keynoter Bentley Hill spoke inspirationally about the recovery process after a friend or family member takes their own life.
Bentley Hill, who lost a husband and a 14-year-old daughter to suicide, said, “You never get over it, but you do get better.” She also said she believes in “Godly intervention” in some cases. One she cited: that of a Golden Gate Bridge jumper who survived the long drop into the deep water, then found himself being nudged upward through the depths by a helpful sea lion.
To close out the evening, a group of friends surprised Yvonne by arranging for something special. “It’s not a naked man, is it?” she cracked. Instead, it was a special performance of one of her favorite songs, “For Good,” from the Broadway musical The Wiz. But this song had special lyrics: “Because we knew you, Yvonne, we have been changed for good …”
Two standing ovations later, the wet-eyed chair thanked everyone for coming, then told them goodnight. “I’m not sure if I’m going to heaven or hell,” Yvonne couldn’t resist adding. “But whichever it is, I’m going to be in charge of the raffle.”
Photo credit: Danny Campbell