On Thursday, March 27, more than 400 people gathered in the Hilton Anatole’s Khmer Pavilion for the VNA’s 2014 Legends & Leaders fundraiser. A truly unique event giving attendees a chance to enjoy dinner and conversation with some of Dallas’ most fascinating personalities, this year’s version was chaired by the incomparable Lynn McBee, with the Roger Horchow family serving as honorary chairs. All that firepower didn’t disappoint, as the evening’s final take would hit $1 million for the nonprofit agency, best known for its Meals on Wheels program and VNA Hospice Care.
Helping achieve the fundraising milestone were the dozens of Legends and Leaders, who ranged from Mary Anne Alhadeff, Norm Bagwell and Lyda Hill to Paula Lambert, Stan Richards, Roger Staubach and Gerald Turner. This year, students from several local universities participated in the program as well.
At the reception before the dinner, Kent Rathbun joked, “I’m a legend—or a leader. I’m not sure which.” Tom Dunning said he was there “because [VNA Chairman] Ted Enloe asked me to, and you don’t turn down your friends.” Meantime, Eddie Vasquez from Paul Quinn College was telling Mike Rawlings how much he’d enjoyed the mayor’s talk about Dallas history at Paul Quinn last year. Just then Ron Kirk got in on the conversation and laughed, “Did you fact-check it, Eddie? He makes that stuff up!”
Typical of what took place next, at dozens of dinner tables around the room, was one table presided over by Robyn Flatt, longtime executive artistic director at the Dallas Children’s Theater. Flatt’s table included Wilson Tarver, a retired electrical engineer who’s also Robyn’s fiancé (they’re both from Waco); husband and wife Francie and Steven Mancillas; VNA communications director Natalie Martin; and Mitchell Towne, a sophomore and “distance freestyle swimmer” at SMU.
One by one the diners shared their individual stories: How Mitchell eventually wants to teach Greek and Roman classics, for example. How Robyn’s theater-oriented father wound up in Dallas after an attempt to censor one of his plays in Waco. How Natalie recently did the VNA’s rebranding campaign. How Francie drives for Meals on Wheels and also volunteers with groups like Genesis Women’s Shelter and Community Partners of Dallas. By dessert everyone knew each other much better—which is exactly the point of VNA’s innovative Legends & Leaders.