Since its founding in 1982, the Children’s Cancer Fund has awarded more than $7 million to help Children’s Medical Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center in their battles against childhood cancer. Friday, April 4th, organizers were aiming to add another quarter-million dollars or so for the fight from the nonprofit’s 26th Annual Luncheon & Fashion Show at the Hilton Anatole.
CCF’s annual fundraiser is always one of the most heart-warming—and heart-rending—events of the year. And, the 2014 edition was no exception. That was evident right from the get-go, when many of the 39 participating young cancer patients and survivors gathered backstage with various celebrities before the luncheon began.
Over in one corner of the noisy space, a young girl was getting her hair curled. Another child was being interviewed by someone from NBC-5. Still others were posing for photos with “circus clowns,” or with a couple of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Country singer Rudy Gatlin sat talking quietly with one youngster, his arm thrown over the back of her wheelchair, while, not far away, Miss Texas Teen, Kellie Stewart, stood in the middle of a group of pink-clad firefighters from Longview as someone snapped their photo.
The heart-rending part continued in the Chantilly Ballroom, where nearly 1,000 people had gathered for the luncheon and fashion show. After welcoming messages from longtime Honorary Co-chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman (it was Roger’s 26th year, Troy’s 18th), Luncheon Co-chairs Tyler Kuelbs and Stacie Wells addressed the crowd. Each was accompanied by her young cancer-survivor son—Nick Kuelbs and AJ Wells—and each broke down weeping before she could finish her brief message.
After attendees heard from Mistress and Master of Ceremonies Clarice Tinsley and Steve Eagar of Fox 4 News and began enjoying a lunch of cream of spinach soup, classic coq au vin, and lemon meringue pie, Scott Murray brought on auctioneer Matt Blevins. Blevins proceeded to conduct a very long, very drawn-out auction segment, during which the likes of a painting, a wine-cellar dinner, and a South African safari were sold—and the patience of the 1,000 guests was tried.
Following the second of two videos—and then a cash call after that!—the runway show, or what Eagar called “the meat of the program,” began at long last. Sponsored by Fashion Presenter Dillard’s, the runway show was adorable as always. Among the most memorable sights were Rush Urschel, president of the Junior Leadership Board at Children’s, accompanying little Brooke Hart, who was on crutches; former Dallas Cowboy Ray Johnston holding up a card representing Logan Quintana, who was feeling under the weather and couldn’t attend; and Staubach with Carter Fielding, who was sporting a “moustache” and holding up both hands in a triumphant Churchill-style, V-for-Victory salute. Cracked Eagar: “He’s a future politician, as you can see.”
After a raffle drawing for a 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA, a pitch to buy the tulip centerpieces, and a closing song by Amber Carrington, semi-finalist on “The Voice” TV show, the event ended at last around 1:30 p.m., roughly half an hour past the scheduled closing time. For those who’d been there since 10 a.m., when the affair began, it all made for a very long, very exhausting day that might have benefited from a little prudent editing.
* Photo credit: Juan Pulido
** Photo credit: Edgar Vargas