Lisa Cooley knows her Texas weather. As she said on Tuesday, April 21, there are just a couple of perfect days when you can open the doors and let folks enjoy the great outdoors. And when it comes to spreads, Lisa and her Clay Cooley brood have quite a place.
Originally scheduled for Thursday, April 9, the weather boded end-of-the-world conditions with hail, winds and flooding against Cattle Baron’s Ball holding its research reception. But on this evening everything was as perfect as the Cooley grounds.
Why, shoot! There are country clubs that are smaller than these palatial digs.
Just transporting guests from the front gate past the tennis court and fountains to the mansion, the Cooleys arranged for golf carts. Hey, Clay’s an expert when it comes to transportation, don’t you know!
One guest quipped as they wandered the property, “This isn’t a house. It’s a resort.”
While the property was amazing, the people watching held its own. Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi and Alex Laurenzi arrived with Alex on crutches due to hip surgery…Cooley kids Ciara (her dad claims she rules the roost), Chase and Chance were on hand…Chick Lit Chair Wendy Messmann was preparing for the luncheon featuring author Stacey Ballis.
And that combination of incredible surroundings and boldfacers held things up a bit and a bit more. Just trying to get everybody together was a challenge. The Cooley hospitality was just too inviting to settle down, but they eventually did because of the cause — learning about developments in the battle against cancer.
But before the crowd came together in the two-story living room, CBB Co-Chair Mary Martha Pickens was apprehensive. She was concerned about sharing her personal story in such an open venue. But it was necessary. Too often cancer is about someone in a video or another person, who is just passing through town. In this case, Mary Martha had lived from childhood with cancer on her life story. It was a time before emails, cellphones and major developments in children’s cancer. Thanks to a loving family that went beyond the extra mile and doctors committed to saving a 12-year-old, Mary Martha survived with a glorious smile. But the battle cost her right leg. One on one, she doesn’t shy away from talking about her three prosthetic legs — one for athletics like hiking and running, one for scuba diving and one is her “pretty leg” for dress up occasions like this one. Now, she was having to tell friends and potential supporters about her successful battle against cancer thanks to the dollars donated to research.
The good news is that she was perfectly eloquent and touching. As husband Dr. John Pickens watched on, Mary Martha said that too many times the families of cancer patients are forgotten. She recalled how her parents and brothers were vital to her treatments and recovery. Still — “It is totally devastating for all.”
She added that despite the prosthetics and years of having them, she still falls many, many, many times, “just as those suffering with cancer have setbacks over and over.”
To emphasize the progress that has been made thanks to funding, she and Co-Chair Tia Wynne had Dr. Yonghao Yu and Dr. Rene Galindo discuss the developments being made in cancer research. To say that the two noted experts used language that may have been over most folks’ heads is an understatement. Still the promise of advancing the war against cancer was obvious, especially when Yonghao said to go out and “Kick cancer’s butt.”