The Genesis Annual Luncheon kicked off the Mother’s Day week festivities a tad bit early. But then it’s never too early to celebrate moms. So, it was no surprise that more than 1,600 high-heeled types included moms and their kiddos (Micki Rawlings and son Gunnar, Lisa Ogle and mom Nina Thornburgh, Marianne Staubach and her daughters, Nancy Ann Hunt and daughter Ashlee Kleinert and her daughter Connie Kleinert, made their way to the gargantuan Trinity Ballroom on Tuesday, May 5.
As they strutted on their way, they passed by the Wedgwood Room where featured speaker Maria Shriver posed for photos with VIP guests. Each one she greeted with a handshake and “Hello, I’m Maria.” She handled each meeting like the seasoned trooper she is, including the woman who bear-hugged her.
Eventually the action moved to the Trinity, where it was hard to find a single empty chair. Maria was joined tableside by Luncheon Chair Kathy Helm. At nearby tables were Nancy Rogers, Michael Flores, Olivia Kearney, Holly Deason, Shelly Slater, Ros Dawson Thompson, April Box Chamberlain, Katie Pedigo, Joyce Lacerte, Pio del Castillo, Amy Turner, Julie Hawes, Rev. Sheron Patterson and Claire Emanuelson. Congratulations were being distributed to the various fellows in the crowd like newlyweds Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner and WFAA’s John McCaa, who had just earned his doctorate in philosophy.
Before Maria was introduced, The Dallas Morning News and its series “Deadly Affection” were recognized with the Jane Doe Award and Genesis Women’s Shelter Jan Langbein emphasized that the work against domestic violence was more necessary than ever.
Then HeRO Board President Crayton Webb gave a stirring talk on how men…real men are more than “gentlemen…they are “gentle men.” He then introduced W.H. Adamson High School football coach and athletic coordinator Josh Ragsdale, who was presented the HeRO Award. In his brief acceptance speech, it was obvious how this man who works with young men on the football field was chosen. Through his efforts, he has inspired more than just the Adamson athletes to take a pledge to be against domestic violence. His message has spread throughout the country. In addition to having twin daughters, he and his wife Amber are expecting a son, who will have an excellent role model.
Before settling into the comfy chairs on stage, Maria addressed the group, telling about her visit the night before at Genesis. Through talking with the clients of the shelter and hearing their stories, she told guests “these women deserved respect and not shame.”
Highlights of her chat with Jeff Brady included:
- At the age of 8, she hated Dallas. And due to what had happened in Dallas (the Kennedy assassination), she was not changing her mind. At the age of 40 — 32 years later — she realized that she didn’t want to drag negative influences along her journey of life. One of those items was that hatred that had resulted from family feelings. So she visited the Sixth Floor, the grassy knoll and returned to the Sixth Floor for a prayer. Her hatred was transformed to understanding and liking Dallas. In fact, one of her closest friends, Jan Miller, lives in Dallas.
- When asked if she would have gone into journalism today, she said she had been asked that before and had to think about it. Her answer? She would probably go into sports because so many things were initiating from it.
- Maria told how the previous weekend she had turned down the sound on the broadcast of the Floyd Mayweather–Manny Pacqiao fight much to the chagrin of her sons. She explained that they needed to know about Mayweather’s history of domestic violence. Maria went on to say she was not ruining their evening, she was instructing them.
- Upon hearing about Dale Hansen’s outgoing personality and his taking a vocal stand against domestic violence, she said she wanted to meet him.
- Maria admitted to a personal problem when she has been hit by mistaken identifications like “Are you Caroline Kennedy?” Other times she was asked if she was indeed Maria Shriver. At one point she just denied being Maria Shriver. One person said they didn’t think she was Shriver because “Maria Shriver is fatter.”
In conclusion she shared a lesson that she had learned over the years of being associated with well-known parents and other family members — do not compare yourself to others but to strive to be yourself. And Maria has indeed mastered that lesson.