It was nearly 20 years ago that a teenager faced a daunting problem — her beloved grandmother, Mimi Schendle, was changing and not for the better. Over the next decade, the teenager watched her family helplessly assist Mimi’s journey into the web of Alzheimer’s. Like most diseases, this one doesn’t just impact the patient alone. It hits each member of the family. In this case, the girl’s grandfather, Joseph “Joe-Joe” Schendle, compassionately and tirelessly cared for his wife, as their children and grandchildren supported the elderly couple.
When Mimi died in 2008, the now 20-something decided she was going to find a way to provide funding for research to battle the disease that had touched all ages of her family. Being in the marketing business, she decided to undertake a project that would involve others her age. But to do that it had to be something that was fun while also fundraising. She had heard about a powder-puff football game that had raised some money in Washington, D.C., for Alzheimer’s. That seemed like a good idea, but fundraising vets were skeptical of her plan.
Perhaps it was the fact that she hadn’t faced such a major task like that before that she charged ahead with only the goal in her mind. The reality of the logistics hadn’t really set in that first year. Her 14-year-old sister ran the scoreboard and her close buddy Greer Fulton was quarterback for one side. And, of course, the soaring August heat made more than mascara melt. But she was driven by the memory of the previous ten years, and she had friends. Those two ingredients resulted in the first Blondes vs. Brunettes football game in 2008.
Over the next ten years, there were changes. The name was changed to BvB Dallas. The location of the game moved all over (Griggs Field, Highland Park High School’s Highlander Stadium, SMU’s Wescott Field, Bishop Lynch’s Roffino Stadium) and finally in 2014 to its present scene at the Cotton Bowl. Some years the Blondes won. Some years the Brunettes did. Through personal experiences, it was also learned that Alzheimer’s was not limited to the elderly.
As some players aged out, others came on board to practice all summer. And the nets changed, too, resulting in the following:
- 2008 — $65,000
- 2009 — $151,000
- 2010 — $207,000
- 2011 — $260,000
- 2012 — $340,000
- 2013 — $351,000
- 2014 — $441,000
- 2015 — $491,000
- 2016 — $564,000
But there were also constants, like the late Ebby Halliday and her real estate empire, Bud Light and The Ticket coming and staying on board.
And there was the girl, who was now a 33-year-old married lady, who had a full-time job at the Dallas Mavericks as Corporate Communications and Events Director. But she hadn’t ended her involvement in the event that had handed over more than $2.8M for Alzheimer’s programs.
On Saturday, August 12, plans call for the game to pass the $3M mark and provide this year’s funds to the Baylor AT&T Memory Center, the Center for BrainHealth, UT Southwestern Medical Center, and the Center for Vital Longevity. And once again, BvB Dallas Founder/Mimi’s and Joe-Joe’s granddaughter Erin Finegold White will be on the sidelines at the Cotton Bowl and on the frontline in the war against Alzheimer’s.