Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher had had a rough weekend, thanks to Mother Nature. On Friday, April 20, he was on the phone with Pete Delkus and organizers of the Red Balloon Ride and Run scheduled for the next day. Due to a monsoon that had been forecast, the decision was made to cancel the event. Now, on Monday, April, 23 he strolled into the courtyard of Temple Emanu-El for the Literacy Achieve’s Wings of Spring fundraiser. It was an absolutely perfect evening, with no wind, no rain and no sizzling temperatures.
As Brent joined the lineup for the buffet dinner, Marianne and Roger Staubach were seated at a table with their granddaughters Jordan Gates and Jessica Whitsitt, son-in-law John Gates and their daughter, Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, who was being honored with the Marnie Wildenthal Award. For the Staubach clan, it was a double celebration. In addition to Jennifer’s receiving the award, it was also Marianne’s birthday.
At another table nearby were Marnie and Kern Wildenthal with Shirley and Bob Miller. Marnie, who teaches at Literacy Achieves on Mondays and Tuesday, was soon joined by fellow teacher Doug Davies and his wife Gretchen Davies. Doug was wearing a bandaged brace on his left hand, due to a “sporting accident.” It seems that while walking their “flight risk” adoptive dog, Doug fell and injured his hand. Even so, he never let go of the leash.
On a healthier note, Marnie reported that her recent cataract surgeries had been very successful.
As for Shirley and Bob, he looked quite happy as his wheelchair rolled right up to the table for dinner.
Across the way, Lee Papert was with his older siblings, Peggy and Sammy Papert, the latter in from California. Momentarily Sammy left the group in search of something chocolate to complement his red wine. But he returned stunned. Seems there were no sweets to be found at all.
Pretty soon, the group including Regina Montoya and Jamie Williams moved into Stern Chapel. There, Wings of Spring Co-Chairs Colleen and Rob Taylor stressed the importance of Literacy Achieves for countless non-English speaking people learning to communicate in North Texas. To provide an example, Norma Cruz, sitting with her family on the front row, stood up and addressed the group on how Literacy Achieves had helped her adapt to U.S. life since moving from Mexico in 2007.
Following Norma’s’s presentation, Literacy Achieves Executive Director Sarah Papert made a surprise announcement. At least, it was a surprise to Jennifer: Marianne and Roger would present the Marnie Wildenthal award to their daughter. Accepting the honor, Jennifer said that Vickery Meadow—where Literacy Achieves has so much impact—is an important part of her city council district, just like Preston Hollow, and that she relies for help in Vickery Meadow on nonprofits like Literacy Achieves.
As Jennifer, her talk over, took her place in the audience with her family, a voice was heard from the back of the room. It was poet/musician Pablo Sainz Villegas, who slowly walked down the main aisle to the stage, where he was joined by bass player Pedro Giraudo and percussionist Nacho Arimany. For the next hour, Pablo took the audience for a romantic tour from South America to the United States and back using verse and music.
From bouncy bossa nova tunes to songs (“Maria”) from the musical “West Side Story” to a smoky tango, the group called the Pablo Sainz Villegas Americano Trio had the audience in the palm of their hands, many of the listeners swaying gently or nodding their heads in time. The performance displayed “my dream of unifying the Americas through music,” Pablo explained. Then, at the end, he addressed this to the Literacy Achieves supporters: “Thank you all for making a big difference in this world.”