The moment you entered Eddie Deen’s Ranch at Downtown Dallas on Saturday, September 29, you just knew the inaugural Blue Jean Ball benefiting Luke’s FastBreaks was going to be a big success. Hundreds of guests, many of them in their 20s, were milling about enjoying the reception, which soon would be followed by Deen’s Texas barbecue, a live auction, and then a raucous, boot-scootin’ performance by country star Clay Walker.
Chaired by Mary Martha and Dr. John Pickens and Tia and Bedford Shelmire Wynne Jr., the first-ever bash lured a crowd of noteworthy and charitable guests. Among them: Gina and Ken Betts, Christie Carter, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, Patti Flowers and Tom Swiley, Joanna Clark, Michael Faircloth, Lynn and Allan McBee, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Kendra Treece, Jake Pavelka, Katy and Lawrence Bock, Nancy Gopez, Angie and Dr. Kevin Kadesky, Tiffany and Paul Divis with his son Chris Divis with Alyssa Durbin, Dianne and Mark LaRoe and Underwriting Co-Chairs Lisa and Clay Cooley with their brood Bela and Chase Cooley and Ciara Cooley with Jake Fraze.
Fashion note: Both Luke’s FastBreaks Founder Luke Lange and his dad, Ben Lange, were wearing matching black shirts created for the night by Dallas designer Michael Faircloth.
As the evening proceeded, we learned that Luke was diagnosed at age 9 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Before winning his battle with the dreaded disease several years ago, Luke turned his distaste for hospital gowns — who doesn’t hate those things? — into alternative patient garb: soft-cotton T-shirts Luke designed with “fast-snap” buttons on each side. The lad’s unique design allows medical staffers to access the patient without ever having to remove or “pull up” the shirt.
Soon enough, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban jumped in to support Luke’s clever alternative to the traditional hospital gown. Today, Luke’s brainchild is helping the nonprofit Luke’s FastBreaks — established three years ago — support patients with free medical shirts in 42 cities, 26 states, and more than 70 hospitals. Ronald McDonald House Charities also benefits from the nonprofit, whose shirt sales provides critical dollars for pediatric cancer.
Luke and his sister, Livia Lange, got the “program” part of the evening going by explaining the nonprofit’s mission (“I’ve learned on my journey that we all have to help each other,” Luke said). Then the pair’s mother and father, Tracy and Ben Lange, took the stage to help goose up the live auction. Tens of thousands of dollars proceeded to roll in, as such items as a trip for four to Sea Island, Georgia, and a VIP Night for two with the Dallas Mavericks drew enthusiastic bids.
One clear crowd favorite, though, was the VIP Trip For Two To Dancing With The Stars. Highlight of the visit to the ABC-TV show backstage would be the presence of former The Bachelor and Dancing With The Stars cast member Jake Pavelka, who took the mic to hype the one-of-a-kind package. (The winning bid was $25,000.) Afterward Jake, who’s now a VP with real estate firm ESRP in Frisco, said he was looking forward next to hearing Clay perform: “The last time I saw him was in 1995. I love Clay Walker.”
He wasn’t the only one. From the moment Walker hit the spotlight, with a big backdrop that said “Long Live The Cowboy,” the Beaumont native had the Blue Jean guests on their feet dancing. And who could resist, with Clay running through his No. 1 hits like “If I Could Make A Living (Out of Loving You),” “Dreaming With My Eyes Open,” “Live Until I Die,” and “This Woman and This Man.” Walker and his six musicians also showed off their party-band chops, performing such crowd-pleasing “cover” tunes as “Night Moves,” “Honky Tonk Women,” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
While this may have been the first Blue Jean Ball, by the end of the night it was a pretty good bet it wouldn’t be the last.
For more photos of the night, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.