Sure, Best Buddies was founded in 1989 by Kennedy family member Anthony K. Shriver to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But in North Texas, it’s been Shriver pals Jan Miller and Jeff Rich who’ve been the nonprofit’s top champions from the get-go. The dynamic husband-and-wife team proved that nothing has changed on Saturday, November 17, when they served as hosts for the 12th annual Best Buddies Dallas Gala 2018 at The Bomb Factory.
Titled “Up Up and Away in Friendship,” the fundraiser featuring a seated dinner, a live and silent auction, and musical performances had the Deep Ellum space looking like a fanciful, psychedelic dream from the 1960s. The colorful, hot-air balloon decorations were the inspired work of Debbie Jordan of Magic Moments Parties and Events, Jeff explained. Meantime, each of the tablecloths was either orange, purple or red—and the Factory never looked better. It was a long way from Jan and Jeff’s backyard, where the first Gala was held.
While Anthony wasn’t able to attend—he was at another Best Buddies gala in Miami the same night, Jeff said—about 500 guests did. Among them: Kara and Randall Goss, Pat and Emmitt Smith, Sheila and Jody Grant, Barb and Steve Durham, Moll Anderson, Ron Corning, Luis Correa, Kim McCoy, Chris Ryan, Scott Ryan, Charles Calhoun, Regina Montoya, Jessica Montoya Coggins, Serita Jakes, BeBe Winans, and Carol and Scott Murray. Serita was the honorary chair, while Bebe was on the host committee and Scott served as the evening’s emcee. Also enjoying the event were about 130 youngsters—Buddies and “peer Buddies.”
And, there was a lot to enjoy. In addition to all the fun items offered at the live auction—one had you walking inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth at the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson—there was a dinner (winter-greens salad, Coq au Vin with mushrooms and onions, and three different desserts) and no fewer than five musical acts. Performing were Carsen, Marlana VanHoose, Lisa Smith, Love and Theft, and the Mars Hill Band. The evening’s only downside, for some, were the chilly temps inside the Bomb Factory. It was so cold, Kara Goss said she saw a woman wearing a big red coat and asked her hubby to buy it for her.
Best Buddies now boasts 2,319 chapters in all 50 states and in 50 countries on six continents. At last count, its multiple programs were impacting 1.91 million lives.