When Kimberly Schlegel Whitman chairs an event, she is known to bring all the right folks together. On Friday, April 26, she pulled out the big guns for the Children’s Cancer Fund Annual Gala at the Hilton Anatole benefiting pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern. Not only did Kim have Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach return as honorary co-chairs of the 31st annual fundraiser, but she also included three generations of the Schlegel clan including her kids Millie Whitman and JR Whitman, who proved himself a photo pro.
At the VIP meet-and-greet, Schlegel matriarch and patriarch Myrna and Bob Schlegel — Bob would later do the invocation — were palling around with Marty Turco. When asked about the upcoming wedding of daughter Krystal Schlegel to Luke Davis, Myrna reported that it was going to be a snap. After orchestrating both Kim’s and Kari Schlegel Kloewer‘s weddings, Myrna can pull off a wedding in her sleep.
Another family member supporting Kim was Luke, who was joined by his mother, Gail Privett Davis, and his grandmother Barbara Privett. Gail recalled that when her father died recently, one of the first people to send a note of concern was Liz Murray, an inspirational speaker who wrote the book, “Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story.” Said Gail: “That was so typical of Liz to care.” Their relationship went back years, when booking agent Gail brought Liz to Dallas to speak at the 2014 Soup’s On! Luncheon.
Meantime, Tony Romo let wife Candice Romo enter the VIP reception with gal pals Hollie Siglin and Binish Karimi, while Tony headed off to the men’s room to put on his tie. … Arriving at the meet-and-greet with her husband Chase Cooley, Bela Cooley was taken aback when she spieed a trio of paramedics: Mark Breidenbach, Sara Wood, and Chris Nickell. Bela thought there might have been an accident! She was relieved to learn the trio was there to escort Sawyer Rucker, age 5, in the Gala’s annual fashion show.
However, the meet-and-greet itself proved to be a bit of a challenge. There was no sponsor board, for example, nor was there a lineup for guests to wait their turns to be photographed with Troy and Roger. And, once people did jostle into place to take their own photos of the co-chairs, no additional lighting had been provided to make the subjects, and the photos, look their best.
Over in the Wedgwood room, there were actually a lot more laughs and greetings going on — not to mention adequate lighting. There, youngsters were getting to know their adult escorts like Matt Kalinec, Stanton Chambers, Bryan Candelaria and Joe Lopez of the Dallas Police Department; Garry Brown, producer of Marvels Agents of Shield; actress/stuntwoman Melissa Brown; Spiderman; and the Medieval Times Knight. … At one point, a search party was sent out in the room for Ch. 11 anchor Karen Borta, who was to be the evening’s emcee. Karen finally arrived and, with glasses perched on her perfect nose, pored over the script.
While the Wedgwood Room was a three-ring circus, The Chantilly Ballroom had already been transformed for the event into a “lush garden,” including a floral swing and a gift-card tree, for the fashion-show presentation of 25 pediatric cancer patients modeling Dillard’s duds accompanied by celebrities and sponsors. The decor had been designed and created by GRO Events and Design, whose Nathan Johnson had been in Lake Como, Italy, only the day before, orchestrating an engagement announcement.
Among the 1,000-plus Gala guests were the likes of Michael Finley, Jamie O’Banion, Nancy Gopez, Moll Anderson, Mohammad Sheikh and Suzanne and David Droese. David, by the way, proclaimed that Dallas was an architect’s dream these days, with all the building going on. He added that when he toured rural Texas on his motorcycle, the locals often said they shied away from Big D due to all the traffic caused by the explosive population growth… Kristen Gibbins was proudly introducing her escort/son Barrett Gibbins. This was Barrett’s first-ever gala. But he seemed to have the look and spirit of the thing locked down with his checked shirt, blue blazer, killer smile and twinkle in his eye.
Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher, snappy in a flower-patterned, blue and yellow bow tie that matched the design of the event logo, made an unexpected announcement. Honoring 30 years of support for the foundation by CCF, Brent said, Children’s would be renaming its family lounge the CCF Family Lounge.
Finally, it was time for the lights to be doused and for the likes of Karen, Scott Murray, Roger, Troy and CCF Executive Director Jennifer Arthur to get the formal program going. It was at this point that Billy Fong escorted Brian Bolke and Faisal Halum and Gonzalo Bueno and Michael McCray to their front-row seats, just across from Jessica Nowitzki.
Then, a bit of a snafu occurred. While the gala guests stared at a big blank video screen, the sound of Scott’s voice could be heard over the P.A. system as he coached a couple of kids backstage. “What are we gonna say?” Scott asked the youngsters. “We love you!” they replied. Cracked Karen drily from the lectern: “This is called practice.” After several long minutes of this awkwardness, a live shot of Scott and the kids finally appeared on the video screen, and the program got back on track.
Roger, who’s participated in the gala for 31 years, told the crowd, “It’s a real privilege to be honorary co-chair.” Troy, who’s now in his 22nd year, added, “Roger is a hero to everybody. But the heroes tonight are these kids.” Then piped-in music began blaring, “stepping” on Kim’s lines, but the chair —resplendent in Carolina Herrera — recovered nicely, even tearing up as she recognized the courage of the youngsters battling cancer. “My friend Jessica [Nowitzki] said, ‘Let your feelings show,'” Kim explained. So that’s exactly what she did.