Broadway darling Kristin Chenoweth is barely 4’11”, but when she entered the Anatole’s Wedgewod Room just past 11 a.m. on Friday, October 11, she was a true starburst of energy and shine.
Her presence was for the 20th anniversary of Baylor Scott and White Dallas Foundation’s Celebrating Women Luncheon. But before the diminutive blonde Broadway babe arrived for the meet-and-greet, there were stalwart types like Celebrating Women Founder Lindalyn Adams and retired Tom Thumb/Albertsons spokeswoman Connie Yates, who had seen the fundraiser build the battle against breast cancer to new heights. Over the past 19 years, the luncheon has provided nearly $35M for breast cancer research, diagnosis and treatment
During the meet-and-greet, where Kristin’s handler introduced each group by first names to Kristin, it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be a hit-and-run operation. Kristin chatted with each group.
One mother introduced her 20-something daughter to Kristin and revealed that the young woman was battling the disease. Without missing a beat, Kristin, the mother and daughter joined their hands in a small circle and bowed their heads.
When the doors opened to reveal a very beautifully decorated with gigantic floating butterflies and glowing bulbs near-capacity Chantilly Ballroom, the room filled with such folks as Honorary Co-Chairs Margo and Bill Goodwin, Diane Brierley, Pat McEvoy, Mary Clare Finney, Trisha Wilson, Clare Graca, Anita Arnold, Nancy Dedman, Kelly Green, Lee Ann White, Lisa Troutt, Kim Quinn, Susan Jenevein, Leslie Diers, Angie Kadesky, Macy Chiasson, Ron Hale and Jacqueline Fojtasek.
The program got underway almost immediately with Ariel Campbell and Marquinn Middleton and the Miracle Chorale singing on stage. Their reward was Kristin giving them a standing ovation.
Luncheon Chair Laura Downing and Underwriting Chair Cheryl Joyner welcomed the group and Baylor Scott and White Dallas Foundation President Robin Robinson announced that the Circle of Care Award was honoring the late Al Hill Jr. It was created to honor those who “have demonstrated unwavering commitment to the fight against breast cancer at Baylor Scott and White Health. Having both his mother, the late Margaret Hill, and his sister, Lyda Hill, survive breast cancer, Al donated more than $1million over the years.” Accepting the award were his daughters Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne. Robin then escorted Lindalyn to the podium to provide the day’s invocation.
Following lunch, Baylor Scott and White Health CEO Jim Hinton addressed the crowd, pointing out that his daughter, Nora Hinton, had been seated next to Kristin during the lunch. His hope was that in the decades ahead, when her political aspirations came to fruition, she would not be burdened with the fears and challenges of breast cancer.
Robin then took his place on stage with Kristin for a chat. Throughout the conversation, the two would reach out to hold each others’ hands. Highlights of the conversation included the following:
- Red River Rivalry —Right off, Robin asked the native Oklahoman who she rooting for in the next day’s Red River rivalry. Looking out at the audience, she asked, “Did he want me to get out of town alive?”
- Breast cancer — Despite having been adopted, Kristin was inspired to fight cancer when her adoptive mother twice fought the disease successfully. She also had three aunts who had had breast cancer (two survived and one “is in heaven and was a fighter.”) Following her mother’s mastectomy, she took time off from her career, learned how to drain and measure her tubes and cared for her. She laughed, recalling how the clown in her came out when cheering her mother during her treatment and recovery. “I would sing songs about how many ounces I was draining, and she would look at me like I was crazy.”
- What would you say to someone battling breast cancer? — “I would say this: ‘Don’t give up and find the people that love you the most. I am a person of faith. I would rely on whatever that faith is for you, as well as rely on the people you love.”
- Shopping — When the subject turned to shopping, Kristin didn’t hold back one iota. She was dying to shop and “give back to the community.”
- First crush — “Tom Cruise”
- Current crush — “Tom Cruise”
- Bucket list — She hesitated and then said “to write a Broadway production.”
For more photos of the fundraiser, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.