For months leading up to the 2021 AWARE Affair: Celebrate the Moments — Alzheimer’s Myths Unveiled, one of the highlights was to be the evening’s surroundings. It was to be held on Friday, April 16, just after Easter at the Arboretum for guests to “joyfully meander along the tree lined paths.”
But when the big day came, North Texas was drenched by hours of rain followed by a cold front. Organizers including Co-Chairs Stacey Jones Angel, Sharon Ballew, Stephanie Bray, Janet Broyles, Emily Collins, Karen Carney, Cheryl Chantilis, Barbara Glass, Kay Hammond, Jolie Humphrey, Karisti Julia, Josey Kennington, Wendy Kumpf, Paige Rippey Locke, Becky Mills, Holly Hull Miori, Gail Plummer, Carol Stabler, Venise Stuart, Sharon Walker and Barbara Sypult realized that, as beautiful as the grounds were, few guests were likely to venture out on walks in the chilly, damp weather. After all, the temperatures were to be in the 50s.
So quickly Plan B was put into place, with the VIP reception in A Tasteful Place, as originally planned, and some activities that had been scheduled for outdoors moving instead to Rosine Hall.
AWARE President Barbara Glass admitted, “The morning’s deluge had us a little worried. We were prepared for any situation but were so thankful when the weather cleared. The food vignettes and entertainment were all covered. The silent auction displayed under clear canopies draped in soft lighting brought an aura of being its own party, it was decorated so beautifully.”
Luckily, the guests were game for the outdoor sipping and nibbling throughout the Arboretum grounds and bidding on the silent auction.
The VIPers like Honorary Co-Chairs Sally and Forrest Hoglund, Kim and David McDavid Jr., Amy Terry Kriegel with Chelle Lancaster, Todd Terry with wife Anna Terry and their sons, Conner Terry and Austin Terry, along with Barbara and Bob Bigham, Venise and Larry Stuart and Sharon and Maurice Ballew, enjoyed a special treat at the Pavilion featuring Chef of the Year for Texas, Chef Luke Rogers, winner of the 2020 Iron Fork Chef Competition presented by US Foods and the World Food Championships. Luke demonstrated the preparation of his dish, Tuna Tartare with avocado, radish, watercress, mango, cucumber, white wasabi aioli, and wonton crisps. Guests enjoyed that specialty, along with passed hors d’oeuvres catered by Two Sisters Catering and botanical cocktails featuring Ketel One Botanical and Ketel One vodkas.
At the adjacent Three Sisters Lagoon Overlook, AWARE Men presented a special “Scotch and Sliders” experience featuring Dewar’s Scotch and a very popular putting green contest manned by Janet and Jack Broyles. Vignettes of food tasting experiences were perfectly situated along the tree-lined pathways leading up to Rosine Hall, with wines provided by Hall Group/Hall Arts Hotel, Opoio Vineyard and Beviamo International and beer by Shiner Bock and Ben E. Keith.
Live performances highlighted the work of the dedicated organizations who provide programs, services, education, and resources to those living with or caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. They included Stomping Ground Comedy performing inside Rosine Hall, Plano Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet and Texas Winds Musical Outreach Perennial Brass Quintet performing outside in Ginsburg Plaza and Texas Winds Musical Outreach Trinity River Jazz Kings performing outside in Ginsburg Plaza during the dessert reception.
For those streaming the program online, the 2021 AWARE Affair Live started at 7:25 p.m. on a stage in the Hall with Stomping Ground’s team demonstrating for 45 minutes how their improv comedy was useful in helping Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. Handing off invisible blue balloons and tossing imaginary red balls to each other and guests scattered throughout the dimly lit room, the presentation may have had late-comers wondering what the heck was going on.
As the camera scanned the Hall, it appeared that most of the guests were still grazing outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the grounds.
At 8:15 emcee Scott Murray welcomed last year’s AWARE President Jolie Humphrey to the stage to acknowledge the people and organizations that had supported the AWARE mission despite the 2020’s fundraiser being canceled due to COVID-19. However, she noted that last year’s awardees would indeed be recognized later in the program.
Scott then revealed two of the myths about Alzheimer’s:
Myth #1: It is embarrassing to have Alzheimer’s. Unveiled: An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is nothing to be ashamed of and does not invalidate a patient’s importance, value or lifetime accomplishments.
Myth #2: Alzheimer’s is an old person’s disease. Unveiled: Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in patients as young as 50 and symptoms can appear in patients as young as 30.
Scott welcomed Amy Osler Spirit of Education Award first recipient Holly Hull Miori to the stage to present the Osler Award for 2020 to Gail Plummer and the 2021 award to Carol Stabler. Instead of having the ladies accept their awards on stage or display their photos on the wall behind the podium for the home audience to see, they received their awards at the side of the stage and had their photos taken with Amy’s husband Greg Osler.
In addition to encouraging guests to check out the grant gallery experience for information about the disease and the work that is being undertaken to treat patients and find a solution, Scott revealed the final two myths of Alzheimer’s:
Myth #3: Women are the primary caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients. Unveiled: While women have historically been the primary caregivers, as diagnoses increase, caregiving responsibilities now fall to husbands, children and extended family members.
Myth #4: AWARE only funds research for Alzheimer’s. Unveiled: AWARE invests in key research but puts great emphasis on funding treatment and support for patients and caregivers.
To emphasize that last myth, he noted that since 2014 AWARE grants have benefited:
- 42% of AWARE grants have been funded for programs providing patient care services,
- 24% to research programs,
- 24% to patient and caregiving respite and training,
- 1% to nursing scholarships
- 9% to arts-based patient and caregiving respite and training.
Scott then introduced Barbara Glass, who recalled last year’s creation of the Founders’ Spirit Award honoring a member who “exemplifies the vision of the organization’s founders by generously giving his or her leadership, dedication and resources over an extended period of time to the mission, vision and values of AWARE.”
The inaugural Founders’ Spirit Award was presented to AWARE charter member Barbara Sypult. Receiving the 2021 Founders’ Spirit Award was Kay Hammond, who joined AWARE shortly after its inception in 1989 after learning of her mother-in-law’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Once again, instead of accepting the awards on stage, the ladies received their awards tableside. Through the darkness it appeared that each of the ladies stood with award in hand and waved to the crowd.
Now the fundraising kicked into high gear with a heads-or-tails game, a live auction and a call-for-cash. While the heads-or-tails was a definite hit as the house lights were brought up, the live auction provided some real bargains, with trips going for four-figures, plus a copy of David McDavid Jr.’s purple jacket raising offers as David modeled the original around the room.
The call-for-cash did well to support AWARE, despite the dwindling number of guests inside the Hall. Some had headed home while others enjoyed sweets and fanciful take-home desserts provided by La Tarte Tropéziene in the Ginsburg Family Plaza under a clear tent with globe string lights.
Funds raised from the event will support AWARE’s mission to “fight Alzheimer’s disease by providing funding and support to programs, projects and research of non-profit organizations that actively help individual affected by Alzheimer’s in Dallas and the greater North Texas area.”
This year’s beneficiaries include Baylor Scott And White Dallas Foundation, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Casa De Vida, Dallas Arboretum And Botanical Society, Dallas Museum Of Art, Ed-U-Care, For Love And Art, Highland Park United Methodist Church, Jewish Family Service, Juliette Fowler Communities, Plano Symphony Orchestra, The Senior Source, The Meadows Museum At Southern Methodist University, Texas Health Resources, Stomping Ground Comedy, The University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Texas Winds Musical Outreach, Visiting Nurses Association Of Texas, Wilshire Baptist Church and the Myrna D. Schlegel Aware Scholarship Fund.
* Photo credit: Dana Driensky ** Photo credit: Rob Wythe/Wythe Portrait Studio