Leave it to the Friends of Wilkinson‘s Spirit of Taos to have the best time raising funds for the Wilkinson Center. And that’s exactly what happened on Friday, October 15, at the Arts District Mansion. But this year in addition to the entertainment, the supper and auctions, there was the addition of the renowned “unplugged” sports icon Dale Hansen, who served as emcee. Ah, but the evening being Dale’s first day of official retirement from WFAA, Dale not only insisted the get-together was actually his retirement party, he bantered with auctioneer Wes Pool as the bids rose. Here’s a report from the field:
The Friends of Wilkinson Center, Event Co-Chairs Karrie Cato, Ida Gleaton and Lindsay Morris and Honorary Co-Chairs Holly Greef and Carlin and Charles Morris were joined by more than 300 attendees at the eighth annual The Spirit of Taos presented by Reliant on Friday, October 15, at the Arts District Mansion.
Upon arrival, patrons wearing Taos-inspired attire were welcomed by the Ernesto’s Music Mariachi band as they entered the venue. Once inside, partygoers like Hillary and Todd Songer, Caitlin and Michael Maddox, Anne and Terry Conner, Jeanne Athos-Adler and Mike Adler and Justin Whisson, Whitney Lawson and Ginny and Nolan Leinweber mingled while enjoying specialty cocktails and light bites to the sounds of the Jimmy Stadler Band. The silent auction was the place to be, with attendees bidding on one-of-kind items and experiences.
At the appointed time, guests took their seats as Co-Chairs Cato, Gleaton and Morris took the stage. On behalf of her co-chairs, Cato welcomed everyone to The Spirit of Taos before sharing her own personal story of why Wilkinson Center is important to her, which began as a little girl volunteering with the Carlin Morris Shoe Drive and seeing the impact that a new pair of shoes could have on a child.
Legendary and award-winning WFAA-TV sports anchor/Emcee Dale Hansen followed and shared that the evening’s event fell upon his first official day of retirement from WFAA. “So welcome to my retirement party,” he said to laughter from the crowd. He added his gratitude to all in attendance, and recognized the Friends of Wilkinson Center President Caitlin Hyatt and the aforementioned event co-chairs for their tireless efforts in making the evening a success, as well as the honorary co-chairs, who stood to be recognized.
The Jimmy Stadler Band continued playing as partygoers dined on a delicious dinner of southwest Caesar salad followed by grilled pork tenderloin with apricot mustard jus served with brussels sprout-potato hash and charred broccolini with roasted tomatoes.
As a dessert of flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel mousse and Italian cream cake with Amaretto sauce was enjoyed, Hansen returned to the stage to add additional thanks to presenting sponsor Reliant, as well as other top sponsors: Sewell, American Airlines and PaperCity magazine. A poignant video followed, which highlighted the Wilkinson Center’s important programs and client success stories.
Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder Corley took her place on the stage and added her thanks to all for their ongoing support of the organization’s mission to transform lives of Dallas families by providing pathways to self-sufficiency with dignity and respect.
The live auction then got underway with auctioneer Wes Pool of Murad Auctions working the crowd for top bids on amazing packages, including: a round of golf for three with PGA member Austin Smotherman of Lakewood Country Club and swag including a polo, pullover and bag by Holderness and Bourne; a three-night stay for up to eight guests in a picturesque home on 5.5 acres near Manchester, Vermont; a chef tasting dinner and wine pairing with four-time James Beard Award-nominated American chef and restaurateur Kent Rathbun at Imoto; a trip for up to 11 guests at the fabulous private home, Mount Athos Retreat, in Taos, New Mexico, complete with 35,000 Southwest Airlines miles; and a luxury Mexico getaway with a seven-night stay in luxe accommodations at your choice of one of three Vidanta properties, as well as 100,000 American Airlines miles.
The three honorary chairs closed out the auction with a request for guests to consider an additional donation as a “Gift of Love” to Wilkinson Center, with various levels funding items such as food for a week for a family of five, GED test fees for three students, food for Wilkinson Center Food Pantry for a month and job training for 10. Paddles were raised across the room as the crowd kept the bidding going in support of Wilkinson.
A surprise item was added at the end, with one lucky winner leaving with a gorgeous 14- karat gold and diamond bracelet by Halo after a fun game of “Last Hero Standing.”
The Jimmy Stadler Band returned to the stage for one last set as revelers hit the dance floor. Nearby, partygoers could be spotted striking a pose at the photo booth and getting their final bids in at the silent auction. As the silent auction came to a close at 10:00 p.m., Dallas’ renowned DJ – the inimitable Lucy Wrubel – provided the vibe for the late night crowd.
As the evening came to a close Wrubel wished everyone a final thank you and good night.
The Spirit of Taos 2021 sponsors are: Presenting Sponsor – Reliant; Band and Stage Sponsor – Sewell; Airline Sponsor – American Airlines; Media Sponsor – PaperCity; Kick-off Party Sponsor – SHM Architects; Dinner Sponsor – Brinker International; Photo Booth Sponsor – Ruibal’s Plants of Texas; Valet Sponsor – Re/Max DFW Associates; Silent Auction Sponsor – Veritex Bank; Live Auction Sponsor – DuWest Realty; DJ Sponsor – Rue; Program Sponsor – Kastl Law P.C.; Text to Give Sponsor – CES; Mariachi Sponsor – El Vecino; Centerpiece Sponsor – Landscape Lighting Supply; and Hospitality Sponsor – Premier Concierge.
*Photo credit: Nate Rehlander