With folks eager to get together in person instead of on a screen, the Center for BrainHealth‘s 2022 Legacy Award supper at the Dallas Country Club on Tuesday, January 25, was the perfect opportunity for guests like Bukky and John Olajide, Mary McDermott Cook, Jan and Fred Hegi, Marena and Roger Gault, Beverly and Don Freeman and Friends of BrainHealth Co-Chairs Brian Conroy and Brandi Sinclair. Event Co-Chairs Josey and Craig Kennington along with Honorary Co-Chairs Craig Hall and Gary Kelly served up a program blending insight thanks to Dr. Geoff Ling and some old fashioned fun directed at the evening’s honoree, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. Here’s a report from the field:
Center for BrainHealth hit a hole-in-one at the 15th annual Legacy Award Dinner at the Dallas Country Club celebrating the Honorable Thomas C. Leppert.
Everyone knows and appreciates Tom for his years serving as mayor of Dallas, not to mention his 30-plus years leading major national and international corporations in the areas of construction, financial services, home building, real estate, and academic success. And, his service as a co-leader of the BrainHealth Project made him the fitting choice for BrainHealth’s 2022 Legacy Award, the Center’s highest honor.
Even honoring someone with such a high-caliber business and civic resume, Dinner Chairs Josey and Craig Kennington wanted to make sure the evening was anything but stuffy. They wove golf elements throughout the event as a nod to Tom’s favorite pastime, starting with golf ball-shaped escort cards on tees stuck in real grass, and ending with the favors – golf ball cake balls – which BrainHealth Chief Director Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman warned the guests not to try to play with, or they would be disappointed!
During cocktail hour, a student musician duet from the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra played while guests sipped Hall wines – a natural choice since Craig Hall served as one of the evening’s honorary co-chairs, alongside Gary Kelly.
During the evening’s program, after sharing that Tom helped transform Love Field into what he thinks is one of the best airports in the country, Gary stated, “When you think about the Center for BrainHealth, this guy is the poster child, and a very deserving honoree.”
Before dinner was served, one of Tom’s fellow co-leaders of The BrainHealth Project, Dr. Geoff Ling, explained how Tom’s leadership is helping Dallas and the Center for BrainHealth lead the way in an international dialogue about the brain in health, rather than only a focus on brain disease or injury.
Dr. Ling evoked both laughter and plenty of head nods when he said, “A healthy brain gives you your sense of joy and happiness – that’s where it emanates from. Not your heart, which is a pump – sorry to the cardiologists in the room – the brain is much more.”
Guests were treated to a tribute video for Tom with heartfelt messages from friends and family, as well as funny outtakes of his grandchildren. His wife, Laura [Leppert], shared that after the pair married, Tom had wanted a Saint Bernard for their first dog, while she preferred a Dachshund. In her words, they “compromised” and got a Dachshund… and they’ve now had seven Dachshunds and counting.
Dr. Chapman shared some of the qualities that make Tom such a valuable partner and co-leader in The BrainHealth Project: “Tom is an algorithmic thinker, a problem solver, an authentic and humble leader. He uses his brilliance not for money, but to make this world a better place.”
On top of presenting Tom with the Legacy Award, Dr. Chapman announced the 2022 Tom Leppert BrainHealth Scholars Program, a summer internship program attracting distinguished graduate and undergraduate students from around the country who aspire to change the world with brain health.
During his award acceptance, Tom shared four life lessons:
- The love of his family and the support they’ve given him is unmeasurable. His mother taught him deep principals and hard work.
- The opportunities he’s received have exceeded any journey he ever imagined for himself when he was growing up.
- The importance of people around him. In any leadership position, he believes the people around you, from your family to your team, are really the source of the journeys and successes you have.
- He’s grown in appreciation for people who make a difference in people’s lives.
He thanked the love of his life, Laura, and shared that of all the jobs and opportunities he has had, being a dad and grandfather is his greatest blessing. He underscored that the Center for BrainHealth is truly making a difference on the forefront of brain research impacting the lives of so many people, redefining the way each individual and society thinks about brain health.
“To me, the real excitement is the future,” Tom said, ending the night with, “True leaders plant seeds knowing they will never sit under the trees – that’s the Center for BrainHealth. And that’s what each of you are doing this evening by being here.”
* Photo provided by the Center for BrainHealth