Seven-year old Phoenix Ho and eight-year-old Riley Mack never knew each other before they died. They both had mothers, but different types of mothers. One allowed her son to be “allegedly” beaten and abused by her boyfriend for weeks. The other mother comforted and suffered watching her daughter struggle through a no-win battle against Fanconi Anemi, an extremely rare genetic DNA repair disorder.
While on Wednesday, April 6, Phoenix’s mother was in the Denton jail, Riley’s mom Tina Mack was being honored for being a caring, courageous and loving mother at the Room To Grow Luncheon fundraiser for Dec My Room Dallas co-chaired by Dawn Greiner and newlywed Terra Najork Peterson at NorthPark’s Neiman Marcus Courtyard. On a bench covered with a pink and white blanket were four stuffed bunnies in front of a poster with Riley’s photos surrounded by butterflies.
It was Riley’s battle that brought the Dec My Room into the Macks’ world. During her treatments, Dec My Room discovered that Riley loved bunnies. And since live bunnies weren’t allowed in the hospital, the organization decorated her room with stuffed ones. Riley especially took a liking to one that she named “Blossom.”
For Tina and Riley, the tailor-made decorations eased the weeks that mother and daughter faced until Riley’s death in 2020.
When asked if she had other children, Tina said that she had a son, whose arrival had been unplanned. But now it was as if it had taken place to ease the loss of Riley.
Thanks to the sold-out-crowd, the day’s program of lunching and fashion conversation about style by Neiman’s designers (Balmain, Herve Leger, Chloe, Brunello Cucinelli, Alberta Ferreti, Zimmermann, Andrew Gn, Tom Ford, Dolce and Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Farm Rio, Lowe, Etro and more) by Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Kameron Westcott would support the program to help families like the Macks.
Dec My Room Dallas Executive Director Karen Michlewicz admitted that she was amazed at the turnout of more than 275 guests filling the garden courtyard that included Dec My Room Founder Susan Plank, Nancy Nasher, Kristen Gibbins, Meredith Hayes, Lisa Ogle, Tia Wynne, Jonika Nix, Elizabeth Tripplehorn and Erika Michlewicz.
She also reported that Dec My Room was newly christened Dec My Room North Texas.
At the champagne board near the check-in, April was doing double duty replacing the glasses and taking cellphone photos of guests in front of the board. The rest of the serving staff was working out of the nearby underground garage where the meals were being prepared.
After the luncheon, Tina told Karen that while Karen had been introducing her and sharing a little bit about Riley’s story, a white butterfly flew over her table and up and around her before flying away, making her feel that Riley was there with her.