As proof that folks are eager to be back making the rounds, the patron reception for the Foundation for the Callier Center and Communication Disorders‘ Callier Cares Luncheon on Monday, April 11, was so jam-packed in the Dallas Country Club’s Founders Room that it spilled down the hallway. Among the crowd were folks like the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Awardees the Bruton family (Carole Lou Bruton, Karol and Doug Bruton), Honorary Co-Chairs Kathleen and Richard Neely and Laura and Robert Neely, past Award recipients (Betsy and Bennett Cullum, Barbara Stuart, Brent Christopher, Kern Wildenthal and Sara Martineau), past Callier Cares Luncheon chairs (Pam Busbee, Anne McPherson, Beth Layton, Beth Thoele, Emilynn Wilson, Angie Kadesky, Tiffany Divis, Betsy Cullum and Barbara Stuart), UT at Dallas President Dr. Dick Benson, Joe French, Luncheon Chair Stacey Walker, past Foundation Board Chair Tricia George, current Foundation Board Chair Beth Thoele and new Foundation Board Member Karen Toliver. One person laughed, “That’s what happens when you have 200 people in the Founders Room.”
However, there was one group that truly stood out. It was Maggie and Colt Braden and their three sons (ten-year-old Cooper, eight-year-old Charlie and six-year-old Christian). Maggie laughed that there was still one at home — two-year old Crew. She explained that Christian was the reason for their being at the luncheon. But more about that later.
But back to the cozy conditions which continued as the guests including Vicki and Bob Chapman, Jesus Castillion, Kay Sim, Heather Furniss, Lee Jackson, Sarah and Jeff Durrant and Lisa and Thomas Connop convened in the ballroom for the seated luncheon just before noon. To get guests seated and the program underway, the light dimmed ever so slightly and a film was shown with snippets of Callier clients and staff members setting the upbeat mood of the day.
At the podium, Callier Center Executive Director Dr. Angela Shoup had two announcements to start off the program. First that the Callier Family Care Campaign being chaired by Anne McPherson was 76% toward its goal of $15M, with 100% of the day’s proceeds going to the campaign.
Then she explained how the biennial prize recognizing an individual who “fosters scientific advances and significant developments in the diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders” was being named after the former executive director Dr. Tom Campbell. This year’s recipient was Dr. Karl R. White, who has earned international recognition for being “one of the world’s leading authorities on early identification and treatment of hearing loss.”
This awareness of how to identify hearing loss in children was the focus of the day’s luncheon.
After the meal was served, the Bruton family and their cousins the Neelys shared how the late David Bruton Jr., with the help of Joe French, had created the first charitable trust in Texas that included the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer center, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Children’s Medical Center, Southern Methodist University, Baylor University Medical Center, Episcopal Ministries of Dallas and First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth.
Over the years, the trust has provided funding to equip the only full-time theater for the deaf in Dallas (aka David Bruton Jr. Theater for the Deaf) and the David Bruton Jr. Endowed Lecture Series on Communication Disorders.
Then came a video demonstrating how vital early childhood detection is, and how Callier has not only fine-tuned evaluations, but has also been developing new state-of-the art canal aids.
To put faces with these advancements, Maggie and Colt arrived on stage and told how, when Christian was born, everything seemed quite normal. They thought that Christian’s limited communications and shying away was due to having two outgoing older brothers. Maggie admitted that she felt guilt that she wasn’t being a good mother. But after checkups with their pediatrician, the issue wasn’t due to the brothers, but rather to Christian’s ability (or inability) to communicate. The news was daunting for the young family. They immediately sought professional help that included in-home therapy for the youngster. However, due to their school district, such therapy wouldn’t work for him as he prepared to enter pre-school.
It was when Maggie was talking with other women in her neighborhood that one asked if she had heard about Callier. The neighbor just so happened to be Callier Development Director Jennifer Fowler. Upon Christian’s being diagnosed with Developmental Language Disorder, the Bradens were told how Christian could be helped. From his initial visit to his ongoing Callier treatment, Christian’s life changed, as did the Bradens.’ He was enrolled in the Callier’s Preschool Language Development Program, a daily group therapy program for children ages three to five.
But then the pandemic arrived and Colt shuddered, recalling how he had lost his job and felt like he was letting his family down. How would they pay for Christian’s treatments? When the Callier team learned of the development, its financial assistance staff remedied the problem the same day.
The end of the Bradens’ story not only included Colt’s having a job as regional manager for Shiner. But Christian is making friends, scoring high on his evaluations, entering mainstream kindergarten and talking… a lot.
For more photos of the day’s activities, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.