For all the world, Dallas CASA Children’s Council‘s Cherish the Children Luncheon at the Omni Dallas Hotel’s Trinity Ballroom on Friday, May 6, may have seemed like a familiar fundraiser. While the Dallas CASA fundraiser reception with its silent auction items were unique, thanks to artisans like Monica Kirchmer, who had created Sunshine Children’s Trunk, it still seemed like other pre-main events.
But then like a comet capturing the attention of all, Dallas CASA Board Chair/Dallas Mavericks CEO/ keynote co-chatter Cynt Marshall in Mavs blue and green and white pointed toe booties arrived on the scene embracing friends and showering all with smiles.
Holding her own in this mighty gust of exuberance was WFAA Co-Anchor/2022 Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish The Children Awardee/keynote co-chatter Cynthia Izaguirre wearing glittery stilettos that would have put Dorothy’s ruby red slippers hunkering back in the closet.
When Cynt and Cynthia met up in the reception, it was just a precursor for their onstage conversation during the lunch.
When the ballroom doors opened at 11:40, the crowd including Sally Hoglund with her daughter Kristy Robinson, Betty Regard, Erin Finegold White, Priscilla Anthony, Nicki Stafford, Christie Carter, Pam Busbee, Kim Noltemy, Paul Stafford and County Commissioners Elba Garcia, Theresa Daniel and Judge Clay Jenkins (wearing a blue shirt with Dallas CASA on the collar) made their way to their places for the program starting at noon. Co-Chairs Beth Cholerton and Hannah May welcomed the guests, with Beth recalling her work as a Volunteer Advocate and how for six year had had worked with two teenagers. When one of the youngsters had her baby, Beth was there supporting her.
It was announced that a $15K match had been offered to benefit Dallas CASA.
Following a video recognizing Cynthia featuring Pete Delkus, Chris Lawrence, John McCaa, Dale Hansen and Gloria Campos, Dallas CASA Immediate Past Chair Corey Anthony presented her with the award in recognition of her years hosting the Wednesday’s Child program that has been airing on WFAA for 40 years. In accepting the award, Cynthia said that every child she works with, she sees God in them.
As Cynthia returned to her place, a voice over the PA told the audience to go ahead and “enjoy their lunch.” There was a ripple of laughter through the room, since most people were already working on their dessert.
Seven minutes later, a video started and table conversations went silent. It’s Cynthia’s Wednesday’s Child named Hope at the interactive art exhibition Rainbow Vomit. Once again there was laughter in the room hearing the name of the location.
Before Cynt and Cynthia took their places on the stage, auctioneer Dean McCurry made a call for cash and followed it up with a lively Heads and Tails for $1,000 in NorthPark Gold. One of the last ones standing was Cynt, but she lost out to Amelia at The Rosewood table by a tail.
Dallas CASA President/CEO Kathleen LaValle then introduced Cynthia and Cynt, who immediately launched into their involvement with children in need. Highlights of the conversation between the two adoptive moms included:
According to Cynthia:
- Foster/Adopt Supervisor LaQueena Warren is so important to the Wednesday’s Child program.
- In one interview, a boy told Cynthia that “he was nothing. He wanted to be a policeman to protect others. He left our interview with a purpose.”
- On the her first date with her future husband Jeremy (Captain Awesome) Tilley, she learned that he had gone through 13 surgeries as a child and thought he couldn’t have a child. But they ended up giving birth to twins in 2012.
- They decided they could do more and wanted to adopt one day. They adopted Henry in 2018 through Edna Gladney when he was almost 2 years old. He had a number of physical issues. His left foot had to be amputated and he had a prostheses made by Scottish Rite for Children. But he thinks he has special powers and loves to go to the park.
- “He (Henry) was born in mommy’s heart not in my tummy.”
- “Adopting a child is not easy. Jeremy said that due to his own childhood issues, God was preparing him to be Henry’s father.”
- Jeremy has started a mentoring program at Gladney.
- She remembers every one of the Wednesday’s Child youngsters and hopes that she instills “you matter” in each one.
- What can we do? — First adopt if it’s in your heart. Support Dallas CASA through donations and/or volunteer. Call your representative about what they’re doing for Dallas CASA.
- The twins (Karina and Simon) love Henry.
According to Cynt
- All four of her kids were adopted via foster care.
- After being unable to have birth children, she and husband Kenny Marshall decided to adopt an African American child. They were told about a 2-year-old boy who had been abandoned by his mother in his 9-year-old brother’s care. Instead of a two-year wait, they got the good news that they could have the 2-year-old whom they named Anthony. It would be five years later when they were able to also add to their family the older brother, Rickey, who was now 14 and broke down when he saw his little brother.
- They ended up with a little girl, whom Anthony saw on the San Francisco Wednesday’s Child program. Named Shirley, she is now 27 and was joined by her sister, Alicia.
- Despite being raised in an abusive household, Cynt attributed much of her rising above the fray thanks to three of her teachers and a principal. She knew first-hand the importance of “people showing up to help.”
- Her message to the audience: “They (the children) matter. They need us. We will pick you up.”
Thanks to their conversation, the message came across to all in the room that foster youngsters are adoptable, lovable and in need of someone to show up to make a difference.