Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep took over the Perot Museum Of Nature And Science for its 6th Annual Grow The Grove on Friday, May 6, with cheerleaders, students and a crowd of multi-generation supporters. One of those families was Frank Mihalopoulous and his children, who received the Luminous Award on behalf of the late Mihalopoulos matriarch and Cristo Rey champion Maryann Mihalopoulos. Here’s a report from the field:
Grow the Grove Co-Chairs Barbara and Jim Moroney and Mary and Mike Terry were joined by more than 350 guests at Cristo Rey Dallas’ 6th annual Grow the Grove, presented by the Partners of PwC, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6, at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Upon arrival, partygoers were greeted by an outdoor performance by the school’s Ballet Folklorico ensemble.
Once inside CRD’s cheerleaders welcomed guests like Paige Schmidt, Cecilia Kernodle, Elizabeth Kernodle, Robert Kernodle, Mary Blake and Chuck Meadows, Ross Gage, Courtney Joyner, Dimitri Morris, Sophie Boden and Reena and James Morris as they entered the Museum’s level-one cocktail area, where they mingled while enjoying cocktails and light bites with music by a jazz quartet. Cristo Rey Dallas students were also on hand with interactive science and math trivia stations, as well as a display of their original artwork.
At the appointed time, attendees progressed to exhibition spaces on levels two, three and four, for a seated dinner, which included a starter of baby greens, toasted walnuts, sweet tomatoes and an herb balsamic vinaigrette followed by an entrée of balsamic glazed short rib and roasted chicken with crushed horseradish potatoes, cipollini agrodolce and baby vegetables.
As entrees were enjoyed, CRD student Leilany Garcia welcomed everyone via video and shared how important their support of the evening and to Cristo Rey Dallas have impacted her. She then introduced new Cristo Rey Dallas President Patrick M. Walsh. Unable to attend due to his son’s college graduation, Walsh followed via video to add his gratitude to all, including Grow the Grove co-chairs, this year’s host committee, and presenting sponsor, the partners of PwC. In closing he asked that everyone continue to support Cristo Rey students and the school’s mission, by bidding during the live auction and paddle raise later in the evening.
A poignant video for the inaugural Luminous Award honoree, the late Maryann Mihalopoulos, followed which included memories and remarks from fellow CRD board members, colleagues, friends and family regarding her passion for the community, for helping others, for education and for Cristo Rey Dallas.
The Luminous Award will be given annually to an individual who demonstrates passion and commitment to the mission of Cristo Rey Dallas. Mihalopoulos was not only a driving force in Dallas fundraising but was also a pivotal part of raising funds for the major addition of CRD’s $14.5 million Innovation Center. The Luminous Award honored Mihalopoulos for her strength and kindheartedness, and her enduring impact as a philanthropist and fundraiser to the CRD community.
Ignite Award recipient, Dr. Fred Cerise, president and CEO of Parkland Health And Hospital Systems, was then recognized via video, which highlighted his sincere commitment to CRD’s Corporate Work Study Program and included remarks from Judge Clay Jenkins, board members, colleagues and CRD Work Study students. The Ignite Award honors a business leader for their commitment to Cristo Rey Dallas and the Corporate Work Study Program. Cerise was recognized for his belief in Cristo Rey Dallas students and the opportunities he has given them to represent Parkland on several occasions, including allowing CRD students to be the voice of Parkland flu drives in the community, and present to Harvard University and UT Southwestern as part of a Parkland panel. Cerise’s confidence in CRD students has been instrumental in their hands-one experience while working with such a dynamic team at Parkland.
The video program concluded with guests encouraged to meet back on the first floor for the awards presentation, the live auction and paddle raise. Once downstairs, partygoers enjoyed dessert stations featuring liquid nitrogen Vietnamese coffee ice cream and a cinnamon sugar donut hole skewer, while waiting for the program to begin.
Leilany took the stage to welcome guests in person before introducing Cristo Rey Dallas’ former Interim President Brian Melton, who thanked once again the evening’s co-chairs, presenting sponsor and after party chairs, before highlighting some of the college acceptances of the 2022 graduating class, including: acceptance by 182 colleges and full ride scholarships for some students to prestigious universities such as Johns Hopkins University, Notre Dame and Texas Christian University.
The evening’s awards were presented with former Board Chair Richard Joyner presenting the Luminous Award to Maryann’s husband Frank Mihalopoulos, who thanked everyone on behalf of his family, and current Board Chair Scott Moore presenting the Ignite Award to Dr. Fred Cerise. A surprise award was presented by Scott and Richard to Melton for his role as interim president to Cristo Rey Dallas for the last year. A video from the Cristo Rey network Founder Father John Foley followed highlighting the students of Cristo Rey with a closing message of “Keep on Dreaming.” Co-Chairs Barbara and Mary closed the program to reinforce Father Foley’s vision and mission for Cristo Rey.
The live auction began with auctioneer Louis Murad getting the bids going for six amazing live auction packages including roundtrip travel for 10 on a Falcon 2000XL to a destination of choice in the US or Mexico; dinner with Cristo Rey Dallas’ new president Patrick M. Walsh for six guests; a four-night stay for up to 10 at the home of Barbara and Jim Moroney located in the Central Coast Wine Country, including wine tastings and an olive oil tasting; a Hall of Fame Level Suite for up to 21 people for award-winning artist Kenny Chesney’s performance on Saturday, June 4, 2022 including performances by Dan And Shay, Old Dominion and Carly Pearce; a package from Jordan Kahn Music Company which includes a 16-piece band to play at an event of the winner’s choice; and a couples retreat to Auberge Resort Collection’s newest luxury hostel, Stanly Ranch in Napa Valley, including a three-night stay, wine tour, dinner for two and roundtrip airfare on American Airlines.
The paddle raise then followed with partygoers bidding generously to support the students of Cristo Rey Dallas.
As the auction came to a close, the first annual After Party began, which was co-chaired by JP Ideker and Emily Lazor. Grow the Grove attendees along with After Party-only partygoers enjoyed signature cocktails and late-night bites while hitting the dance floor to music by the Taylor Pace Orchestra.
For more information about Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep, visit www.cristoreydallas.org.
* Photo credit: Thomas Garza