All the parts were coming together with the Hilton Anatole for The Senior Source’s Spirit of Generations Luncheon on Thursday, March 9. Organizers were hoping to hit the million-dollar mark and were just $5K away from their goal.
As The Ticket’s George Dunham and former Dallas Morning News columnist Robert Wilonsky rehearsed their onstage presentation in the Chantilly Ballroom, around 80 VIP types including non-profit and philanthropic types like Kathy and Larry Helm, Steve Folsom, Sandra Estess, David Martineau with daughter Maria Martineau, Frank Mihalopoulos, Kim Quinn, The Senior Source Board Chair Chad Park and Luncheon Chair Christie Carter gathered in the adjacent Wedgwood Room.
Cristina Durovich and Connie O’Neill were discussing the state of children’s mental health resulting from cellphones, social media and bullying. Both recalled their own childhoods when such pressures didn’t exist.
Across the way, Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher was tight-lipped about the reported future of Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Until the regents sign off on the plans, it’s just wishful reporting, he said.
Gunnar Rawlings was surprising friends who had seen him since the pandemic. He like many had put on a couple of pounds. Wife Gaby Rawlings laughed when someone suggested the gain was due to her cooking. She claimed that Gunnar was a southern boy who liked his fried chicken.
As VIP host Bank of Texas EVP Bob White welcomed the crowd from the steps leading to the foyer, the day’s honorees, Micki and former Mayor Mike Rawlings, stood at the back of the room with his arm around her waist.
Over to the side, former City Councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates recalled the arrival of the Ebola virus in September 2014. Shaking her head she said that Mike had come to her with a “good-news-bad-news” conversation. The bad news was that Ebola had arrived in her district. The good — she was a nurse and would know how to proceed.
Thinking back about the time, she said that Thomas Eric Duncan (aka “Patient 1”), who had been the Ebola victim who brought the disease to North Texas and died, had contracted it simply by carrying the body of an Ebola victim in his native land.
Did the Ebola situation better prepare North Texas for the 2020 Covid onslaught? Jennifer wasn’t sure. She felt that Ebola might have been a wake-up call, but no one was ready for such a worldwide situation.
Another person in the VIP gathering was Spirit of Generations Underwriting Chair Pam Busbee, who in addition to the day’s luncheon was being feted herself later in the day at a Junior League of Dallas Milestone’s VIP Party. It would be five weeks later that she would be recognized at the JLD’s Milestones’ Luncheon featuring actor Rob Lowe.
As the doors opened to the Chantilly Ballroom, guests like Joan and Alan Walne, Pat and Pete Schenkel, Mary and Rich Templeton, Lydia and Dan Novakov, Norm Bagwell, Ben Renberg, Kristi Hoyl, Christina Goodman, Jen Huntsberry, Cynthia Krause, Sarah Canuta, Margot Aliffi, Kyle Armstrong, Tim Moore, Paige Wininger, Claire Emanuleson, Tiffany Divis, Debbie Oates, Lisa Cooley, Linda Perryman Evans and the Rawlings family including Gaby and Gunnar and daughter Michelle Rawlings with her fiance Luc Giambasu started making their way to their places.
Former Senior Source President/CEO Molly Bogen and Director of Communications Betty Houser were greeted by oldtimers like Senior Source Chief Development Officer Stephanie Russell.
Before guests settled down for lunch, a voice was heard from the back of the room calling, “Rawlings!” A pizza delivery fella presented an extra-large boxed Pizza Hut pizza to Micki and Mike. Of course, the pizza was from Mike’s old haunt where he had been president (1997-2003). After digging up a $2 tip for the fella, Mike was told by the delivery guy that if he ever ran for office again to let him know because he had a hold on the pizza delivery constituents.
The program began with Board Chair Chad Park introducing Luncheon Chair Christie, who reported that they were just $5K away from their $1M goal. To gin up the fundraising, she encouraged everything from donations to buying the centerpieces, adding that they could take the flowers home, give them to a senior citizen or give to The Senior Source to share with clients.
After a brief break, Senior Source President/CEO Stacey Malcolmson briefly described the challenges facing the seniors in North Texas and the goal of the organization to be the best agency of its kind.
She then presented The Molly H. Bogen Service Award to Any Step Community Services Founder/CEO Sydney Portilla-Diggs.
Now the program’s main event of “Not Quite Saturday Night Live” took place with George and Robert at a broadcast anchor desk with the skyline of Dallas in the background.
At one point they even had WFAA Meteorologist Pete Delkus on screen with “Breaking News” that there had been a dramatic change in the day’s forecast. Instead of a bright and shiny day, it was going to be a stormy and windy one. He asked, “Is Mike Rawlings there?”
While the script was more of a roast than a report, Wilonsky went off script saying the audience would have enjoyed it more if they’d been drinking. He also admitted that when he was a reporter, “Mike would scare the hell out of all of us.”
One segment was about Mike’s supposedly being confronted by three ghosts of mayors past, present and future. The past was former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who attributed the rise in support for Southern Dallas to Mike.
As for the Dallas mayor of the present, “he couldn’t stay in one place long enough to be caught on camera. His presence is felt everywhere — ribbon cuttings, parades and even the Diamond Dance Off held by The Senior Source. It looked pretty easy at least in theory, especially given all what Mike Wallace faced during his watch. At least we all thought that the city’s major crises were behind us without any concern to mayor of present but then, of course… Unfortunately, the audio of the ghost of mayor present could not be reached for comment.”
However, according to their investigation, it was revealed that the ghost mayor of the future was 30-year-old singer/actress/business woman Selena Gomez.
When they called Mike up to the stage, Gunnar took his place at the desk only to be replaced by his dad, who ‘fessed up that he had had a hankering to be a sports reporter… a fake Dale Hansen. His hankering resulted in his unplugging on an assortment of subjects, with Wilonsky tossing the script in Mike’s direction as a fait accompli.
“Sports reporter” Mike then proudly announced “Bring Back the Big Dill” — The Senior Source Inaugural Pickle Bowl Tournament was coming soon. Both Dunham and Wilonsky like members of the audience appeared a bit bewildered at Mike’s reveal.
As George and Wilonsky left the stage, Jennifer Staubach Gates took her place at the podium to introduce the presentation of the Spirit Of Generations Award to Micki and Mike. Micki started off saying that it was “pretty much obvious that I married a ham… and gave birth to one, too.” Then she recalled how her mother had “lived by example every day and in every way,” instilling in her the importance of volunteering and helping others. Tearing up, she finished saying how her mother “had made the path for me and I simply followed in her footsteps.”
Mike then recalled how Micki not only had her mother move in with them and cared for her until her death in 2016, but then had Mike’s mother live with them during her last six months of life. “She even brought her dad in early in the 90s; she really didn’t like her dad that much.”
He stressed the importance of grandparents for youngsters and how the Latinos and Asian and African Americans show respect and appreciate their elderly. “We need to do a better job.”
Returning to the podium, Christie reported that their $1M goal had been achieved to continue The Senior’s Source’s mission to “empower active seniors to live with purpose and protect vulnerable older adults.”
For more faces who helped The Senior Source reach its goal, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.