Before anyone knew it, the Callier Cares Luncheon VIP reception filled the Dallas Country Club’s Founders Room on Monday, April 17. From the relative younger set like Foundation for the Callier Center and Communication Disorders President Beth Thoele, Callier Family Care Campaign Co-Chair Anne McPherson, Luncheon Chair Kim Hext with husband Greg Hext and daughter-in-law-to-be Claudia Lode, Angie Kadesky and Sunie Solomon to the vets like Honorary Co-Chairs Rosemarie and Dr. Maynard Ewton Jr., Emilynn Wilson, Tricia George, Stacey Walker with her mom Kay Sim, Brent Christopher and Sara and David Martineau, the staff was hustling to provide refreshments. Early on it was strictly water and ice tea, but then a flotilla of flutes with champagne made its way to a gang of gals at a high-top overlooking Turtle Creek.
In the meantime, the foyer outside the ballroom started to fill to capacity as the doors to the ballroom opened for the luncheon that kicked off with a video followed by Callier Center for Communication Disorders Executive Director Dr. Angela Shoup welcoming the guests and an invocation by Lovers Lane United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Randall Lucas as the luncheon got underway.
Soon Luncheon Chair Kim took her place at the podium thanking chief contributors and the host committee, encouraging guests to donate. She then welcomed Richard Neely to the stage to present the 2023 Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Award to Jamie Williams, who was representing the Moody Foundation.
In accepting the award for the Foundation, Jamie pointed out that in addition to Callier being especially important to Moody Foundation Chair/Executive Director Francie Moody-Dalhberg, there were three reasons the award was “exceptionally important. First, because of its namesake. Ruth and Ken Altshuler were the personification of what it means to be committed to community and devoted to the benefit of others. Indeed, they were icons of the notion of philanthropic service and giving.
“Second, this honor is so significant because of those who have received it before — The Meadows Foundation, Bruton and Purcell families, the Cullums, Brent Christopher and so many others. Each in their way, have devoted time and treasure to further Callier’s mission … to understand and care for those with speech-language and hearing struggles. The Moody Foundation is fortunate to join this circle.”
The third reason was “the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, itself. When you think about it, there is nothing more basic, more instinctual, more human and yet more complex than language — the innate ability to hear and speak. We take it for granted… until we can’t. Since 1963, Callier has been a wellspring of knowledge and expertise to the field of speech-language and hearing and a beacon, a guiding light if you will, for those in need of its services.”
In closing, Jamie adapted Emma Lazarus’ poem about the Statue of Liberty, “The New Colossus,” saying for Callier it would read, “Give me your young, your old, your silent ones in need, yearning for the liberty of language.”
Following Jamie, Callier’s Melissa Sweeney introduced a video focusing on the importance of early detection and interviewing for hearing, speech and language disorders.
It was now time for a presentation by Callier clients Kristina and Val Laos, who did a “tag team” story on their son Joseph Laos and his journey that started when Kristina sensed something just wasn’t right with the infant. He wasn’t just having problems eating, he was losing weight. Adding to the young couples’ challenges was the pandemic that had forced doctors to close their doors unless it was an emergency.
Recalling how a friend suggested that they reach out to Callier, Kristina laughed saying she knew of Callier since she attended school across the street and it had the best food.
It was after working with Callier and struggling thru the pandemic that it was discovered that Joseph had a hole in his airway. As papa Val said, the food was going to Joseph’s lungs and “I don’t think that was right.”
After nearly half a dozen procedures, Joseph’s eating issues were resolved but his communication issues still were on the table. While a speech therapist (Val motioned thumbs down) said Joseph would never speak, the young family turned again to Callier, where Joseph impressed his team rising through the programs much to his parents’ relief and delight.
Now the Laos family has a four-week-old daughter who has the same eating issues that Joseph experienced. But as Val said they are prepared because they know how to turn to the right experts.
Kristina and Val emphasized that since insurance would have been prohibitive, Callier was able to reduce the costs thanks to the funding provided by the Callier Foundation.
For an added punch to the Laos family story, Joseph joined his parents onstage as a video was shown with Joseph acting like any spunky three-year-old.
As Beth told how guests could support the work by Callier, it was noted that donations cards were quickly being picked up at tables and filled out.