Who would have believed that North Texas weather was still chilling, barely hitting 70 on Thursday, April 28? That alone, plus the threat of rain, might have resulted in guests just staying at home rather than attend a patron party. Happily such was not the case for The Sweetheart Ball gathering on the eve of the legendary fundraiser for heart disease research in North Texas.
2023 Sweetheart Ball Chair Amy Prestidge had picked the perfect place for the party: Kelli O. Ford and Jerry Ford‘s grandest estate. As a former Sweetheart Ball chair, Kelli O. had even held the main event at their Volk Estate grounds in 2012. So hosting the patron party was going to be a breeze.
From the moment the luxury vehicles arrived at the entrance gate highlighted with heart-shaped wreaths, both newcomers and old-timers were in for an evening of perfection with Kelli O. and her daughter Kelli Ford greeting guests at the front door.
Thanks to Kelli O.’s designer eye and love for art, the three-story mansion was a masterpiece filled with breathtaking art displayed in an array of colors and textures beautifully highlighted by lighting via candles, sconces, chandeliers and natural light shining through the windows and glass doors.
But that was not to say that it was a “look but don’t touch” museum. No. Throughout the rooms, both public and private, overstuffed chairs and couches seemed so inviting to settle back for a chat. And that’s exactly how Jerry started the evening, chatting with Joan Levy and Bobby Sakowitz in the library.
On the other hand, Amy in lavender lace with husband Corey Prestidge never seemed to have a chance to settle down. Surrounded by guests all evening, they hardly ever budged from the two-story foyer with its magnificent chandeliers. Nearby was a grand round table topped with a floral centerpiece surrounded by a dozen or so candles.
Even though servers with flutes of beverages and appetizers were just a wink away, guests were pleased to discover as they made their way past the room’s centerpiece round table that there was an open bar just beyond a martini bar.
Pretty soon guests like Myrna and Bob Schlegel, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Lindy Berkley, Laura Lear, Cate Ford, Sara and David Martineau, Lisa and Clay Cooley, Pat and Charles McEvoy and Pam and Vin Perella started gathering along the hallway with still more head-turning chandeliers. Halfway down the hallway a couple of violinists and a guitarist played in front of the winding staircase with a fourth seen playing at the midway landing. At the end of the hallway, Jerry had settled down in the lounge, joined now by Holly and Phillip Huffines.
Dwight Emanuelson had just made it back to Dallas from a Wyoming fishing trip for wife Claire Emanuelson‘s birthday. While most show photos of their grandkids on their cellphones, Dwight was showing the 7-lb. trout that didn’t get away… at least, until he sent it back to the creek. Georgina Hartland reported that son Thomas Hartland-Mackie and his brood were now living Costa Rica.
From all appearances, the fashionable color of the night was dazzling white worn by Kelli O. 2024 Sweetheart Ball Chair Heather Washburne, Nancy Dedman, Linda Custard, Nancy Cain Marcus and Jennifer Clark. Jeanne Bobbitt and Annette Simmons topped off their outfits with white jackets.
But spring colors did abound despite the evening’s chill. Lisa Troutt in a yellow Michael Faircloth design with jeweled collar matched husband Kenny Troutt‘s yellow tie. Kenny laughed that he had originally planned on a red tie, but “the boss” suggested yellow to go with her dress… and “the boss knows best.”
Alice Farmer was in a blue dress that she had worn to her daughter’s wedding. She admitted that the dress had been her choice of the night because it was too cold for lighter fare.
Just as the final guests arrived, the skies opened up resulting in valets sheltering guests with umbrellas as they departed. It was an early night because the ball was still to come.
For more fashion looks of the warm-up for The Sweetheart Ball, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.