One North Texas philanthropy vet described the black-tie crowd entering Brook Hollow Golf Club on Saturday, April 29, this way: “This is the honey pot!” The Sweetheart Ball actually was sweet, and rightly so, since the fundraiser’s purpose was something everyone has a vested interest in: cardiology research and treatment at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
And it was a heady affair, with such philanthropists as the Simmons (Annette Simmons and daughter Amy Simmons Crafton and son-in-law Joe Crafton), Perots (Margot Perot and son Ross Perot Jr. and daughter-in-law Sarah Perot), Dedmans (Nancy Dedman and son Bob Dedman and daughter-in-law Rachael Dedman), Sewells (Peggy and Carl Sewell Jr., son Carl Sewell III and daughter-in-law Josie Sewell and daughter Jacquelin Sewell Atkinson and son-in-law William Atkinson), Joneses (Lori and Jerry Jones Jr.) and loads of Fords (Kelli O. and Jerry Ford, daughters Electra Ford and Kelli Ford, Jerry’s son Jeremy Ford and daughter-in-law Cate Ford and, of course, daughter/2023 Sweetheart Ball Chair Amy Prestidge and son-in-law Corey Prestidge and their daughter Caroline Prestidge).
After a remarkable four decades of raising money for the battle against heart disease, 2023 Sweetheart Ball Chair Amy carried on the mission by transforming Brook Hollow into floral elegance as the 280 guests rose to the occasion, with many of the ladies clad in floral designs (Lynne Sheldon, Charron Denker, Zena Lemos, Gretchen Seay, Carrie Levering, Shari Stankey, Diane Byrd, Laura Neely, Carolyn Thompson, Stephanie Cohen, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Hext, Janie Condon and Jennifer Roberts), or bright colors (Daffan Nettle, Georgina Hartland, Nelda Cain Pickens, Molly Thomas, Claire Emanuelson, Capera Ryan, Jeanne Bobbitt, Tucker Enthoven, Sara Martineau, Teresa King, Rusty Duvall, Michal Powell, Holly Huffines, Beverly Nichols, Marilyn Augur, Christen Redlich and the Schlegel gals — Myrna and daughters Kari Kloewer and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman).
Meanwhile, 2024 Sweetheart Ball Chair Heather Washburne was in Herrera, 2019 Chair Lisa Troutt and Lisa Cooley were in Michael Faircloth, Linda Custard was in Oscar de la Renta and Pat McEvoy was wearing Zac Posen.
Gros’ Nathan Johnson had recast the ballroom as a garden by moonlight, with large panels of pale blue flowers against misty white backgrounds surrounding the room. All around the dance floor the tables were covered with silky gray-blue tablecloths topped with centerpieces of pastel floral and greenery centerpieces that seemed to shimmer, thanks to the exquisite lighting.
As any wrinkle-free doyenne who has her plastic surgeon on speed dial will attest, “Lighting is paramount to the look of the occasion.” In this case, flawless faces ruled.
One guest, having attended numerous Sweetheart Balls, declared that this Ball was reminiscent of the classic beauty of Linda Custard’s chairmanship in 2007.
From the grand floral arrangements and even to the railing leading from the reception in the Oak Room to the ballroom, there were flowers in a variety of arrangements: allium, lilac, garden and amnesia roses, delphinium, and larkspur.
Even the presentation of the table assignments was fittingly gardenesque, with cards on an elaborate escort wall at the far end of the reception area. Across the way, the windows overlooking the Club’s greens had been covered with magnificent garden scenes.
In the meantime, moms Amy and 2012 Sweetheart Ball Chair Kelli O. corralled their daughters Caroline Prestidge, Electra Ford and Kelli Ford for a photo before the first guests arrived… While Dan Branch and Margot Perot laughed heartily at the reception about something or other, a youngish man said to Don Huffines, “Thank you for taking that meeting with me. Amazingly, it all worked out.”… In from Houston was Robert “Bobby” Sakowitz escorting longtime friend Joan Levy.
Another out-of-town guest no sooner arrived than he became the center of attention: Governor Greg Abbott, who had them lined up deep for a chance to chat, and no one was turned away. All the while a piano player tinkled the classics, while servers passed out hors d’oeuvres like smoked salmon. It was interesting to note that, despite the bar’s closing and the come-to-dine chimes being rung, it was Greg’s moving to the ballroom that finally got the well-heeled set heading to dinner.
As they began strolling up the stairway from the Oak Room through the garden walkway to the ballroom, with violinists and cellists playing on either side, there was a behind-the-scenes “situation” developing. One guest had discovered on the way to the event that the hem of her designer gown was in need of serious repair. Instead of attending the reception, she put out an SOS call that resulted in Michael Faircloth, needle and thread in hand, assisting the damsel in the ladies lounge before the guests even sat down to eat.
Just as the strings followed the guests onto the ballroom floor, the Jordan Kahn Orchestra seamlessly picked up the overtones and carried on from the bandstand.
Directly across the ballroom was Chair Amy and her husband Corey Prestidge’s head table, which had been set up in the Club’s entry. Someone suggested that it was arranged to be close to the door so Corey could make a quick exit to attend their son Ford Prestidge’s lacrosse game pitting Episcopal School of Dallas vs. Highland Park High School. But Corey laughed at the idea, saying there was no way he would not be part of the night’s festivities.
Still, there was one unexpected guest whose arrival raised sniffs among the very sensitive types. One guest, wrinkling her pert nose, asked a dinner companion, “Do you smell something?” The response was a negative shake of the head. However, others throughout the ballroom soon began raising eyebrows, and noses, as well. While it was definitely not an overdose of someone’s perfume, it also didn’t give the governor’s security team any cause to be alarmed. It seems that a skunk had somehow found its way into the Club. When s/he was quickly shown the door, the little critter raised a stink.
Oh, well, just goes to show that even the finest garden party can have its party poopers.
For a lot more looks of the evening of black-tie fundraising, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.