Society / Featured Parties

Cowboys Legends, Powerhouse Philanthropist Help Raise a Record $1.4 Million in One Dallas Night

Kid Cancer Patients Hit the Runway With the Celebrities

BY // 06.26.19
photography Kristina Bowman

It’s always a treat getting to attend events with my dear friend Nancy Rogers. Her support of numerous local organizations, from the arts to social causes, is widely known through seeing her and husband, Richard Rogers’ names on donor lists. Plus she never fails to deliver when it comes to a stunning gown for a true entrance.

That said, when I received the text from her inviting me to sit at her table for the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala I responded with a quick “What time do you want me there?”

More than 1,000 guests that included 80 pediatric cancer patients (some of whom modeled on the runway that evening), survivors, celebrities and a notable list of Dallas’ who’s who filled the Hilton Anatole in support of the charity’s 31st gala. Powerhouse fundraising chair Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, helmed this year’s event, themed “An Evening in the Garden.” From the podium, she acknowledged longtime honorary co-chairs (and Dallas Cowboys icons) Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Assisting this formidable team of Whitman, Aikman and Staubach in raising money that night was a showing of Dallas megawatt sports stars: another famous Cowboy Tony Romo, former Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco, and former NBA players Michael Finley and Monta Ellis, and FC Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer.

Following the heartfelt remarks, a magical runway show was presented with children ages 5 to 17 who were matched with celebrity escorts. In addition to those aforementioned sports stars, others walking the runway included: actress and singer Joely Fisher, Miss Texas America Madison Fuller, Batman, Spiderman, and Queen Elsa. Guests also enjoyed the play by play videos being shown from backstage.

In addition to hair and makeup being done, clowns and magicians kept everyone in festive spirits. In an interview, Tony Romo commented, “We are here for these kids. When you see these kids going through this, and especially if you’re a father, you just want to hug them and do what you can to make a difference. I can’t imagine having one of my kids going through this.”

Candice Romo added, “This is such a special night for these kids — a night out, away from the hospital. Everyone has a story — someone in their lives who’s been affected by cancer. If we want to help and make a difference, we can give — big or small.”

The fashion show, alongside the heartfelt remarks from the podium and videos sent in from Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and TV personality Vanessa Lachey, produced tears of happiness in the crowd. So much so, that the room built up to a crescendo when Rogers threw out sizable donation she would make if those in the ballroom collectively matched. Bidding paddles flew up and the match was soon made.

The night was the most successful Children’s Cancer Fund Gala on record, raising a staggering $1.4 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern.

As the evening came to an end, I leaned over to the chic girl to my left, Meredith Land, to inquire as to her thoughts on the evening. “A highlight, of course, was sitting next to lovely you,” she remarked and that was all I needed for my diary entry that night. But I let her go on and she shared, “I wasn’t prepared for how moved I would be to see the children walk the runway with big smiles on their faces; a celebration of the enormous journey each has been on.”

Some of Dallas’ finest at the packed event to support the cause included Michelle and Bernard Nussbaumer, Brian Bolke and Faisal Halum, Suzanne and David Droese, Moll Anderson, Gonzale Bueno and Michael McCray, Jessica Nowitzki, Bina Palnitkar Patel, Bela and Chase Cooley.

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