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Women’s Right Activist Cecile Richards and Millions in Donations Highlight This Year’s Record-Breaking Planned Parenthood Luncheon

A New Fundraising Campaign Will Help Counter Texas' Heartbeat Act

BY Billy Fong // 10.06.21

A new record of $3.3 million in donations was set at the recent Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas’ Annual Dallas Awards event (September 23) co-chaired by Katherine Perot Reeves and Anne Clayton Vroom at the Winspear Opera House. Sally Dunning, the recipient of the 2021 Gertrude Shelburne Humanitarian Award, was honored the evening before the annual event for her tireless work and the impact she’s had on the lives of countless Texans. That reception, which welcomed close to 60 VIP guests, was held at the Vroom’s home in their verdant garden.

The next morning at the Opera House, an already hyped-up crowd stood and applauded singer Benita Arterberry‘s rendition of Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire.” Then, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht took the podium to announce the launch of a multi-year fundraising campaign named “Together. No Matter What.” Over 80% of those funds will support healthcare services for uninsured patients at the organization’s 24 health centers. The $65 million campaign was expanded to include additional funds needed to counter the new SB 8 law — Texas’ Heartbeat Act — which severely restricts a woman’s reproductive rights.

Cecile Richards, Matrice Ellis-Kirk (Kristina Bowman Photography)
Cecile Richards, Matrice Ellis-Kirk (Kristina Bowman Photography)

As of September 20, 2021, 298 donors have contributed $45 million towards this patient care campaign. Contributors include Pam and John Beckert; Boone Family Foundation; Rebecca and Ken Bruder; Jennifer and Tom Karol; Lisa and Peter Kraus; Janie and Cappy McGarr; Suzanne and Patrick K. McGee; Megan and Casey McManemin; Lyda Hill Philanthropies; The Eugene McDermott Foundation; Selwyn Rayzor; Wendy and Marc Stanley; and others.

The main event of the day was an on-stage talk with women’s rights icon Cecile Richards moderated by Matrice Ellis-Kirk. Those around me captivated by the conversation included Muffin Lemak, Tricia Miller, and Lael Brodsky. As the program concluded, an announcement was made that a group of restaurants (Grange Hall, Georgie, Le Bilboquet, Jose, Lovers Seafood, Pak Pao, Nonna, and more) would be donating 20% of the receipts from the day to Planned Parenthood.

Jennifer Karol, Jessica Bass Bolander, Kara Goss, Alyssa Teichman, Anne Clayton Vroom, Katherine Perot Reeves, Abby Evans at the Wildlike Planned Parenthood fundraiser (photo courtesy Planned Parenthood)
Jennifer Karol, Jessica Bass Bolander, Kara Goss, Alyssa Teichman, Anne Clayton Vroom, Katherine Perot Reeves, Abby Evans at the Wildlike Planned Parenthood fundraiser (photo courtesy Planned Parenthood)

My sister from another mother, Jennifer Karol, invited me to join her group that had a 1 pm reservation at Grange, where I was excited to find myself seated next to Jessica Nowitzki. I hadn’t seen her since the 2020 Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Others that joined our lively lunch included Forty Five Ten’s Dianna Miller, PR guru Barbara Buzzell, and collector and philanthropist Joyce Goss. As we were finishing our meal, Reeves and Vroom popped into for a victory lap.

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