Society / The Seen

Scenes from the Candy-Coated, Fashion-Fueled Fundraiser for Texas-Based Dec My Room

A Frothy, Feel-Good Fete for "Room to Grow"

BY // 04.14.23
photography Tamytha Cameron

Before the sun rose and a mere six hours before their outdoor luncheon was set to begin, a turbulent thunderstorm rolled through Dallas, threatening to dampen co-chairs Samantha Wortley and Sunie Soloman’s plans for the 2023 “Room To Grow” luncheon.

By 11 am, though, the sky turned blue, the ghost chairs were dry, and the elegant tablescapes were set (with chips and salsa, no less, because #texasforever!). Even Mother Nature didn’t dare rain on this parade.

The annual luncheon benefits Dec My Room, a Houston-based organization that creates healing spaces for pediatric patients staying in the hospital for extended periods. Each room is thematically tailored from top to tail according to the patient’s preferences. Perennially popular? Unicorns, of course.

Wortley and Solomon “dec’d” the oft-overlooked Neiman Marcus courtyard of NorthPark Center into a cheerful springtime oasis, reminding guests that a beautiful space brightens even the darkest and stormiest days. 

Luncheon co-chairs Sunie Solomon and Samantha Wortley (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)
Luncheon co-chairs Sunie Solomon and Samantha Wortley (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)

A mother of two young girls, Wortley described what drew her to the organization, saying, “I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for the children and the families to live in a sterile hospital room.” An optimist by nature, she continued, saying, “While the families can not change the physical health circumstance they have been dealt, Dec My Room offers a beautiful and positive option to change the mental and emotional health of the pediatric patient and their families while they are undergoing their long term stay.”

The fashion of the day reflected that same bright outlook.

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At check-in, volunteers bundled up in jackets. Partygoers, however, committed to their springtime look, which, despite temperatures in the mid-60s, didn’t include a coat. To quote Cher Horowitz, “A watch doesn’t really go with this outfit, daddy.”

Posing in front of a boxwood step-and-repeat under an oversized pink bow, the co-chairs matched with the event’s color story– Wortley (a self-professed “girly girl!”) in a pink dress with a light-as-a-feather cape moment and Solomon in a punchy lime green silk suit. 

Olivia Kearney, Marjon Henderson (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)
Olivia Kearney, Marjon Henderson (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)

The candy-colored crowd of ladies (and a handful of suited men) wore sherbet hues and, you guessed it, florals for spring. The merry mood matched the mission: in springtime, there is rebirth; in beauty, there is healing.

Warmed by the palomas being passed and the early April sunshine, philanthropic fashionistas flocked to the photo booth. Upon direction by the photographer to “do something silly,” most transitioned their smile to a smize. (You’d think we’d be more prepared for this cue by now, but, alas, it paralyzes me every time, too.) 

Undoubtedly the cornerstone of the afternoon, though, was hearing from radiant high-school senior and Celebrate Flight Award recipient Alexis Williams, who once received a Dec My Room makeover. Williams eloquently shared how the organization’s mission brightened her own cancer journey– one that would be ongoing, she vulnerably detailed. Williams’ cancer returned, and she would be checking in for a bone marrow transplant immediately after the luncheon. 

Celebrate Flight Award recipient Alexis Williams and Dec My Room North Texas area director Heather Smith (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)
Celebrate Flight Award recipient Alexis Williams and Dec My Room North Texas area director Heather Smith (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)

This young woman’s story reminded attendees (myself included) why we go to luncheons, and buy raffle tickets, and purchase donated centerpieces, and bid on the silent auction items. By creating a healing space, Dec My Room offers the hope of brighter days. 

My main hope,” Wortley detailed, “was to spread a sense of hope and awareness for the many children that face long-term stays in our local hospitals.” Solomon echoed this sentiment, adding, “We want to raise funds for this sweet charity so that Dec My Room can help many more children have a healing space and a happier stay in the hospital.”

Presenters Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Moll Anderson (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)
Presenters Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Moll Anderson (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)

Following lunch, authors and lifestyle experts Kimberly Whitman and Moll Anderson moderated the fashion presentation from (where else?) Neiman Marcus. The duo’s natural rapport served as a frothy backdrop for a colorful mix-and-match of designers from Alberta Ferretti to Ralph Lauren. From the opening look (a banana phone sweater from Texan Lela Rose) to the final gown, the curated selections highlighted the spirit of the inimitable Dallas women in attendance– bold, brave, bright, and optimistic. 

I left with a Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie in my purse and a new cause close to my heart. When an organization has Room to Grow, Dallasites rise to the occasion. 

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