13th Annual Center for Child Protection’s Dancing with the Stars Gala Sizzles

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Jeff Loftin, Christina Murphy, Haley Plotkin and Ben Porter

THE SETTING: Against the backdrop of a picture-perfect winter evening, over a thousand of the most notable sociables and philanthropists descended on Austin’s JW Mariott Hotel for the 13th annual Dancing with the Stars. Hosted by the Center for Child Protection, the event is one of the can’t-miss social events of the season. This year’s gathering was no exception, featuring an evening full of fun and show-stopping dance routines, and a special appearance by JR Martinez, a winner of the ABC’s televised version of Dancing with the Stars.


THE STYLE: Friends and supporters of the 11 celebrity dancers donned their finest black-tie ensembles, with women choosing an eclectic mix of chic ballgowns with metallics, solid colors, and especially sequins being the most popular. Not to be outshined, the men also brought their finest eveningwear, with many sporting velvet tuxedo jackets, that helped create a festive environment.  


The evening began in the foyer of the ballroom for a breezy cocktail hour, where guests got to mingle and congratulate the celebrity dancers they were on hand to support. The action then moved to the main ballroom for the evening’s program. The event emcees, Glenn Ball and Holly Mills Gardner, effortlessly kept the audience engaged throughout the event with a mix of humor and witty banter. Following a moving video, highlighting the purpose of the Center for Child Protection, the live auction had bidders seize the opportunity to purchase an impressive array of items including luxury vacation packages to such exotic locales as Africa, Croatia and Thailand.


Then came the main event, the performances by the dancers themselves. One by one, each of the dancers strutted their stuff on the dance floor to iconic songs including Crazy in Love, Gonna Make U Sweat and I Will Survive that kept the audience on their feet throughout. After the dancing competition concluded, the audience vote was tallied with Brian Yacktman and his pro partner, Katrina Repka, were declared the winners. The evening was capped off with an after-party where partygoers danced into the wee hours of the morning to the tunes of DJ Johnny Bravo.


THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Francie Little and Jenny Mason, raised over $1.1 million for the Center for Child Protection. A nationally accredited children’s advocacy center that offers services ,including forensic interviews, counseling, and medical exams to children who are suspected victims of physical or sexual abuse as well as those who have witnessed violent crime.




AIN Art+Fashion+Community Event Highlights Dallas-Based Artists

By Cynthia Smoot Photography by Danny Campbell and Marcus Perryman

THE SETTING: AIN (Access & Information Network) recently hosted a new event, Art+Fashion+Community, which was welcomed with open arms to a sold-out crowd with presenting sponsor AHF. It was a meeting of the minds that brought together an exhibition of the who’s who in the art and fashion world. Guests were treated to an array of photography, paintings, sculpture, and fashions from six local designers.

Models, poised on pedestals, were transformed into works of art in the Samuel Lynne Galleries. Designers included Project Runway alum Venny Etienne, Don Morphy, Julie McCullough, Amy Marshall, Loren Franco, and Arnulfo Villa. Amy Marshall’s collection took everyone’s breath away with her 1981 collection about the outbreak of AIDS in the community.

THE STYLE: Guests strolled through the gallery while being treated to hors d’oeuvres from Doug Boster Catering and drinks from Hell’s Half Acres vodka and Community Beer Co. Guests could also bid on one-of-a-kind T-shirts designed by artists including Tyler Shields, Cristi Meril, JD Miller and Project Runway darlings Daniel Esquivel and Lela Orr.

THE PURPOSE: The event was chaired by Lea Fisher, Ken Weber & JR Hernandez. For over 30 years, AIN been a leading healthcare resource for persons living with HIV and other vulnerable populations in the Dallas region. The organization serves over 2,000 diagnosed low-income men, women and youths by distributing over 140,000 rides annually to medical and social services. It also provides 25,000 hot meals every year through its nutrition program.




Annual ReuNight Event Upholds Mission Of Helping North Texas Families

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Celeste Smith and Jason Voinov

THE SETTING: The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek was the recent setting for the 7th Annual ReuNight for The Family Place. The event drew several hundred of Dallas’ most notable philanthropists, influencers, and sociables for a memorable evening of fun and fundraising that those on hand will not soon forget.


THE STYLE: The moment the cocktail-chic crowd entered the recently renovated grounds of this beloved Dallas landmark, guests knew they were in for a special evening. After posing for pictures on the step and repeat, partygoers engaged in a fun and engaging cocktail hour where VIP’s rubbed elbows and brimmed with anticipation for the night ahead. Additionally, guests had the opportunity to view the impressive array of silent auction items on display.


The action then moved into a stunning tent on the Mansion’s grounds complete with sparkling chandeliers that matched the energy of its patrons for the main program. After attendees were treated to words by the event co-chairs, they imbibed on a scrumptious, multi-course meal against the ambient backdrop of tunes by Ricki Derek and The Vegas Six. A spirited live auction followed where bidders had a chance to raise paddles for their favorite items. A special appearance by Elvis impersonator, Victor Trevino also entertained the crowd.


THE PURPOSE: ReuNight, co-chaired by Melinda Bell, Catherine Cox, and Natalie Lorio, with the Hallam family serving as honorary chairs, raised funds for The Family Place. The mission of the organization is to provide a safe space, counseling and skills for victims of bullying and domestic violence. Since 1978, The Family Place has served over 216,500 individuals in the North Texas region.




Taylor Dayne Headlines Fundraiser For Seventh Annual Unlikely Heroes Gala

By Cynthia Smoot         Photography by Thomas Garza

THE SETTING: More than 400 supporters gathered at The Ritz Carlton-Dallas for the seventh annual Recognizing Heroes Awards Dinner charity benefit. Guests enjoyed an unforgettable evening that featured a live musical performance by three-time GrammyÒ-nominated pop icon, Taylor Dayne, and red carpet arrivals with special guests. The exclusive VIP cocktail reception hosted by Melissa Rycroft, and a silent auction made the evening ever so special.


THE STYLE: Cassadee Pope, winner of The Voice, kicked off the evening with selections from her new album. Guests were then warmly welcomed by the evening’s hosts, comedian Anjelah Johnson and Real Housewives of Dallas personality, LeeAnne Locken. Rebecca Bender shared her very personal story of recovery. Unlikely Heroes CEO and Founder, Erica Greve, then announced the integration of Elevate Academy into the daily work of Unlikely Heroes and that in addition to expanding the program across the country, local in-person chapters of Elevate Extended launches this spring.  


THE PURPOSE: Since 2011, Unlikely Heroes has rescued hundreds of children, and their journey to freedom starts in one of their six restoration homes located around the world. The experienced Unlikely Heroes teams are on the ground in the United States, Mexico, Thailand and the Philippines, providing the very best in restorative care, safe housing, education, life skills, medical care, counseling, stability and love to every single child for whom they care.




Dallas Zoo’s Gala Captures The Spirit Of The Wild

By Cynthia Smoot – Photography by Thomas Garza and Monika Normand

THE SETTING: This year’s Zoo To Do fundraiser, presented by The Eugene McDermott Foundation, was, without a doubt, the most Instagrammable party of the year. In addition to being greeted by Dawn and Steve Moore, this year’s event chairs, the 700 guests who entered the front gates of the Dallas Zoo were welcomed by animal ambassadors, including flamingos, an anteater, and penguins as a reminder of why Zoo To Do is so important.

Honorary Chef Chair Dan Landsberg of Dragonfly at Hotel Zaza, along with Chef Wrangler Brett Krafft from the Hilton Lincoln Centre, joined guests at the award-winning Giants of the Savanna exhibit for a strolling dinner among the 30 restaurant stations representing the finest restaurants in Dallas. How often can one say they had lions, elephants, African painted dogs, and cheetahs as dinner companions?

 THE STYLE: At each station, the executive chefs served delicious gourmet treats of appetizers, entrée specialties, and desserts. Bars placed throughout the exhibit provided fine wines and craft cocktails, too. Following the dinner and live auction portion of the evening, the Zoo To Do 2 after-party crowd joined in the celebration at the Wilds of Africa Plaza, where everyone danced the night away to music from the Emerald City All-Stars, one of the city’s best live party cover bands.

 THE PURPOSE: The Dallas Zoo, recently named one of the nation’s Top 10 Zoos by USA Today, is the largest zoological experience in Texas. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the venue features a 106-acre park, thousands of animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. This year’s event resulted in over one million dollars raised to help support the Dallas Zoo’s dedication to providing the best animal care, deliver unique education offerings, and strengthen its wildlife conservation efforts.




FGI Dallas Honors Bob Mackie, Several Others In Star-Studded Gala

By Rob Giardinelli – Photography by William Neal of WJNPHOTO

THE SETTING: The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas was the chic setting of Fashion Group International’s annual Night of Stars gala. Several hundred of Dallas’ most notable fashionistas, sociables, and philanthropists were on hand for an evening that was full of fun and fashion.

 THE STYLE: The sequin and satin-chic crowd began the evening with a VIP cocktail reception in the foyer of the Adolphus, where guests had the chance to mingle and pose for photos with the guests of honor. In the venue, an eclectic mix of festive fashions  had as much personality and pizazz as the partygoers themselves. Women donned sumptuous sequins, while men sported a mix of velvet and brocade tuxedos.

The action then moved into the main ballroom for the evening’s program, where patrons were treated to a multi-course meal. Master of Ceremonies Cameron Silver effortlessly kept the crowd engaged and the festivities flowing at a brisk, fun pace. Then one by one, each of the honorees came to the stage to accept their awards, including the Career Achievement Award in Fashion,  Veronica Beard, Career Achievement Award in Entertainment, Angie Harmon, Career Achievement Award in Business, John Terlingo, and Philanthropist of the Year Award, Sandra Moon.

The program was capped off in grand style when ageless supermodel Jan Strimple came to the stage to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to fashion designer Bob Mackie, who treated the audience to a fashion show featuring eight exquisite looks from his archive that brought the audience to their feet…and provided them with an unforgettable experience they will not soon forget.

 THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Victoria Snee, benefited Fashion Group International of Dallas. The organization provides scholarships, internships, and career counseling services to those pursuing a career in fashion and related businesses.