The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's 31st annual Saint Valentine's Day Luncheon and Fashion Show was another successful labor of love, as hundreds of passionate Dallasites filled the Meyerson Symphony Center to pay tribute to those we have lost, to encourage those currently fighting and to spread hope for a cure.
The morning started off with a champagne reception, where luncheon chair Lisa Singleton, advisory chair Carmaleta Whiteley and honorary chair Lynn McBee circled the room, thanking guests for being in attendance on this special day. Attendees checked their coats, grabbed a glass of bubbly and met up with friends. Once the doors to the performance hall opened, it was showtime.
There wasn't a dry eye in the room during the program, which always includes a touching awards ceremony. This time LLS presented the first-ever Memorial Hero Award to the late Linda Somerville. When her family got onstage to accept, her husband, Tom Somerville, tried his best to hold back tears as he talked about the wonderful woman they lost to leukemia 16 years ago.
Next Alicia Landry presented the Spirit of Tom Landry Award to Brooklynn Alexander for her strength while facing Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma as a high school sophomore. Those in the audience — including Maggie Kipp, Barbara Daseke, Steve Kemble, Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Robyn Conlon and Katy Bock — gave Alexander proper applause when the now college freshman shared that she is two years into remission. Alexander currently mentors other children battling cancer and has since started her own foundation.
The final honor of the afternoon, the Lynda Adleta Heart of Gold Award, was given to Jennifer Houser. Her work with LLS became personal when her son Ryan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Houser shared the story of her son's cancer fight and happily reported that he has been cancer free for 10 years and now has a son of his own — and both were present, along with Houser's daughter-in-law, to present her with the award. Houser continues to promote LLS through her service on the North Texas Advisory Board.
Singleton then took the stage to solicit a few last donations to help LLS fund blood cancer research, which has seen remarkable success in recent years. In fact, a national Leukemia & Lymphoma Society-funded research grant will be named in honor of this year's luncheon presenting sponsors Nancy C. and Richard Rogers.
It was then time for the highly anticipated fashion presentation produced by Jan Strimple, featuring looks from select stores in Highland Park Village: Five and Ten, Hadleigh's, Lela Rose, Ralph Lauren, St. John, and Trina Turk. Models took to the runway in exquisite spring/summer looks that left everyone craving warmer weather and a suntan. Attendees were also invited to shop in Highland Park Village after the luncheon, and participating stores vowed to give back to LLS with each purchase made during the shopping event.
As is customary, lunch was waiting in the lobby for these well-heeled supporters, who also had the opportunity to purchase the floral arrangements on the tables to help raised additional dollars for LLS. On their way out the door, guests took a last look at the raffle table to see if their names were chosen for one of the amazing prizes, including a Santa Fe escape, a Highland Park Village shopping experience and more. No guest left empty-handed, however, as everyone was gifted a single rose and a sassy gift bag complete with sponsor's goodies.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer and funds lifesaving research around the world while also providing free information and support services.