For its 34th year, the St. Valentine’s Day Luncheon & Fashion Show took the party outside — sort of. A crystal-clear tent was erected in the CenterPark Garden at presenting sponsor NorthPark Center, meaning that guests at this cherished fundraiser could look out over the spring florals and stunning outdoor artwork while they helped fund the fight against blood cancer.
Chairs Rozalyn Columbo and Nancy Gopez, along with sponsors Nancy and Richard Rogers and Melody and Rick Rogers, welcomed a parade of attendees clad in shades of crimson, scarlet, fuchsia, and ruby, all dressed to honor the luncheon's namesake holiday. Keeping to the theme, flutes of Impatience rosé were passed while honorary chair Nancy Nasher and advisory chair Heather Perttula Randall mingled with the crowd.
To get the program started, emcee and Fox 4 anchor Clarice Tinsley introduced LLS board chair Don Armstrong and executive director Dr. Patricia Thompson. Tissues were quickly pulled out of handbags all over the room as the two detailed the efforts of the LLS, which has invested more than $1 billion in research funding since its inception in 1949.
Honoring the afternoon's award recipients began by presenting the Memorial Hero award to Kimberly Alexander on behalf of her late husband, Elijah. Before being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2005, Elijah had a 10-year career in the NFL as a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, and Oakland Raiders. He started the Tackle Cancer Foundation, which provides financial and emotional assistance to those battling cancer, and Kimberly has continued his legacy.
Next, Mona Carlton Stogner and Greg Stogner received the Lynda Adleta Heart of Gold award for their steadfast dedication to the LLS-led Beat AML initiative in honor of Mona's late brother, Olan.
And if the previous two recipients weren't touching enough, 7-year-old Kaitlyn Johnson joined Tinsley onstage to accept the Spirit of Tom Landry Character award. A video featuring Kaitlyn and her parents, James and Mandy, detailed the little girl's two separate battles with cancer, and how LLS-funded groundbreaking CAR-T therapy helped her beat it for good.
Guests finally got to dry their eyes during the fashion show, where Jan Strimple sent dozens of models down the runway to show off spring looks from CH Carolina Herrera, Elie Tahari, Canali, Roberto Cavalli, Rebecca Taylor, Peek Kids, and Neiman Marcus. Each of these NorthPark retailers, along with several others, invited guests to shop for a cause after the luncheon by donating a portion of sales back to LLS.
A meal of butternut squash soup, quiche, and pretty pink cupcakes from Wolfgang Puck Catering got guests ready to donate even more through purchasing raffle tickets, which included such outstanding prizes as a suite at the P!ink concert on May 1 at the American Airline Center, a trip to Carolina Herrera's showroom in New York City, a mink coat, moonstone and diamond chandelier earrings, and $5,000 in NorthPark Gold with a 2018 VIP valet card.
Underwriting chairs Carmaleta Whiteley Felton and Kim Hext, table sales chairs Maggie Kipp and Mary Parker, raffle chairs Jenna Alexander and Andrea Nayfa, and design and decor chair Cathy Kincaid must have surely considered the afternoon a success, as the event surpassed its budget of $630,000.
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.