Dallas is full of champions for children, and 1,600 of them showed up recently for the ninth annual Appetite for Advocacy luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas.
They were there to see Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who wowed the world with her TED talk (24 million views and counting), and to raise mission-critical funds for Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC).
Event co-chairs Paula Richmond and Megan Steinbach started the luncheon by painting a picture of the typical client served by DCAC: a 9-year-old girl who has been sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts.
“While her peers have been memorizing state capitals and discovering what vinegar does to baking soda, she has endured abuse more heinous than many of us would allow our minds to imagine.” But their message ended with hope for her future. Through therapy at DCAC, she “no longer lives as a victim of the abuse she’s suffered. … Instead she is a survivor, empowered to walk in freedom.”
Once the purpose of the day’s event was firmly stated, Brown came to the stage. She explained that she only does a couple of these talks a year, because the mission of the organization has to speak to her. “The DCAC works speaks to me,” she said.
She continued candidly — and humorously — about her work studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. She also admitted how lousy she felt reading the comments on that now-famous TED talk; in them she saw “everything she feared about her career,” and it sent her straight for a jar of peanut butter and a Downton Abbey marathon.
But they also led her to discover a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910, in which he said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”
Words to live by, not unlike Brown’s. (She is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, after all.) She also reminded everyone that they can shoulder their share of the burden of child abuse, big or small, so that one person doesn’t have to bear it all.
The luncheon also afforded DCAC an opportunity to honor those who have made a significant impact on the lives of abused children in the community. Irish Burch, DCAC’s chief of coordination and training, received the Bill Walsh Award, while this year’s Ruth Altshuler Award went to Capital for Kids.
As the luncheon concluded, sponsors of $10,000 and above visited with Brown at a VIP reception, during which they received signed copies of her newest bestseller, Rising Strong. All tallied, the event raised $325,000.
Spotted in the charitable crowd were DCAC president and CEO Lynn M. Davis, Kara and Randall Goss, Ruth Altshuler, Susan Sharp, Christie Houser, Leah and Jim Pasant, Jen and Brad Adams, Lauren Loftis, Emily Greene, Lauren Ozanus, and Chelsea Hill.
The mission of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center is to improve the lives of abused children in Dallas County and to provide national leadership on child abuse issues. The only agency of its kind in Dallas County, DCAC reduces the revictimization of the child, removes barriers to investigation and treatment, and enhances criminal prosecution with its distinctive multidisciplinary and united approach to child abuse cases.