More than 900 guests filled the Hilton Anatole to honor the Rev. Mark Craig, community advocate, retired senior minister of Highland Park United Methodist Church and recipient of the 2013 Methodist Health System Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award.
The fundraising event was personalized with a few of the retired minister's favorite things, including musical selections from both Mama Mia and Jersey Boys. Craig's friend Dean Fearing served as master of ceremonies.
Guests —including event co-chairs Lana and Barry Andrews and Natalie and Mike McGuire, Sharon and Steve Folsom, Debbie Folsom, Nancy Ann Hunt, Troy Aikman, Mike Boone, and Brill Garrett — were there to support not only Craig but also Methodist Health Systems, which last year provided more than $125 million in uncompensated charity care. This is the healthcare provider's biggest fundraiser of the year.
Craig chose to designate all gifts — more than $1.5 million from this event — to building the new Charles A. Sammons Critical Care Tower at Methodist Dallas. Scheduled for completion in summer 2014, the one-of-a-kind new trauma and critical care center will expand the hospital’s emergency department tenfold.
Many people spoke about Craig's positive work in the Dallas community — including Methodist Health System president and CEO Stephen L. Mansfield, Barry Andrews, the Rev. Paul Rasmussen and April Box Chamberlain. But the show stopper was former President George W. Bush, who surprised the crowd and took the stage to talk about his pastor and friend.
“When Jim Francis first informed me that this year’s Folsom Award recipient was Mark Craig, I was pleased to accept the invitation to surprise and honor my good friend and my preacher," Bush said.
Craig has served as the Bush’s pastor and most recently gave the dedication prayer at the opening of the President George W. Bush Presidential Center in April. President Bush then shared the story of how one of Craig’s sermons provided inspiration for him to run for president of the United States.
When it was Craig's turn to take the stage, he was noticeably moved and humbled. "This award isn’t about me; this is about a great hospital," he said. "Your support of Sammons Trauma Critical Care Tower is fantastic, and all the money that you have given is wonderful. It’s the largest capital investment in Southern Dallas in many, many years.
"Methodist Hospital is special. It’s special because it looks south and it has never left the south. That’s where the pain, that’s where the suffering is. It’s always been there to help people less fortunate than most of us."
Established in 2005, the Folsom Leadership Award recognizes individuals whose demonstrated commitment and excellence in community leadership emulate the achievements of former Dallas Mayor Robert S. Folsom. Past recipients include Robert S. Folsom (2005), Nancy Ann Hunt (2006), Troy Aikman (2007), Laura Bush (2008), the late Norman Brinker (2009), Pat and Emmitt Smith (2010), Trevor Rees-Jones (2011), and Mike Boone (2012).