Connecting for a cause

Elegant Dallasites spend an evening wining and dining for a cause close to heart

Elegant Dallasites wine and dine for a cause close to heart

Melinda Knowles, Steve Kemble, Maggie Kipp
Melinda Knowles, Steve Kemble, Maggie Kipp Photo by Dana Driensky
Jim and DeeDee Lee
Jim and DeeDee Lee Photo by Dana Driensky
Nancy Gopez, Cathleen Griffith, Jen O’Neal
Nancy Gopez, Cathleen Griffith, Jen O’Neal Photo by Dana Driensky
Richard Naftalis, Liz Naftalis, Wanda Gierhart Fearing, Dean Fearing
Richard Naftalis, Liz Naftalis, Wanda Gierhart Fearing, Dean Fearing Photo by Dana Driensky
Maggie Kipp, Jack Pratt
Maggie Kipp, Jack Pratt Photo by Dana Driensky
Lisa and Clay Cooley
Lisa and Clay Cooley Photo by Dana Driensky
Natalie Chu, Maxine Trowbridge
Natalie Chu, Maxine Trowbridge Photo by Dana Driensky
Sarah Semingson, Cathleen Griffith, Lillie Young
Sarah Semingson, Cathleen Griffith, Lillie Young Photo by Dana Driensky
Jane Humphrey, Dustin Holcomb
Jane Humphrey, Dustin Holcomb Photo by Dana Driensky
Adean Kingston, Leslie Toomay, Alison Pearl, Jennifer Stalkup, Nancy Gopez
Adean Kingston, Leslie Toomay, Alison Pearl, Jennifer Stalkup, Nancy Gopez Photo by Dana Driensky
Tonia Mailandt, Jennifer Long, Karen Luter, Janet LaBarba, Stephanie Shelby
Tonia Mailandt, Jennifer Long, Karen Luter, Janet LaBarba, Stephanie Shelby Photo by Dana Driensky
Casey and Charlie Robinson
Casey and Charlie Robinson Photo by Dana Driensky
Maggie Kipp, Muffin Lemak
Maggie Kipp, Muffin Lemak Photo by Dana Driensky
Vin and Pam Perella
Vin and Pam Perella Photo by Dana Driensky
Jack Breard, Debbie Breard, Melinda Knowles, Katherine Coker, David Condon, Janie Condon, Allen Custard, Mason Custard, Jay Henry, Pilar Henry, Key Coker
Jack Breard, Debbie Breard, Melinda Knowles, Katherine Coker, David Condon, Janie Condon, Allen Custard, Mason Custard, Jay Henry, Pilar Henry, Key Coker Photo by Dana Driensky
Susan Wolcott, Brenda Cockerell
Susan Wolcott, Brenda Cockerell Photo by Dana Driensky
Jim Francis, Debbie Francis, Becky Hanophy, Jim Hanophy
Jim Francis, Debbie Francis, Becky Hanophy, Jim Hanophy Photo by Dana Driensky
Melinda Knowles, Steve Kemble, Maggie Kipp
Jim and DeeDee Lee
Nancy Gopez, Cathleen Griffith, Jen O’Neal
Richard Naftalis, Liz Naftalis, Wanda Gierhart Fearing, Dean Fearing
Maggie Kipp, Jack Pratt
Lisa and Clay Cooley
Natalie Chu, Maxine Trowbridge
Sarah Semingson, Cathleen Griffith, Lillie Young
Jane Humphrey, Dustin Holcomb
Adean Kingston, Leslie Toomay, Alison Pearl, Jennifer Stalkup, Nancy Gopez
Tonia Mailandt, Jennifer Long, Karen Luter, Janet LaBarba, Stephanie Shelby
Casey and Charlie Robinson
Maggie Kipp, Muffin Lemak
Vin and Pam Perella
Jack Breard, Debbie Breard, Melinda Knowles, Katherine Coker, David Condon, Janie Condon, Allen Custard, Mason Custard, Jay Henry, Pilar Henry, Key Coker
Susan Wolcott, Brenda Cockerell
Jim Francis, Debbie Francis, Becky Hanophy, Jim Hanophy

What: Vine & Dine benefiting Ability Connection

Where: Brook Hollow Golf Club

The 411: A record 300 patrons — many donning the color of the night, purple — assembled November 14, ready to wine and dine and raise crucial funds for Ability Connection.

Co-chairs Maggie Kipp and Melinda Knowles had planned a fun and elegant evening that not only extended the mission of the Dallas nonprofit but also honored philanthropists DeeDee and Jim Lee for their longtime service to Ability Connection, dating back to 1986.

Ability Connection, now 66 years old, started as United Cerebral Palsy in 1954. The mission of Ability Connection is to enrich the lives of children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities through comprehensive, life changing care, training and supports. 

Steve Kemble, America's Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, served as emcee of the evening, bringing many laughs — and three costume changes — to the role.

In his opening remarks, Jim Hanophy, Ability Connection's president and CEO, shared the goal of the evening — to raise funds for two purposes: 1) to continue serving daily persons with intellectual and physical disabilities, and 2) to expand services to 100,000 people waiting for care in Texas. An uplifting video then showed the impact the charity has on members at Ability Connection, many of whom were at the event.

Guests dined on a delectable dinner paired with fine wines and enjoyed the music of Sentimental Journey from Texas Winds Musical Outreach, a group that enriches the lives of isolated seniors, hospital patients, veterans, and at-risk children through live musical programs.

Bidding got competitive in both live and silent auctions, arranged by Cathleen Griffith, Jennifer Davis Long, and Jen O'Neal. Fabulous prizes ranged from travel excursions and entertainment packages to jewelry and artwork.

But no auction item was as captivating as a jacket Kemble wore, which was made entirely of wine corks. The jacket became a last-minute live auction item, won by Ginny Bailey for an eye-popping $5,000.

To learn more about Ability Connection and future events, visit AbilityConnection.org.

Who: Lisa Cooley, Clay Cooley, Nancy Gopez, Richard Naftalis, Liz Naftalis, Wanda Gierhart Fearing, Dean Fearing, Natalie Chu, Maxine Trowbridge, Sarah Semingson, Lillie Young, Jane Humphrey, Dustin Holcomb, Adean Kingston, Leslie Toomay, Alison Pearl, Jennifer Stalkup, Tonia Mailandt, Jennifer Long, Karen Luter, Janet LaBarba, Stephanie Shelby, Casey Robinson, Charlie Robinson, Jack Pratt, Mark Knowles, Muffin Lemak, Vin Perella, Pam Perella, Susan Wolcott, Brenda Cockerell, Jack Breard, Debbie Breard, Katherine Coker, David Condon, Janie Condon, Allen Custard, Mason Custard, Jim Francis, Debbie Francis, Becky Hanophy, Jay Henry, Pilar Henry, and Key Coker.