It was a night of firsts for the education nonprofit Big Thought at the 30th anniversary Big Night bash, as three Dallasites were honored with inaugural awards for making a major impact on North Texas youth.
Event chairs Ginger and Rod Sager, Giles Davidson, and Daniel Waldmann filled the Bomb Factory with larger-than-life balloon installations and a giant chalkboard where guests could scribble words of advice to the kids Big Thought helps serve through in-school, out-of-school, and community partnership programs.
The 30th anniversary chairs Pat Porter and Randee Paur Hefflefinger made sure that tables for the sit-down dinner were also covered with white paper and strewn with Sharpie pens, encouraging guests to draw, write, and dream in color.
After hearing spoken word poems from local Big Thought mentees, the crowd chowed down on a three-course meal while the Booker T. Washington jazz ensemble played. Emcee Clarice Tinsley from FOX 4 then introduced the night's first award: the Mitch Jericho Visionary Voice Award, presented to artist Jose "Bone" Garcia.
Bone discovered his immense talent as an artist through his participation in Big Thought’s Creative Solutions program as a teenager and has since been recognized as an accomplished muralist and artist in his own right. Bone continues to give back his artistry as a mentor and teacher to youth through Big Thought and other community programs.
The Edith O'Donnell Legacy Leadership Award was then given to Dallas philanthropist Deedie Rose, a Big Thought founding board member who has a long and distinguished history of extraordinary contributions to the city of Dallas. She is currently a trustee and was past chair and past president of the board of trustees of the Dallas Museum of Art, and is a founding board member of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Rose has served as a member of the National Council of the National Endowment for the Arts, is on the board of the National Park Foundation, and chairs the board of the Trinity Park Conservancy.
The award itself is named after Edith O'Donnell, who along with Mitch Jericho founded the organization that would become Big Thought 30 years ago with the vision of cultivating creativity and imagination in the lives of young people throughout Dallas. With the spark created by O'Donnell and Jericho, Big Thought now reaches more than 150,000 youth in the Dallas area each year.
Paul Quinn College president Dr. Michael Sorrell received the night's final honor, the Gigi Antonio Courageous Creator Award, which recognizes those who have taken bold, innovative approaches to empower young people to create social change. Under Dr. Sorrell's leadership, Paul Quinn College has increased its student enrollment and has worked to empower thousands of students to use their education to impact their communities.
The award is named after Big Thought's prior CEO Gigi Antoni, whose leadership helped the organization reach hundreds of thousands of Dallas area youth over her 27 year tenure.
A lively silent auction organized by underwriting chairs Janiece Evans-Page, Mark Page, Amy Ward-Meier, and Ed Meier saw bid numbers flying as guests competed to win a private dinner for eight from chef Abraham Salum, a sports package including a suite for 20 to a Texas Rangers game and a private training session with former player LaTroy Hawkins, a guided tour and tasting of St. Helena Winery in Napa Valley, a trip to New York Fashion Week with designer Lela Rose, and a one-week stay in Los Cabos, Mexico.
With everyone ready to stand up and party, YouTube and Broadway sensation Todrick Hall then took the stage for the after-party, hosted by Brad Pritchett and LeeAnne Locken. The North Texas native first rose to prominence as a competitor and semifinalist on the ninth season of American Idol and has since appeared as a guest judge and choreographer on RuPaul's Drag Race. His appearances in Kinky Boots and Chicago on Broadway have been rounded out by two solo tours, "Straight Outta Oz" and "The Forbidden Tour."