Are sprinkles a real food? It's an odd question to ponder at a semi-formal fundraiser. But at the Ally's Wish Boots and Blessings Gala, it was a perfect and powerful introduction to Allyson Hendrickson, the sweet soul for whom the nonprofit is named.
Ally's Wish grants a "last wish" to terminally ill mothers with young children — a memory for the family that will last a lifetime. Hendrickson passed away of ovarian cancer in 2014, leaving a husband and three young sons. The Dallas-Fort Worth charity was started by her friends and family who wanted to share her love with others.
One thing Allyson's friends and family did not necessarily share? Her seemingly irrational love of dessert sprinkles — which may or may not be real food — her mother announced with humor and grace from stage. This is why each place at the table was set with a cupcake and a jar of rainbow sprinkles to decorate or take home.
"Sprinkles are the way we celebrate Allyson," her mom told the audience of a few hundred folks, who had gathered for the fifth annual gala at the Austin Ranch at Hilton DFW Lakes in Grapevine on April 6. It was the largest crowd yet for the Western-chic gala.
The night was chaired by The Hon. Charlotte Wilcox, mayor of Highland Village, and Terry Wilcox. Judy and Jack Philips were honorary chairs. It was produced by Hamilton A. Sneed and his team at HAS Events.
Dry eyes were hard to come by as the moving speakers took the stage. Allyson's son Cade remembered his mother's wish to have her blog published (it was).
Her friend, and Ally's Wish founder Missy Phipps, recognized the volunteers' hard work to grant more than 100 wishes to moms. (They now get about five requests a month, and each costs several thousand dollars to fulfill.)
A young woman named Victoria recalled a trip to Disney World that her family got to take before her mother passed away in June 2018.
Even emcee Scott Murray honored his sister, who had died of breast cancer at age 48. "There is nothing more important than a mom," he said.
Guests had lots of opportunities to give generously. A Kendra Scott jewelry pull was so popular, it sold out quickly. Wine and spirits fans didn't go home empty-handed, as a plentiful bottle pull allowed everyone the chance to take home several.
A silent auction featured dozens of fabulous restaurant gift cards, retail experiences, fashion, jewelry, art, home goods, and more. Bidders sipped tray-passed frozen margaritas as they perused the items, then checked their status on their phones throughout the night. A few items were kept up for auction even after the night ended.
Before dinner, the room played two fierce rounds of the game "Heads or Tails." Participants could pay $20 to get back in the game, and most people did, because the prizes were worth it — Cowboys tickets for the first round, and Texas Motor Speedway tickets for the second. Most importantly, the game helped fund one-and-a-half wishes before dinner was even served, Murray announced.
Guests snaked through a buffet line and heaped smoky barbecue with all the sides onto their plates before devouring their cupcakes for dessert. In a sentimental touch, each table had been decorated with a photo and write-up about a mom who'd had a wish fulfilled.
Then the fierce competition started — a live auction of five sought-after luxury excursions and experiences. Trips to Cozumel; Canyon Ranch Spa; Broken Bow, Oklahoma; and Independence Ranch for a hog hunt each fetched several thousand dollars. But the big winner was a chance to play golf at the Cowboys Golf Club with former Cowboy and two-time Super Bowl Champ Tony Casillas. He sweetened the deal by throwing in his personal 50-yard-line seats to a future game at AT&T Stadium, and he personally cheered on the crowd from the stage. The experience fetched $7,000.
Patrons had one last chance to give by raising their paddles in a live, "fund-a-wish" effort. Opportunities from $5,000 to $50 allowed them to give what they could — and from the number of paddles that went up around the room, it looked as though many wishes would be granted just from the "live give."
The night came to a rousing conclusion and not just because of the support shown for Ally's Wish. The Final Four game between Texas Tech and Michigan State was being broadcast on two large screens, and the room let up a collective cheer when it ended in a "W" for Tech, sending the team to the National Championship.
The happy crowd danced the night away to the sounds of the Breckenridge Band and grabbed a sweet Tiff's Treat for the road.
Among the many supporters there were Melissa Cary, Clint Cornett, Danielle Cornett, Tamara Casillas, Chris Collins, Vanessa Collins, Stacy Green, Ninette Gardner, Austin Gray, Alli Gray, Whitney Morrow, Alex Morrow, Ashley Mason, Charlotte Nall, John Cranston, Rachel Hailstone, Angela Henderson, Jason James, Holly Magnuson, Erin Fulton, Liesel Herrera, M. Adeniji, John Adeniji, Carrie Alexander, Beth Brake, Ellen Ringenberger, Rebecca Everitt, Abbey Seminaro, Tony Darden, Sunny Darden, Becka Grubbs, Ryan Grubbs, Irene Ayoola, Fol Ahan Ayoola, Sharon Kroth, Adam Kroth, Rose Lawry, Doug Lawry, Cynthia Smoot, Jenni Aldred, and Tom Aldred.