Honorary Chairs Monica and Joe Eastin and Catherine and Mike Sweet
The 2019 North Texas Folds of Honor gala was an evening of patriotic inspiration fueled by personal testimonies and stirring presentations from veterans and scholarship recipients, along with a dynamic live painting by renowned artist, Dan Dunn, America’s favorite speed painter.
The annual gala brings together military families, veterans, scholarship recipients and members of the North Texas community in an event of celebration which includes dinner, an auction, live entertainment and fellowship. The money raised is used to provide educational scholarships to the nation’s most deserving families, the ones that sacrifice to protect our freedoms.
VIPs were feted in a reception in their honor while Honorary Chairs Monica and Joe Eastin and Catherine and Mike Sweet greeted guests, sponsors, underwriters and supporters of the organization as they browsed the silent auction and enjoyed the treats served in the reception.
Inside the ballroom just before dinner, the crowd stood as war veterans entered the room for the Presentation of Colors followed by singing of the National Anthem. Master of Ceremonies Meredith Land welcomed everyone and shared that she had also traveled overseas in Afghanistan in her role as a news reporter and anchor.
A very special video was presented featuring Folds of Honor founder, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney, a PGA Professional and F-16 fighter pilot in the Air Force Reserves, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel Rooney shared his story: As he was returning home from his second tour of duty on a domestic flight, he became painfully aware as the passengers deplaned of the reality families face when a loved one in uniform is fallen or disabled. The airline pilot announced they were carrying the remains of a fallen soldier, asking passengers to respectfully remain seated while the casket deboarded. He watched as the family of the deceased walked somberly alongside the flag-covered casket. Among them was the young son of the fallen Corporal.
Seeing the other side of the war through the eyes of this fallen soldier’s child was life-altering. He decided he had to do something to pay tribute to American service members and their families. He founded Folds of Honor in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) organization that provides educational scholarships to the families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled while on active duty in the United States armed forces. The motto says it best: Honor Their Sacrifice. Educate Their Legacy.
Since that time Folds of Honor has awarded nearly 25,000 educational scholarships. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the North Texas chapter awarded 118 scholarships totaling $583,600. Mike Beltz is the president of the Board of Directors, North Texas chapter.
Scholarship recipients were asked to stand and received a round of supportive applause.
Sarah Duncan, Regional Development Officer and also the daughter of a fallen hero and a scholarship recipient, invited the honorary chairs to the stage and presented them with World War II handmade bomber jackets, expressing heartfelt thanks for their hard work and support of Folds of Honor and this very special event.
Dan’s live painting was mesmerizing and his image of a solder standing in salute with the US Flag in the background kicked off the live auction, which featured items including a Fly Fishing Trip to Argentina, Vail Ski Trip, Scottish Golf Trip and more.
You could hear a pin drop as honorary speaker Kelli Campbell, the wife of the late U.S. Marine Corps Major Shawn Matthew Campbell and the Regional Development Officer for Folds of Honor Kansas City Chapter, gave her personal testimony about the struggles of her family after her husband passed in a tragic helicopter accident and the daily sacrifices she faced as a widow with four children. She expressed how grateful she is for the support of Folds of Honor and the triumphs that have since happened in their lives, much due to the involvement of Folds of Honor.
A call for donations in the Give from the Heart segment raised just over $200,000, then the crowd danced the night away to the tunes of the Grooveline Dallas, celebrating a truly fabulous gala.
This evening would not have been possible if not for the generous support of sponsors such as ISN, The Stephenson Foundation, Ben. E. Keith Foods, Mr. and Mrs. John Young in Memory of James A. Young, USMC, Canne Rosso-Zoli’s, PDI; Table sponsors Ben E. Keith Beverage, Ben. E. Keith Foods, Caliber Collision, Cort Furniture. Mr. and Mrs. Richard Dix, McLane Foodservice, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Engels, Munsch Hardt Kopf and Harr P.C., Plus Group Texas, Mr. Ralph Stow, The Stallings Award Foundation, Swypit, Temper Sealy, TopGolf; Valet sponsor Mercury One and more.
Donation dollars: 89 cents of every dollar donated goes directly back to programs. Folds of Honor has a four-star rating on Charity Navigator and a platinum level rating on Guidestar, the highest possible ratings for both organizations.
For more information visit the website at www.foldsofhonorgala.org or contact Sarah Duncan, Regional Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Meredith Allen, Associate Regional Development Officer at email@example.com
*Photos by Dana Driensky and Bob Manzano
(Sharon Adams, Adams Communications Public Relations, is honored to represent Folds of Honor.)