For generations of Fort Worth philanthropists, Jewel Charity Ball has been the most coveted social invitation of the year.
Co-founded in 1954 by Nenetta Burton Carter (wife of city benefactor Amon G. Carter) as a fundraiser for Cook Children's Medical Center, Jewel Charity has raised more than $73 million in its first 65 years.
It's a powerhouse fundraiser — and also one fabulously fun party.
For its 66th edition, instead of resting on its shimmery laurels, the gala picked up and moved into Dickies Arena — the first black-tie event held at Fort Worth's newest venue.
On February 29, about 1,500 guests donned their billowing ballgowns and dapper tuxes and descended on Dickies for "One Enchanted Evening." To bring the theme to life, Jewel Charity Ball president Lou Martin and ball co-chairs Anne Paup and Sally Prater had the arena transformed into a spectacular floral wonderland.
As they arrived, guests — including Fort Worth notables Sasha and Ed Bass, Carole and James Dunaway, Christy and Jason Smith, Olivia and Jeff Kearney, Nancy Lamb, Paul Dorman, Heather and Ryan Senter, Beth and Craig Collins, Kelly and Jeff Dillard, Virginia Clay, Anne and Orlando Carvalho, and Cheryl and Jerry Conatser — mingled, sipped Champagne, and perused raffle and silent auction items.
To say there were spectacular items up for grabs is an understatement. Jewel Charity's official jeweler, Bachendorf’s, set up an on-site store with cases of exclusive sparkling pieces. These included a 63.52-carat aquamarine, blue, and purple sapphire necklace that JCB president Lou Martin wore for the evening.
Bachendorf’s also generously donated 10 percent of purchases made at the event to Jewel Charity.
Coveted auction items included a seven-night stay at the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, as well as beautiful jewelry, art, furs, and a custom evening gown by Mackenzie Brittingham of Stanley Korshak Bridal.
Those feeling lucky could buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a choice of Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum AWD (valued at $54,055) or BMW Z4 sDrive 30i (valued at $56,700) from Autobahn Fort Worth; his and hers custom handmade boots from M.L. Leddy’s (valued at $15,000); $15,000 in Visa gift cards from Frost; and a $14,000 purple sapphire necklace from Bachendorf’s.
After a delectable multicourse dinner, guests danced the night away to the band Powerhouse, the Next Generation.
Spotted in the crowd, having a great time, were Jewel Charity president-elect Michelle Marlow and Scott Marlow, Ryan Campbell, Natalie Campbell, Mimi and Keith Karnes, Orlando Chapa, Todd Reese, Burch and Lisa Waldron, Lara and Jim Newman, Bill and Peggy Sims, Tamara and Phillip Burch, Robert Hames, Kathy Sneed, Teresa and Jim Hubbard, Oleta Thompson, Rick and Evelyn Merrill, Kim Walker, Shary Harmon, and Paige and Neil Randel.
Fort Worth’s longest standing formal gala is a celebration to honor Jewel Charity Angels, and proceeds provide access to care for the patients at Cook Children’s. The event's inception was noted recently in a Sotheby's catalog promoting the sale of some of Nenetta Carter's precious jewels.
"At the inaugural Ball in 1954, [famed jeweler Harry Winston, with whom Carter was friends] brought the famous Hope diamond as well as his own jewels from his ‘Court of Jewels’ exhibition tour to the historic Hotel Texas to offer to Fort Worth's elite," the catalog says. "Debutantes modeled the jewelry and raffle tickets were sold for prizes, beginning traditions that continue to this day."
Once the totals from this year's Jewel Charity Ball are tallied, organizers will present a check to Cook Children’s in a Gift Celebration on March 31.