The Fourth Annual Boots & Blessings Gala took place on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at Austin Ranch at Hilton DFW Lakes to benefit Ally’s Wish. The Flower Mound-based organization grants wishes such as trips to Disney World or helicopter rides over the Grand Canyon to mothers battling terminal illnesses, so they may create lasting memories with their children and loved ones. “The mission of Ally’s Wish fills a special need that not only touches my heart but leaves a lasting memory for the children of the terminally ill moms they serve. The support at this year’s gala was overwhelming and we are all truly humbled that so many people cared enough to help grant these last wishes. I can’t wait to see what next year’s gala holds as we work to raise even more money and support!” said event chair, Lori Fickling.
Attendees kicked off the evening by perusing through an extensive silent auction filled with trips, fashion & accessories, sports memorabilia, restaurant and entertainment packages and more. A special “Wish Wall” featuring the stories & wishes of 37 moms currently on the waiting list allowed guests to donate directly to granting a wish that touched their heart. In attendance were Carole and Scott Murray, Judy and Jack Philips,Jody Smith, and Tanya and Mike Rutledge to name a few.
TV personality Amy Vanderoef served as emcee for the evening and gathered everyone to their seats where the program began with a rousing game of Heads or Tails with the winner receiving a beautiful bracelet donated by Beasley’s Fine Jewelry along with a bottle of JR Ewing Bourbon. Larry Conner led the room in prayer and blessed not only the meal, but prayed that guests would open up their hearts and wallets for the evening to support Ally’s Wish in their fundraising endeavors. Guests then enjoyed live Country-Western entertainment from The Breckenridge Band as they dined on a traditional BBQ fare.
As the dinner hour wound down, Vanderoef returned to the stage to invite Event Chair Lori Fickling along with Honorary Chairs, Ginger and Andy Eads, to the stage. Andy Eads spoke about their passion for helping these families in need and then invited Ally’s Wish co-founders Melissa Cary, Holly Reed, Missy Phipps and Heather Bryan along with Board Members Kelly Wolgamott and Nicole Notagiaconmo to the stage to share the story of past moms and future moms. Immediately proceeding a video sharing the wish impact story of former wish recipient and the late Ayesha Boykin, Missy Phipps, President & co-founder, spoke about how four years ago, four friends founded Ally’s Wish in honor of their dear friend, Allyson Hendrickson.
Allyson’s wish was the first to be granted prior to losing her battle with ovarian cancer in 2014. Hendrickson’s blog, 3 Little Cowboys began as a collection of letters and stories to her three young sons, but it quickly gained a national following spanning seven years. With her friends by her side, she unwrapped her published book, Three Little Cowboys. Today a portion of the sales from Hendrickson’s book benefits Ally’s Wish and the college funds of her three children.
Auctioneer Mike Trent then took to the floor to conduct the live auction featuring a Texas Motor Speedway experience, a private chefs dinner, Trophy Ranch Hunt and a package donated by Canyon Ranch. Immediately following, Allyson Hendrickson’s eldest son, Cole, eloquently spoke about the impact Ally’s Wish has had on his family and thanked attendees for their support. He shared memories of his mom’s final weeks and the memories he was able to share with her. Following Cole’s remarks, a second video sharing the follow-up story of how Ally’s Wish has changed the lives of the sons of the late Ayehsa Boykin played. With not a dry eye in the house, Mike Trent returned to the stage for a wish appeal raising an additional $25,000 on the night to fund future wishes. The evening concluded with line dancing instruction provided by The Breckenridge Band.
Since its inception, Ally’s Wish has granted seventy-eight wishes to mothers who’ve battled inflammatory breast cancer, Leukemia, colon cancer and other terminal illnesses. Ally’s Wish currently has 43 moms waiting to have wishes granted with new requests arriving daily. Wish requests and nominations are accepted year-round and while based in North Texas, Ally’s Wish grants wishes to mothers across the U.S. The stories of the women who have been granted wishes and have touched countless lives along the way are featured on the Ally’s Wish website.
To learn more about Ally’s Wish, please visit www.allyswish.org. Photos c/o Bob Manzano