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Steve Kemble with Ability Connection members, photo credit Dana Driensky

On the evening of Thursday, November 14, a record number of 300 supporters gathered at the prestigious Brook Hollow Golf Club for the 12th Annual Vine & Dine, allowing Ability Connection to help even more people with disabilities in North Texas. Co-chairs Maggie Kipp and Melinda Knowles, both elegantly dressed in the event’s theme color of purple, led the fun-filled evening and celebration of DeeDee and Jim Lee. The event’s honorees have longstanding service at Ability Connection, dating back to 1986.

Providing welcoming remarks, Jim Hanophy, the nonprofit’s President and CEO, shared the importance of the evening – to raise funds to continue serving daily the more than 700 individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, but to also expand services to 100,000 people waiting for services in Texas. He also introduced an uplifting and moving video starring the members at Ability Connection, many who also attended the Vine & Dine gala.

Steve Kemble, America's Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, served as emcee of the evening, bringing many laughs and smiles to those in attendance. In his own unique style, Kemble graced the evening with three stunning outfits including a unique jacket befittingly made entirely of wine corks that he wore during the Vine & Dine reception. The jacket became a last-minute live auction item, which was won by Ginny Bailey for a jaw-dropping $5,000.

Sentimental Journey from Texas Winds Musical Outreach, a group which enriches the lives of isolated seniors, hospital patients, veterans and at-risk children through live musical programs, provided the beautiful, uplifting sounds for the evening. In addition to a delectable dinner paired with fine wines, attendees also enjoyed both live and silent auctions with items ranging from travel excursions to entertainment packages to jewelry to artwork, and more.

“This year’s Vine & Dine was a huge success. We appreciate the energy and passion that Maggie and Melinda brought to Vine & Dine as we at Ability Connection continue to bring life-changing benefits and support to Texans with disabilities.” states Hanophy.

Ability Connection started as United Cerebral Palsy in 1954 and has been in existence for 66 years. The nonprofit provides “world class services” to individuals with intellectual and behavioral disabilities by focusing on compassion, respect and results. To learn more about Ability Connection, donate or become an ambassador, visit or call 214-351-2500.


  • Advisors – Janie Condon and Debbie Francis
  • Chairs – Maggie Kipp and Melinda Knowles
  • Kick-Off Chair – Elizabeth Saab
  • Auction Committee – Cathleen Griffith, Jennifer Davis Long, Jen O’Neal
  • Host – Steve Kemble
  • Production – Billy Fong and Nancy Gopez


  • DeeDee and Jim Lee’s children Casey and Charlie Robinson and Tori and Michael Lee
  • Shelle Sills and Neva Hall, founders of the annual fundraiser
  • Billie Leigh Rippey, founder of the UCP Guild
  • Allie Beth Allman
  • Lisa and Clay Cooley
  • Ability Connection board members - Meredith and Jack Woodworth, Debbie and Jim Francis, Lane Seliger, Jimmy Francis, Gary Roberts, Don Laidlaw, Robert Mead
  • Janie and David Condon
  • Chad Collom


The mission of Ability Connection is to enrich the lives of children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities through comprehensive, life changing care, training and supports. The nonprofit also has offices in Austin, Fort Worth, Waco and Wichita Falls, as well as a new training facility in Southlake and group homes in Dallas, Garland, Richardson and throughout the rest of the state.

The nonprofit offers a variety of services, designed to address the individual choices and priorities. These include residential services, community supports through Medicaid waiver programs, on-site training centers with tiered levels of support to address the needs of our clientele and employment support services. For each person served, Ability Connection learns what the members’ goals and choices are, facilitate the supports and services needed and then measure their success and satisfaction.


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