Wednesday, April 29, 2015

12th Annual WINGS Luncheon Soared To New Heights With Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner chats with Gary Cogill at the 12th annual WINGS luncheon

Two-time Academy Award-winning actor, director, and producer Kevin Costner was the keynote speaker of the Friends New Life (NFNL) 12th Annual WINGS Luncheon, raising $1.1 million to support victims of sex trafficking and commercial exploitation, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas on April 10. The sold-out crowd of 1,600 was treated to a “Conversation with Kevin Costner” as he joined local movie producer Gary Cogill on stage. Luncheon Chair The Honorable Jeanne Johnson Phillips joined Honorary Co-Chairs Ruth Altshuler and former First Lady Laura Bush and incoming Board Chair Nancy Ann Hunt in promoting the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser to date.  The day’s activities began with a VIP Reception where top donors and special guests had a chance to meet Costner and take pictures, followed by a few brief remarks by Costner on stage, facilitated by Jeanne Johnson Phillips, event chair. Costner commented on how movies “can bring us together” and that “each of you feel like you know me from my movies.” He highlighted some of his movies to a captive audience including Ann Barbier, Nancy Best, Suzy Gekiere, Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Bobby Lyle, Christina Lynch, Sandy Nachman, Lisa Schlachter, Marianne Staubach, Sue Strauss, Gail and Gerald Turner, Lisa Trout, and a couple hundred more.

(1) Debra Nelson, Yvonne Crum (2) Hayley Hamilton Cogill, Gary Cogill (3) Micki Rawlings, Nancy Ann Hunt

Coinciding with Costner’s participation, NFNL launched a men’s advocacy group, consisting of an 18-member governing board, to mobilize area men to personally and collectively act against human trafficking by raising awareness through advocacy and volunteerism. “New Friends New Life is about protecting the most vulnerable citizens of our city – our children,” said Jeanne Johnson Phillips, luncheon chair. “With an estimated 400 teens on the streets each night as targets of human traffickers, it is incumbent upon each of us who care about Dallas to send a message that Dallas is a no tolerance zone for human trafficking.” Serving more than 1,000 women and children annually, New Friends New Life provides holistic services for sexually exploited girls, women and children including, access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support. Staff and volunteers provide counseling, a program for children of protégés and a therapeutic prevention program at Letot Girls’ Center and the Dr. Jerome McNeil Detention Center. By partnering with agencies and individuals, NFNL helps to provide legal assistance, medical services, budget counseling, job-readiness training and educational opportunities. The nonprofit’s High Risk and Trafficked Teen Girls Program teaches girls ages 12 to 17 how to define, recognize and ultimately recover from abuse, helping them to avoid a lifetime as human trafficking victims.

It's not so bad to be Kevin Costner...

The luncheon concluded with New Friends New Life Executive Director Katie Pedigo coming to podium to announce that $1.1 million had been raised. “On behalf of those served, New Friends New Life is thankful for the overwhelming community support to provide true transformation and freedom for those who need it so desperately,” added Pedigo. “This organization is about children seeking a life without sexual abuse and emotional trauma. No 14-year-old girl should be bought and sold at the whim of a “john” and hands of a trafficker. By supporting New Friends New Life, you are declaring that every young child deserves to be free.” For more information on New Friends New Life, visit or call (214) 965-0935.

(1) Pam Perella, Angie Kadesky, Claire Emanuelson (2) Elaine Pearlman, Cindy Turner, Dr. Honor Franklin, Gail Fischer 
(3) Kristi Hall, Maggie Phillips