Category Archives: Contributed

Irving student makes Dean’s List at ASU

TEMPE, Ariz.—Caitlin Cruz of Irving received academic honors from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University (ASU) by making the University’s Dean’s List for the fall 2013 semester. Undergraduate students who earn 12 or more graded semester hours during a semester in residence at ASU, with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, are eligible for the Dean’s List.

SOURCE Arizona State University

Irving AMBUCS give Amtryke to 12-year-old

On the evening of Feb. 20, Irving AMBUCS gave an Amtryke to 12-year-old Katie Rountree. The therapeutic tricycle was presented during the Board of Governors meeting of the Great Southwest Golf Club in Grand Prairie. The country club’s members and staff have donated nearly $90,000 to Irving Ambucs over the last 10 years to purchase Amtrykes. (Pictured left to right: Joe Don Davis, General Manager Great Southwest Golf Club; Gary Shaffer, President Great Southwest GC Board of Governors; Jack Spurlock, Irving Ambucs; Bob Silver, Irving Ambucs. Front: Katie Rountree.) Photo courtesy of Irving AMBUCS.

Dallas research advances diagnosis, treatment of MS

Dallas researchers are making strides in the quest for a world free of multiple sclerosis (MS). Local MS experts revolutionizing diagnosis and treatment for the chronic autoimmune disease are speaking out about their groundbreaking research and calling for action to support the National MS Society during MS Awareness Week, March 3-9, 2014.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researcher Nancy Monson, Ph. D., is a renowned authority on B cell research in humans, and is among those leading the charge to cure MS. In the past three years, Dr. Monson has developed a validated method for pretesting people living with MS to determine if they are a carrier of a unique antibody gene that leads to the disease, thus mitigating the long-standing challenge of diagnosis. In addition to her work published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology, Monson is also testing disease modifying therapies for patients currently living with MS to determine which are more effective for a specific patient’s genes, reducing years of potential testing on treatments and minimizing the diseases’ impact by going directly to effective targeted therapies.

“My ultimate goal is to eliminate this disease and not have MS patients to treat in the future, and our lab is on the cusp of finding the answer,” Monson said. UT Southwestern’s Clinical Center for Multiple Sclerosis is one of the foremost comprehensive MS centers in the nation, with more than 4,500 patients from North Texas and around the world.

In addition to Monson’s research, physiologist Scott Davis, Ph.D is pursuing human based research at Southern Methodist University. His work has profound implications for understanding both the biology of MS and the impact to autonomic nervous system functions in those diagnosed with the disease. By working with people living with MS, Davis’ goal is to figure out why their bodies are reacting the way they are to factors such as temperature and exercise, and in the process help to improve the treatments allowing patients to minimize disease symptoms.

Leah Weatherl, vice president of development for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in North Texas, is benefiting from the new research both professionally as well as personally.

“As a patient myself, it’s incredibly inspiring to see how far and how quickly research has advanced because of the National MS Society’s funding,” Weatherl said. “Thanks to the groundbreaking research being conducted here in our own backyard in Dallas, we are confident that we will be able to help people to determine if they are at risk, and to more effectively treat people already living with MS.”

Supporters can help fund the lifesaving efforts by registering to participate in the organization’s upcoming events in North Texas:

Walk MS: Fort Worth – March 29, 2014

Join Walk MS: Fort Worth at Trinity Park and participate in the 1-mile or 5K route to connect locally with people living with MS and others dedicated to creating a world free of multiple sclerosis.

Walk MS: Dallas – April 12, 2014

Join Walk MS: Dallas at Addison Circle Park and participate in the 1-mile or 5K route.

Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride – May 3 – 4, 2014

Saddle up and join the National MS Society for Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride as we tour the scenic countryside of North Texas. Riders of all ages (minimum 12 years) and skill levels will set out on this two-day journey! Bike MS, Jr., sponsored by Geico, on May 3 invites youth between the ages of 5 and 14 to ride at Texas Motor Speedway and make a difference for families affected by MS.

For more information on ways to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society during National MS Awareness Week connect with National MS Society, Texas on Facebook or visit

SOURCE National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Parents sue hospital after son bleeds to death

Miller Weisbrod, LLP, a nationally known Texas law firm that specializes in medical malpractice and catastrophic injury litigation, filed a lawsuit on Mon., Feb. 24 in the Dallas County Court on behalf of a Dallas couple whose six-year-old son died due to multiple medical malpractice errors by an emergency physician, who is a UT Southwestern faculty member, and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.

Roberto Llanas, Sr. and Cristalh Mendoza, on behalf of their son, Roberto Carlos Llanas, Jr. (deceased), are suing Abbie Leigh Smith., M.D.; Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, alleging they were negligent and failed to diagnose Roberto Jr.’s condition in a timely manner, failed to order appropriate testing and misdiagnosed his condition as well as many other charges outlined in the lawsuit. These failures to provide the correct and timely treatment are what led to Roberto’s death.

“This is a terrible case of gross negligence, which should have every parent in Dallas concerned about the competence of the medical care their children will get if they take them to the Emergency Room at Children’s Medical Center,” said Les Weisbrod, the family’s attorney. “Not recognizing the bad internal trauma that was evident and sending a child home with a diagnosis of constipation is terrible medical care, gross negligence and, as this case shows, lead to a devastating death.”

On May 8, 2013, six-year-old Roberto Llanas, Jr. was injured on the playground at the John W. Carpenter Elementary School in Oak Cliff and experienced blunt force trauma to his back when he fell on concrete after running into a pole. He arrived at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas ER and was seen by Dr. Smith and other hospital personnel. Pale, writhing in pain and complaining of back and abdominal pain, Roberto exhibited classic signs of internal trauma.

However, Abbie Leigh Smith, M.D., diagnosed the child as suffering from constipation and ordered enemas, which masked the child’s symptoms of internal trauma, before prescribing laxatives and discharging Roberto. The child’s presenting history, physical symptoms and laboratory findings should have indicated to Dr. Smith that appropriate, standard CT imaging of the abdomen, emergency surgical consultation and immediate hospitalization, due to his critical condition, were paramount. Due to the misdiagnosis of constipation, four hours after discharge, Roberto Carlos Llanas, Jr. was dead.

“Had Roberto been properly diagnosed and treated when he first went to the ER at Children’s Medical Center, in all likelihood he could have been treated appropriately for internal trauma and lived to have a normal life. His life is gone, and that of his family has been destroyed,” Weisbrod said. “Roberto’s doctor and nurses simply were not thorough or paying attention to their patient and his presenting medical symptoms. They did nothing appropriate to treat his serious condition and this young boy died.”

SOURCE: Miller Weisbrod LLP, Attorneys at Law

Carrollton Tea Party collecting sweat suits

The Carrollton Tea Party is collecting new sweat suits (larger sizes and darker colors are preferred) through the end of February. The homeless routinely receive sweat tops but really need bottoms. The following accessories are also greatly appreciated – please only bring new items: men and women’s gloves, hats, knitted and winter socks for men and women, sports bras, men and women’s underwear. Coats and jackets that are slightly used and in good condition will also be accepted.

Items can be dropped off at the group’s next meeting or taken to the Senior Center (1720 Keller Springs Rd., Carrollton) any time.

With the drawdown from Iraq and Afghanistan, there are going to be a lot more vets who are homeless – no jobs to come home to, broken families and other reasons. Let’s give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.

Big Brothers Big Sisters announces new executive VP

Big Brothers Big Sisters announced Feb. 18 the appointment of James C. Lewis as Executive Vice President, Development. In this position, Mr. Lewis will oversee all fund development functions for the agency’s service area which includes all of North Texas, West Central Texas and the Greater Houston area.

“We are pleased that someone with such impressive and distinguished development experience will be joining our organization,” said Rob Roby, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “His ability to forge new partnerships and develop effective relationships with donors, along with his commitment to philanthropy, will allow Jim to immediately contribute to the success of Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

Prior to joining Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mr. Lewis served as the Vice President for Development at the University of Texas at Arlington. During his six years at UT Arlington, Lewis played a leadership role in quadrupling private philanthropy, which included the two largest current cash commitments in the history of the University. He was also responsible for re-establishing the University’s Development Board as a leadership group to advance philanthropy. He has spent the last 24 years as the chief development officer at three institutions, which also includes Austin College in Sherman, Texas and Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. He was also previously a member of the development staff at Southern Methodist University.

Lewis received an MBA. from Southern Methodist University and a Master’s degree in Counseling at what is now Texas A&M- Commerce. He is a long-time member of the Council for the Advancement in Support of Education (CASE), serving as the Chair of the CASE District IV Board of Directors, and the Association of Fund Raising Professionals.

“I am honored to join the Big Brothers Big Sisters team—the values of changing lives through mentoring resonates with my own,” Lewis said. “I look forward to working with the board and leadership team to significantly increase the level of philanthropy to support life-changing programs and working to develop permanent funding to sustain this important enterprise for years to come.”

City hosts first time homebuyer fair

The City of Irving is holding a Homebuyer Fair for residents interested in purchasing a home for the first time. Co-hosted with Business and Community Lenders of Texas (BCL of Texas), the event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 22 at Senter Park Recreation Center (901 S. Senter Road). About 20 non-profit organizations, credit counseling agencies and lenders will be on hand to provide information and resources to first-time homebuyers. Several state and local housing departments will also be represented, including the cities of Dallas and Grand Prairie, as well as Dallas and Tarrant counties.

“This event is a one-stop shop for people across the Metroplex who are looking to become well-educated in the home buying process,” said Irving’s Community Resources Director Chris Hooper.

During the event, attendees will have the opportunity to speak to qualified professionals involved in the mortgage process and gain a better understanding of the benefits and requirements of owning a home.

Attendees can also learn how to qualify for different types of federal, state and local programs available, including down-payment assistance and home restoration programs.

Workshops will be held throughout the day to provide more detailed information on topics related to buying a home, including credit scores, mortgage loans and money management. In addition, the City of Irving will present one workshop session in Spanish.

“Buying a home is a major commitment, and we want to ensure people are financially prepared to make that commitment. The goal of this fair is to give the community access to the tools, services and providers that can help them successfully become homeowners,” Hooper said.

For more information, call BCL of Texas at (877) 688-7457. The event if free, but registration is recommended and available at

Participating Agencies include: BCL of Texas, City of Irving, Housing and Human Services Department, Wells Fargo & Co., PrimeLending, Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, MetroTex Association of Realtors, City of Dallas, Fair Housing Office, Quality Heating and Cooling, Javier Villagomez, with GTO Construction, Irving Community Development Corporation, Bear Creek Development Corporation, Dallas County Home Loan Counseling Center, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Fannie Mae, Tarrant County Housing Partnership, Inc., City of Grand Prairie Housing and Neighborhood Services, Builders of Hope CDC, North Texas Housing Coalition, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs,  Brazos National Bank

SOURCE The City of Irving

Irving Cares earns coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

Irving Cares’ sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.

This is the 7th time that Irving Cares has earned this Charity Navigator’s highest rating in the last ten years.

Since 2002, using data-driven analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added a second dimension of Accountability and Transparency (A&T) to its rating methodology, and now reviews 17 governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, providing information on its web site for each of the charities it evaluates. The A&T metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities have “best practices” that minimize the chance of unethical activities and whether they freely share basic information about their organization with their donors and other stakeholders.

“Irving Cares’ coveted 4-star rating puts it in a very select group of high-performing charities,” said Ken Berger, President and CEO, Charity Navigator. “Out of the thousands of nonprofits Charity Navigator evaluates, only one out of four earns 4 stars: a rating that, now, with our new Accountability and Transparency metrics, demands even greater rigor, responsibility and commitment to openness. Irving Cares supporters should feel much more confident that their hard-earned dollars are being used efficiently and responsibility when it acquires such a high rating.”

“In the current economic environment, it’s important our donors trust that we’re using our funding wisely to accomplish our goals of identifying and providing Irving residents with temporary assistance and training to promote self-sufficiency,” said Irving Cares CEO, Teddie Story. “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters that we take our fiduciary and governance responsibilities very seriously.”
SOURCE: Irving Cares

Home loans for veterans top $3.3 million in Dallas Co.

AUSTIN—In 2013, Texas veterans borrowed more than $3.3 million from the Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) to buy land and homes in Dallas County, earning the county and its veterans’ service office special praise from Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

“The VLB loaned more than $500 million last year to help Texas veterans buy their piece of the American Dream,” Patterson said. “This success is an example how government can work—the intergovernmental partnership between the VLB and Texas counties (is among) the best in the nation, and the result is veterans getting the benefits they’ve earned.”

The VLB’s land and home loan program is self-sustaining, Patterson explained, and does not cost tax payers a penny. In Texas, county governments depend on property tax revenue, so not only do these land and home sales benefit individual veterans, but they help sustain and increase county tax base, as well.

Texas veterans can take advantage of the VLB’s low-interest rate loans to borrow as much as $417,000 to buy a home and $100,000 to buy land. Veterans also have an easier time buying lots closer to urban areas, since the minimum acreage that could be bought with a VLB loan has been reduced from five to one acre. Furthermore, a Texas veteran can simultaneously have a VLB land loan, a VLB home loan and a VLB home improvement loan.

The VLB was created in 1946 to help veterans returning from World War II buy land for agricultural purposes. The program has changed over the years as land prices rose sharply, and VLB land loan amounts have increased from the original $7,500.

For more information on VLB home, land and home improvement loans, Texas State Veterans Homes, or Texas State Veterans Cemeteries, call 1-800-252-VETS (1-800-252-8387), or visit the Veterans Land Board Web site at

SOURCE Texas Veterans Land Board

Convention Center wins three Accessibility awards

The Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas was named a 2013 APA/GCPD (Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities/ Accessibility Professionals) Accessibility winner, honoring the establishment’s universal design principles, program access and services that go significantly above and beyond the minimum legal requirements to provide both physical and service access to people with disabilities.


Registered Accessibility Specialist and APA/GCPD Awards Program Chairman, Fred D. Cawyer, nominated the Convention Center, and site visits and interviews were conducted by APA professionals and local community contacts familiar with disability service issues.

The 2013 winners were honored at a ceremony in conjunction with the APA Annual Conference and Training on Jan. 30, at the Austin Marriott Hotel North in Round Rock, Texas.

“By its very nature, the (Irving Convention Center) is a public gathering place, and in planning for its design, we knew we wanted to make it as accommodating as possible to all of its guests, said Maura Allen Gast, Executive Director of the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“The design and construction teams were encouraged to go beyond what was required and legally defined as accessible for all people, while remaining within the project budget. Since opening, we have worked with a ‘mile in their shoes’ mindset to explore the use of the building from a wide range of user perspectives, and we continue to make physical and operational changes as we can. We also are committed to the idea of ‘people first’ in our interactions with our customers and community at large.

“Most traditional convention centers are built very horizontally, often requiring attendees to move across long expanses to get from one setting to the next,” Gast added. “(But) the (Convention Center’s) vertical design puts elevators and escalators at “the same place” on every floor—which may sound trite, but is very important in orienting users to the venue, as most attendees will always be unfamiliar with the spaces they are entering. The project also includes many outdoor spaces on multiple levels, all of which are accessible by elevator or chair ramp.”

Two neighboring facilities located in Dallas, Children’s Medical Center and Perot Museum of Nature and Science, also made the 2013 APA/GCPD Accessibility Award winners list.

SOURCE Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau