Category Archives: Las Colinas

Byron Nelson tournament move triggers memories, impacts economy

Nostalgia marked this year’s AT&T Byron Nelson, which will be the last hosted in Irving, as players and tournament officials fondly remembered the historic golfer’s contributions to the tournament during its time at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

“What hurts me most on a personal level is the connection to Byron and working for him for ten years,” Diana Pfaff of the Irving Conventions and Visitors Bureau said. “He would sit on 18 and greet every player during every round as they come off the hole. He would sit there, even in his last year which was 2005. He was an amazing person. His tie was completely to this course.”

In the summer of 2013, it was officially announced that the Byron Nelson tournament would be moving to South Dallas, but talks of the tournament moving outside of Irving had been going on for years as outside clubs began pushing to win the event. Sponsors cited player concerns about the course as one reason for leaving Las Colinas.

“We’ve been hearing it for years,” Pfaff said. “We thought it would be Craig Ranch [Golf Club], because they’ve been trying to woo the tournament, but this took us completely by surprise.”

In 2013, Dallas City Council authorized a 40-year lease with the new golf course in a deal that involves the City of Dallas, AT&T, the First Tee of Great Dallas, and Southern Methodist University, whose school golf program will also use the course. That lease was contingent on the course entering into a 10-year agreement with the Byron Nelson.

The TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas had a contract to host the Byron Nelson Championship through 2018, but late last year both sides came to an agreement to end the contract a year early. The move prompted Irving officials to act quickly to make this year’s event special.

“We just found out this October that this was going to be the last one here,” Pfaff said. “We thought it would be next year, so we’ve had to really scramble to find funding, to reallocate funds, to be able to do what we wanted to do for a sendoff.”

Some of this year’s funds went to higher-end gifts for staff, media, and players. The most money was spent on Irving Live, a social-media activation area.

In 1997, the Irving Conventions and Visitors Bureau, in an attempt to keep the Byron Nelson in Irving, created a host city committee branded as “Irving Welcomes the PGA TOUR.” The initiative was aimed at enhancing the visitor experience around the event and involved staff and player housing, credential pick up, placing dinner reservations, and providing tickets to Stars and Mavericks games to the players.

“We were worried about the field dropping once Byron died, so we started a volunteer group called Irving Welcomes the PGA TOUR,” Pfaff said.

In 2005, ICVB had to disband the committee because of the economic downturn, but a lot of the services to the staff and players remained part of their responsibilities.

Trinity Forest Golf Club, the new home course of the Byron Nelson, is a 400-acre course built on land owned by the city of Dallas just five miles south of downtown. Formerly the site of an old landfill, the course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw as a links style layout with no trees and little water. It is also only about ten miles away from AT&T’s downtown Dallas headquarters. Ironically, Crenshaw was the first winner of the Byron Nelson tournament when it moved to Las Colinas in 1983.

The city estimates that the tournament leaving will have a $40 million economic impact for the area. The absence of the tournament will also be felt among the players and staff, as this year’s sendoff included a party for volunteers and staff that had worked for 20 or more years with the event and a large number of party attendees had worked all 35 years at the Irving club.

The Las Colinas course also holds special meaning for the players. Jason Day, who finished second at this year’s event, earned his first PGA Tour victory at the 2010 Byron Nelson at the age of 22. Sergio Garcia shot a 62 at only 19 years old in his first round as a pro at the 1999 Byron Nelson. And Dallas-native Jordan Spieth regularly attended the tournament with his dad before teeing off as a 16-year-old junior in high school when he was just an amateur in 2010. 

“Mr. Nelson saw the greatness in these guys and gave them exemptions,” Pfaff said. “I know that they’re going to miss it. We’re going out on top as classy as we can possibly go out.”

McKesson celebrates grand opening of Las Colinas campus

DALLAS —McKesson Corporation celebrated the grand opening of its Las Colinas campus April 6 with a dedication event that included remarks from CEO John Hammergren and Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a $25,000 donation from the McKesson Foundation to local non-profit Ark House.

“We are excited to expand our presence in the Dallas area,” McKesson CEO John Hammergren said. “This world-class facility gives our employees a new, modern workspace with great collaboration and wellness features. The Irving/Las Colinas community has welcomed McKesson with open arms, and we look forward to being an active corporate citizen.”

With strong state and local support, McKesson has invested more than $157 million into the new campus, which can accommodate more than 2,500 employees. The building is currently home to more than 1,200 employees with room for future job growth. Employees at the Las Colinas campus perform vital functions for the company in areas such as information technology (IT), finance and accounting, administration and support, purchasing, and project management.

“McKesson’s history of success in Texas has not only made today’s announcement possible, but has contributed to economic growth and job creation in communities across the Lone Star State,” Governor Abbott said. “The vital role that McKesson plays in the cities they call home doesn’t end with the opportunities they bring to hardworking Texans, but is also seen in their commitment to give back to those communities, and the Ark House donation is an example of that commitment. I am proud of the work McKesson is doing and make a commitment of my own to continue to ensure Texas attracts further business and expanding enterprise.”

McKesson’s Las Colinas campus is pursuing a LEED Gold certification, recognizing its resource efficiency, as well as a WELL Building Silver certification, the first building standard focused solely on human health and wellness. Elements of the building are designed to support employee productivity and wellness, empowering employees to work the way they like, fostering team collaboration, offering an array of amenities and enhanced technology capabilities.

Special features of the regional campus include:

Open work and collaboration spaces – 99% of the workstations in the building have views of outdoors and access to natural light.

A 4,000-sq. ft. fitness center, exercise rooms and landscaped walking trails to support employee well-being.

A walk-in IT Support Center – the Tech Bar – where employees can talk directly to an IT specialist or check out some of the most popular telephone and computer accessories.

A world-class dining hall with diverse, healthy and sustainable food options.

“We are proud to welcome McKesson home to Irving, Texas. Irving is a dynamic city and we are certain McKesson’s employees and their families will find quality amenities, a talented workforce and infinite growth opportunities,” Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne said.

SOURCE McKesson Corporation

KidsNotes introduces children to music

The Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra will be presenting its KidsNotes program at the Valley Ranch Library on June 10th at 3:00pm and again at the West Irving Library on Thursday, June 18th at 2:30pm.

KidsNotes is a one-hour program that begins with the reading of a book such as, “Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin” or “The Remarkable Farkle McBride,” which introduces the different families of instruments in an engaging and fun way. Next, depending on the age of the participants, students engage in games that explore musical concepts like pitch, rhythm, and timbre. Then one of our professional musicians introduces and plays their instrument, choosing music suitable for a young audience. To finish up, we have an Instrument Petting Zoo! which allows children to try out an instrument from each of the four orchestra families to learn more about their favorites!

Early exposure to music and the arts is crucial to developing the creative spark in children. And continual evidence has shown that children engaged in musical education perform well above national classroom standards. To this end, the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra is proud to present its KidsNotes program to young children where they can hear, see, touch, and explore different aspects of music and the orchestra. KidsNotes is offered at many area schools, libraries, and bookstores throughout the year. Due to generous contributions from public and private donors, the KidsNotes program is offered free of charge to the community.

The Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in our growing and diverse community by inspiring, entertaining and involving citizens and organizations through music concerts of superior cultural and educational value.

The Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra credits its Music Director, Robert Carter Austin for its continued outstanding and diverse orchestral programming. Maestro Austin’s background encompasses over 30 years of professional music experience and includes degrees from MIT, Cambridge University, and Stanford University.  Maestro Austin’s musical experience includes conducting performances in countries including: Korea, Ukraine, Canada, Italy, Spain, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Colombia, Philippines, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and the United States.

Event will take place on June 10th at the Valley Ranch Library at 3:00pm.  We will also provide the program on Thursday, June 18th at the West Irving Library at 2:30pm.

SOURCE Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra

8 Women of the Year honored at local event

Eight Women of the Year and a Top Ten candidate were honored by the Dallas Area Council of the American Business Women’s Association at an event at the Las Colinas Country Club on Aug. 9. They are, front row from left, Donna McCright of The Colony, Barbara Doyle of Irving, Ginger Groom Grant of The Colony, Stacey Whitmarsh of Plano; and back row from left, Beatrice Culley of DeSoto, Vicki Marlett of Irving, Kimberley Williams of Dallas, and Julia Fielder of Dallas, a Top Ten candidate.
Eight Women of the Year and a Top Ten candidate were honored by the Dallas Area Council of the American Business Women’s Association at an event at the Las Colinas Country Club on Aug. 9. They are, front row from left, Donna McCright of The Colony, Barbara Doyle of Irving, Ginger Groom Grant of The Colony, Stacey Whitmarsh of Plano; and back row from left, Beatrice Culley of DeSoto, Vicki Marlett of Irving, Kimberley Williams of Dallas, and Julia Fielder of Dallas, a Top Ten candidate.

Eight Women of the Year and a national Top Ten candidate were honored by the Dallas Area Council of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) at an event at the Las Colinas Country Club on Aug. 9.

The women were selected for the honor by their local chapters.

They included Donna McCright, of the Dallas Area Council of ABWA; Barbara Doyle, of the Outlook Positive Express Network; Ginger Groom Grant, of The Colony Chapter; Stacey Whitmarsh, of the Charisma Charter Chapter; Beatrice Culley, of the DeSoto Charter Chapter; Vicki Marlett, of the Texas Vineyards Express Network; Kimberly Williams, of North Dallas Business Women; and Julia Fielder of the Charisma Charter Chapter who is a national 2015 Top Ten candidate.

Christine Snyder, chair of the DACA executive board, said, “The American Business Women’s Association’s Women of the Year award is one of the most distinguished honors bestowed upon a member. This year, the American Business Women’s Association will be celebrating its 65th Anniversary, and this marks the Dallas Area Council of the American Business Women’s Association’s 27th celebration of candidates.

“Every year, DACA honors the chapter and express networks’ Woman of the Year and Top Ten candidates. This celebration has an attendance of more than 100 members and guests from around the DFW area. We celebrate the accomplishments of 10-15 local area women each year for their outstanding achievements to the Association. There are over 200 ABWA members in the Dallas Area Council.”

Speakers at the Aug. 9 event included Lorie Burch, ABWA national president who practices law in Dallas, and Laura Morlando, ABWA District II vice president, who is with BeautiControl in Cedar Hill.

Burch told the women at the event, “I truly didn’t know the value of the American Business Women’s Association until I was chosen as a 2010 Top Ten Business Woman. The National Conference that year in Kansas City where I was honored as a Top Ten was the start of the most amazing change in me. For the first time in my life, I opened up about myself and took the risk to share things I thought you all would judge me for. But rather than judging me or making me feel ashamed…you all embraced me, supported me, celebrated me. And I became a more confident, outgoing, and happier Lorie than I ever thought possible…because of you.

“What has changed most in me since that honor is that I have learned to be happy with this moment just as it is and let a higher power reveal the future in its own time. It is true what they say, success is a journey and not a destination. We all achieve moments of success that we need to rejoice in at that time, even if we aren’t yet where we feel we are meant to be.
“As women, we are so hard on ourselves, aren’t we? We don’t celebrate our achievements, because we don’t have the perfect job, we aren’t in the career we want, we have too much debt, we’re too fat, too skinny, we aren’t pretty enough, it goes on and on. Meanwhile, all the wonderful things we do… all the wonderful things we are, get lost and go uncelebrated.”

Snyder explained, “National recognition is one of the four tenets of the association’s mission. Members have the opportunity to run for national office for a seat on the organization’s National Board of Directors. Members also compete for the Top 10 Business Women of ABWA based on personal and professional achievements.

“Every year, ABWA groups nominate one accomplished member as a candidate for the Top Ten Business Women of ABWA. From the ten finalists, the American Business Woman of ABWA is chosen. The Top Ten are introduced at the Association’s annual meeting, the National Women’s Leadership Conference, which will be held in Overland Park, Kansas Oct 30-Nov 1.”

The mission of the Dallas Area Council of the American Business Women’s Association (DACA) is to promote involvement among participating Chapters and Express Networks, and to provide opportunities for combined activities to enhance our membership, to publicize ABWA and to promote education within our community.

A statement on the National ABWA website is as follows:

“By its very nature, recognition is loaded with positive reinforcement. It is an essential component of effective development. Thus individual members are recognized for their efforts. Each year, in addition to national awards and recognition, local chapters honor members who make significant accomplishments in education, leadership, and professional and civic activities.”

For information, go to

IIWC hosts ‘Influence of the Purse’ auction

Wine, laughter, tear-jerking stories of sacrifice and celebrity purse buying were all mixed together at the Irving International Women’s Consortium’s (IIWC) 8th Annual Influence of the Purse auction at the Las Colinas Country Club, April 10.
Wine, laughter, tear-jerking stories of sacrifice and celebrity purse buying were all mixed together at the Irving International Women’s Consortium’s (IIWC) 8th Annual Influence of the Purse auction at the Las Colinas Country Club, April 10.

Wine, laughter, tear-jerking stories of sacrifice and celebrity purse buying were all mixed together at the Irving International Women’s Consortium’s (IIWC) 8th Annual Influence of the Purse auction at the Las Colinas Country Club, April 10.

The event serves as a fundraiser to support the IIWC’s mission to educate, support and create opportunities for women of all races and cultures.

Each year IIWC awards grants and scholarships to women in transitional periods of their lives. Whether the transition is entering or returning to the workforce; assimilating into American culture; or becoming self-employed the IIWC attempt to assist women throughout their development.

“No matter if you’re giving or receiving, always be aware of the shadow you cast,” guest speaker Ginna Sauerwein, Managing Director of FedEx Tech Connect for the Wester Region of the U.S., said. “Don’t let your fear hold you back.”

To kick off the live auction portion of the event, former first lady of Irving, Christina Gears, spoke to the women in the audience about giving their talents and money to help others.

“One of the things that’s real important for Irving women to realize is that in the world women do not take an aggressive position. Generally,” Gears said. “I myself am pretty aggressive, but generally women will acquiesce to the stronger whoever it is.”

Gears then proceeded to challenge the attendees to think about how much they intended to spend helping others that day.

“Women have not, traditionally, in the world been very philanthropic,” Gears said. “But giving away money is a critical aspect for prosperity. When people do not give money it really thwarts the money flow in their world.”

Among the attendees was Dallas County Commissioner, Dr. Elba Garcia, who not only bid on a celebrity purse, but also donated a small clutch to the cause.

When acknowledging Garcia’s presence at the event, Gears began to cry as she told the audience what a strong and inspirational woman Garcia was.

“I’m sorry Elba,” Gears said. “You’re just such a wonderful woman that you brought tears to my eyes.”

Aside from Garcia, recording artist, Mary J. Blige; actress, Sandra Bullock; actress, Mariel Hemingway; congresswoman, Eddie Berice Johnson; actress, Cheryl Tiegs; and former WNBA player, Tamika Raymond also donated purses to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The Elite Steppers dance troupe and poet/artist Efrem Zemill also entertained the audience throughout the event.

Light of old ministry shines hope for new generation

Soap Hope (main)

Nearly 250 women and men attended the Soup, Soap and Hope Ladies Luncheon hosted by The Salvation Army League of Volunteers in the Las Colinas Country Club on April 1. The event was created in memory of an early Salvation Army ministry carried out on the streets of London in the 1860s, which combated the evils of poverty. The modern, afternoon lunch version raised funds to help send children to The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club’s summer day-camp program.

Through the ten-week summer program, youngsters enjoy a wide range of activities including creative arts, sports and recreation as well as weekly and regular field trips.

“The club is an open door to children to be able to develop caring relationships with one another as well as with adults who are willing to show an interest in them,” Aaron Proctor, the club’s director, said. “It also gives them the support they need to overcome the obstacles they are facing in their young lives. They can grow, and they can also have fun. They can be kids, as all kids should be, but they can become leaders.”

Proctor said “When asked, ‘what do you like most about the club?’ one club member wrote, ‘when I am here at the Boys and Girls Club, I know that I am safe.’ Can you feel the need for a place like ours in this community just in that statement? My heart aches for these precious souls: some who are simply needing help with their homework, others who just want to have fun in a safe environment, some who are hungry, others who are craving attention.

“I am so blessed to have what I believe is the greatest job in the world, to watch these young people grow and mature, even if they are rowdy and noisy at times. I could tell you story after story about how talented they are,” he said

The club’s summer camp gives children a safe place to interact with others from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. while their parents are at work. Often without alternative resources, children are left at home alone during the summer months with little to do but watch television. Programs like the Boys and Girls Club’s help stimulate young minds.

“We do what we can to help prevent summer learning loss, which occurs from the end of school to the beginning of the next school year,” Proctor said. “I want them to chase their dreams and pursue the things they are interested in.

Table hostess, Christina Winters Gears, and her guests sponsored seven children to attend the camp this summer.

“We are so blessed with everything we have,” she said. “I think it is important for us to give back at whatever level we can.

“The camp can actually change a child’s life during the summer. I think if we can offer the opportunity it’s our responsibility to do that, so it is exciting. The camp keeps children active, safe and supported.”

Bonnie Kellie, presented with the Hope Award during the luncheon, founded The Salvation Army League of Volunteers. The league has been an active partner with the Boys and Girls Club through such activities as hosting a summer reading program, collecting and distributing books to children as well as teaching art classes.

“The League of Volunteers is a very active serving group,” Kellie said. “I think it is a group that would rather wear out than rust out. We have people from 60- to 80-something-years-old who are still at The Salvation Army seeing themselves as the hands of God. They see they can make a difference in a child’s life.

“Touching the life of a child makes the difference. When you stoop to help a child, you stand your tallest.”

To sponsor a child for a week of camp costs $35, for the entire 10 weeks of camp costs $350. For more information, contact The Salvation Army Irving at 972-438-6553.

Champps remodel strikes balance for Irving night life

The grand reopening of Champps Americana in Las Colinas in February represented more than just renovations to the long-time Irving restaurant. The establishment’s emphasis on quality food and dynamic experience shed light on its sensitivity to current trends as the city sheds it reputation as a suburban bedroom community for one of a “live, work play” destination.

Responding to current demand for high-quality, local eats, the focus of Champps’ renovations was placed squarely on the food, whether it be the new, open kitchen; the multi-tiered seating arrangement; new, seasonal menus or an emphasis on the restaurant’s hand-crafted food and wide variety of craft and local beer.

“We’ve emphasized (scratch-made food), and we have tried various different avenues to get that out there, as far as letting people know about it,” said managing partner Brian James. “And it’s kind of funny; right now is kind of a perfect time especially (as) we’re becoming more ingredient conscious as far as calories are concerned … when you look at the movement in the food industry, where it’s going and where people are eating better (in smaller portions) and drinking better (in smaller amounts).”

These changes make Champps feel more like a restaurant, with its own character and unique presence, than a stereotypical sports bar. This is especially important to young transplants, many of whom moved to Irving in order to be close to their work but still able to drive 20 minutes into Dallas for entertainment, attracted to the personal, one-of-a-kind atmosphere touted by restaurants popping up in Oak Cliff and the Bishop Arts District. There is a preconception among a large portion of this demographic that franchises, especially sports bars, are inferior in both service and quality to these eccentric independent restaurants.

“There are good and bad restaurants run by multi-unit operators, just as there are good and bad independent restaurants. It all comes down to each individual restaurant and whether they can deliver great guest experiences every single day. We are not a gastropub. We’re a fun, relaxing place to enjoy made-from-scratch, delicious food, great local brews, handcrafted cocktails and friendly service,” Champp’s spokesman Rick Van Werner stated in an email, explaining the erroneousness of this mindset.

“Like any business serving guests, it’s important to always be moving forward to keep things fresh, exciting and relevant.

“It all comes down to execution and delivering great food, service and experiences in a clean, fun environment. While we’re a great place to watch a game, we’re much more than that,” he continued. “We’re a place for people to gather, relax and take a break from the stresses of everyday life.”

Overcoming preconceptions from younger customers is not the only obstacle to promoting night life in Irving, however, and past attempts ran up against concerns of long-time residents.

For one, some residents were uneasy that loosening restrictions on the sale of alcohol would attract low-class bars to Irving. Another contentious issue involved the City’s smoking ordinance. Some critics went so far to suggest that, not only should smoking be banned inside all restaurants, but new establishments should not be allowed to install a smoking patio either. Supporting their position, they maintained that not only is the practice bad for patrons’ health but hurts the profitability of businesses that allow it.

Although many municipalities, including Dallas and Fort Worth, no longer allow smoking inside, patios remain a staple feature of restaurants trying to build an atmosphere where patrons come to socialize, not just eat a meal.

Perhaps Champps has managed to navigate these and social legislative obstacles in part because of its long tenure in the city. Subtle but important changes have struck a balance between vastly differing expectations among residents–namely that people who want to go to a social club do not feel like they are drinking at a restaurant, and people who want a meal do not feel they are eating in a bar.

The newest remodel emphasizes the dual role of restaurants in Irving. The bar, still one of the focal points of the establishment, sits in the middle of the room where most of the restaurant’s 44 new televisions are concentrated, and where smoking is permitted. When it opened 14 years ago, Champps spent $300,000 to install 17 air filters in the ceiling to ensure that smoke from the bar would not bother other diners.

“We want to provide an area everyone wants to come to,” James said. “We hopefully don’t want to chase anyone away, hence the investment in the air filter.”

Two tiers of seating encircle to bar on one side, so patrons who want to sit down for a meal are far enough removed from the action on the floor that they are not disturbed by people there for Champps’ social club aspect.

A testament to the success of the balance struck by Irving’s Champps is the location’s stability during its parent company’s bankruptcy. Although Champps locations in general were not as affected as Fox and Hound locations, James said that the Las Colinas location’s relative autonomy allowed him to establish policies that are popular with the city’s residents.

“I don’t know that much about all (the other locations) because I’ve only been here,” he said. “It’s kind of funny—I don’t want to sound selfish about it, but—well, I’ve been responsible for this one and I’ve pretty much made sure I’ve lived up to that responsibility to the best of my abilities.”

Casino night celebrates collaboration among local charities

On the evening of March 1, dozens of enthusiastic community supporters gathered for the ‘50 for 50’ Casino Night at Las Colinas Country Club.

The lavish evening aimed to raise $50,000 for five Irving Charities including La Buena Vida Youth Leadership Foundation, Irving Cares, Irving Schools Foundation, Irving Healthcare Foundation and the Irving Family YMCA. In addition, the event marked Las Colinas Country Club’s 50th anniversary.

Teddie Story, Chief Executive Officer of Irving Cares, explained the collaboration among the five charities.

“I’m really proud of the way this community comes together to help each other. You know, in a lot of towns, the charities are competitive. They don’t work together like we do. We all work together so that our town will be a better place,” Story said. “We’re trying to raise $50,000 to commemorate the 50th year at the Country Club. This ‘50 for 50’ campaign has been going on since last year. We worked in the concession stands for the LPGA, and tonight we’re doing our casino night.

“They gamble with play money and at the end of the evening they redeem their winnings for raffle tickets and they might win some raffle prizes,” she continued. “The main thing is to come out and have fun.”

Irving Cares, established in 1957, provides Irving citizens with a variety of services including financial assistance for rent, mortgage, utilities and medical prescriptions; employment service programs; transportation to medical appointments and more.

For $75 dollars, attendees were able to purchase their entry to the ’50 for 50’ Casino Night, which included two complimentary alcoholic beverages and appetizers. For an extra $125, community supporters were able to participate in a Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament that began later in the evening.

In addition to Texas Hold’em, guests were able to enjoy Black Jack, 3-card Poker, Roulette and more. The theme for the event was 1960s dress, and Ricki Derek, an accomplished jazz and big-band performer, provided musical entertainment for the elegant casino benefit.

John Drake with the Irving Healthcare Foundation provided insight into how the charity began and his excitement about the ‘50 for 50’ event.

“When Four Seasons was opening, they were breaking ground for the hospital, the only charitable hospital in town. At the time it was Irving Community Hospital, and it eventually became Baylor Medical Center of Irving,” Drake said. “In 1977, our charity was formed to raise money for the hospital and for anything that was healthcare related that wanted to partner with us. Tonight really helps us (to) help five charities.”

“It’s a tremendous amount of fun, and what I love is that in Irving, you have such amazing cooperation among the non-profits,” he continued. “And so, it’s really an honor for us to be partners with these great agencies; that all of us have the privilege of serving various needs in the community. Out of the Las Colinas Country Club’s generosity, we all benefit in a way that helps us provide our services more efficiently.”

The La Buena Vida Student Leadership Foundation organized the ‘50 for 50’ casino night. Their organization aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged Irving youth by providing them with leadership development programs and higher education opportunities.

Horses help heal wounded hearts and minds

A military victim of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) brings war home. The military does not just train its soldiers, but updates their value systems to adapt to an environment of war. In a career that is all about staying alive and hitting your target, security and preparation are of critical importance, while other values, such as trust and patience, fall by the wayside. A victim of PTSD has difficulty accepting loved ones back into his or her life, not just because of the intense suffering the veteran has been through, but also because a warrior’s mindset is not compatible with everyday home life.

SOURCE: Mustang Heritage Foundation
SOURCE: Mustang Heritage Foundation

This is PTSD as presented by Scott Sjule, a veteran of the U.S. Army and a man dedicated to helping other veterans climb their way out of the isolation of the disorder. PTSD is a serious problem for veterans. More than 8,700 veterans commit suicide every year. But Sjule is determined to help his fellow vets, and he is doing it with some unconventional allies: horses.

Sjule served for 16 years in the 1st cavalry division of the Army, and in 2005, he was engaged in a physiological rehabilitation program for amputees using horses.

“Riding a horse makes you readjust your center of gravity 3,000 times in 30 minutes,” he said. “We created opportunities for you to be off-centered, so you could correct, and every time you correct your center of balance, it updates your brain to the new way you’re going to move through space.”

Sjule soon found that the program had an even greater effect on the veterans. Victims of PTSD responded well emotionally to the horses, and the therapeutic effects of the interaction allowed for psychological healing.

“I went into this thinking I was going to do some type of physical therapy… and I came out of it realizing this is a lot about what’s going on inside your head and your soul and your actual person,” Sjule said.

He went on to found Mustang Mentors with the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

For Sjule, the process of healing through horses is subtle, but powerful. A horse’s behavior depends largely on the trainer and the signals that he or she gives to the horse. This simple action of communication and reciprocation allows veterans to overcome difficulties of trust and shape a different, healthier mindset for solidarity with their loved ones.

Veterans get more in touch with “our ability to modify ourselves, our behavior, our signaling with other people,” Sjule said. “When we learn that from the horse and we don’t get what we want, we can’t get angry.” Working with horses exercises patience, calm and compassion.

Robert Foley came to same conclusions in a very personal way. A retired US Navy Seal, Foley had sustained numerous injuries including traumatic brain injury (TBI) and radioactive poisoning.

“The whole left half of my brain is destroyed,” Foley said. “I’m not supposed to be able to walk or talk.” On top of all that, Foley suffered from PTSD and as little as two years ago was contemplating suicide.

His situation turned around when a member of the local Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine introduced him to horses. Almost instantly, Foley said he felt at peace with the horses. He felt at ease in an environment that was free of judgment and conflict. The sensitivity and human-like understanding of the horses provided Foley with exactly what he needed.

Reinvigorated by a newfound self-assurance, he immersed himself in the ancient practices of his ancestral Passamaquoddy tribe, including inipi, or sweat lodges, as well as meditation and became determined to share his new love of horses with other veterans. The Passamaquoddy elders bestowed upon him the name “Nashuwa”—Fire Starter—because of his vision and his ability “to look at chaos and all the directions we’re going and…simplify that and point us in a direction,” Foley said.

Foley has taken his message around the country. On Jan. 18, Foley spoke with people about his program at the Las Colinas Equestrian Center. He, along with other visionaries like Sjule, have started an exciting movement in PTSD therapy.

Foley says his work above all is about allowing veterans to find their purpose in life, an aspiration that could turn thousands of veterans away from the brink of suicide.

“I use the horse as a mechanism to reach out to veterans and tell them you can trust again, there is hope, and from that, through the horse, you will find purpose, you will want to share this with other veterans,” he said.


Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce joins legal challenge to EPA’s regulations

The Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce recently joined with 74 other state and local business associations from 33 different states in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court outlining the devastating economic effects of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas regulations.

“In issuing these regulations, the EPA purports to have the authority to regulate six million new facilities, including bakeries, multifamily dwellings, and office buildings,” said Chris Wallace, President/CEO of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce. “These regulations present an extremely onerous burden for any business to bear, but they will be particularly devastating for small businesses.”

The Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce argued in its amicus brief that the threat of these invasive and intrusive regulations produce a “chilling effect” that impacts plans for expanding operations, entering into new markets, and developing new products. The Chamber explained that both large and small enterprises will understandably hesitate if growth entails the complexities and costs of regulatory compliance. Those that do decide to grow will necessarily pass those costs onto their customers. The businesses that cannot do so will suffer decreased profits in the midst of the current economic crisis – a setback that can ultimately threaten their survival.

SOURCE Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce