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Allison Villalobos and Caroline Cardenas arrive to a red carpet welcome at Royal Affairs Ballroom in Lewisville for the 10 annual North Texas Wine Opener.

Debbie Bauerle loved to bake. She was an active volunteer, loyal friend and world traveler with husband David before her donor’s lungs finally failed her and she succumbed to cystic fibrosis at age 44. David has since remarried, and he and his bride knew from the moment they arrived at the North Texas Wine Opener what they would take home: A one-of-a-kind, Nicole DiNardo original hand-painted KitchenAid Mixer. The Bauerles honored Debbie’s memory with a generous gift to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Nearly all of the attendees of the final North Texas Wine Opener have attended the event more than once; some supporters came all 10 years; many have family members or close friends living with CF. The family of Maddie Dallas still grieves for their enormous loss, but attended the event to make a difference in the quest for a cure. Allison Villalobos has the life-threatening disease that attacks the lungs and digestive system. She was 16 years old when she spoke at one of the very first events, and recapped to a sold-out crowd how much has changed since then … and what has stayed the same: “Living day to day with CF is a challenge.”  

“Even though I have CF, it doesn’t define me,” she said. “It’s not who I am. I have this disease and I am doing all I can to fix it. This event has made an impact on my life. Jill and Eric (event co-chairs) have been a godsend,  putting so much time, effort and passion into this event. I can never thank them, or all the supporters of the Wine Opener, enough.”

The North Texas Wine Opener, which to date has raised over $2.2 million (net) for the CFF, rolled out the red carpet for the 10th year gala, which featured a paparazzi welcome, seated dinner prepared by acclaimed chef Morris Salerno of Bistecca (formerly, The Grotto); a selection of fine wine generously supplied by Newton Vineyard; and a live and big board auction led by GDP Auctioneer Services.

The Red Carpet Reverie theme spotlighted moments from the decade of fundraising, progress made and lives lost. The program paid tribute to CF families, sponsors, volunteers, and event co-chairs Eric and Jill Welke, recognizing North Texas Wine Opener milestones:

  • The NTWO is the most successful event of its kind for the CFF.
  • The NTWO is the only all-volunteer wine opener for the CFF.
  • The NTWO caps expenses at an incredibly low 5% so the maximum amount benefits CFF research.
  • The NTWO has raised over $2.2 million (net) in 10 years.

A video montage created by Michael Barton tells the story of a grassroots movement that began in 2004 when Megan Andersen was diagnosed with CF at 18 months old. Event night photos captured by Nick Mallouf Photography generated over 23,000 views, creating awareness all around the world for the CF cause.

The CFF and Eric and Jill Welke will announce the total amount raised, including donations collected at the 2014 North Texas Wine Opener, at the end of May. For more information, call the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Northeast Texas at 214-871-2222, and visit the site for a complete list of the generous sponsors for this year’s event, or find us on Facebook.