Appetite for Advocacy

Michael McGee | 5/9/2014, 8:51 p.m.
Seeking help and answers, more than 2,400 children and families have walked through the doors of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy ...
Diana Nyad, second from left, poses with Sen. Royce West and family members during the Appetite for Advocacy Luncheon. Mike McGee

The Dallas Examiner

Seeking help and answers, more than 2,400 children and families have walked through the doors of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, which offers investigation, intervention, treatment and recovery programs for children who are sexually and/or physically abused.

To help the center keep its doors open, the DCAC held its annual Appetite for Advocacy Luncheon at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel on April 17. Former sports journalist Scott Murray was master of ceremonies for the luncheon during which awards were bestowed to Debbie and Ric Scripps and Sen. Royce West. Long distance swimmer Diana Nyad was the keynote speaker.

The philanthropic group was founded in February 1991 to “improve the lives of abused children in Dallas County and to provide national leadership on child abuse issues,” according to their mission statement.

The Scripps were presented with the Ruth Sharp Altshuler Award. Described as “dedicated members of the community,” the Scripps are community volunteers, former DCAC Board and League members, and DCAC Capital Campaign Donors.

West, senator for the state’s 23rd District, received the Lt. Bill Walsh Award.

“The significance of this day are people who believe in the Children’s Advocacy Center coming together,” he announced, praising those who attended. “I think it’s important for us to come together on an annual basis to make certain that we kind of re-energize one another and make certain that all of us renew that commitment in order to make certain that children are taken care of.”

Touted by the DCAC as an outstanding professional in the field of child abuse, West was rewarded for his work in the Texas Senate for his years as an advocate for children. The statesman talked about collective efforts made in the past on behalf of the state’s youngest citizens.

“I have always been an advocate to protect children. I will continue to do that. I’m glad to be recognized for the small things that I’ve done so far,” West affirmed.

The senator also had the honor of introducing Nyad. The athlete-journalist famously swam the 110 mile route from Cuba to Key West, Fla., at the age of 64 in 2013 without the use of a shark cage. She has also gained attention for her openness about her sexual abuse as a child. The climb to greatness and the ugly experiences of brutality both started in her home.

“Handsome as Omar Sharif, charismatic, spoke in a very thick accent,” is how Nyad described her Greek Egyptian father. She related that her father called her into their den on her fifth birthday and showed her a page in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.

“Come here, darling,” she recalled him saying dramatically. “… Your name. The name of my people; it is here in the dictionary in bold, black and white …” she mimicked. What she saw within the book was the word “naiad.”

“In Greek mythology, the swimmers who swam in lakes, oceans, fountains and rivers to protect for the gods,” Nyad quoted her father. “Oh my God, this is your destiny, darling,” he exclaimed melodramatically. On that day her journey to be a great swimmer had begun. “It wasn’t the swimming I heard so much; it was the word ‘champion.’ And I started that day walking around with my shoulders a little broader, a little taller.