On March 9th, Grant Halliburton Foundation welcomed Zak Williams, mental health advocate, CEO and founder of PYM, and son of the late Robin Williams, to share his story at the 13th annual Beacon of Hope Community Luncheon. The luncheon supports Grant Halliburton Foundation’s work providing education, resources and support for children, teen and young adult mental health in North Texas.
About 500 guests attended, and during the reception, they purchased raffle tickets and participated in clever mental health activations, which included:
- · Be Joyful: DJ Lucy Wrubel played fun music while participants danced.
- · Be Present: Nespresso brewed coffee and served guests, encouraging them to be in the moment.
- · Be Mindful: Staff members served chocolates to guests and had them think about what they were doing.
- · Be Kind: Guests colored postcards, which featured sketches by Grant Halliburton, so they could send to a friend or family.
- · Be Grateful: Attendees wrote what they were grateful for on a butterfly and hung it on the grass wall.
- A champagne wall had the words “Celebrate Hope” to welcome them to the Beacon of Hope event.
Steve Noviello of FOX 4 News, served as the master of ceremonies. The Mitchell Family—Paula, John, Caroline and Thomas—were the first-ever family luncheon chairs, with Barb Farmer as the founding luncheon chair.
Patrick LeBlanc, executive director of the Bridging the Gap Foundation, gave the invocation. Then, Junior Players performed “Be More Chill,” a Broadway production that explores the challenges of the high school experience – from bullying and first love to parties and peer pressure.
Next, Grant Halliburton Foundation gave the Beacon Award to 19 members of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas Hope Squad. In 2020, Jesuit partnered with Grant Halliburton Foundation to launch Hope Squad—students trained to watch for fellow students who are struggling, provide a listening ear, recognize warning signs of suicide and seek help from adults.
Vanita Halliburton, Grant Halliburton Foundation co-founder and executive chairman, spoke about the organization she co-founded after losing her teen son to suicide 16 years ago. “During this time of unprecedented challenges, even through a pandemic, Grant Halliburton Foundation never stopped, never faltered in its mission to reach and teach people how to care for their mental and emotional wellbeing.” She added, “The pandemic is not over. In fact, in addition to COVID-19, we now find ourselves in the middle of another pandemic: a mental health pandemic. In this pandemic, we’re dealing with rising rates of anxiety, depression, substance misuse, and suicide and with growing feelings of despair as we wonder if life will ever return to normal. There is one thing that can conquer despair, though, and that is… a rekindling of hope. Every one of us can be a beacon of hope.”
Polly Campbell, Grant Halliburton Foundation board chairwoman, spoke next. “Grant Halliburton Foundation is a vital, growing and innovative force in mental health. They have been there for so many families—including my own—helping to find resources, hope and healing. And without question, what they’re doing has saved lives – and will continue to save lives. But they need our support to do it. As someone whose family has felt first-hand the incredible impact of this organization, I am asking you to give generously today.”
Noviello introduced Jenny Anchondo, The CW 33 anchor, who interviewed Williams in a candid conversation about his famous father’s life and passing, his challenges with mental health and his mental health regimen. Williams’ mission in life is helping people find health for mental illness, and he’s become a student in finding ways to educate people about how to take care of themselves.
A few takeaways from Williams:
- About his father: Robin Williams’ superpower was to make quick connections and associations. “His giving was an extension of his persona…I’m proud to be his son.”
- About his young family: “I want to be present at every opportunity.”
- About his mantra and life’s mission: “Service is a path to happiness.”
- His idol is Albert Einstein.
- About Grant Halliburton Foundation: “Grant Halliburton Foundation is doing what it should be doing. It brought me so much joy to see the Hope Squad.”
- His advice: “To be vulnerable gives you strength. It gives you superpower.”
Finally, Williams shared his mental health regimen:
- Incorporate nutrition. He’s so passionate about it, that he started a nutrition company.
- Add fitness to your routine.
- Find and develop meaningful connections.
- Limit or eliminate alcohol.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Be grateful daily.
In the last 16 years, Grant Halliburton Foundation has provided mental health education, training and support to more than 200,000 students, educators, parents and professionals, thanks to funds raised in part by the annual Beacon of Hope event. The Foundation also offers two free community tools to help North Texans find mental health and addiction information and resources:
- HereForTexas.com is a website with a searchable database of more than 900 North Texas providers, designed to help people make informed decisions about mental health care.
- The Here For Texas Mental Health Navigation Line is a helpline that offers people personal assistance with finding providers and resources that match their needs. Help is just a free phone call away at 972-525-8181, and Spanish speakers are available.
Special thanks to the sponsors:
Hope: Carolyn and David Miller
Visionary: Shelley and Jeff Becker in memory of Alec Becker; Sue Blackwell and Karen Carney; Barb and David Farmer and Family in honor of Coffee Days Moms; Albert Huddleston; The Koz Foundation; Lee and Paul Michaels in memory of Abby Goldberg; Seale Wealth Management of Raymond James – Amber and Dax Seale; Todd Abbott Memorial Fund; and Taylor Consulting Group.
Advocate: Banks Fire Art in memory of Alec Becker; BKM Sowan Horan; Carolee Bluin; Lael and Peter Brodsky in honor of Kevin Hall; Jeanie Conly and Ann Hill; Curl Family Charitable Giving Fund; Susan Fisk and Friends in honor of Paula Mitchell; Friends of Grant Halliburton Foundation; Integer Dallas; Sharon and Kevin Hall; Hancock Whitney Bank; Laura and David Johnson; Paula and John Mitchell; Newport Healthcare; OK2BX Foundation; Amy Pool; Alyson and Joe Ray; Kelly and Charles Secker; Brett Seidl, Brett Nicole Interiors; Lisa K. Simmons; Linda and Ken Wimberly in memory of Alec Becker; and Lynn and Kevin Wisdom.
About Grant Halliburton Foundation
Grant Halliburton Foundation was established in 2006 in memory of a Dallas teen who battled depression and bipolar disorder for several years before his suicide death at the age of 19. The Foundation that bears his name works to help families and young people recognize the signs of mental illness through a variety of avenues including education, conferences, collaboration and encouragement. Since 2006, the Foundation has provided mental health education, training, and support to more than 200,000 students, educators, parents, and professionals. The Foundation also offers Here For Texas, which includes HereForTexas.com and the Here For Texas Mental Health Navigation Line. These free community tools aim to offer easy access for North Texans seeking mental health and addiction information and resources. More information can be found at GrantHalliburton.org/.