The festive reception of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres along with congratulatory hugs marked the beginning of a night to be remembered — the 23nd Annual DFW Great 100 Nurses Gala — which was held on May 8th at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. The Meyerson’s architectural brilliance and elegant touches were the perfect environment to honor the 2013 Great 100 Nurses.
“The nursing profession has grown to 3.1 million nurses strong across the United States,” stated Cole Edmonson, DNP, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, Vice President, DFW Great 100 Nurses, Inc.
In Texas alone, he said, there are around 300,000 nurses who care for those in need every day. With over 40,000 registered nurses in the Dallas/Fort Worth [DFW] area, you are ‘The Great 100’,” confirmed Edmonson as he spoke to an audience of approximately 1,100 familymembers, friends, colleagues and supporters who rallied and cheered with what has now become the traditional bullhorns and whistles.
With the Meyerson’s beautiful Italian travertine marble, organ pipes, and Indiana limestone, the 85-foot high ceiling in the concert hall did not intimidate these rowdy and excited guests. Although the Meyerson was designed with acoustical curtains to diminish sound vibrations, nothing could silence the excitement of the Great 100 Nurses audience — family members, friends, colleagues, former patients, press and photographers alike.
The tradition evolved from simple noisemakers when the gala began in 1990 to a ‘competition’ among the many healthcare facilities rallying behind their nurse recipients,” shared Sandi McDermott, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, President, the DFW Great 100 Nurses, Inc. and a 2007 recipient of the honor. “Those facilities wanted to compete with each other to deliver the loudest, flashiest, and most fun noise makers and banners/signs for the event which signified their support and belief in their entity winners.”
As the clock struck 7:30 pm, the Meyerson’s Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, known as the “Masterpiece of the Meyerson”, was beginning to fill with audience members from far and wide. Designed to seat over 2,000 people, the concert hall’s European “shoebox” shaped music chamber was built to generate a certain level of intimacy between performer and the audience.
On this special night, however, the “performers” were actually nurses who “perform” miracles every day. They are extraordinary people who perform extraordinary work every day.
“Nurses by profession are not typically in the ‘limelight’,” said McDermott. “However, The Great 100 Nurses celebration recognizes 100 extraordinary nurses who do extraordinary things for ordinary people every day. They truly are ‘unsung heroes,’ so it’s nice to give them the recognition they may not have received otherwise.”
As McDermott approached the podium, the one hundred honorees were seated in a reserved balcony lined with the most beauti fully crafted African cherry wood walls adorned with 100 seats of mohair fabric ready to receive the special guests.
“With 647 nurses nominated for the 2012 Great 100 Nurses award, you are the chosen few,” as McDermott looked on to the faces of the honorees. It was a special sentiment and a crowning of achievement from the President of the soon to be formed 501[c]3 organization that comprises the Great 100 Nurses Board of Directors.
“To be among such inspirational colleagues and nursing professionals, members of the audience knew without a doubt they were in good company,” added McDermott.
The Texas style fanfare at the gala might be difficult to reconcile the glamour of the intricately designed Meyerson with the clamoring of cowbells. But it was a night to behold for the Great 100 Nurses as a fan of nursing, whether you are a family member, a friend, a colleague or even a former honoree. A combination of pride and gratitude, and perhaps a touch of humility described the smiles of every honoree as they proudly walked across the stage to receive a rose, a pin, and a certificate from Board President McDermott, Board Vice President Edmonson, and Board Secretary- Treasurer Rosa Belgard, MS, RN.
With a view atop one of the highest balconies perched in the great hall, a spectator could virtually capture an aerial-like view of the members below where hundreds of nurse fans cheered, shouted, waved, yelled, and chanted for their favored nurse. The sound of excitement lingered throughout the one hour processional with the substance and style of a Texas wedding delivering one hundred brides.
As the night concluded, Rosa Belgard shared her closing remarks. “We started tonight’s program by saying we were here to honor One Hundred Great Nurses who exemplified the courage, compassion, and commitment that are the hallmarks of the nursing profession,” Belgard said. “In the process, we have honored staff nurses and managers; administrators and educators; nurses with Associate Degrees and nurses with Doctoral Degrees. We have honored new nurses and seasoned nurses; specialists and generalists; nurses in expanded roles, nurses in business, industry, and private practice.
But the common thread is that they have all touched the lives of others and made a difference.” And to top off the night, the Great 100 Nurses were whisked away to a photography session as though they were seasoned Hollywood movie stars straight off the red carpet. The portrait of an honoree is priceless. The smile as they walked across the stage said it all. For a nurse crowned as one of the Great 100, it was indeed a night to be remembered. “Capturing this special night in pictures to honor one hundred of the best nurses in the DFW area is an event worth remembering,” shared Belgard.
To be nominated for the prestigious award, the letter of recommendation must address the five qualities noted in the sidebar, “The Five Great Qualities.” For more information about nominating a DFW Great 100 Nurse, visit: www.thegreat100nurses.com.