FORT WORTH -- State Rep. Charlie Geren graduated from Southern Methodist University. But Wednesday, he wrote a check for $1,500 for an autographed Texas Christian University football and four 50-yard-line seats to the Houston Bowl.
Fort Worth lawyer Buzz Kemble is another SMU alum; Kemble even played on the Mustangs' football team in the 1950s. But he praised TCU's athletic accomplishments as he emceed the Exchange Club's annual luncheon to raise money for the Star-Telegram's Goodfellow Fund.
"They raise some serious dollars for Goodfellows," Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said. "This year, with the challenges that so many of the nonprofits have, especially after hurricanes Katrina and Rita have visited us, people are given out. This was a chance for Santa and his helpers to twist some arms."
The tally at the end of the luncheon was about $53,000, club officials said. The donation will be a welcome boost to the fund. In general, contributions are lagging far behind last year's and the number of children served was cut back from last year's total.
Goodfellows provides gift cards for children whose parents or guardians show need. The cards can be redeemed for shoes and clothing.
Although the group of about 50 men at Wednesday's luncheon wield lots of power in Cowtown, they relished the opportunity to behave like kids as they raked in the money.
Luther King, chairman of TCU's board of trustees, entered the room in a Santa Claus suit. He was flanked by two TCU cheerleaders who served as Santa's helpers.
Retired TCU Chancellor Bill Tucker and Fort Worth businessman John Roach were among seven members with TCU ties who proudly sat at the "TCU table" at the front of the room.
Throughout the lunch hour, the TCU men were teased by Kemble, who put on an SMU cap and displayed a banner that said: "Fiesta Bowl, $13,000,000." That's the amount that TCU would have received had the Horned Frogs gained a berth in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Mustangs dashed those hopes when they defeated the Horned Frogs on Sept. 10, Kemble proudly pointed out.
But the biggest laughs came when Kemble asked Don Williamson of Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. to shuck his light brown pants. Kemble said he had recently shopped for Dickies pants and couldn't find a brown pair.
After Williamson stripped to long boxer shorts and handed over his slacks, Kemble gave Williamson a pair of TCU sweat pants in exchange.
Throughout the wacky ordeal, Williamson was a good sport.
"Everybody here, no matter what you do to them, they take it in good spirits," Kemble said.
HOW TO BE A GOODFELLOW
Help make an area schoolchild's holiday brighter by sending a check to Goodfellows, Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76101. Or donate online at www.star- telegram.com. Click on the "Donate" link under the Goodfellows icon. Contributors' names will be published unless anonymity is requested.
Brett Hoffman, (817) 390-7707 hoffman@star-telegram.com