Honoring the memory of President John F. Kennedy can be a difficult thing for Dallas to do, given the history. But Chart Westcott has found a positive way to commemorate the leader’s legacy.
“The genesis of it was in November,” Westcott said of his JFK Day citywide service project.
When the city announced its plans to recognize the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, the wheels in Westcott’s mind started turning.
“It was very important that we did something positive to honor the legacy of service intricately intertwined with Kennedy’s leadership,” he said.
JFK Day is a three-part initiative. First, there’s the day of service, set for Nov. 23. Tuesday’s news conference launched the chance to sign up for one of the 2,500 volunteer slots with a number of Dallas organizations, including the North Texas Food Bank, where the conference took place.
Second, JFK Day will include “Carry the Torch,” a 5K set for Nov. 7, which will be in partnership with Special Olympics Texas. That, too, is a direct Kennedy connection; Kennedy’s sister Eunice Shriver founded the Special Olympics in the 1960s. Kennedy and Shriver had another sister, Rosemary, who had intellectual disabilities.
“You need to be part of this,” urged Special Olympics Texas president Margaret Larsen, who called the late Shriver a friend. “You’re part of the beginning of something, right now.”
Finally, JFK Day includes a series of “dream projects,” in Westcott’s words, tasks that organizations would like to see done if money was no object. Corporate sponsors then help them reach completion by Nov. 23.
“This partnership is the embodiment of President Kennedy’s call to action,” Westcott said, referencing the famous “ask not what your country can do for you” remark.
Dallas City Council members Jennifer Staubach Gates, Tennell Atkins, and Monica Alonzo were all there Tuesday to show their support.
“It’s very fitting since we have such a philanthropic community,” said Gates, whose territory includes Caruth Hills, Devonshire, and Greenway Parks. “It’s kind of challenging to figure out how to commemorate [the anniversary], and I think service is a perfect fit.”
Westcott’s interests are not just in philanthropy; he is expected to launch his campaign for the District 108 seat in the Legislature “in the coming days.” He has already announced Cowboys legend Troy Aikman as the campaign’s honorary chair, and JFK Day packs a similar punch; Toms founder Blake Mycoskie will act as the project’s honorary chair.
Devonshire resident Court Alley has also expressed his interest in the legislative seat, and University Park resident Morgan Meyer announced his candidacy the same day that District 108’s longtime representative, Dan Branch, launched his attorney general campaign.