Children Big Winners at Poker Night

The annual event raises funds for Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities

By Steve Pate

Dr. Clinton Steffey, an award-winning anesthesiologist with offices in Dallas and Fort Worth, carried home the big chips November 29 as winner of the Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities Poker Night. But all in attendance know the real champions are the impoverished kids of North Texas who will benefit from the memorable affair at Dee Lincoln’s Restaurant & Bubble Bar.

Dr. Steffey was among the entourage of Dr. Richard Benavides. A nationally-known weight-loss surgeon in Dallas, Dr. Benavides bought the Poker Night event in May at the Second Annual Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational Weekend at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney and the Westin Stonebriar Resort in Frisco. That was a weekend of golf and various other celebrity/fan experiences, which included a live auction. Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities are already preparing to make next summer’s third annual event an even greater success with stars from all professional sports pitching in.

Dr. Benavides brought along eight friends, primarily from the medical field, to join Emmitt and Cowboys greats Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston at two different tables as the cards and chips and good-natured fun began to fly.

“This is fantastic,” Dr. Benavides said. “One of the things about this charity is that they help so many disadvantaged kids. I’m just happy to be a part of it and to continue to assist this great charity.”

As the early hands were being dealt, Emmitt motioned to the player to his left and said, “Dr. Benavides is having his own private party that includes Daryl, Troy and myself entertaining friends of his. We’re just hanging in there, having a little bit of fun.”

Emmitt added, “The beneficiaries of this night are the young people of Dallas and the surrounding area. Dr. Benavides has been a trooper for buying this package. By doing so, he is helping us put on programs that will benefit kids. More than anything, this is about the kids.”

Daryl Johnston was bemoaning his own early fate as he studied his hole cards down the table from Emmitt.

“It’s like the third one in a row I’ve had like this,” Johnston sighed. “Off suit, different colors, not even a chance for a baby straight.”
But seriously, Johnston was just proud to break away from his NFL commentator gig to help out.

“What Emmitt has been able to do with his foundation, the kids he’s been able to impact, has been great,” Johnston said. “Early on, not a lot of people knew he was doing this, and he’s been doing it for years — giving kids a chance, an opportunity to do things, to experience things.”

Johnston nodded toward Smith at the other table and said, “There’s the guy who set the template for all of us — his generosity, what he’s done. You always look to other people for examples, and we’ve had great examples through our era with the Dallas Cowboys about giving back to the community. The amount of time Emmitt donate is amazing. It’s great to watch Emmitt’s charity grow and get as big as it has. When you’re doing things for kids, it’s always something that’s very sensitive to everybody.”

At the other table, Aikman glanced at a nice King-Queen set of hole cards, tossed some chips into the pot and said, “One of the fun things, not only with Emmitt but others, is that we’re used to seeing these guys everyday in the locker room. It’s great now to see the good stuff that Emmitt has going on in his life. It’s certainly not surprising, but I’m proud of what he’s done, as well as so many of the others guys that I’ve had a chance to play and compete with.”

Aikman added, “Emmitt’s not beating his chest about it. He’s just going out and doing it. He was a great teammate for a number of years, and he’s obviously accomplished a ton. He’s a special individual, and Dallas-Fort Worth has benefitted from it.”

Dee Lincoln, whose great success in the restaurant world began as co-founder of the highly-regarded Del Frisco’s steakhouses, sat on a couch near the tables. She has been a huge supporter of Emmitt’s charities, as well as that of other Cowboys legends. Her newest restaurant on the outskirts of downtown Dallas (on Cedar Springs, in the lower McKinney Avenue area) has only been open for five months.

“I go back with Emmitt and Troy and Michael (Irvin) and Daryl to when I moved to Dallas from New Orleans in 1990,” she said. “We built some great relationships. This is the fifth year we’ve helped with this event, and the first one at this restaurant.”

Dee said, “It’s not just an event, or a place where they go. We truly are great friends socially and professionally. They have fun, they can be themselves here. I love them, and I really feel like a few times a year I get to be one of the boys with them.”

On this night of cards and revelry, let the scoreboard show the winners were Dr. Clinton Steffey, Dr. Richard Benavides and friends. And the hundreds of kids who be helped from the event.