On October 15, 2011, Chet Flake and Bud Knight (who had died the year before) received the Kuchling Humanitarian Award from the Dallas Black Tie Dinner, annually the largest annual fundraising event in the City of Dallas. The following is the written text of Flake's acceptance speech that evening before an audience of 3,000 guests.
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Bud and I met in 1965. I was here in Dallas studying during the summer at SMU, taking some special courses I needed. I was living in California at the time. We met through a mutual friend, discovered that we both played bridge, and that was the serious part of a romance – that was to be a summer romance, but ended up being a 45 year romance.
The greatest reward in doing our volunteer work has been what we received from the people we helped. We received much more than we ever gave.
We didn't make a decision to volunteer. It was just something that happened automatically when a young man came to our priest and asked, "When I die, will you take care of my funeral? My church won't do it for me."
This was in the early 1980s, and there was a great need to help a lot of people who were getting sick, and they didn't have anybody else to help them – and, in many cases, were deserted by their families.
We didn't have the organizations to start with, but there was a vast need for this kind of service. So that's what we did – doing the natural thing – helping those who couldn't help themselves.
Service just led us from one thing to another. Something needed to be done, and we were there to do it.
Bud loved working with Brian's House. He was on their board of directors. And, after retirement, when he went to work for American Airlines, he even got them involved with it.
I served with the Turtle Creek Chorale for 13 years on the board of directors. Bud joined me, and he initiated their auctions – and they are still doing those auctions today as their major fundraiser of the year.
I got involved with the Resource Center Dallas doing telephone counseling as well as reception work for about 11 years, and at the same time Bud was doing volunteer work over at the main office of the Resource Center. In fact, Bud was still working there right up until he physically couldn't do it anymore – and I am still doing it.
The Dallas community has evolved tremendously over the years, thanks much to those angels who preceded us. We are now respected citizens just as much as anyone else – basically because people have become educated.
Now, tonight, here we are, over 3000 people celebrating our community – and celebrating the fact that we have so many people here from outside our community who are joining us in celebration.
It's a great honor for Bud and me to receive this Kuchling Award – something we never expected – never even dreamed of. It didn't ever enter our minds.
I know that Bud would absolutely be thrilled beyond words – as am I.
So I just want to say thank you to everyone of you out there – particularly to those of you who are out there volunteering. That's the greatest thing you can ever do, and you get much more back than you ever give, I promise you. Thanks to the Black Tie Dinner board of directors, the advisory board and all those people who supported our nomination. We can't tell you enough how much we appreciate the nominations and the award itself. We are very honored. Thank you