Attendees Guide to Chocolate Decadence 2018

Whether you are Chocolate Decadence virgin or veteran, this guide is designed to help you navigate a memorable evening and make the most of your Chocolate Decadence 2018 experience.  Bringing a guest, or perhaps you were invited to be a guest at someone’s table?  This guide helps with everything you need to know to have a great time and help you understand some of the inside lingo, so you don’t miss a thing. The event is Friday, February 9th and reservations are available at Cocktail hour starts at 6pm.  The fun begins at 6pm with a cocktail hour.


What is Chocolate Decadence

Chocolate Decadence is a fundraiser benefiting the Aphasia Center of West Texas.  The event is hosted by the Center’s staff with the help of a particularly wonderful group of volunteers. The concept, developed by creative fundraising guru Cece Brune, is centered around, decadent chocolate, Valentine’s Day, and love; not necessarily in that order.  This event quickly became one of the most anticipated parties of the year.  Chocolate Decadence always takes place in February, but tables can sell out mid-January so reserve your table/tickets early. The 2018 theme is Phantom of the Opera.

What is Aphasia

Aphasia is a communication impairment, typically caused by a stroke.  Aphasia affects a person’s expression and understanding of language as well as their ability to read and write.

Arriving at the Event

Valet parking is available. Upon arrival, the volunteer event staff will help you check in and locate your table.  Also, watch for servers carting trays of bubbly.  They can be found near the entrance.

Shopping & Other Event Activities

As soon as you find your seat and grab a drink there are many other aspects of the event you won’t want to miss…


He’s handsome, he’s in costume, and he’s available for a photo with you or your group! Believe us, you’ll want to post these pics!


If you like to power shop, use this time to scope out the various merchants that create your boutique experience. There’s something for everyone at a wide variety of price points (starting at $5)!  Better yet, join your friends and let this activity be a social affair.  You are sure to find a unique gift for your special Valentine(s) and 15% will go to the Aphasia Center.  Think scarves, jewelry, home goods, entertaining ware and more.  Items are new each year.  The boutique accepts all forms of payment.


Place your bid on your choice of a dozen wine- and whiskey-themed high-end gifts.  Try your luck, there are no losers. Either way, you give to a great cause!


For a $100 donation, you’ll be entered into a raffle for airfare, hotel, and two tickets to a Broadway play (with several options to choose from). This fantastic package also includes a pre-show dinner with one of the actors – your chance to win all this for only $100! Plus, the first 100 ticket-buyers receive a collectible, hand-blown glass chocolate.


This is your chance to bid on one-of-a-kind extravagant items including trips, catered dinners/parties, fine jewelry, and more.  Be sure to visit the Chocolate Decadence page of the Aphasia Center website to read about item details prior to the event (  A professional auctioneer makes this an exciting time even if you don’t get it on the bidding action.

The annual costs for various expenses and programming such as book club, conversation groups, hobby groups and overhead are offered as part of the auction.  This is your chance to give directly where it counts most, and 100% of the proceeds go to benefit the Center.

Eats & Drinks

The evening begins with live entertainment starting with a 6 p.m. cocktail hour that includes savory meats, vegetables, and other hearty meal-worthy items. At 7 p.m., your sweet tooth will be satisfied with the unveiling of the decadent desserts and more savories.  Catering staff does their best to keep your water and tea glasses full, and the bar is available for those who prefer something of a stronger variety.  Costs for drinks are included in the ticket price.

Who will be there

What started with a few tables has grown into THE Can’t Miss Event of the year.  350+ of your new closest friends attend this much anticipated soiree.  Bring your own crew, come ready to make new friends, or both.  Local celebrities including Jay Hendricks, Tatum Hubbard, Keith Moore, The Eoffs, David Hamm and others have been known to make an appearance.  This is the place to see and be seen!

What to Wear

Chocolate Decadence features a new theme each year which is artfully selected by the chairperson.  The chairman for 2018 is Marion Bryant. She selected Phantom of the Opera as the theme and masks are welcome.  Themes of years past include Wizard of Oz, Paint the Town Red, and Gangsters & Flappers.  Dressing for the theme is admired, but the only real requirement is to have a good time.  If you are not in costume, cocktail attire or party wear is most appropriate for the evening.

The Sweetheart

Each year volunteers nominate leaders who has gone above and beyond for the Center.  This can be a dynamic duo, a special group, a company, or a person.  The winner of this prestigious award is honored at the event and posted on the Center’s social media feeds (pictures often include tiaras and crowns).  This year’s winner is long time advocate, supporter, and board member, David Ham.

What to Bring & How to Pay

There will be lots of items for purchase at the event, and you may be moved to support our cause, so be sure to bring your favorite method of payment.  The Aphasia Center is ready to accept your check, cash and credit cards at the event, or anytime.  Table reservations must be made and paid in advance either online or via phone.  The Center pays a percentage of each credit card transaction.  Therefore, checks for larger payments is preferable, but your convenience is most important.

What Else You Should Know

Living with Aphasia is easier when more people know about the condition (a result from an injury to the brain) and understand the challenges.  Your participation is important to our cause.  Spreading the word about aphasia, the Aphasia Center and the work we do will help generate a better and more ubiquitous understanding.

About the Volunteers

The Aphasia Center volunteers are some of the best and teamwork is the name of the game.  New to volunteering? Come learn from the best, or lend your expertise to enhance the group.  All skill sets, and special talents welcomed.

About the Aphasia Center

The Aphasia Center of West Texas is a safe place for area residents to access a network of support and learn aphasia communication strategies plus practical tips that lessen the daily frustration of living with aphasia. Our model is not medical but rather a life participation approach to overcoming communication barriers caused by aphasia. Our members pay a low monthly fee and scholarships are available to those who qualify. The Aphasia Center of West Texas was the second independent aphasia center in the United States to implement a life participation approach to living with aphasia.

Announcing June 17th Concert Bob Seger Tribute Band

When it comes to Rock and Roll, there is one American recording artist inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with a career that spanned five decades, including twenty-one albums and more than sixty singles, selling over 50 million copies. That artist is of course, the legendary Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. Sponsorships (with reserved seats, catered meal, and more) are now available for Turn the Page, The Ultimate Tribute to Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. For all the details click here

Philanthropic Family of the Year Award

Philanthropic Family of the Year Award goes to Cece and A.J. Brune

ACWT joins our region in honoring Cece and A.J. Brune selected as Philanthropic Family of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. As 29-year West Texas residents, Cece and A.J. support a broad range of organizations, including the Aphasia Center of West Texas.

11 years ago, when Cece heard the plight of stroke survivors struggling with aphasia, she invented a chocolate-themed fundraiser called Chocolate Decadence. She chaired both the event’s first year (which raised one month of the Center’s operating expenses) and the 10-year-anniversary event (now consistently raising nearly 50% of an entire year’s operating funds).

Executive Director Kitty Binek reflects, “Every nonprofit dreams of volunteer impact this far-reaching. Cece’s meticulous standards match the Aphasia Center’s bar of excellence. Her attention to detail shows in every interaction whether an event, recognition of staff efforts, or the way she motivates others to serve. Cece and A.J. consistently invite their friends to our events, broadening awareness of aphasia as well as broadening our circles of support.”

The depth of sharing from Cece and A.J. Brune has changed our region, making West Texas a better place for all of us.

Judge Pat Baskin Volunteer of the Year Goes to ACWT’s Marilyn Mathis

Volunteers at the Aphasia Center are the lifeblood of our program.

Volunteers are challenged with jobs requiring specialized skills, hours of training and high levels of accountability. We utilize various tools and adaptations to create an environment that provides communication access and offers a holistic approach with the goal of helping people with aphasia re-engage in life. As a result, we ask our volunteers to make an uncommon commitment requiring an enormous degree of passion and dedication.

Marilyn Kitty Carolyn VOLUNTEER
Having spent the past seven years as a program volunteer Marilyn Mathis has proven herself to be a rare treasure. As a retired school teacher, Marilyn began serving in our computer lab where she assists members in using aphasia-friendly software programs. Rarely absent, she consistently offers patience, kindness and support. She also acts as a conversation group facilitator and leader of our weekly Book Club. However, these duties are only the beginning. She can also be seen stuffing envelopes, pulling weeds, answering phones, working special events and performing a myriad of other humble tasks.

That being said, the greatest endorsement came in 2013 when along with others, Aphasia Center members nominated Marilyn for the Sweetheart Award – the most prestigious honor a volunteer can receive from the Center, and she won.

Marilyn Mathis w ACWT Book Club members

Though all the hours and tasks are invaluable, Marilyn’s biggest contribution is the lifeline she offers to Aphasia Center members who can no longer read or travel. As Book Club facilitator, Marilyn has become skilled at all the adaptive techniques necessary for people with aphasia to have an authentic conversation after listening to a good book. This skill, coupled with her passion and heart for those who know more than they can say, caused her to begin asking our members, many struggling with mobility, if they could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? One by one as they expressed the places they longed to see, she researched and came back with a way the group could virtually travel to their chosen destinations. She sparked conversation and connection, transporting people who could use a vacation off to the location of their dreams.

All of at the Aphasia Center of West Texas applaud Marilyn Mathis as winner of the Judge Pat Baskin 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award.