Remarks by the First Lady at Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award Dinner

WASHINGTON, April 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a Statement by the First Lady at Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award Dinner:

MRS. BUSH: Pete, thank you very, very much. And thanks to each and every one of you out here. I'm overwhelmed from the -- everything that you all have thought of to make this such a really wonderful evening for me. So thank you all very much.

I want to thank my children's literature professor, Dr. Earhart, for starting this tonight and getting us all seated. I'm very proud that she actually told you what I made in her class. (Laughter.) I want to thank all of the honorary chairmen -- the Altshulers, the Phillipses, the Francises, the Oberwetters, Bob Jordan -- thank you very much to all of our good friends who have worked on this dinner. The Singing Mustangs, weren't they terrific, with Dean Bowen? (Applause.) Thank you very much. I loved all the great songs that they dedicated to me. (Laughter.)

And Ray and Nancy Ann, thank you so much. Thank you all for the video and for bringing together all my sister-in-laws and Dr. Rice and Barbara and Jenna and all of my good friends for that tribute. I appreciate it very, very much.

I'm thrilled to be here. I want to thank everyone for such a very lovely tribute. I want to thank you for honoring me in this very, very nice way. And I especially want to thank the members of Bob Folsom's family who are here with us tonight. There are few people in Dallas who don't know the name Bob Folsom or haven't been touched in some way by his life. This annual honor is a well-deserved tribute to his community leadership, and I'm sorry that he can't be with us tonight. (Applause.)

I want to acknowledge the President and the CEO of Methodist Health System, Dr. Stephen Mansfield. April, I've enjoyed sitting by you, Mrs. April Box Chamberlain, the President and CEO of the Methodist Health System Foundation. My friends and our emcee tonight, Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt, thank you all very much. Thank you for your friendship and thank you for everything you've done to make this such a wonderful evening for me, and congratulations to you, Nancy Ann, for being one of the Folsom Award winners.

My big sister in the sorority, Susan Nowlin, and Boots, thank you for being the co-chairmen tonight with Jane and Chick Pierce. Jane was also at SMU when I was there. In fact, Nancy Ann and Susan and Jane and I were all young students together. And it seems like such a short time ago that we were at SMU. But now George and I have a daughter who's getting married, and we're facing retirement. (Laughter.)

I'm so thrilled to be here in Dallas and so happy to be here among so many friends. And there are so many friends of mine in the audience -- old friends from SMU, friends from our time in Austin when George was governor, and friends from when we lived here before. Thank you all very, very much for coming out tonight. Thank you for supporting Methodist Health System, and thank you very much for this very lovely tribute to me. I'm so honored with it.

It is so great to be here, and actually, for George and me, Dallas is home, although despite -- (applause) -- despite some of the enthusiastic reporting, we have not yet bought a house here. (Laughter.) We have announced, though, as Ray told you, that the presidential library will be housed at Southern Methodist University. (Applause.) This will be the first truly urban location for a presidential library -- next to a DART stop, no less. (Laughter.) And a lot of care will be paid to how the library will connect with the SMU campus and with the greater Dallas community.

George and I look forward to building the presidential library and building our lives here in Dallas again after 14 years away. We'll go back to our church, Highland Park Methodist Church, and thank you so much, Mark, for being with us tonight. (Applause.) Our library will be at Southern Methodist University, and tonight we're honoring the Methodist Health System. (Laughter.) I guess you can tell we're Methodist. (Laughter.)

For more than 80 years, Methodist Health System has been an essential part of the Dallas community, and its good work reflects the faith-based principles of life, learning and compassion on which it was founded. Last year Methodist Health System provided more than $70 million in charity care. Its Golden Cross Academic Clinic offers critical services to some of Dallas's most disadvantaged patients.

Two new programs that April told you about that Methodist is developing will be a fitting complement to its award-winning maternal and neonatal care. The Life Shines Bright Pregnancy Program will make sure that children are born healthy. And by introducing mothers and infants to the love of reading, the Read to Me program will ensure they leave the hospital already on the road to success.

Some of my happiest memories as a child are of my mother reading to me and taking me to the public library to check out books. She taught me to love the written word, and I passed this enthusiasm on to Barbara and Jenna. There's no better way for a mother to bond with her children than by sharing good books with them. So thank you to Methodist very much for this Read to Me program.

The Life Shines Bright Program -- Pregnancy Program and the Read to Me program will both be housed in the Golden Cross Clinic, where they'll target a community whose pre-term birth rate dramatically exceeds the national averages. These are just a few examples of how Methodist compassion outreach to those in need.

Thank you to everyone here for supporting this good work. Thanks most of all to the Methodist leaders, doctors, nurses and hard-working staff. Tonight, the true honor goes to each one of you for working to keep Dallas a place "where life shines bright."

Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

SOURCE White House Press Office

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