PAWSING FOR VETERANS

Ken Hoffman highlights a special group that unites four-legged friends with American heroes

Patriot Paws/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

It's that time of year: Houston Ballet's packed and popular Nutcracker Market will be held Thursday, November 14, through Sunday, November 17, at NRG Center with more than 100,000 shoppers expected to scoop up everything "Christmasy" that can fit under a tree, down a chimney, on a dinner table or you can put a bow on it.

About 260 merchants, including 23 rookie booths, will kick back 11 percent of their sales toward the Houston Ballet Foundation. When you add in all the admission money, thousands of Houston area students will get a valuable lesson in the arts.

As always, all roads will lead to booth 920, to the back and to the right in NRG Center, where the Donne Di Domani ladies will be selling their legendary marinara sauce for the 28th year. Donne Di Domani means "Women of Tomorrow" in Italian, or "Spaghetti Sauce Ladies" in plain English.

The sauce is still $10 a bottle, credit cards accepted. If you buy a 12-bottle case for $120, they'll throw in a dozen recipe cards guaranteed to please the family, including your uncle who comes to your house each Christmas and does nothing but complain about your cooking.

Here's why I love writing about these ladies. Sure their sauce is amazing. Consider this a warning: If you wait till Sunday to buy the sauce, you'll be the little piggy who had none. But the real story is what Donne Di Domani does with their profits — we're talking millions here. Yeah, they sell a lot of sauce.

Each year, after the market closes and they total up the profits, the ladies decide which charities they'll support. It's a long list of organizations such as Shelter for Cancer Families, Casa Juan Diego, Triumph Over Kid Cancer, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Carmelite Nuns of New Caney, and many more.

One year, when I was in the hospital getting my X-rays touched up, I heard that Sister Angel and the Carmelite Nuns said a prayer for me. Wrong church, wrong pew, but I'll take it.

Pawsing for our heroes
The charities may change, but the ladies will always support an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families. Last year the charity was Folded Flag, which lends a hand to widows and children of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

In recent years, Donne Di Domani sponsored service dogs trained by Patriot Paws in Rockwell, Texas. I've been to Rockwell and seen how these remarkable dogs help wounded veterans get through their day. It costs $30,000 to train a dog, and the dogs are given free to vets who need them. Donne Di Domani so far has sponsored four Patriot Paws dogs:

"Hoffy," who was named after me (best honor I ever received), didn't make the grade. His mind wandered and he didn't concentrate on his studies. (The acorn sure didn't fall far from the tree.)

Continue on CultureMap to find out what happened to "Hoffy."

THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer suspended worldwide by Coronavirus

The newly renamed BBVA Stadium. Photo courtesy of BBVA

In the span of a week, "the world's game" went from business as usual, while keeping a close eye on the Coronavirus situation, to most leagues stopping play altogether. The powers that be now look to solutions for some of the world's top competitions like the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League.

UPDATE: Both the UEFA EURO (European Championship) and CONMEBOL Copa America (South American Championship), the two most renowned international tournaments after the FIFA World Cup, announced the postponement of their 2020 editions on Tuesday. Both tournaments will now be played in the Summer of 2021.


Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) also annnounced the suspension of it's international competitons, most importantly the Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament in late March. No announcement has been made yet as to what the fate will be for the Concacaf Nations League, the semifinals of which are scheduled to take place this June in Houston.

Here is the updates on the status of club football:

UEFA Champions League / Europa League

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League are suspended for the moment after due in big part to the inability of Italian teams to take part in the Round of 16 stage of either tournament. Some matches had already taken place with no spectators but the implementation of a nationwide quarantine in Italy and, subsequently, Spain have complicated the tournament to continue.

Update: UEFA hosted a videoconference with Presidents and General Secretaries of the 55 national associations, representatives of the European Club Association, European Leagues and FIFPro Europe on Tuesday to discuss the rest of the season.

The decision to postpone EURO 2020, and the colaboration for Copa America to do the same, was made to clear the schedule during the summer for club competitions. Now it's a wait and see but there is optimism to resume play as early as April and finish in late June or July.

CONMEBOL Libertadores / Copa Sudamericana

South America's club championships are on hold for the time being and will also benefit from the Copa America suspension to have a clear schedule this summer.

English Premier League

The Premier League went from expecting to play the weekend schedule to doing a 180 and announcing the suspension of the league after the news broke of Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta testing positive for Coronavirus.

Spain's La Liga

German Bundesliga

Italian Serie A

French Ligue 1

Ligue 1 has set April 15th as a target date for the best case scenario to comeback from the Coronavirus hiatus. The date takes into account two weeks of training before the league resumes.

Major League Soccer

National Women's Soccer League

Liga MX / Ascenso MX/ MX Femenil

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