Supporting Progress in Alzheimer’s Research
Southwestern Medical Foundation celebrates generous leaders who share our vision for a healthier tomorrow and who invest time and treasure to make this goal a reality. Ted and Shannon Skokos have used their generosity to help give scientists the tools to make progress in Alzheimer’s Research.
Recognizing Needs During the Pandemic
Beyond their support of making progress in Alzheimer’s research, the Skokos also recognized a great need during a global health crisis. In April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a direct impact on the Skokos family when they were faced with the gut-wrenching reality that Mr. Skokos’ 51-year-old cousin, recently engaged to be married, was being placed on a ventilator in a New Jersey hospital as he battled COVID-19. After bravely fighting against the virus for more than a month, Mr. Skokos’ cousin passed away.
During the 49 days prior to his passing, safety precautions precluded the family from visiting. They were only able to connect with him by an iPad held by caring nurses. Mr. Skokos was touched by the heroic actions of the health care workers who sacrificed everything to care for his cousin. Their role as surrogate families for others while battling their own emotional fatigue and physical exhaustion was unforgettable.
“That selfless devotion permeated hospitals around the nation, and we wanted to do our part to say thank you,” said Mr. Skokos.
In response to the compassionate care that meant so much to their family during the pandemic, Mr. and Mrs. Skokos contributed funds to care for nurses at UT Southwestern and Baylor Scott & White on their respective COVID wings.
“We just wanted a way to show our appreciation,” said Mr. Skokos.
Driven to Give
For Mrs. Skokos, her motivation to give back is simple: she calls it the “Riley Rule.”
While in law school, her landlord notified her that he was planning on selling her condominium unit, meaning she would need to move out two weeks before final exams unless she bought the condo herself—which at the time, she could not afford. When a man named Pat Riley, Sr., who was a sponsor of the Miss Arkansas scholarship organization, learned of her predicament, he volunteered to purchase the condo for his own real estate investment portfolio. He became her new landlord, lowered her monthly rent payment, and gave her the peace of mind that staying in her current home while completing her exams would bring.
When she said to him, “There is no way I can possibly repay you,” his response was “all that I ask is that one day when you can afford it, that you do the same to help someone else.” Mrs. Skokos continues to follow the “Riley Rule” and believes that although giving financially is impactful, the greatest philanthropic impact is made when one makes a personal commitment of his or her time, gifts, talents, and heart.
Since then, Mrs. Skokos has coached basketball for young boys through Buckner International in Oak Cliff, worked at an orphanage for disabled children in Haiti, and mentored young teenage girls rescued from sex trafficking in Honduras.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Skokos are guided by their personal interests when it comes to choosing which philanthropic organizations in which to be involved. Mrs. Skokos’ passion to inspire young women to learn to love themselves, share empathy, and make a difference, drives her to fund scholarships and mentor young women through the Miss Arkansas scholarship organization. She also volunteers her time mentoring teenage girls who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Ted’s passion is to honor the men and women who have sacrificed for this country through military service. He is currently serving as Chairman of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation board in an effort to pass legislation and raise funds to construct a Washington, D.C. memorial to service members.
As a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Skokos have spent every Christmas Day for the past several years at Jonathan’s Place in Dallas, where they make Christmas magic happen for dozens of abused and neglected children in the emergency shelter and other residences.
Mr. Skokos was born and raised in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He grew up the oldest of five children, which helped to develop qualities of leadership at an early age. He began working at age 10 and still reminisces about spending his hard-earned money on a transistor radio so that he could stay up late in bed and listen to his beloved St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
He attended the University of Arkansas, where he completed his undergraduate studies and received his Juris Doctor degree. He began his legal career as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Pulaski County, Arkansas, and entered the U.S. Army Reserve as an officer. In a life-changing moment on December 20, 1990, Ted’s Army Reserve unit was called to serve in the Persian Gulf War, where he was one of 550 soldiers to ultimately serve in all three Gulf War missions.
Upon returning home from war, he retired from the practice of law to focus on family and private investments.
Mrs. Skokos also grew up in Arkansas, in the small town of Alma. She became a Governor’s Scholar and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas. She won the title of Miss Arkansas in 1992 and was honored in the Arkansas State House and Senate for her statewide youth motivational program. She shares a background in law with Mr. Skokos, having received her Juris Doctor degree with high honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She served as Associate Law Review Editor and was awarded the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Commendation for Distinguishing Achievement in the Art and Science of Advocacy.
The couple made Dallas, Texas, their home in 2004. That year, they had made numerous trips to visit a terminally ill family member living in the city. One day while in town, they spontaneously decided to tour a few homes. Less than a month later, they moved to Dallas. They haven’t looked back since.
If you take the best of New York and the best of Los Angeles, and then wrap it up in southern hospitality, you get Dallas. If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist.Ted Skokos
For Mr. and Mrs. Skokos, making Dallas their home meant making the city a part of their mission to give back. They continue to do so today through their support and advocacy of Southwestern Medical Foundation and other organizations dear to them. We remain grateful for their example and inspiration in driving progress forward together.