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Channeling Audrey Hepburn

A prominent Houstonian is compared to Audrey Hepburn in a star-studded $650,000 gala

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70 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Margaret Alkek Williams
Honoree Margaret Alkek Williams at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
183 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Barron Segar, from left, Cara Santana and Jesse Metcalfe
 Barron Segar, from left, Cara Santana and Jesse Metcalfe at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
482 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Lynn Wyatt and Steven Wyatt
 Lynn Wyatt and Steve Wyatt at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
244 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Gina Bhatia, from left, Y. Ping Sun, Susan Boggio and Suzette Brimmer
Gina Bhatia, from left, Y. Ping Sun, Susan Boggio and Suzette Brimmer at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
96 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Kase Lawal and Eileen Lawal
Kase and Eileen Lawal at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
199 Kimberly DeLape, from left, with Pershant Mehta and Nidhika Mehta
Kimberly DeLape, from left, with Pershant and Nidhika Mehta at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
216 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Jay Watkins and Gretchen Watkins
Jay and Gretchen Watkins at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
130 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Sean Hepburn Ferrer, from left Karin Hofer, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel
Sean Hepburn Ferrer, from left Karin Hofer, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
288 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Dikembe Mutombo and Rose Mutombo
Dikembe and Rose Mutombo at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
272 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Christina Hanson and Mark Hanson
Christina and Mark Hanson at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
499 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Danny David and Isabel David, from left, with Luba Bigman and Alan Bigman
Danny Isabel David, from left, with Luba and Alan Bigman at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
539 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 crowd, venue
Following the program in Wortham Theater, guests moved to the Grand Foyer for a gala dinner celebration. Photo by © Gary Fountain
511 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Anjali Draksharam, from left, Savita Rao, Lenna Shah and Asha Dhume
Anjali Draksharam, from left, Savita Rao, Lenna Shah and Asha Dhume at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
492 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Tony Whitaker and Karen Whitaker
 Tony and Karen Whitaker at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
313 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Performance at UNICEF gala honoring Margaret Alkek Williams
Performance at the UNICEF gala honoring Margaret Alkek Williams. Photo by © Gary Fountain
524 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Kim Moody, left, and Anne Carl
Kim Moody, left, and Anne Carl at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
501 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Edward Sanchez and Ericka Bagwell
Edward Sanchez and Ericka Bagwell at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
531 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Karen Payne, left, and daughter Sumner Payne
Karen Payne, left, and daughter Sumner Payne at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
106 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Bobbi Kirlin and Joel Oppenheim
Bobbi Kirlin and Joel Oppenheim at the UNICEF gala. Photo by © Gary Fountain
70 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Margaret Alkek Williams
183 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Barron Segar, from left, Cara Santana and Jesse Metcalfe
482 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Lynn Wyatt and Steven Wyatt
244 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Gina Bhatia, from left, Y. Ping Sun, Susan Boggio and Suzette Brimmer
96 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Kase Lawal and Eileen Lawal
199 Kimberly DeLape, from left, with Pershant Mehta and Nidhika Mehta
216 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Jay Watkins and Gretchen Watkins
130 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Sean Hepburn Ferrer, from left Karin Hofer, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel
288 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Dikembe Mutombo and Rose Mutombo
272 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Christina Hanson and Mark Hanson
499 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Danny David and Isabel David, from left, with Luba Bigman and Alan Bigman
539 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 crowd, venue
511 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Anjali Draksharam, from left, Savita Rao, Lenna Shah and Asha Dhume
492 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Tony Whitaker and Karen Whitaker
313 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Performance at UNICEF gala honoring Margaret Alkek Williams
524 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Kim Moody, left, and Anne Carl
501 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Edward Sanchez and Ericka Bagwell
531 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Karen Payne, left, and daughter Sumner Payne
106 UNICEF Houston gala September 2013 Bobbi Kirlin and Joel Oppenheim

The inaugural UNICEF Audrey Hepburn Society Ball celebrating the philanthropic work of Margaret Alkek Williams was an evening of memorable firsts. Not only was Williams honored with the first Audrey Hepburn Society Philanthropist of the Year Award, but UNICEF also established the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award, to be given to future local philanthropic leaders.

The preferred attire was white-tie and the glamorous crowd complied donning gala finery including opera-length gloves, full ball gowns and, in a nod to Audrey Hepburn, the modern bun was the hairstyle of choice.

Williams’ dazzling emerald green couture gown came straight from a designer atelier in Rome, specially for the evening, which began in the Wortham Theater.

Desperate Housewives and Dallas star Jesse Metcalfe served as emcee for the elegant event which included performances by the Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera, which presented an a capella version of "Moon River" from the Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

“This is about helping children on a global level. If I can use my celebrity to make a difference, I will." 

Audrey Hepburn’s son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, presented Williams with her award and his remarks likening Williams to his mother were a sincere and touching tribute.

“My mother wanted to give back as a way to return the good fortune she had experienced. Like my mother, Margaret serves to remind us what people are capable of,” he said.

For her part, Williams was quietly gracious, saying she was honored to continue the legacy of her family. Albert Alkek’s donation of $25 million to Baylor College of Medicine in the 1980s began the family’s dedication to charitable giving to medical institutions. It was fitting then that Williams’ $1 million donation to UNICEF supports the Baylor International Pediatrics AIDS Initiative and led to the creation of the UNICEF's Audrey Hepburn Society in the United States.

The evening wasn’t all reserved gaiety though. After all, it is Houston, and when the operatic boy band Il Volo wowed the gala-goers with their three-song set, the well-heeled crowd rewarded them with cheers and a standing ovation. Before hopping a plane to Toronto, the teen trio went off script in a cute mix of English and Italian.

“This is a real pleasure and important for Ms. Williams who has done so much,” Ignazio Boschetto said.

Metcalfe also took a few liberties at the podium, at one point discussing Houston’s reputation as the energy capital, but noting the lack of energy in the room and then later saying how much Houstonians like to eat. He offered a mea culpa during dinner in Wortham Center Grand Foyer that followed the program in the theater.

“Not to undercut Houston a second time,” Metcalfe said. “Houston is a great city and is a special place for me because my girlfriend’s family is from here . . . Houston has a giving heart.”

Wrapped in Metcalfe’s tuxedo jacket, girlfriend Cara Santana said her parents are from Houston and being in town for the UNICEF gala was a bit of homecoming.

Metcalfe is planning a UNICEF trip in April 2014 to either Africa or South America to continue the work of the organization.

“This is about helping children on a global level. If I can use my celebrity to make a difference, I will,” Metcalfe said.

The evening capped off with a five-sorbet birthday cake straight from the Candyland board game and choruses of “Happy Birthday” to Williams.

Chaired by Donna and Robert Bruni, Molly and Jim Crownover, Rose and Harry Cullen Sr., Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Nancy Calles and Dr. Mark Kline, Leela and Nat Krishnamurthy, Penny and Paul Loyd and Tara and David Wuthrich, the gala raised more than $650,000. Joanne King Herring served as honorary chair.

Also making the glam scene were Lynn Wyatt on the arm of son Steve Wyatt, Diane Lokey Farb, Dikembe Mutombo, Pat Breen, Kimberly DeLape, Phoebe Tudor, Monsour Taghdisi, Mark Sullivan and an fun girl’s night out table comprised of Deborah Duncan, Alicia Smith, Ericka Bagwell, Ursaline Hamilton and Anne Carl.

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