Applause, applause for Winter Ball chairs Denise Monteleone and Franelle Rogers, who catapulted the 27th annual spectacular to new heights with the energizing Carnevale di Venezia theme and with fundraising power that brought in a record $830,000 for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.
The proliferation of dazzling carnival masks carried by guests and honorees alike and offered for sale during the reception set the tone for the Venetian-themed evening that was carried through in billboard-sized murals and streaming video and photos of the romantic Italian city. Jugglers, mimes and an operatic tenor led the well-heeled throng into the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom where tables were decorated with gilded candelabra topped with glittering, feathery carnival masks.
The Winter Ball each year honors the Channel 13 KTRK Women of Distinction and one Ambassador. This year, organizers added a third category to the honoree mix, that of La Patronessa Straordinaria. The much-beloved Rose Cullen held that honor as she walked the runway escorted by four truly lovely "roses" from the Bay Area Houston Ballet Theatre.
Taking bows as 2014 Women of Distinction were Jane-Page Crump, Winell Herron, Penny Loyd, Joella Mach, Bobbie Nau, Roz Pactor, Rachel Regan, Lisa Simon, Nancy Strohmer and Beth Wolff. Stepping out as Ambassador was Beth Madison. The women were recognized for their ardent commitment to the arts, education, health care and the community at large. Introducing the ladies were KTRK news anchors Melanie Lawson and Tom Koch.
Adding to the exceptional fundraising effort was the outright donation of a Mercedes-Benz 2014 S-Class sedan, which sold for more than the MSRP, donated by Mercedes-Benz Dealers of Greater Houston, the custom-made topaz and diamond earrings designed and donated by Franco Valobra and the seven-night stay in a five-bedroom villa in Cabo San Lucas.
Enhancing the night's glam factor were guests including honorary chairs Betty and Jesse Tutor, Clayton and Shel Erikson, Ralph Burch, Terrie and Mike Turner, Robert Sakowitz, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Margaret Williams and Jim Daniel, John Nau, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Betty and John Hrncir, Trini Mendenhall, KTRK GM Henry Florsheim and wife Doe and Saks Fifth Avenue GM Bobby Dees and wife Weezy.