A record-breaking 560 supporters filled the ballroom at the Hilton Americas-Houston Saturday night for the 2017 Kickstart Kids Heroes Among Us Galas. The energetic fundraiser supports Kickstart Kids, the nonprofit founded by Chuck Norris that teaches young people character through karate.
More than 50 students demonstrated their karate moves choreographed to high energy music that brought the crowd to their feet. Cheers also abounded for four instructors, Jessica Hellman, Jonathon Gartmann, Chelsea Clark and Wade Jenkins, who were honored for their outstanding performances in their regions. And Megan Thorp moved the audience to tears and earned a standing ovation with an inspirational story about how the program changed her life. She is now training to be a Kickstart instructor.
Laura True and Mike King were honored with the Gena and Chuck Norris Character Award while the Founders Vision Award went to former president George H. W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, who thanked the crowd via video. The Bushes have been involved with the program since its inception in 1990.
The evening's chairs, Jason and Courtney Fertitta and Keith and Alice Mosing, along with founders Gena and Chuck Norris, were elated that a record $900,000 was raised.
Among the post popular auction items that added to the total were a Longhorn steer delivered to your ranch or farm (it went for $12,000 twice) and dinner with fiery talk show host Glenn Beck and the Norrises at Beck's Dallas studio. Beck also donated a series of pop art paintings he did of Chuck Norris.
Seen in the crowd were Sherry and Bill Berry, the evening's emcee Linda Lorelle, Jane and Harry Pefanis, Juli and Kevin Mitchell, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, Jackie and Don Kerstetter, Carolyn and Guy Matthews, Rick and Tanya Shannon, Gail and Greg Garland, Judge Michael McSpadden and Jane Johnston, Michelle and Bill Hickl, Ben and Jean Winkelman, Brenda Love and Ed Jones, Hedda Dowd, Chris and Mike Forshey, Kim and Eric Self, Linda and Willie Chiang, and Elizabeth and John Gibson.