Memorial Hermann Gala

Dance floor magic and heart-tugging stories ignite Memorial Hermann gala, raising $3.1 million

Dance floor magic, heart-tugging stories ignite Memorial Hermann gala

Shawn and Racheal Gottschalk, Brian and Amalia Stanton at Memorial Hermann Gala
Shawn Gottschalk, Racheal Gottschalk, Brian Stanton, and Amalia Stanton form their own band on the dance floor. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Memorial Hermann Gala, Caitlin Copeland, Emily Copeland, Anne Neeson
Caitlin Copeland, Emily Copeland, Anne Neeson. The Copeland twins were cojoined at birth and separated at 10 months at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. Photo by Dave Rossman
Memorial Hermann Gala, Bill and Diane Campbell, Elizabeth and Will Galtney
Gala co-chairs Bill and Diane Campbell and Elizabeth and Will Galtney. Photo by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Arthur and Philamena Baird Memorial Hermann Gala
Arthur Baird, Philamena Baird. Photo by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Balloon drop at Memorial Hermann Gala
A gigantic balloon drop was a highlight to the gala festivities. Photo by Dave Rossman
Scott and Soraya McClelland at Memorial Hermann Gala
Scott McClelland, Soraya McClelland. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Dominique Sachse and NIck Florescu at Memorial Hermann Gala
Nick Florescu, Dominique Sachse. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Dr Kevin Lally, Susan Sarofim, Donna Moylan, Dr Benjamin Chu at Memorial Hermann Gala
Dr. Kevin Lally, Susan Sarofim, Donna Moylan, Dr. Benjamin Chu. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Divya and Chris Brown at Memorial Hermann Gala
Divya Brown, Chris Brown. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Alice and Keith Mosing at Memorial Hermann Gala
Alice Mosing, Keith Mosing. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Memorial Hermann Gala, Phillip Williams, Andrea Alexander, Winell and Doug Herron
Phillip Williams, Andrea Alexander, Winell Herron, Doug Herron. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Bud Lyon and Kim Colvin at Memorial Hermann Gala
Bud Lyons, Kim Colvin. Photo by Dave Rossman
Holly and Austin Alvis at Memorial Hermann Gala
Holly Alvis, Austin Alvis. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Brian Caswell, Hallie Vanderhider, Jennifer Caswell, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin at Memorial Hermann Gala
Bryan Caswell, Hallie Vanderhider, Jennifer Caswell, Fady Armanious,Bill Baldwin. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Laurie and Tracy Krohn at Memorial Hermann Gala
Laurie Krohn, Tracy Krohn. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Yvonne and Rufus Cormier at Memorial Hermann Gala
Dr. Yvonne Cormier, Rufus Cormier. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Jason and Stacy Johnson at Memorial Hermann Gala
Jason Johnson, Stacy Johnson. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Susie Distefano, Dr. Iggy Distefano at Memorial Hermann Gala
Susie Distefano, Dr. Iggy Distefano. Photo by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Matthew Garrett and Ella Rose Arnold at Memorial Hermann Gala
Matthew Garrett, Ella Rose Arnold. Photo by Dave Rossman
Kimberly Falgout, Evan Scheele at Memorial Hermann Gala
Kimberly Falgout, Evan Scheele. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Morgan Becker, Kelly Titus at Memorial Hermann Gala
Morgan Becker, Kelly Titus. Photo by Dave Rossman
Rainy and Brian Gibbs at Memorial Hermann Gala
Rainy Gibbs, Brian Gibbs. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Cathy and Joe Cleary at Memorial Hermann Gala
Cathy Cleary, Joe Cleary. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Cake parade celebration at Memorial Hermann Gala
Waitstaff bring in 40 birthday cakes as party of the celebration. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Memorial Hermann Gala, From left Kate Beeler, Ashley Brown and Kimberly Landa
Kate Beeler, Ashley Brown, Kimberly Landa. Photo by Dave Rossman
Shawn and Racheal Gottschalk, Brian and Amalia Stanton at Memorial Hermann Gala
Memorial Hermann Gala, Caitlin Copeland, Emily Copeland, Anne Neeson
Memorial Hermann Gala, Bill and Diane Campbell, Elizabeth and Will Galtney
Arthur and Philamena Baird Memorial Hermann Gala
Balloon drop at Memorial Hermann Gala
Scott and Soraya McClelland at Memorial Hermann Gala
Dominique Sachse and NIck Florescu at Memorial Hermann Gala
Dr Kevin Lally, Susan Sarofim, Donna Moylan, Dr Benjamin Chu at Memorial Hermann Gala
Divya and Chris Brown at Memorial Hermann Gala
Alice and Keith Mosing at Memorial Hermann Gala
Memorial Hermann Gala, Phillip Williams, Andrea Alexander, Winell and Doug Herron
Bud Lyon and Kim Colvin at Memorial Hermann Gala
Holly and Austin Alvis at Memorial Hermann Gala
Brian Caswell, Hallie Vanderhider, Jennifer Caswell, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin at Memorial Hermann Gala
Laurie and Tracy Krohn at Memorial Hermann Gala
Yvonne and Rufus Cormier at Memorial Hermann Gala
Jason and Stacy Johnson at Memorial Hermann Gala
Susie Distefano, Dr. Iggy Distefano at Memorial Hermann Gala
Matthew Garrett and Ella Rose Arnold at Memorial Hermann Gala
Kimberly Falgout, Evan Scheele at Memorial Hermann Gala
Morgan Becker, Kelly Titus at Memorial Hermann Gala
Rainy and Brian Gibbs at Memorial Hermann Gala
Cathy and Joe Cleary at Memorial Hermann Gala
Cake parade celebration at Memorial Hermann Gala
Memorial Hermann Gala, From left Kate Beeler, Ashley Brown and Kimberly Landa

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, the 2017 Memorial Hermann Circle of Life Gala proved to be one of the liveliest parties of the social season, with a combination of heart-tugging stories from former patients and such crowd-pleasing touches as a marching band, a colorful balloon drop, and non-stop hits performed by the Atlanta-based band Simply Irresistible that kept the large dance floor packed throughout the evening.

Dr. Benjamin K. Chu, president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System, boogied with philanthropist Margaret Alkek Williams, while nearby, KPRC Channel 2 anchor Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu, Diane Lokey Farb and Neal Hamil, and KHOU Channel 11 anchor Len Cannon (who emceed the evening) and Bernadette Verzosa were among those showcasing their best dance moves. 

Many in the crowd of more than 1,600 at the Hilton Americas-Houston sported flashing neon sunglasses, plastic microphones and guitars, and twinkling tambourines that were handed out to those on the dance floor as they got down to a mix of tunes and a special appearance by The Voice contestant Támar Davis.

The gala, chaired by Memorial Hermann System Board members Diane and Bill Campbell and Elizabeth and Will Galtney, brought in $3.1 million, the second largest total in the event's history.

Before the frivolity began, Anne E. Neeson, the recently named executive vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Foundation, and Dr. Kevin P. Lally, Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital surgeon-in-chief, honored former pediatric patients Emily and Caitlin Copeland, Dominic Larkin, and Faith Hagler, and the doctors who saved their lives. 

Larkin survived a fall into a hot tub as an infant and was treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), which bypasses the lungs, enabling the body to rest and the lungs to heal, while Hagler was the first in Texas to undergo in utero surgery for spina bifida. Born conjoined at the liver and chest in 1996, the Copeland twins underwent successful separation surgery at only 10 months old and are now thriving college students.

Long-time corporate partner H-E-B was also honored, with Memorial Hermann board member and H-E-B Houston CEO Scott McClelland accepting the award. "If you're going to get sick, Houston is the place to do it, and, of course, Memorial Hermann is the premier hospital in Houston," McClelland told the crowd.

Playing on the birthday theme, designer Elizabeth Swift of Swift + company created centerpieces filled with flowers and balloons. Guests posted for photos in front of a eight-foot-high replica of a birthday cake at the entrance to the ballroom. After dinner, 40 waiters and waitresses marched out, each with three-tiered birthday cakes while the Waltrip High School “Roaring Red” Ram marching band filled the dance floor and hundreds of colorful balloons cascaded from the ceiling — all organized by Ward & Ames Special Events.

Afterwards, the heartiest partygoers stayed around for the first-ever “Celebration Cellar,” a late night lounge with light bites, cocktails, and dancing, in an intimate setting.

Spotted in the gala crowd were Hallie Vanderhider, Susan Sarofim, Holly and Austin Alvis, Arthur and Philamena Baird, who was the evening's best dressed in a bright yellow one-shoulder gown, Divya and Chris Brown, Jennifer and Brian Caswell, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Susie and Dr. Iggy Distefano, Christine Falgout and Bill Gutknecht, Jo Lynn and Gregg Falgout, Kimberly Falgout and Evan Scheele, Stacy and Jason Johnson, Laurie and Tracy Krohn, Soraya McClelland, Alice and Keith Mosing, Sherry and Jim Smith, and Dana and Trey Strake.