Gala Flying High

With $2.9 million in proceeds, this gala crowd had plenty of reasons to celebrate

This gala crowd had $2.9 million reasons to celebrate and boy did they

Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Lori Wolterman, Dan Wolterman, Susan Sarofim, Ileana Trevino
Lori Wolterman, Dan Wolterman, Susan Sarofim, Ileana Trevino. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Roland Garcia, Karen Garcia
Roland Garcia, Karen Garcia, © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala, 5/16, Gary Petersen, Alice Mosing, Keith Mosting
Gary Petersen, Alice Mosing, Keith Mosing. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Donna Moylan, Dr. Benjamin Chu
Donna Moylan, Dr. Benjamin Chu. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Bill Gutneckt, Christine Gutneckt, Jo Lynn Falgout, Gregg Falgout
Bill Gutneckt, Christine Falgout Gutneckt, Jo Lynn Falgout, Gregg Falgout. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Jim Smith, Walter Johnson, Clarence Cazalot
Jim Smith, Walter Johnson, Clarence Cazalot. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Dan Wolterman, Crew of Life
Dan Wolterman, Crew of Life. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Susie Distefano, Iggy Distefano
Susie Distefano, Iggy Distefano. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Dr. Sara Duke, Charles King
Dr. Sara Duke, Charles King. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Hallie Vanderhider, Michael Vanderhider
Hallie Vanderhider, Michael Vanderhider. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Arthur Baird, Philamena Baird
Arthur Baird, Philamena Baird. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Mark Sullivan, Diane Lokey Farb
Mark Sullivan, Diane Lokey Farb. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Allison Cordola, Craig Cordola
Allison Cordola, Craig Cordola. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Bill Campbell, Diane Campbell, Barbara Easter, Bill Easter
Bill Campbell, Diane Campbell, Barbara Easter, Bill Easter. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Joe Cleary, Cathy Cleary
Joe Cleary, Cathy Cleary. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Michael Trevino, Ileana Trevino
Michael Trevino, Ileana Trevino. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Jim  Smith, Jaci Smith
Jim Smith, Jaci Smith. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Miguel Trevio, Mari Trevino, Bryan Glass
Miguel Trevio, Mari Trevino, Bryan Glass. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Lori Wolterman, Dan Wolterman, Susan Sarofim, Ileana Trevino
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Roland Garcia, Karen Garcia
Memorial Hermann Gala, 5/16, Gary Petersen, Alice Mosing, Keith Mosting
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Donna Moylan, Dr. Benjamin Chu
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Bill Gutneckt, Christine Gutneckt, Jo Lynn Falgout, Gregg Falgout
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Jim Smith, Walter Johnson, Clarence Cazalot
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Dan Wolterman, Crew of Life
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Susie Distefano, Iggy Distefano
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Dr. Sara Duke, Charles King
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Hallie Vanderhider, Michael Vanderhider
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Arthur Baird, Philamena Baird
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Mark Sullivan, Diane Lokey Farb
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Allison Cordola, Craig Cordola
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Bill Campbell, Diane Campbell, Barbara Easter, Bill Easter
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Joe Cleary, Cathy Cleary
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Michael Trevino, Ileana Trevino
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16 Jim  Smith, Jaci Smith
Memorial Hermann Gala 5/16  Miguel Trevio, Mari Trevino, Bryan Glass

One part swan song, one part memorial, and four parts over-the-top fun, the Memorial Hermann Foundation "Circle of Life" gala rocked the night for the 1,600 guests who packed the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom. And with $2.9 million in the kitty, there was plenty to celebrate.

First was the salute to Life Flight founder the late Dr. James "Red" Duke, Memorial Hermann's "Father of Trauma." The evening's honoree was praised by Memorial Hermann Health System president and CEO Dan Wolterman, who noted “From his down-home Texas wit and charm to his signature wire-rimmed glasses, careworn cowboy hats and bristle-brush mustache, Dr. Red Duke was one of Houston's most recognizable personalities."

Wolterman announced that for Duke's role in founding the air ambulance program in 1976 and serving as its medical director for nearly four decades, the hospital's trauma institute is being renamed the Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute. Duke's daughter, Dr. Sara Duke, and her husband, Charles King, received the honors on the family's behalf.

And then came the surprise video salute to Wolterman, who recently announced his retirement. In addition to accolades from colleagues, friends and Memorial Hermann Health System board members, it was announced that a Life Flight helicopter would be named in Wolterman's honor. And with that, he was joined on stage by the entire Life Flight crew for presentation of a model of his personalized chopper.

That little gem was second only to the massive helicopter crafted from fresh flowers by A Memorable Event, which filled the ballroom with floating clouds adorned with crystals. 

“After 17 rewarding years of service with Memorial Hermann, retiring from this organization is like giving up your kids," Wolterman told the gathering. "But from a distance, I will watch with the eyes of a proud parent as the next generation of leadership takes Memorial Hermann to a bigger and brighter future.”

That next generation is in the hands of Dr. Benjamin K. Chu, who takes over as Wolterman's successor today. He and other headliners of the evening included gala chair Susan Sarofim and honorary chairs Clarence Cazalot, Walter Johnson, and Jim Smith.

After dinner, the band Simply Irresistible, in from Atlanta, took over the gala, turning it into an energized bash as guests donned gimme caps with the Life Flight logo and made use of the bright red selfie sticks that served as party favors.

Joining the festivities were Lori Wolterman, Ileana and Michael Trevino, Cathy and Giorgio Borlenghi, Gary Petersen, Donna and Tony Vallone, Dr. Giuseppe Colasurdo, Cathy and Joe Cleary, the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, Allison and Craig Cordola, Deborah and Gardner Cannon, Alice and Keith Mosing, Sherry Smith, Suzie and Larry Johnson, and Jo Lynn and Gregg Falgout.

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