Houston's booming prosperity and Becca Cason Thrash's Midas touch were never more evident than Tuesday night, when with the toss of several footballs by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, she raised $850,000 for one of her favorite charities — Best Buddies. Not bad for a mid-week soirée for only 176.
It was a swell crowd of philanthropists, sophisticated sports fans and a billionaire or two who ponied up the big bucks for this energized gridiron dinner. Yes, gridiron. With Brady as headliner, La Becca had the famed indoor swimming pool (the one surrounded by Andy Warhol portraits of Marilyn Monroe) covered in AstroTurf to resemble a football field, yard lines included.
And then there were the four gals who paid $5,000 each for the opportunity to toss a pigskin with Brady.
Houston Texans minority owners Javier Loya and Chuck Watson, former Houston Oiler Ray Childress and Olympics track great Carl Lewis were among notables mixing it up with Brady on the "field" while the decibel level of this enthused crowd rose to NRG Stadium levels. Getting the merry throng seated for dinner required nothing less than offensive lineman heft.
Once settled into their places (those paying $5,000 each garnered seats with Brady), guests were treated to a spectacular dinner, the quality of which is seldom seen at charity fundraisers, that due to the top toques contributing their efforts. Kudos ran high for appetizers prepared by David Cordua of Cordua Restaurants, the ruby shrimp dish by Reef chef Bryan Caswell, and the main course Wagyu beef from Nara chef Donald Chang.
Highlight of the fundraiser was a Q&A with the three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, with questions posed by Becca and Best Buddies founder Anthony Kennedy Shriver. Asked about his take on the Houston Texans new coach Bill O'Brien, with whom Brady has had his moments, the NFL star responded, "I hope he comes in second in the AFC." Huge laughter followed, then Brady added, "He's a great coach. He's a great coach for the Houston Texans."
Brady has been a long-time Best Buddies supporter and each summer hosts the Best Buddies Challenge, a football and bicycle odyssey that stretches from Boston to Cape Cod.
Tom Brady: " I like playing football and I'm going to do that as long as I possibly can."
When Becca remarked that the 6-foot-4, 225-pound hunk of handsome, was better looking than any Hollywood actor and asked if he would go into movies when he retires, his response was adamant. "Absolutely not! I like playing football and I'm going to do that as long as I possibly can. And then I'm gonna come back and swim in that beautiful river (Buffalo Bayou) you've got back there."
Contributing to the event's grand haul were those making top bids in the live auction — Terri and John Havens, Mindy and Jeff Hildebrand, Marci and Steve Alvis, Jennifer and David Ducote, Jana and Richard Fant, Luba and Alan Bigman. And then there were the four gals who paid $5,000 each for the opportunity to toss a pigskin with Brady.
The party went on until 2:30 in the morning with Becca and hubby John Thrash wishing that they had opened the gift of cocktail napkins that read "Please Go Home" Tuesday night rather than Wednesday morning.
Best Buddies supporters and Tom Brady fans included Caroline Starry LeBlanc and Jared LeBlanc, Phoebe Tudor, Lora Clemmons, Melissa and Michael Mithoff, Lucinda and Javier Loya, Katherine and Bill Phelps, Elena and Gregg Davis, Dmitri Sinenko, Isabel and Danny David, Adriana Banks, Charles Clark, Gary Petersen, Noylan and Eric Pulaski, Debra and Mark Grierson and Marcia and David Solomon.