Ten weeks of fervent fundraising via dozens of creative parties came to a frenzied close at the Man & Woman of the Year Campaign Grand Finale Awards Gala at River Oaks Country Club. In the end, a record $900,000 was raised by the 19 candidates who competed in the annual benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Man of the Year Nick Stefanakis rounded up enough friends and contributors to raise a record $167,000 while Woman of the Year Hasti Taghi pulled in $107,000 through her series of sophisticated gatherings. Fleming's Sam Governale gave Stefanakis a literal run for his money, coming in second, while Erin Maggi raised the second-highest amount among the female contingent.
Even down to the last minute at the black-tie finale, guests could contribute to their favorite candidate through the silent auction. Adding a colorful splash to the competition was artist Taft McWhorter, who painted away while guests upped the ante on his work which was part of the silent auction.
Emcee Dana Tyson introduced the candidates as well as Boy and Girl of the Year, James Ryan and Sydney Marquis. Milo Hamilton and Nina Gutierrez were recognized with citizenship awards.
Among the 500 guests were Lindsay and Matt Sturm, Michael Mahlstedt, Maidie Ryan, Sheldon Kramer, Kandace Sheehan, Ed Townend, Katie Tipper-McWhorter, Simon Tipper, Melanie and Brent Baxter, Angela Sturm O'Brien and Jake O'Brien and Stephanie Bundage.