It was a big win for the Houston Texans as the team and the McNair family joined forces to host the 80th Birthday Celebration for March of Dimes. The unique non-profit event invited fans and March of Dimes supporters to mix, mingle and dine with Houston Texans players, and other Houston sports stars and celebrities at one of Houston’s most sizzling steak houses, Steak 48. In total, contributions from patrons at the event raised more than $450,000 for March of Dimes.
As guests arrived, they stepped out onto a glistening black red carpet that marked the pathway to the front door. Texans players and team mascot Toro — decked out in his own tuxedo — added to the ostentatious setting. Additionally, a fleet of sleek BMWs was on display as event attendees made their way inside the restaurant for the night’s festivities.
The voice of the Texans, Marc Vandermeer, played the role of emcee for the evening and welcomed the bustling, sold-out crowd. Vandermeer — in his signature and unmistakable — recognized the evening’s sponsors: Presenting sponsor Cal and Hannah McNair and the Houston Texans; Champion sponsor Janice and Robert C. McNair and Steak 48; Touchdown sponsor Brigitte Kalai, Alicia Smith, and Hallie Vanderhider; and luxury vehicle sponsor Momentum BMW, as well as Mission honoree and Texans running back – D’Onta Foreman – and co-chairs Hannah and Cal McNair.
Foreman and the McNairs then took turns sharing personal stories about their losses they’ve endured and how they overcame difficult times. Foreman’s speech was preceded by a moving video about the loss of his son, D’Onta Jr., in 2016.
During the course of the evening, guests were seen taking part in caricature portraits by Jody Broward and snapping photos in the Catch the Moment Photo Booth. Upstairs, guests were treated to a seated four-course dinner compliments of executive chef Jeff Taylor and corporate executive chef Marc Lupino. Menu highlights included Steak 48 signature dishes such as the crispy shrimp, prime steakhouse meatballs, petite filet mignon, New York strip, Alaskan king crab and rock shrimp-whipped potatoes, corn crème brulee, and s’mores in a jar for dessert.
The signature play of the night was the Fund the Mission Player Challenge, a philanthropic competition of sorts between the Texans players, who “competed” for a coveted IW Marks Rolex. Safety Kareem Jackson — personally raising more than $10,000 — took top honors and earned the Rolex grand prize, which was presented by Brad Marks of IW Marks. Center Nick Martin raised $9,100 to secure second place. Not to be outdone, defensive end Christian Covington came in third place with $8,000 raised. Overall, the competition alone raised more than $50,000.
The night’s raffle items included a Priceless Houston Texans Experience that included four pregame sideline passes, a parking pass, and four club level seats on the 50-yard line during a 2019 home game; a one-of-a-kind Apache gold pendant, and a Houston Texans autographed helmet.
Notables seen taking part in the action included Houston Texans long snapper Jon Weeks; tight end Ryan Griffin; linebacker Brian Peters; linebacker Benardrick McKinney; nose tackle DJ Reader; center/guard Greg Mancz; defensive end Angelo Blackson; cornerback Andre Chachere; cornerback Jermaine Kelly; and offensive tackle Kendall Lamm. Other former Texans stars included Kevin Walter; Brian Cushing and wife, Megan; Owen Daniels and wife, Angela, and Garrett Graham and wife, Ericka. Also in the crowd were Oliver Badgio; former U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and wife, Melanie; Brad and Joanna Marks; Sylvia Forsythe; Chris and Abby Vanegas; Alicia Smith, and Leisa Holland-Nelson.