Heartfelt evening

Houston Hospice dinner offers heartfelt tributes to former NFL player and civic leaders

Houston Hospice dinner pays tribute to former NFL star & civic leaders

Eddy Blanton, from left, Greggory Burk, Jerry Fields and Dr. Denise Trauth at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Eddy Blanton, from left, Greggory Burk, Jerry Fields and Dr. Denise Trauth. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Ben Frank, from left, Gretchen Glynn and Nikhil Thaker at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Ben Frank, from left, Gretchen Glynn and Nikhil Thaker. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Elizabeth and Peter Wareing at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Elizabeth and Peter Wareing. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Bette and Ralph Thomas at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Bette and Ralph Thomas. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Bryan and Nancy Ruez at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Bryan and Nancy Ruez. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Eric and Allison Aubel, from left, and Arthur and  Holly Smith at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Eric and Allison Aubel, from left, and Arthur and Holly Smith. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Eric and Shelby Nielsen at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Eric and Shelby Nielsen. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Jerry Fields, from left, with Greggory and Patrick Burk at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Jerry Fields, from left, with Greggory and Patrick Burk. Photo by © Kim Coffman
John and Jes Hagale at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
John and Jes Hagale. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Kelli Blanton, from left, Harrison Blanton and Eddy Blanton at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Kelli Blanton, from left, Harrison Blanton and Eddy Blanton. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Sarita and Bob Hixon at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Sarita and Bob Hixon. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Ray and Melissa Strong at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Ray and Melissa Strong. Photo by © Kim Coffman
Eddy Blanton, from left, Greggory Burk, Jerry Fields and Dr. Denise Trauth at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Ben Frank, from left, Gretchen Glynn and Nikhil Thaker at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Elizabeth and Peter Wareing at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Bette and Ralph Thomas at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Bryan and Nancy Ruez at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Eric and Allison Aubel, from left, and Arthur and  Holly Smith at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Eric and Shelby Nielsen at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Jerry Fields, from left, with Greggory and Patrick Burk at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
John and Jes Hagale at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Kelli Blanton, from left, Harrison Blanton and Eddy Blanton at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Sarita and Bob Hixon at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014
Ray and Melissa Strong at the Hospice Spirit Award dinner October 2014

Standing ovations and heartfelt emotions were the order of the night when Houston Hospice held the 16th annual Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award Dinner at River Oaks Country Club.

The first round of appreciative applause came for hospice nurse Krista Caldwell, who shared the fact that her husband, former NFL player Bryan Caldwell, entered hospice care after treatment for his Hodgkins Lymphoma was unsuccessful.

The second tug at the heartstrings and resounding applause came for the night's honorees Linda and Jerry Fields, the award presented by Dr. Denise Trauth, president of Texas State University. Their daughter, Greggory Burk, stood in for her mother who is recovering from surgery. When Jerry Fields spoke about the importance of giving back to the community and tearfully about his wife's battle with melanoma of the eye, the ballroom was his.

Holly and Art Smith chaired the evening that raised more than $300,000.

Among guests were the children and family of the late and much-beloved Laura Lee Blanton — Kelli and Eddy Blanton with their young son Harrison and Elizabeth Blanton Wareing and Peter Wareing.

More than 260 guests attended including Houston Hospice president and CEO Jim Faucett, Sarita and Bob Hixon, Sally and Bob Thomas, Nancy and Bryan Ruez, Pat Burk, Judy and Bill Luedmann, Jes and John Hagle and Bette and Ralph Thomas.

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In this video, Bryan Caldwell explains his decision to seek hospice care: