For once, ABC Channel 13 news anchor Dave Ward was speechless. When he recovered from the momentary awe over the announcement that the new Crime Stoppers of Houston Building would bear his name, he asked in near-disbelief, "My name's going to be on a building on Main Street in the city I love? I am overwhelmed."
As confetti streamers dropped from overhead, the veteran newsman received a standing ovation in the ballroom of the Omni Houston Hotel, where Crime Stoppers was holding its annual fundraising dinner. The event brought in $510,000, another step in the right direction toward completing the $7.5 million needed for the building. Five million is already in the bank.
The announcement followed a keynote address by another veteran newsman, Ted Koppel, and good wishes via video that included Barbara Bush and from the International Space Station astronaut Scott Kelly. On stage, former Gov. Mark White, Edna Meyer-Nelson and John Eddie Williams were among those singing Ward's praises.
Adding to the celebration was Steve Tyrell, who crooned "You've Got a Friend in Me" from the film Toy Story, in honor of Ward.
Joella and Steve Mach chaired the evening that saw 560 guests fill the ballroom. Since its 35 years in Houston, Crime Stoppers has solved more than 32,000 felonies and distributed more than $10 million in reward money.
Throughout the early years, Ward presented a re-enactment crime of the week on Channel 13 and reminded viewers to call 713-222-TIPS.
Joining in the celebration of Ward was his wife Laura, Crime Stoppers director Rania Mankarious, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, Channel 13 GM Henry Florsheim and wife Doe, Sheridan Williams, Chita Johnson, Gina Gaston, Courtney Zubowski Haas, Miya Shay and State Rep. Gene Wu, and Melanie Lawson, who served as emcee.
The following day, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Crime Stoppers home with Ward among those doing the honors.