Hospitality mogul Tilman Fertitta's comment Saturday night, "You can tell that the economy in Houston is back," seemed something of an understatement at the Houston Children's Charity gala as the live auction bidding kept going up and and up and up. By the time the final gavel fell in the Hyatt Regency ballroom, the non-profit's coffers were enriched by a record half million dollars.
As HCC board chair, Fertitta kept his pen to paper throughout the bidding led by pro auctioneer Randolph Holford. Few can have been more excited by the total proceeds, which would surpass $1.5 million by night's end, than executive director Laura Ward. Kudos to her gala chairs Penny and Paul Loyd and honorees Leticia and Steve Trauber for helping bring in the dinero.
Adding a bundle to the auction take was Momentum BMW West & Southwest, which for the sixth year donated a car outright. This year's model was the new 2014 4 Series, MSRP $40,000. The package, which included a tour of the BMW plant in Munich, air travel and a two-night stay in Munich, sold for $75,000. Kaching!
The diva made four high-speed costume changes, each a heavily beaded number said to cost in the range of $30,000.
Once the business of fundraising was completed the evening kicked into high gear with Diana Ross rocking the ballroom for more than an hour. With her elaborate stage set, her own musicians and back-up singers, this lady packed a powerful musical punch. Almost the entire ballroom of black-tie attired guests were on their feet from the very start of her concert that included all of the Supremes hits as well as tunes of other pop artists.
The diva made four high-speed costume changes, each a heavily beaded number said to cost in the range of $30,000. She even traveled with her own Steinway. (In years past when Burt Bacharach and Frank Sinatra performed for this gala, HCC rented pianos from Forshey.)
Front and center at the base of the stage, crowded with fans, was Becca Cason Thrash, who only last summer had Diana Ross as the headliner at her Liaisons au Louvre III fundraiser in Paris. With iPhones flashing and feet gyrating to the familiar tunes, few remained in their seats. Carol Sawyer, Trini Mendenhall-Sosa, Maria Bush, Trish and Rock Morille, Barbara and Lance McKnight, Sherry and Jim Smith, Roz and Alan Pactor were among those on their feet either at the stage or on the dance floor. Sue and Lester Smith joined the dancing throng when Ross closed her set with the Smiths' theme song, "I Will Survive."
Houston Children's Charity board president Tad Brown, the Houston Rockets CEO accompanied by wife Janice, welcomed the enthusiastic crowd that included Clyde Drexler, Paige Fertitta, NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Amiko Kauderer, Brian Teichmann and Andrew Cordes, Ileana and Michael Trevino, Dr. David Poplack, Edna Meyer-Nelson, Grant Guthrie, Kellie Letsos and Gary Becker and Chanel 13 KTRK news anchor Dave Ward, who served as emcee.