Deemed appropriately enough, “Celebrating History in the Making,” the Crime Stoppers of Houston gala was special because it celebrated the construction of the organization's first headquarters, which will be named for an iconic Houston newsman who is retiring after a long and storied career.
The evening, which attracted 500 guests at the Hyatt Regency, began with a VIP reception featuring keynote speaker Michael Rezendes, the senior investigative reporter for the Boston Globe Spotlight Team and Pulitzer Prize winner. His real-life work was the basis for the movie, Spotlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Rezendes' character was played by Mark Ruffalo.
For the main event, the festivities moved to the hotel's Imperial Ballroom where a performance by The Salvation Army Harbor Light Choir was followed by the recognition of gala honoree, Mayor Sylvester Turner, for his outstanding contributions to public safety during his first year in office at the city's top official.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly surprised ABC 13’s Dave Ward with a heartfelt message honoring the longtime Houston newscaster and supporter of Crime Stoppers, an organization whose mission is to solve and prevent crime through its many crime prevention programs. The new Crime Stoppers headquarters, which will be named for Ward, is slated to open in January 2017. It is the first such Crime Stoppers building anywhere in the world.
Ward revealed to the crowd that his last day as news anchor has been set for December 9 after 50 years on the air.
The gala raised more than $435,000 for the non-profit.
Seen in the crowd were gala coordinator Laura Ward, Crime Stoppers executive director Rania Mankarious, event emcee Jan Carson, Tilman Fertitta, Amiko Kauderer, Tim Connelly, Trish and Rock Morille, Carol and Dr. Tom Sawyer, Edna Meyer-Nelson, Elva and Truett Akin, Shayna Andrews, Neil and Maria Bush, Vicki Rizzo, Tama Lunquist and Gary Becker, Tena and Tyson Faust, Joella and Steve Mach, Ellen and Paige Cokinos, Laurie and Tracy Krohn, Roula Christie and Tasos Kostas, and KPRC traffic anchor Jennifer Reyna.
Notable public officials in the crowd included: Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson, Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle, State Senator John Whitmire, State Representative Gene Wu, Houston City Council member Brenda Stardig, and Houston Police acting chief Martha Montalvo.