One of Houston's most giving couples was honored at the 2016 Constellation Gala, which raised more than $5.6 million in one evening for UTHealth.
More than 500 guests filled the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom to praise the late Dr. John P. McGovern and his widow, Kathrine G. McGovern, for their numerous contributions, including a transformational gift of $75 million to support critical areas of education and research at the newly named McGovern Medical School and UTHealth’s five other schools.
“My husband would have been very pleased by the amazing work that the faculty and staff are doing at UTHealth and tonight’s tribute has really touched me,” Kathrine McGovern told the audience.
Highlights of the evening included performances by Ash Danceworks and a special video tribute from country music star Clay Walker, a patient and supporter of UTHealth for almost two decades, A live auction brought in $42,000, including a high bid of $10,000 from Kenneth Lewis for the "Meet A Shining Star” prize — two tickets to Walker’s “Chords of Hope” concert in Nashville, a backstage meeting with the singer, and an autographed guitar.
Bidding was also spirited for an Italian dinner to be prepared by UTHealth president Dr. Giuseppe N. Colasurdo with the assistance of six deans. The high bidders at $11,000 were Pete Seale and Chalon Fontaine, Flo McGee, Bette and Ralph Thomas, and Mike and Susan Padon. And Rick and Jessica Williams won the “Party Under the Stars” package, which includes accommodations at the Director’s House at the McDonald Observatory, Cibolo Creek Ranch and the Gage Hotel in the Big Bend area, with a $21,000 bid.
Seen in the crowd were UTHealth Development board president Phil Ferguson and wife, Kathy O’Neil, who co-chaired the gala; Memorial Hermann Health System President and CEO Dr. Benjamin Chu; Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and wife Gwen; Bob and Annie Graham; Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel; Maria and Christopher Pappas; Diana and Russell Hawkins; Jim and Molly Crownover; and Beth Robertson and Steve Pearce.
Also enjoying the evening were State Representative Sarah Davis; Nina and Michael Zilkha; Ann and Karl Stern; Don Sanders and Laura Moore; State Representative John Zerwas and wife Sylvia; Mary and Will Williams; Marcie and Bob Zlotnik; Nicole and Evan Katz; and Rick and Jessica Williams.
Afterwards, a younger set of guests danced the night away to the music of the Jordan Kahn Orchestra at an after-party hosted by the UTHealth Luminaries, a young professionals group that supports UTHealth. Proceeds benefit the pediatric brain cancer research program of Dr. David Sandberg.