Watt Praised At Gala

Berry siblings praise Texans star J.J. Watt for special friendship at gala

Berry children praise Texans star J.J. Watt for friendship at gala

Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Aaron, Willa and Peter Berry
Aaron Berry, Willa Berry, Peter Berry. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, John Watt, Connie Watt
John Watt, Connie Watt. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, auditorium and decor
Decorations by Bergner Johnson including blue twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling of the school’s auditorium and dimly lit lamps on the tables. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Courtney Zubowski Haas, Eric Haas
Courtney Zubowski Haas, Eric Haas. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Chita Johnson, Lane Craft
Chita Johnson, Lane Craft. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Amy and Segev Zadok
Amy Zadok, Segev Zadok. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, John Watt
A different kind of uniform: John Watt was presented with two Houston Texans kippahs, one for him and the other for his son, J.J. Wattt.  Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Ashley Angelle, Henry Richardson, Meredith O'Neal, Monsour Taghdisi
Ashley Angelle, Henry Richardson, Meredith O'Neal, Monsour Taghdisi. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Kenneth and Dana Katz.
Kenneth Katz, Dana Katz. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Jonathan and Michelle Zadok
Jonathan Zadok, Michelle Zadok. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Aaron Berry, Willa Berry, Peter Berry, Rabbi Brian Strauss
Aaron Berry, Willa Berry, Peter Berry, Rabbi Brian Strauss. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Diane and Alan Levin
Diane Levin, Alan Levin. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Bellaire High School Marching Band
The Bellaire High School band marched through the school auditorium.  Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Aaron, Willa and Peter Berry
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, John Watt, Connie Watt
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, auditorium and decor
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Courtney Zubowski Haas, Eric Haas
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Chita Johnson, Lane Craft
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Amy and Segev Zadok
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, John Watt
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Ashley Angelle, Henry Richardson, Meredith O'Neal, Monsour Taghdisi
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Kenneth and Dana Katz.
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Jonathan and Michelle Zadok
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Aaron Berry, Willa Berry, Peter Berry, Rabbi Brian Strauss
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Diane and Alan Levin
Houston, Beth Yeshurun Day School gala, December 2015, Bellaire High School Marching Band

The Beth Yeshurun Day School's "A Night Under the Stars" gala was a hot ticket, thanks to J.J. Watt. The annual event, chaired by Courtney Zubowski Haas and Dr. Eric Haas, along with Amy and Segev Zadok and BYDS development chair Amy Grinstein, sold a record 600 tickets in support of education and the volunteer efforts of the Houston Texans star.

Watt was the recipient of the Robin and Josh Berry Volunteer Award, which holds special meaning for him. It's named for the late parents of Willa, Aaron and Peter Berry, who attend BYDS. Watt has formed a close bond with the children, who were orphaned in 2011 when a head-on collision took the lives of Robin and Josh Berry, and left Aaron and Peter paralyzed from the waist down.

"He has sort of nurtured us in the same way that I've been nurtured before," Peter Berry told the audience as he and his siblings talked about their friendship with Watt. "He was looking to make an impact in our lives  — and he succeeded."

“J.J. came to us in the hospital," Aaron Berry said. "He's coming over to our house, and he means it when he comes over. He actually tries to help us. He doesn't just come to look good," Peter Berry added.

Watt also supports after-school sports programs for middle school kids both in Texas and in Wisconsin, his home state, through his Justin J. Watt Foundation.

Watt couldn’t be in attendance, so his parents John and Connie Watt accepted the award on his behalf.  “"It's awesome," John Watt said. "I know when J.J. first met them after the accident, he created an instant bond with them. He called us after that first meeting and just said what special kids they were. It's something that just really touched his heart."

Also honored at the gala were Diane and Alan Levin for their commitment to the BYDS mission.

Decorations by Bergner Johnson that included blue twinkling lights from the ceiling of the school auditorium and dimly lit lamps on the tables were elegantly subdued. But the atmosphere was fully charged, thanks to the Bellaire High School marching band, which took a turn around the auditorium playing rousing tunes.

Also amping up the energy were ABC 13 Eyewitness News This Morning anchor Tom Koch, who served as the evening’s emcee, and KHOU 11 News This Morning meteorologist Chita Johnson, who hosted the silent auction and big board.

Among those enjoying the evening's festivities were Dror and Helen Zadok, Katie McCall and David Noll, Rabbi Brian and Lisa Strauss, Dr. Mindy Fein, Michelle and Jonathan Zadok, Amy Zadok and Segev Zadok, Paul and Randi Zubowski, Suzy Simons, Simone and Matt Berry, Monsour Taghdisi and Henry Richardson, Lane Craft, Reid and Anissa Friedman and Dean Zubowski.

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