Move over, Grammys: You’d be hard pressed to find a Hollywood red carpet more glamorous than the 2018 Winter Ball runway at the Hilton Americas Hotel. Glorious gowns took center stage, but it was the 11 women honored for their philanthropic work who really stole the show.
The ABC13’s Women of Distinction annual Winter Ball benefiting the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, not only honors women who make a difference in the city, but the event raised more than $600,000 for the organization that works to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
Kristy Bradshaw, Kim Padgett, Amy Pierce, Denise Castillo-Rhodes, Leigh Smith, Kristina Somerville, Ileana Trevino, Stephanie Tsuru, Hallie Vanderhider, and Sharleen Walkoviak were named the 2018 Women of Distinction. Carol Sawyer was named the 2018 Ambassador.
While emcees Melanie Lawson and Tom Koch shared the accomplishments of each honoree, family, friends, and fans cheered as they made their way down the runway. Chairs Alissa Maples, DeeDee Marsh, and Kelli Weinzierl and honorary chairman Trini Mendenhall were among the previous Women of Distinction honorees who also graced the Winter Ball catwalk.
The glittering gowns added to the surprisingly cozy feel of the Hilton Americas ballroom — all decked out in black and gold. Themed “Club 31” in celebration of the 31st annual Winter Ball, the vibe was ritz and old-school glamour, complete with Dean Martin impersonator Andy Dimino, a Las Vegas favorite.
Though there were more than 500 guests in attendance, the evening was touched by special, intimate moments. Not only was it Hallie Vanderhider’s big night, but it was also her son Michael Vanderhider’s birthday, and he gave her a standing ovation as she made her way down the runway. He was presented with a special birthday cake at his table.
When local media legend Dave Ward, the dapper ABC-13 news anchor, walked honoree Carol Sawyer down the catwalk, the adoring crowd applauded them both.
Twelve-year-old Emma Vallejo shared her story of living with ulcerative colitis, and the joy she has on the soccer field. Later, Vallejo jumped off the stage and into the crowd, helping with the live auction.
Raffle tickets were sold throughout the evening by adorable cigarette girls, for an opportunity to unlock the Diamond Treasure Box donated by Tenenbaum and Co. Winner Clarease Yates walked away with the ultimate party swag: a $15,000 gift certificate to the jewelry store.
Those spotted in the Winter Ball swirl included: Caroline and Gary Kenney, Gow Media CEO David Gow and wife Audrey, Jennifer and Joe Van Matre, Virginia and Dan Steppe, CCFA Board Chairman Brock Wagner, Peter Remington, Fady Armanious, Donna and Norman Lewis, the First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott, Major General Eric Smith (Commander of the 1st Marine Division) and wife Trisha, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Lesha and Tom Elsenbrook, Julie and Stephen Chen, Laura and Dave Ward, Lisa and George Francisco, Beth Madison, Robin Young Ellis, Ben and Bethany Buchanan, Mary Ann and David McKeithan, Beth Wolff, Betty and John Hrncir, Mary Ann and Bob Wilkins, Ed McMahon, Danielle Ellis, Bobbie Nau, Carolyn Faulk, Gayla and Donald Gardner, and CCFA Executive Director Jenny Conaway.