Reviving its prestigious Denton A. Cooley Leadership Award dinner, the Texas Heart Institute enjoyed the prowess of medical big guns and military might to deliver proceeds of more than $700,000. The evening honored retired four-star admiral William McRaven, who now serves as University of Texas System chancellor.
The "Leading With the Heart" evening filled the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom with a respected coterie of cardiologists and surgeons including Dr. Denton Cooley and Texas Heart Institute president Dr. James T. Willerson. The last time there was such a prestigious gathering was THI's 50th anniversary gala in 2012.
McRaven began his remarks with a tribute to Willerson. "I can tell you he is a man of tremendous energy. He really does seem to be everywhere . . . He is a man of compassion and I tell you in this age of technology and big pharma, we sometimes forget that a doctor's greatest skill lies in his ability to provide comfort to his patient. And I know of few men that do that as well as Jim Willerson."
In praise of Cooley, McRaven said, "I am honored to be mentioned in the same breath with Denton Cooley."
The benefit was chaired by Janiece Longoria, chair of the Port of Houston Authority, and Steve Lasher, GulfStar Group managing director and co-founder. UT System vice chancellor Randa Safady served as emcee. She and others brought home the point that heart disease is "the preeminent killer of men, women and children."
The impressive medical contingent included Dr. O.H. "Bud" Frazier, Drs. Leslie and Peter Kaldis, Dr. Charles Fraser, Dr. David Ott, Dr. John Craddock, Dr. Daryl Dichoso, and Dr. Robert Robbins, Texas Medical Center president and CEO.
Among those supporting THI were Toni and T. Boone Pickens, Margaret Alkek Williams, Louise Cooley, Alfred Glassell III, Rose Cullen, Lynn Wyatt, Barbara and Charles Hurwitz, Shirley and Jim Dannenbaum, Beth Robertson, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Donna and Tony Vallone, and Arlene and Marshall Hoffman.