A riveting reenactment of a Memorial Hermann Life Flight medical rescue, treatment and recovery presented by actual Memorial Hermann doctors, nurses and staff, provided the 1,500 guests attending the Memorial Hermann Circle of Life Gala with an extraordinary glimpse into the life-saving work undertaken daily at the nation’s busiest Level I adult trauma center and longest-standing pediatric trauma center in Houston.
Raising an impressive $3.3 million plus to benefit Memorial Hermann Trauma and Critical Care Services, the gala was chaired by well-known Houston community leaders Anna and Scott McLean, president and COO of Zions Banks Bancorporation and chairman of Amegy Bank, and honored famed Houston restauranteurs and health system supporters Donna and Tony Vallone. The event concluded with a high energy musical performance by the Atlanta-based dance band Simply Irresistible.
“Memorial Hermann is one of only two Level I trauma centers for the fourth largest city in the U.S. As the busiest Level I trauma center in the country, Memorial Hermann and its Life Flight operation are truly unique resources that the entire community needs to support,” said Scott McLean.
To give guests a genuine sense of the cause they were benefiting, the combination video and live reenactment took attendees through the life-saving care of a 17-year-old patient involved in a head-on car collision. From his transport via Life Flight to the Emergency Center, operating room and then subsequent rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann, the documentary-style presentation, staged by Ward and Ames Special Events, kept attendees engaged. The video ended on an iconic shot of the Memorial Hermann trauma team on the John S. Dunn Helipad with the caption “The Team that Fights for your Life” – a visual reminder of Memorial Hermann’s relentless pursuit to “Rise and Shine” every single day, serving and treating the Houston community. Following the video, guests were moved to contribute another $100,000 to the benefit of Memorial Hermann.
Former Memorial Hermann patient Anthony Vallone, grandson of honorees Donna and Tony Vallone, then took the stage to share how he was saved by the health system following a head-on car collision at age 28. With injuries including a lacerated liver, ruptured spleen, internal bleeding, and a collapsed spine, Vallone endured a week-long coma followed by months of rehabilitation. Speaking of his time spent at Memorial Hermann following the accident, Vallone said, “The level of care I experienced from the time I opened my eyes to the time I left was more comforting than anything. I never expected to be as well as I am today.”
Honorees Donna and Tony Vallone were recognized for their outstanding legacy of support of Memorial Hermann. Tony Vallone currently serves as a director on the Memorial Hermann Foundation Board, while Donna serves on both the system’s community relations committee and the Children’s Memorial Hermann committee.
“As you heard tonight, we have seen firsthand how Memorial Hermann Trauma and Critical Care Services saves lives, and for that we are eternally grateful,” said Tony Vallone. “Donna and I are honored to be part of this special evening and thank you for your support of Memorial Hermann.”
As the evening progressed, the celebrating did too, with an after-dinner dance floor filled to capacity. Among the after-dinner crowd were partygoers in the “Sundown Lounge,” a late night lounge housed within the ballroom, with light bites, cocktails, dancing and party favors. The wildly successful “party in progress” element began with the 2017 gala and has become a guest favorite.
“As a health system, we invest significant resources into our trauma network and Life Flight because they save lives,” said Chuck Stokes, president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System. “However, we can’t do it alone. We depend on the generous spirit of our community and that’s what we’ve seen here tonight. Thank you for supporting Memorial Hermann’s trauma and critical care services and our mission to provide comprehensive, life-saving services to the residents of Southeast Texas.”
A “Who’s Who” of Houston’s philanthropic and business community celebrated alongside former patients and their families, together with the physicians who make a lifetime of celebrations possible for so many.
Guests included Nancy Ames and Danny Ward, Philamena and Arthur Baird, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, Deborah and Gardner Cannon, Jennifer and Brian Caswell, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier, Michelle and Brian Dean, Jo Lynn and Gregg Falgout, Christine Falgout-Gutknecht and Bill Gutknecht, Karen and Roland Garcia, Nina and Edd Hendee, Winell and Doug Herron, Laurie and Tracy Krohn, Anna and Scott McLean, Dr. Michelle McNutt and Dr. Billy Gill, Alice and Keith Mosing, Anne E. Neeson and Craig Janies, Beverly and Jim Postl, Judy and Chuck Stokes, Donna and Tony Vallone, Hallie Vanderhider, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniels.