More than 200 of Houston’s most philanthropic hearts celebrated The Great Age Movement’s 2nd Annual Jazz Luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown.
Performing a toe-tapping jazz tribute to Duke Ellington, Bubba McNeely and music partner Phillip Bedair kicked off the high energy luncheon. Local PBS host and master of ceremonies Ernie Manouse then introduced The Great Age Movement founder, Fritz J. McDonald.
McDonald, a full time in-home physical therapist, shared his commitment to mobilizing the senior population through sustainable community projects in the Houston and surrounding areas. McDonald passionately drove home the GAM mission, which is to fund senior playgrounds in available green spaces and to develop volunteer-led programs that promote health, learning, and socialization with in the individual and the community.
GAM Jazz Luncheon co-chairs Staci Henderson and Barbara Reyna showed their power by bringing together honorary chairs Dr. Carolyn Farb and world-renowned jeweler to the stars, Peter Martino. KHOU’s Deborah Duncan introduced event honoree Mercedes Ellington, legendary Broadway choreographer and dancer who is also the granddaughter of Jazz great Duke Ellington. Standing just over five feet tall, the strength and power this 79-year-old wields was palpable. She and Antonio Conde of River Oaks School of Dancing took to the dance floor and set the crowd on fire with their highly energized and supremely sexy Latin dance number. They were so engaging the audience was up dancing with them during their standing ovation and encore.
The star power continued when international socialite, global political activist and GAM honoree Joanne King Herring was introduced by business titan Welcome Wilson, Sr. If these two weren’t enough, the historic moments continued as Farb took the mic to introduce and interview astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Dr. Aldrin spoke about his passion for working with those who suffer from depression and how the keys to a long life are getting moving, engaging with others, and to live with purpose.
The program wrapped up with one last fund-raising whirlwind with both live and silent auction items from exotic trips, art, one of a kind custom clothing pieces, live paintings by Patti Lennon Potter and Edgar Medina, and exquisite fine jewels from jeweler Martino.
Seen the crowd were: Brigitte Falai, Shirlee and John Jamail, Jr., Joan Wilson, Farida Hasanali, Deanna Rawlings, Graydon Parrish, Stan and Amanda Abiassi, Bob Nowak, Councilman Jack Christie, Robin and Tom Segesta, Dan Zindler, Isrel Fonseca, Laura Goodson, Tracy Faulkner, Joan Wilson, Anika Jackson, Quang Henderson, M.D., Gregg Harrison, Wade Knight, Marie and Wallace Dillard, Neera Patidar, Margarita and Matt Walker, Ally Shell-van Koolwijk, and Jeff Shell.