What: The Houston Children’s Charity 21st Annual Gala
Where: The Post Oak Hotel
The scoop: Socialites, sports legends, legal powerhouses, and Houston’s business elite flocked to the inaugural gala at the flawless (and jaw-dropping) Post Oak Hotel — owned and operated by Tilman Fertitta and Landry’s Inc. — for the Houston Children’s Charity 21st Annual Gala. Houston charity mainstay Laura Ward (CEO, president and executive director of Houston Children’s Charity) along with Fertitta (who serves is chairman of the board of Houston Children’s Charity, and the event’s ‘Diamond Sponsor’) ensured the event was impeccable, as well as unforgettable.
An endless line of Rolls Royces pulled into the circular driveway of The Post Oak, unloading some 750 sharply dressed Houstonians. Guests entered the gleaming reception lobby to grab the signature cocktail of the night: a mojito with cucumber sake — a ‘Spa-Jito.’ Fertitta greeting and mingling with the fired-up crowd, making sure his new hotel was running like a well-oiled machine. The evening went off without a hitch.
After schmoozing and cocktails, guests entered the ultra-glamorous ballroom, where multi-color laser beams shot overhead. Tables were adorned with towering, four-foot calla-lily arrangements and sparkling linens, which matched the custom designed carpet. Co-chairs Leticia and Stephen Trauber took to the stage to welcome the crowd, and to honor global philanthropists Penny and Paul Loyd, Jr. for their work. Major underwriters Richard and Jana Fant were also recognized and were given a surprise announcement as the 2019 honorees.
Guests sat down to dinner and were served a delectable chopped salad which was the custom creation of Laura Ward. Then, in an extraordinary feat, 745 piping-hot surf and turf plates of culinary perfection were served out of the cutting-edge catering kitchen in a mere 13 minutes. After consulting with the top sommeliers at Landry’s Inc., Ward and Fertitta decided to serve Rombauer Chardonnay and Mount Veeder Cabernet at every table. At dessert, 24-karat, edible gold dust was drizzled on top of a chocolate cherry mousse cake.
Paddles shot up during the exciting big board and live auctions. Once-in-a-lifetime auction items were fought over with fast arms (and fat wallets). Tillman and Paige Fertitta donated a “Rockets Experience,” in which a donor travels with The Houston Rockets (plane included) for a whole weekend during a season away game.
Another auction item was a new 2018 BMW M5 (donated by BMW of West Houston/Momentum BMW) with a trip to Germany to tour the BMW factory. (The MSRP was $102,600; the starting bid was $75,000). The winning bid for this ‘BMW Experience’ went to Tony Buzbee who beat out other donors at a final price of $210,000. Other generous donors of the night were: Rob and Amy Pierce who won a celebrity chef experience dinner for 12, and Trini Mendenhall who outbid everyone for a gorgeous custom-made painting by Jeff Hanson, Artist.
As the dinner ended, the lights dimmed, drums thundered, an interactive video screen popped up — and superstar Pitbull leaped onto the stage. In between the rocking set, the global star recalled how his life was transformed by people that believed in him as a child and teenager. The man known as “Mr. Worldwide” and his female dancers shook the ballroom with hit after hit, must dance hits such as “Fireball,” “Give Me Everything,” “Timber,” and “I Know You Want Me.” After his last song ended, confetti canons shot throughout the crowd like it was New Years Eve.
The evening brought in $2,300,000 for Houston children’s charity.
Line of the night: After the concert, Pitbull posed for photos with confetti-covered top donors and sponsors. As mega-philanthropists Sue and Lester Smith were taking their photo, someone from the line yelled, “Hey Lester, are you and Pitbull twin brothers?”
Who: Margaret Alkek Williams, Lester and Sue Smith, Billy Garrison and Family, Sherri Zucker, Brittany Zucker, Laura and Dave Ward, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Trish and Rock Morille, Deborah Duncan, Tracy and Harry Faulker, Dr. Franklin and Cindi Rose, Tony Buzbee, Sheridan and John Eddie Williams, Amy and Rob Pierce, Warner Roberts, Alicia Smith, Ed Finger, Diane Lokey Farb, Peter Remington and Karen Degeurin, Jeff and Rachel Bagwell, Ruchi Mukerjee, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin.