Sell Out 2015 Crime Stoppers of Houston Gala with High Power Media Tycoons like Ted Koppel leaves Dave Ward Speechless
For a journalist this was one of the most amazing galas to have attended, rubbing shoulders with media personalities like Ted Koppel, Dave Ward, Melaine Lawson, Shelby Hodge, and Steve Tyrell just to name a few. Houston media icon Dave Ward, ABC-13, was honored at the 2015 Building the Block Crime Stoppers of Houston Gala on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at the Omni Houston Hotel. The Annual Gala, which serves as the organization’s largest fundraiser, welcomed more than 560 guests and raised over $510,000 for Crime Stopper’s Tip Line and crime prevention programs, which empower, educate, and engage the community in important conversations about crime, public safety and the protection of society’s most vulnerable citizens.
Chairs Joella and Steve Mach, along with auction chairs Courtney Zubowski Haas and Dr. Eric Haas, led the grand effort and celebration that marked a significant achievement and announced plans for the future. The evening began with a VIP reception with keynote speaker, best-selling author and Emmy award winning journalist, Ted Koppel. VIP guests were able to mingle with Koppel and then continued in to the silent auction and big board, all in support of the Crime Stoppers’ mission. The cocktail reception opened up with a warm welcome from Rania Mankarious, Crime Stoppers Executive Director and invocation by Monsignor Frank Rossi, followed by emcee Melanie Lawson of ABC-13 taking the stage to kick-off the night’s festivities and surprise performances – all of which Ward knew nothing about! The entire evening was weaved together perfectly with the direction and guidance of the visionary, Laura Ward.
The focus of the evening was to honor Ward for playing an instrumental role in creating the “media” reach of Crime Stoppers of Houston back in the early 1980s. It was his creativity and ingenuity that contributed to the famous (and internationally recognized) Crime Stoppers’ reenactments. Thanks to his vision, Crime Stoppers of Houston has created a model that now leads the nation. Koppel was honored to be in Houston to celebrate Ward’s contributions to Crime Stoppers and his incredible achievement of being the only news anchor to stay almost 50 years on one anchor chair, in one station, in one city, in one state. Surprise video tributes from two very special friends of Ward, former First Lady Barbara Bush and NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly all the way from outer space, were played during the night.
The celebration continued with messages from several ‘Friends of Dave’, Governor Mark White, 43rd Governor of the Great State of Texas, Edna Meyer-Nelson, Founder, President and CEO of The Richland Companies and John Eddie Williams, founding partner of Williams Kherkher.
One of the biggest highlights of the night was a surprise visit from a very special friend of Ward who insisted on flying to Houston for this special occasion – Grammy and Emmy Award-winning artist and producer Steve Tyrell who sang “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” live on stage for his friend.
Before the night was over, the surprises continued as a well-kept secret was finally revealed. Because of Ward’s dedication to his city, career and Crime Stoppers, Mankarious announced that the first-ever Crime Stoppers of Houston headquarters will forever be named The Dave Ward Building Crime Stoppers of Houston. Ward was astonished by the big unveil and was lost for words as he stood in front of the podium. He compared the extraordinary moment to his wedding day and birth of his children.
The evening left Ward speechless, but the celebration continued on the next day, Friday, October 30, 2015 at the 3000 Block on Main Street for the Crime Stoppers of Houston Headquarters Groundbreaking Ceremony. Koppel along with the Board of Directors, elected officials, men and women in blue and others joined in for photos to commence the city’s first Public Safety and Crime Prevention Block. Welcoming remarks were made by Crime Stoppers Executive Director Rania Mankarious, Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Kathryn Stasney Childers and Fenner Weller, Franco Valobra of Harris County Sheriff’s Office Foundation, Dave Ward, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Houston Police Department Chief Charles McClelland and Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman. State Representative Gene Wu presented a resolution honoring the work of Crime Stoppers and recognition of Dave Ward at the 2015 Gala. Closing remarks were made by Crime Stoppers Vice Chairman of the Board Hazem Ahmed.
The new home of Crime Stoppers of Houston will be a state-of-the-art facility serving as a hub for crime prevention, housing centralized operations, staff, volunteers, law enforcement, safe school, safe community and media teams in a single 28,000 square-foot building. Outside the facility, a 12,800 square-foot Harris County Sheriff’s Officers Memorial Garden will pay tribute to heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thursday’s celebration (Gala) was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous underwriters, including The Mach Family, Ellen and Paige Cokinos/The Higginbotham Community Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. C. Richard Stasney/Mr. and Mrs. Staton Childers. Among guests were, Trini Mendenhall, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, Maria and Neil Bush, Maria and Christopher J. Pappas, Wendy and John Granato, Henry Florsheim, Katherine and Bobbie Hatcher, Stephanie and Ernie Cockerall, Roula Christie, Leisa Holland-Nelson, Michelle Heinz and Vicki Rizzo.
Notable guests also included Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle and Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniels, Mayor Annise Parker, City Council members Brenda Stardig, Jack Christie, Dave Martin, David Robinson, Robert Gallegos and Ellen Cohen, State Representatives Jim Murphy, Gene Wu and Sylvester Turner, plus Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, Jr.
Others celebrating with Ward included Linda Heatley, Jim Holley, Rachelle Rowe, Shelby Hodge and Shafik Rifaat, Dan Pastorini and Pam Morris, Carol and Tom Sawyer, Roz and Alan Pactor, Pamela and Jack Wright, Lindsey and Scott Aronstein, Cathy and John Crapitto, Melissa Davis, Paula Goldstein, Nancy Sims, Allison and Stephen Lewis, Sidney Evans II, Bryan Beene, Gina Gaston Elie, Toni and Bob Lawrence, Bob Meehan, Sonya and Jeff Vaden, Yvette Webb, David Wilson II, Mike Wilson, plus many more!
If you would like to learn about Crime Stoppers of Houston and their prevention programs, visit www.crime-stoppers.org or call 713-521-4600.
Photo credit Michelle Watson