An Astronaut, a Billionaire, and Guinness World Record Holder help raise $435K for Crime Stoppers of Houston
Celebrities, the Houston Elite, City politicians, and members of the Press, all showed up to honor Crime Stoppers of Houston at their Annual Gala “Celebrating History in the Making” at the Hyatt Regency. The event highlighted the construction of the first-ever Crime Stoppers headquarters anywhere in the world and the history of the building’s namesake, Guinness World Record holder and ABC – 13 Eyewitness New Anchor Dave Ward. The Honorable Mayor Sylvester Turner was also honored for his work with the organization.
Over 500 guests help raise more than $435,000 for Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line and crime prevention programs, in part by placing their bids during the live auction. Auction items included a Taft McWhorter 60″ x 40″ Texas Flag “Live” painting, a trip to the pleasures and treasures of Tuscany, and 18kt gold Italian earrings with sapphire and diamonds from Wayne Smith Jewels.
The evening began with a VIP reception for keynote speaker, Senior Investigative Reporter with the Boston Globe Spotlight Team, Michael Rezendes. The Pulitzer Prize winner’s life was the focus for the 2015 award-winning movie, “Spotlight”, in which his character was played by Mark Ruffalo. “Spotlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Crime Stoppers Executive Director Rania Mankarious then took the stage to share that the organization’s new home in Midtown is expected to open in January 2017.
Gala coordinator and visionary Laura Ward, and friends of Crime Stoppers Tilman Fertitta and Jan Carson both spoke about Dave Ward’s contributions to this 36 year old organization and in his incredible news career. There was a special performance by The Salvation Army Harbor Light Choir of Put a Little Love in Your Heart, followed by a warm welcome and moment of silence with emcee Jan Carson, Houston Lifestyle and Homes Editor and Columnist.
Finally a very special friend of Ward, NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, delivered a heartfelt message onstage in his honor. A surprise tribute video was played to introduce both Astronaut Kelly and the Dave Ward who followed by taking the stage to reveal that his final date on the anchor desk would be December 9, 2016.
The event was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous underwriters, including Houston First, The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Becker Family Foundation, Valerie and Bob Brindley/Integrity Partners, CenterPoint Energy, Paula Goldstein, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Foundation, Michelle Heinz, P&R Productions, Strake Foundation, Jill and Charles Talisman, and Laura and Dave Ward.
Notable elected officials included Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle, Senator John Whitmire, State Representative Gene Wu, City Council Member Brenda Stardig and Houston Police Acting Chief Martha Montalvo.
Guests included Tilman Fertitta, Scott Kelly, Amiko Kauderer, Tim Connelly, Trish and Rock Morille, Jan Duncan, Carol and Dr. Tom Sawyer, Edna Meyer-Nelson, Elva and Truett Akin, Shayna Andrews, Neil and Maria Bush and Vicki Rizzo. Others celebrating with Crime Stoppers included Tama Lunquist and Gary Becker, Tena and Tyson Faust, Joella and Steve Mach, Ellen and Paige Cokinos, Laurie and Tracy Krohn, Roula Christie and Tasos Kostas, Michele Strake, Jennifer Reyna, Franco Valobra, Roseann Rodgers and Aashish Shah, Leisa Holland-Nelson, Paul-David Van Atta, Sherri Zucker, Joann and Bill Crassas, Elizabeth and Tom Netting, Daryl Price, Dale Lockett, Farida Abjani, Stephanie Von Stein, and Melissa Rascon.