Crime Stoppers Of Houston Gala Celebrates Bob Woodruff and Harvey First Responders! Making Houston Strong and Safe
Rania Mankarious, Bashar Kalai, Susan Boggio, Brigitte Kalai, Sheila Shenaq,
and Amir Mireskandari
It was a night spent reminiscing on difficult times, but also one celebrating the gift of life at the Crime Stoppers Gala on October 24th, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Crime Stoppers is a unique organization that has transitioned into a community of its own; a community where families, neighbors, and even strangers, band together for the overall safety of those around them. The gala serves as one of the biggest events for Crime Stoppers, and the funds raised are directed towards the Tip Line and various crime prevention programs. These programs are vital to Crime Stoppers because they help create awareness and educate children and adults about the safety and protection they have available.
The night kicked off with a cocktail hour and a wonderful silent auction which contributed over $308,000 to Crime Stopper programs! Guests were greeted by Dominique Sachse, Anchor at KPRC2 News and the evening’s Emcee, who introduced Steve Tyrell’s “Hand in Hand” single. The song was written specifically for Houston after the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey. The evening celebrated how Houston came together to give back to the community despite race, gender, or social standing. Rania Mankarious, Crime Stoppers Executive Director, held a moment of silence in remembrance of those who had suffered and were lost during the storm. She mentioned that, together with the help of Hyatt Regency’s Managing Director Tom Netting, they were able to make this evening possible and provide some hope for those who really needed it the most.
After the lovely dinner, Gala Chairs Soraya and Scott McClellan spoke about their experience during the Hurricane relief efforts as well as their personal contributions to the organization. Together they were on the front lines with H-E-B. to bring food and products to many victims of the floods. They were definitely an iconic duo during Houston’s time of need. Their remarks were followed by a heartfelt speech from keynote speaker Bob Woodruff, ABC International Correspondent. Woodruff spoke about the challenges he faced after an assignment in Iraq that led to an injury sustained by an IED while covering the story. He stressed the importance of being surrounded by friends and family whom served as catalysts in his recovery. Following the theme of family and support, guest speaker Alissa Parker, mother of Emilie Parker, spoke about the emotional trauma she experienced after her daughter was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. The many “what-if” questions that went unanswered during those events led her to become more involved in advocating for children safety in schools.
Sachse came back to the stage for her closing remarks and reminded the many in attendance of all the greatness that is Crime Stoppers. There is no limit to how people can help each other when given the right resources. Prevention is the greatest key, but so is accessibility, and to be part of this evening was eye opening to the vast reach that the organization has in this city. Houston is fortunate to have such an amazing organization serving the community.
Thursday’s celebration was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous underwriters, including Amerapex Corporation, H-E-B, Becker Family Foundation, Buffalo Specialties, Paula Goldstein, Michelle and Mike Heinz, Margaret and Ben Morris, Jill and Charles Talisman, CenterPoint Energy, The Lewis Family, Portfolio Resident Services/Inter-Faith Texas, Tena and Tyson Faust/Faust Distributing, plus many others.
Guests included Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Susan Boggio, Sima Ladjevardian, Nick Florescu, Carol and Dr. Tom Sawyer, Norma and Tony Najjar, Joella and Steve Mach, Mauri Oliver, Vicki Rizzo, Roula Christie, Tasos Katsaounis, Gail and Norman Stalarow, Tama Lundquist, Marge Lundquist, Twila Carter, and many more.
Notable elected officials included Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle, State Representative Al Green, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Council Members Brenda Stardig, Jack Christie, Ellen Cohen, Dave Martin, Karla Cisneros, Mike Knox, Michael Kubosh and Amanda Edwards. Also in attendance were Harris County Pct. 1 Constable Alan Rosen and Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan.
Others celebrating Houston with Crime Stoppers included Ellen and Paige Cokinos, Maha and Omar Khan, Lindsay and Alex Mousoudakis, Tom Kennedy, Crystal and David Parker, Joni and Michael Hoffman, Donae and Rob Chramosta, Edna Meyer-Nelson, Cheri and Alan Fama, Shelley and Tracy Ludwick, Bob Parsley, Chita Craft, Leisa Holland Nelson, Juliet Stipeche, Mustafa Tameez, Tina and Dave Strickland, Myrna and David Engler, Miya Shay, Corbett Daniel Parker, Corinne and Lee Vela, Charles and Laura Neff.
Photo Credit: Catchlight Group/Michelle Watson
Special Contributions By Krupali Laxmidas
Krupali Laxmidas is a London born, Zimbabwe raised, and now self-proclaimed and proud Houstonian. Krupali studied International Business and Marketing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX and is currently working full time in finance. She hasn’t lost her passion for fashion, travel, and interiors and began blogging on the side to fuel her creative side. Re-emerging herself in the Houston culture, she incorporates her experiences from living abroad and her background into much of what she writes about.