WHAT: American Red Cross "Wrapped in Red" gala

WHEN: Friday, February 5, 2016

WHERE: Royal Sonesta Hotel, 2222 West Loop South

AMOUNT RAISED: Approximately half a million dollars

ATTENDEES: 600-plus

HONOREES: Merrill and Joe Hafner and Betty and Gene McDavid

Many of  Houston’s business and philanthropic leaders showed their humanitarian spirit on the evening of Friday, February 5, by donating approximately half a million dollars to the American Red Cross at its “Wrapped in Red” Gala, celebrating 100 years of Red Cross service to the Greater Houston area. The black-tie event, held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, offered an opportunity for more than 600 guests to donate to one of the oldest organizations in the city while honoring longtime Houston philanthropists Merrill and Joe Hafner and Betty and Gene McDavid. 

During her opening remarks of the evening, Susan McEldoon, KHOU President & General Manager and Chair of the Greater Houston Area American Red Cross Board of Directors, said, “People often think of the Red Cross when a major disaster, like a hurricane, tornado or flood, hits. But what many don’t know is the breadth of services its volunteers and partners provide in everyday situations. For example, the Red Cross responds to an average of four fires a day in this city alone. It connects families with military personnel during critical emergencies. It offers low-cost transportation to the elderly and sick who have no other way to get to their medical appointments or to the hospital. And imagine, in just the past six months, Red Cross instructors have trained more than 25,600 people along the Texas Gulf Coast in first aid, CPR and how to use an AED. This is what your money is going to tonight; this is what your generosity is providing to our city—and we cannot thank you enough.” 

Honorary chairs for the Gala were Barbara and George Bush, Susan and James Baker and Margaret Alkek Williams. The chairs were Dorothy and Mickey Ables, Susie and Sanford Criner and Trini Mendenhall. Attendees included Jana and John Scott Arnoldy, Philamena and Arthur Baird, Denise Castillo-Rhodes, Molly and Jim Crownover, Valerie and Gerald Gibbs, Winell and Doug Herron, Susan McEldoon, Ellie and Jack Sweeney, IIeana and Michael Treviño, Nancy and Danny Ward, Pheobe and Bobby Tudor and Raye White. KHOU Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan served as mistress of ceremonies and joined musical performer Yvonne Washington and the Infinite Groove Band in a searing performance of "Happy Birthday" to the 100-year-old Red Cross. The three-course dinner began with tomato-basil soup en croute with radicchio salad and cambozola blue cheese. The entrée was a 44 Farms smoked short rib served over whipped sweet potatoes, followed by a sweet ending of a rich chocolate mousse tart with chocolate crunchies.

Reflecting on the humanitarian purpose behind the evening’s music, dining and dancing, Steve Vetrano, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast, commented, “On this very day in 1916, our organization was chartered in Houston with the sole purpose of preventing and alleviating human suffering by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Thanks to the compassion in this room tonight, we have a great start on offering vital services to our community today and for the next 100 years to come.”

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