It was a banner night for UNICEF last Friday when the organization broke fundraising records at its sixth annual Houston gala, raising over $1 million. The funds support UNICEF's global efforts to help vulnerable children with humanitarian aid in more than 190 countries and territories around the world.
This year's event, held at The Post Oak Hotel, honored Susan and Dan Boggio with the Helenka Pantaleoni Humanitarian Award and Sue and Lester Smith (posthumously) with the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award.
The Boggios' leadership gift established The Susan and Dan Boggio Fund for UNICEF to aid in child protection and education and help end trafficking, violence against girls, and the Rohingya refugee crisis—the years-long, targeted persecution of women, men, and children in Rakhine State, Myanmar, which has forced thousands to flee into Bangladesh.
Actor Téa Leoni, granddaughter of UNICEF USA founding director Helenka Pantaleoni, sent a gift presentation to the Boggios to celebrate their long-standing commitment to the charity's work. Guests—of which there were nearly 400—also heard remarks from Mayor Sylvester Turner and UNICEF USA CEO and President Caryl M. Stern.
Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan emceed the event, which saw a Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons tribute performance by The Garden State Guys and was co-chaired by Cheryl Byington, Mary Ann McKeithan, Beth Wolff, and Hallie Vanderhider—the latter also served as lead benefactor. Honorary chairs included Shelly and Brian Hendry, Leela and Nat Krishnamurthy, Limor and Stuart Smith, Margaret Alkek Williams, and Randa and Charles Williams. Anika Jackson and Catherine Clarke Murphy served as co-chairs of NextGen, the organization's young professionals arm that later hosted a silent disco after-party.
A live auction included coveted prize packages like a week-long safari in Kenya, tickets to Elton John's famous Oscars Party, and earrings from NINI Jewels. Guests were also quick on the draw for the UNICEF Kid Power paddle raise, and The Alkek and Williams Foundation offered a $100,000 match.