Society / The Seen

Houston’s Women of Distinction Get a Standing Ovation in a $600,000 Night

Remarkable Difference Makers Spotlighted

BY // 01.29.18
photography CatchLight Group, Daniel Ortiz

So many accomplishments, so little time. Had emcees Melanie Lawson and Tom Koch, both of ABC Channel 13, recited the complete CVs of the 2018 Women of Distinction, the Winter Ball would have surely gone on into Sunday morning. But with just enough brevity to get the point across — these women are nothing less than remarkable — the duo kept the night brimming along.

More than 500 black-tie attired guests rose in a standing ovation to applaud the class of 2018 on this evening that raised more than $600,000 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Their introductions made lesser mortals in the ballroom cringe at thoughts of inadequacy.

Taking the spotlight and a stroll down the elevated runway were honorees Kristy Bradshaw, Kim Padgett, Amy Pierce, Denise Castillo-Rhodes, Leigh Smith, Kristina Somerville, Ileana Trevino, Stephanie Tsuru, Hallie Vanderhider, Sharleen Walkoviak and Carol Sawyer, the 2018 Women of Distinction Ambassador.

As Koch noted, on this 31st anniversary of the Winter Ball, as many as 300 women have been spotlighted for their community leadership and service. Fifty of those were on hand Saturday night to enjoy another moment, if brief, in the spotlight as they strode the runway before finding their dinner tables. KTRK has been a partner with the Winter Ball for two decades, providing surprise videos and profiles of the honorees.

The evening was spearheaded by Women of Distinction alumnae — chairs Alissa Maples, DeeDee Marsh and Kelli Weinzierl and honorary chair Trini Mendenhall. Adding to their success were major sponsors including Gittings, Tenenbaum Jewelers and Tootsies. Tenenbaum made immigration judge  Clarease Yates one happy woman as she was the raffle winner of a $15,000 gift certificate to the popular jeweler.

Setting the “Club 31” theme of the night, the party began with a lively set by Dean Martin impersonator Andy Dimino, flown in by J&D Entertainment to spice up the evening. The night concluded on a high note for all with the dance tunes of David Caceres.

Who: Texas’ first lady Cecilia Abbott, CCFA board chairman Brock Wagner, KTRK president and general manager Henry Florsheim, Caroline and Gary Kenney, Melissa Juneau, Donna and Norman Lewis, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, Fady Armanious, Virginia and Dan Steppe, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Cathy and Marty Goossen, Gayla and Donald Gardner, Mary Ann and Dr. Bob Wilkins, Bethany and Ben Buchanan, Laura and Dave Ward, and Julie and Steven Chen.

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