Society / Featured Parties

Sparkle Power — Houston’s Ultimate Diamond Party Raises Nearly $1 Million For KNOWAutism Thanks to a Harry Winston Stunner

Award Winners and TV Stars Get In On the Do-Good Fun

BY // 05.30.23

What: The KNOWAutism “Diamond Gala”

Where: The Crystal Ballroom at The Rice

PC Moment: With the diamond theme, what better presenting sponsor for this KNOWAutism gala than Harry Winston, aka the King of Diamonds? The generous sponsor donated an Avenue C Mini Special Edition Watch, an 18k white gold timepiece with a mother-of-pearl dial flanked by a framework of brilliant cut diamonds, inspiring big sales of raffle tickets.

In the hands of chairs April and Dr. Jorge Salazar and honorary chair and KNOWAutism board member Sherri Zucker, the dazzling evening raised just shy of $1 million. Kirksey Gregg of Kirksey Gregg Productions implemented Zucker’s lavish vision for the diamond-infused evening.

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Honorees Paul & Penny Loyd with Jack Stern at the KNOWAutism 10th anniversary gala (Photo by Quy Tran)

Emcee Deborah Duncan, KTRK Channel 13’s Great Day Houston host, delivered her lovable, signature energy for the evening that honored Penny and Paul Loyd with the Humanitarian Heroes award. The Sippi and Ajay Khurana Corporate Hero Award went to Bob Unanue, Goya Foods/Goya Cares. Edward Finger received Frontline Hero honors.

In addition to the Harry Winston timepiece, live auction items contributing to the bottom line included a two-year lease on an electric BMW, donated by BMW Houston Dealers and board member Maria Moncada Alaoui; a Wyoming fishing experience donated twice by Ron Holley; an Hermès Birken bag; an offshore fishing experience donated by board member Monty Maeve; and an original work from autistic-eco artist Grant Manier. The widely recognized Manier contributed a piece constructed of recycled paper, puzzles and jewels. The auction played out in the hands of Johnny Bravo and Toya McLeod. 

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Closing out the night was entertainment by The Brown Brothers duo. The brothers, both high-functioning autistic individuals, have appeared on America’s Got Talent and boast more than four million YouTube followers.

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Tammy Nguyen, Brandon McClendon, Jane Wagner at the KNOWAutism 10th anniversary gala (Photo by Larry Fagala)

PC Seen: KNOWAutism founders Tammy and Wayne Nguyen, Harry Winston’s Petra Martinez, Nikki and James Lassiter, Marian and Dr. Bruce McClendon, Susan and Reed Tinsley, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Theresa and Dr. Peter Chang, Dr. Lucky Chopra, Kelly Anzilotti, Elaine Finger, Betty and Kim Gee, Dr. Rolanda Maldonado and Kayvon Sohrabi, Dina and Mike Connolly, Drs. Alice Mao and Matthew Brams, David Moncada, Mayte and Javier Weitzman, and Heidi and Nick Rockecharlie. 

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