Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Dramatic $4.1 Million Liftoff — Two Nights of Partying Give Medical Choppers a Life Saving Boost

Life Flight Often Saves the Day

BY // 04.26.23

The roar of Life Flight helicopter blades and the blaze of runway lighting informed guests at the Memorial Hermann Foundation “Walking on Sunshine” gala that the party was about to begin in earnest. As curtains opened on the Hilton Americas-Houston vast ballroom, guests were greeted by a thrilling video of Life Flight choppers in action across the Houston skyline.

Cheers and tears of pride ensued.

Jim Smith, Sherry Smith, Nina Hendee, Edd Hendee (Daniel Ortiz)
Jim & Sherry Smith, Nina & Ed Hendee at the Memorial Hermann Foundation ‘Walking on Sunshine Gala’ spotlighting Life Flight (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

We doubt there could there be a more powerful launch for a multi-million dollar gala. In fact, this evening was the second part of a two-tiered fundraising effort that earned a total $4.1 million for the beloved Life Flight operation.

Even before the helicopter fantasy, guests were greeted by a field of thousands of sunflowers, blossoms that also topped the dueling pianos that entertained during the cocktail reception. The team behind the night’s thrilling moments? The venerable Ward & Ames Special Events.

“Tonight is extra special because we are honoring an extraordinary couple Elizabeth and Gary Petersen, who are such a wonderful part of the Memorial Hermann family and always ready to help,” said Ann Neeson, executive vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Foundation.

April McGee, Melissa Sugulas, Melissa Juneau, Amalia Stanton, Vicsandra Jones (Daniel Ortiz)
April McGee, Melissa Sugulas, Melissa Juneau, Amalia Stanton, Vicsandra Jones at the Memorial Hermann Foundation ‘Walking on Sunshine Gala’ spotlighting Life Flight (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

“I’m so grateful for Maureen and John Graf, who have made tonight’s event a huge success, and for the generosity of everyone here in ensuring Memorial Hermann’s work is possible. Philanthropy makes Life Flight possible for our community.”

Elizabeth Anthony

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OLYMPIA LE-TAN
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In an interesting turn on gala menus, highly touted Houston chef Aaron Bludorn partnered with the Hilton Americas-Houston culinary team to create a menu for the evening that reflected his lauded talents. During the benefit program, Bludorn reflected on the role Memorial Hermann plays in the community and for him as a business owner who relies on the Memorial Hermann Health Plan for his employees.

Steve Trauber, Doug Schnitzer, Scott Wise, Bill Campbell
Steve Trauber, Doug Schnitzer, Scott Wise, Bill Campbell at the Memorial Hermann Foundation ‘Walking on Sunshine Gala’ spotlighting Life Flight (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

The evening closed out with dancing to the sounds of Affinity.

PC Seen: Memorial Hermann Health System president and CEO Dr. David Callender and wife Tonya, Philamena and Arthur Baird, Barbara and Bill Easter, Gail and Greg Garland, Sherry and Jim Smith, Nina and Ed Hendee, Maureen and John Graf, Susie Johnson, Kristina Somerville, Jill and Brad Deutser, Elizabeth and Will Galtney, Bess and Rob Wilson, Anna and Scott McLean, and Leticia and Steve Trauber.

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