Society / Featured Parties

Aspen Retreat Elevates a Houston Hospital’s Message With High-Flying Fun

Groundbreaking Techniques Require Plenty of Support

BY // 07.22.21
photography Daniel Ortiz

The clever branding of this week’s two-day Aspen adventure hosted by Memorial Hermann Foundation, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and UTHealth — “Elevated Connections” — said it all.  At 8,000 feet on the patio of popular French restaurant Betula and 11,200 feet atop Ajax Mountain, the “connections” between hospital donors, leaders and friends obviously soared above hometown Houston’s sea level terrain.

Two of the Bayou City’s leading ladies, Hallie Vanderhider and Melissa Juneau, chaired the gatherings that saw Houstonians with second homes in the luxe mountain enclave mingling with others who were vacationing for the week and still others who jetted in just for the cocktail reception on Tuesday and the brunch on Wednesday.

(Actually the daring Vanderhider flew into Aspen with Tony Bradfield on his single engine plane. It was the relatively new pilot’s first Aspen landing. He allows that he is still in training, flying two to five times a week.)

In terms of the Aspen scene, there could have been little better setting for an inspired discussion of advances in medical treatment while sipping cocktails than the terrace of the terribly chic Betula. Memorial Hermann Health System CEO Dr. David Callender led the medical team from Houston — Dr. Jorge Salazar, Dr. Sean Blackwell, Dr. Mary Aitken and Dr. Kevin Lally. Not only did they socialize with the group they also shared in conversation about their medical research.

After welcoming guests, Callender turned the program over to Salazar who shared how Children’s Memorial Hermann is using groundbreaking techniques to save children born with half a heart. He explained that using new techniques to restructure the entire inside of the heart for these patients significantly improves outcomes.

The following day participants were treated to brunch at Ajax Tavern and complimentary gondola rides to the top of Ajax.

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