Society / Featured Parties

A Car Crash Interrupts This Black-Tie Gala — and It Still Raises a Record-Breaking $3.3 Million

Talk About One Stunning Night

BY // 04.23.18

This was not your ordinary black-tie gala in so any ways. Consider the riveting reenactment of a head on car collision and the Life Flight rescue of a 17-year-old patient. Add the record-breaking $3.3 million raised. And consider the stunning coterie of 1,500 guests who packed the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom.

The annual “Circle of Life Gala,” which benefited the Memorial Hermann Trauma and Critical Care Services, was chaired by Anna and Scott McLean, president and COO of Zions Bank Bancorporation and chairman of Amegy Bank, and honored their close friends Donna and Tony Vallone, long-time Memorial Hermann supporters and owner of Tony’s restaurant where the McLean’s daughter, Kate McLean, served as executive chef for several years.

It was very much a close-knit affair with the Vallones’ grandson, Anthony Vallone, sharing with the gathering his dramatic story of how he was saved at age 28 by the health system following a devastating head-on car collision. His injuries included a lacerated liver, ruptured spleen, internal bleeding and a collapsed spine. He was in a coma for a week and went through months of rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann.

“As you heard tonight, we have seen firsthand how Memorial Hermann Trauma and Critical Care Services saves lives,” Tony Vallone said. “And for that we are eternally grateful.”

Anthony Vallone’s story provided a real-life window into the reenactment, via a combination of video and live action, of the life-saving care of a car crash victim which included his transport on Life Flight to the Emergency Center, his move to the operating room and the subsequent rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann. The documentary style presentation was staged by Ward & Ames Special Events.

The breathtaking programming and dinner were followed by a breathtaking interlude of another sort — the energetic tunes supplied by Atlanta-based dance band Simply Irresistible. The dance floor was packed well into the night. The late-night Sundown Lounge, within the ballroom, kept the party going with light bites, cocktails, dancing and party favors.

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Who: Memorial Hermann Health System president and CEO Chuck Stokes, Judy Stokes, Philamena and Arthur Baird, Deborah and Gardner Cannon, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, Nancy Ames and Danny Ward, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier, Karen and Roland Gardia, Laurie and Tracy Krohn, Alice and Keith Mosing, Jennifer and Brian Caswell, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Anne E. Neeson and Craig Janies, Jo Lynn and Gregg Flagout, Winell and Doug Herron and Christine Falgout-Gutknecht and Bill Gutknecht.

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