Heart Ball chair Dr. Robert Robbins, Memorial Hermann Health System CEO Dr. Benjamin Chu
Chita & Lane Craft
Jim & Beverly Postl
Seated: Peter & Ann Flour; Standing: Debbie & Jack Moore, Janiece Longoria & Steve Lasher at the $2.2 million Heart Ball.
Joe & Cathy Cleary, Kristin & Jay Waring
Mayor Sylvester Turner
Margaret Alkek Williams, Dr. Robert Robbins
Lacey & Matthew Goossen
Yuliya Veratennikova & Dr. Daniel Penny
Drs. David & Maryl McPherson
Tim Connolly & Jan Carson
Dr. Aashish Shah & Roseanne Rogers
Dr. John & Catherine Higgins
Judy & Russ Labraska
James Bryant, Yara El-Sayed, Randy Walker
Carolyn & Frank Grese
John Horton, Joanne Houck, Tim Singletary
A table girl from J&D Entertainment
Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom foyer rocks
By pure coincidence, the 2017 Heart Ball turned out to be an unprecedented love fest. Ball chair Texas Medical Center chairman and CEO Dr. Robert (Bobby) Robbins has widely acknowledged his soft spot for the American Heart Association and that non-profit has warmly embraced him as well. But it was the added affection, tossed like verbal kisses Robbins’ way by a ballroom full of fans, that caused near-palpitations among observers.
Let’s just call him TMC’s rock star.
After enthusiastically declaring that “everyone loves Bobby. He’s great,” TMC board member Janiece Longoria noted in a more serious vein, “Bobby Robbins is a visionary leader. He drives innovation and collaboration at the Texas Medical Center to leverage the advancement of research and health science. We are fortunate to have his energy and talent in Houston.”
And what a coup for AHA. With support from TMC and Robbins, the evening raised $2.2 million for AHA’s mission of fighting heart disease and stroke.
There was another love-inspired moment when KHOU Channel 11 meteorologist and the evening’s emcee Chita Craft told the gathering that even at 39 weeks pregnant (Friday was her last newscast until after her son’s birth), she was committed to helping the heart association. She explained that her grandfather died of a heart attack at age 55 and an uncle died early of heart disease as well.
“Anything I can do to help this organization, I will,” she said.
In the fast-paced program, Robbins introduced the evening’s notables — Community honorees Debbie and Jack Moore and Corporate Honoree Memorial Hermann Health System represented by president and CEO Dr. Benjamin Chu.
The gala followed a “Secret Garden” theme which was executed with ivy trimmings and a floral archway entry to the ballroom, plus a living tree for selfies and center-of-the-room acrobats from J&D Entertainment. Highlight of the night for many was the raffle of a dreamy 2017 BMW 530i, which was won by jeweler Marc Pharo, who happens to be an AHA volunteer.
Among AHA-engaged guests were Beverly and Jim Postl, retired president and CEO of Pennzoil-Quaker State and head of the AHA national board of directors, a post he assumed in July; gala auction chairs Kristin and Jay Waring; and 2018 Heart Ball chairs Cathy and Joe Cleary.
VIPs included Mayor Sylvester Turner, Margaret Alkek Williams, Laura Bellows and Jack Pendergast, Steve Lasher, Debbie and Jack Moore, Lacey and Matthew Goossen, Dr. Daniel Penny, Deborah and Gardner Cannon, Ann and Peter Fluor, Lindsey and Greg Heath, Marc and Brenda Watts, and Genny and Rob Walters.