Being in the enviable position of putting on the year’s first high profile gala is no easy task. Just ask the staff and volunteers who stage the annual Dell Children’s Medical Center Foundation Gala. Shuttling more than 1,000 guests into and around the Austin Convention Center while still maintaining an air of intimacy is a subtle dance not for the weak of spirit.
The Storybook Gala, as this year’s event was themed, pulled out all the stops this past Saturday. Massive floral arrangements of white birch branches and orchids anchored each of the tables, while crystal clear and vivid projections covered the walls. In the center of the room above the stage, a giant cube of video panels provided even more visual stimulation. As the wall scenes changed seasons, the lighting throughout the hall shifted to reflect the appropriate time of year.
Gala chairs Laura and Tommy Craddick assembled a committee that provided guests with no shortage of opportunities to participate and raise funds. A prime example was the lively auction where one person paid $85,000 for a private concert with country legend George Strait, not to mention other packages that included trips to Aspen, Vail, California and points south of the border. At the end of it all, the evening brought in more than $1.3million for the hospital and its programs.
After a program heavy on entertainment from ZACH Theatre, there were testimonials from families who have been well served by the hospital. One family even mounted the stage to thank the crowd after their heart wrenching story was told. Definitely a highlight of the evening.
Dancing and casino games followed the dinner and live auction. According to our sources, the scene went on well into the night and carried over to TRIO at the Four Seasons Austin for the official after-party. At nearly eight hours, this gala is a marathon, people…not a sprint! One must pace oneself accordingly.
Spotted among the revelers in the crowd were Bobbi and Mort Topfer, Armando Zambrano and Bryan Gardner, Stephanie Coultress and Todd O’Neil, Meredith and Kevin Schoch, Olga Campos and Kevin Benz, the newly-engaged Susan Perkins and Matt Murphy, Suzie and Eric Wright, Kristi and David Moriarty, Becky and Jim Urhausen…and too, too many others to mention.
* Photos courtesy of Tony Spielberg