Though the coterie of white dinner jackets at the Houston Country Club on Wednesday evening signaled the near end of spring’s social season, this year’s CancerForward gala was determined to go out with a bang. A swank crowd of 200 gathered for “the New Summer Standard” dinner dance, beginning with a cocktail reception in the foyer.
Just before the event began, hosts congregated in an adjacent sitting room at sunset to receive arriving guests. That group included chairs Millette and Haag Sherman and Dr. Devinder and Gina Bhatia; honorary chairs Ellie and Michael Francisco and Donna and Robert Bruni; and CancerForward founderBeth Sanders Moore, among others.
“I found out I had breast cancer back in 2001, right when I was inducted into the (Houston Chronicle’s)Best Dressed hall of fame,” said Moore. A 13-year survivor now, she established CancerForward in 2010; it is a online, communication-based platform that aims to connect, educate and share information among cancer survivors.
The nonprofit organization honored Ellen Cohen, Houston City Council Member and a 44-year cancer survivor, at the gala. “It’s incredibly rewarding and humbling,” said Cohen of the kudos, “but the person who should really be honored is my surgeon. You have to remember, there was no radiation or chemotherapy in those days.”
Once the dinner bell sounded, the Richard Brown Band Deconstructed: Pop! Soul! R&B! beckoned guests into the grand ballroom with a stirring rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy.” Clad in a one-shoulder, seafoam gown Margaret Alkek Williams was one of the first attendees through the double doors.
After dinner, sports reporter Lisa Malosky emceed the program starting with the organization’s first-ever live auction. A pearl encrusted citrine and pink tourmaline bracelet donated by Valobra and a one week stay at Villa Serravelle Vineyards & Orchards in Tuscany, Italy were up for grabs; the latter sold for $26,000.
The audience was moved to tears and a standing ovation once Rabbi David Lyon introduced Cohen, regaling patrons with tales of her prowess before summoning the former Texas State Representative onstage. “Calling up the rabbi to speak is like calling up the principal – we only tell true stories,” he quipped.
Cohen acknowledged Moore and CancerForward. “Thanks to Beth no woman, no man, no one will ever feel alone again,” she said.
Partygoers flooded the dance floor shortly thereafter. In total the night raked in $350,000.