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American Red Cross “Wrapped in Red” Gala Celebrates 100 Years of Service

We’ve accomplished a great deal in our community but there is so much more to do.

Many of Houston’s business and philanthropic leaders showed their humanitarian spirit Friday evening, February 5, by donating approximately half a million dollars to the American Red Cross at its “Wrapped in Red” Gala celebrating 100 years of Red Cross service to the Greater Houston area. The black-tie event, held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, offered an opportunity for more than 600 guests to donate to one of the oldest organizations in the city while honoring longtime Houston philanthropists Merrill and Joe Hafner and Betty and Gene McDavid.

During her opening remarks of the evening, Susan McEldoon, KHOU President & General Manager and Chair of the Greater Houston Area American Red Cross Board of Directors, said “People often think of the Red Cross when a major disaster, like a hurricane, tornado or flood, hits. But what many don’t know is the breadth of services its volunteers and partners provide in everyday situations. For example, the Red Cross responds to an average of four fires a day in this city alone. It connects families with Military personnel during critical emergencies. It offers low-cost transportation to the elderly and sick who have no other way to get to their medical appointments or to the hospital. And imagine, in just the past six months, Red Cross instructors have trained more than 25,600 people along the Texas Gulf Coast in first aid, CPR and how to use an AED. This is what your money is going to tonight; this is what your generosity is providing to our city—and we cannot thank you enough.”

Honorary Chairs for the Gala were Barbara and George Bush, Susan and James Baker and Margaret Alkek Williams. The Chairs were Dorothy and Mickey Ables, Susie and Sanford Criner and Trini Mendenhall. Among those who attended the event, enjoying a three-course dinner, musical performances by Houston-based jazz vocalist Yvonne Washington and the Infinite Groove Band and more, were: Jana and John Scott Arnoldy, Philamena and Arthur Baird, Denise Castillo-Rhodes, Molly and Jim Crownover, Valerie and Gerald Gibbs, Winell and Doug Herron, Susan McEldoon, Ellie and Jack Sweeney, IIeana and Michael Trevino, Nancy and Danny Ward, Pheobe and Bobby Tudor and Raye White. KHOU Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan served as mistress of ceremonies.

Reflecting on the humanitarian purpose behind the evening’s music, dining and dancing, Steve Vetrano, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast, commented “On this very day in 1916, our organization was chartered in Houston with the sole purpose of preventing and alleviating human suffering by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Thanks to the compassion in this room tonight, we have a great start on offering vital services to our community today and for the next 100 years to come.”

Centennial Champion Sponsors: BHP Billiton, Merrill and Joe Hafner, H-E-B, Trini Mendenhall, Occidental, Petroleum Corporation, Susan and Fayez Sarofim, Shell Oil, Sysco Corporation, Margaret Alkek Williams, Randa and Charles Williams

Centennial Supporter Sponsors: Dorothy and Mickey Ables, BBVA Compass, BMC Software, Ann and Clarence, Cazalot, Citgo, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Susie and Sanford Criner, Fluor Corporation, Group 1 Automotive, Kathy and Jeff Love, Susan and Gene Vaughn, Betty and Gene McDavid, Methodist Hospital, Spectra Energy, Ellie and Jack Sweeney, Ileana and Michael Trevino

Centennial Advocate Sponsors: Eileen Akerson, Amegy Bank, Denise-Castillo Rhodes and Robert Sergesketter, Centerpoint Energy, Karen and Gus Comiskey, Jr., Jane-Page and James, Crump, Ernst & Young, LLP, Friends of the United Way Womens Initiative, Williams Gas, Valerie and Jerald Gibb, Harriet Hart, Sonny Wallace, Sue Payne, KHOU, Gigi Myung, Leslie and Kent Nelson, Tia and Jesse Neyman, Kaylon and Jim Phillips, Amy and Rob Pierce, Robert Reese and Lucy Buencamino, Robert and Beth Rivera, Regina Rogers, Smith-Walker-Switzer Foundation, Martha and Craig Voss

Event Underwriters: Nancy Ames and Danny Ward, Bud Light/Silver Eagle Distributors, Jerry and Nanette Finger Foundation, Trini Mendenhall, Isla and T.R. Reckling III, Marguerite and Troy Williams

Note to Editors: In the past six months, the American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast has, with the help of more than 5,200 volunteers:

  • Assisted more than 1,900 families during home fires
  • Installed over 2,600 smoke alarms
  • Taught first aid/CPR and AED courses to over 25,600 people
  • Transported more than 419 people to therapies, hospitals and more
  • Provided over 3,000 services to Military families
  • Assisted nearly 2,000 families and 7,000 individuals during Texas storms and floods
  • About the American Red Cross

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies approximately 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization --- not a government agency --- and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit