Houston Snapshots

A Downtown “Rhinestone Rodeo” Night Brings in $1.5 Million for Cattle Baron’s Ball

Event Date:  September 9, 2023
Location:  713-Post Music Hall
Event:  Gala
Beneficiary:  American Cancer Society
No. in attendance:  900+
Money Raised:  $1,500,000
Chairpersons:  Jacquie Baly and Lara Bell
Honorees: Judi McGee, Elsie Eckert, Dr. Scott Basinger, and Sidney Faust, Dr. Susan Blaney and CEO’s Against Cancer Greater Houston Chapter
Title Sponsor:  Texas Oncology
  Len Cannon and Mia Gradney
Décor, Florals, Linens and Casino Tables:
  Let It Fly and Monte Carlo Plus
Photography:  Daniel Ortiz, Jacob Power and Wilson Parish

A Downtown “Rhinestone Rodeo” Night Brings in $1.5 Million for Cattle Baron’s Ball

A “Rhinestone Rodeo” night filled with over 900 supporters, two legendary entertainers, Texas-style cuisine from Cotton Culinary, pig races, wine, whiskey and spirits pull, a raffle, live and silent auctions, casino tables, dancing, grab bags and goodies, and late-night bites when leaving—ended with a $1.5 million night for American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball, presented by Texas Oncology!

Chairs for this 36th annual gala were professor and public official Jacquie Baly and media personality and magazine publisher Lara Bell. Their beaming smiles at the event said everything, as the combined efforts of the volunteers, supporters, sponsors, donors and the event team at this 3-story venue, updated from its previous life as Houston’s downtown post office, surpassed their goals and filled the ACS’ treasury to continue their good works.

Receiving well-deserved honors at the shindig were community leaders Judi McGee, Elsie Eckert, Dr. Scott Basinger, and Sidney Faust; Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Dr. Susan Blaney; and corporate organization CEO’s Against Cancer Greater Houston Chapter.

Excitement for the auctions is always the most appealing for those attending Cattle Baron’s Ball, and this year was no exception. Due to the talents of Auction Chairs Christine Johnson and Tammie Anne Johnson, items such as Steak 48’s VIP Chef Experience and Republic Boot Company’s His & Her Custom Boots &  Bourbon Experience, to name two, the Silent, Grand Champion and Live Auctions raised nearly $200,000.

The “Rhinestone Rodeo” theme was enhanced by popular event designer Let It Fly, and their whimsical jeweled and western touches were on view on all three levels. Their casino tables were Standing Room Only! Ellie Francisco and her event team at Francisco + Co. skillfully handled the challenging coordination of the multi-layered and multi-level affair.

Several poignant moments of the program occurred when Chairs Jacquie Baly and Lara Bell mentioned their personal connections to cancer. Jacquie’s father and uncle were diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other. Her father is a cancer survivor, and her uncle lost his battle with the disease. Lara Bell lost her beautiful mother to the disease and recognized her memory in a short video tribute. Jacquie stated, “I am incredibly thrilled and humbled to serve as the first Black Chair of Cattle Baron’s 36-year history. Cattle Baron Houston and Cattle Baron Dallas are the two most significant fundraisers for the American Cancer Society in the country. Black men are 73% more likely to be diagnosed.” Lara noted, “It was an honor to chair American Cancer Society’s first “Starlight Gala” in 2001 and 22 years later to chair the 2023 Cattle Baron’s Ball and recognize my mom.” Finally, Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman, ACS Houston Board Chairman, shared her personal story about the recent passing of her husband Bob from cancer. She remarked about the event’s importance, which enables ACS to give to research and support services. They invest $26 million in Houston each year, and for every dollar raised, $4 is returned to the Houston community and Medical Center.

Another anticipated segment of the evening is always the entertainment. If guests constantly on their feet is an indication of enjoyment, then musician Pat Green opening the musical portion, followed by Grammy-nominated trio Midland, guests remaining on the dance floor, lively bidding on pig races in a separate area, specially curated drinks, and more—then American Cancer Society had another outstanding and highly successful fundraiser at evening’s end.

Surprises upon exiting the festivities included elaborate swag bags, and late-night campfire nibbles of breakfast tacos and chicken & biscuits were handed out! What a way to go out!

Socially present (not previously mentioned):  Jenny Todd, Matt Todd, Marilu Garza, Jeff Fehlis, Steve Johnson, Dr. Charles Johnson, Michael Blaney, Melissa Juneau, Lauren Gray, Krista Shamaly, Leila Perrin, Alicia Jansen, Debbie Festari, Donna and Norman Lewis, Judi and TJ Johnson, JoAnn Petersen, Melissa and Keith Landsness, Janette and Jeff Marx, Roberta and Lee Schwartz, Melissa and Bob Duran, Jennifer and Steve Beasley, Robin and Danny Klaes, Tany, Kit and Chaz Klaes, Audrey and David Gow, Lexi and Mike Marek, Disney Harris, Stacy and Jason Johnson, Teressa Foglia, Winell and Doug Herron, Gregg Reyes, Jill Watson, Patti and Don Murphy, Beth Wolff, Cynthia Wolff, Audrey and David Gow, Jennie Simmons, Heidi and Nick Rockecharlie, Lenny Matuszewski and Michael Bickham, Tamara Bonar, Johnny and Alexis Holloway, Jane and Kenneth Beasley and Angela Hernandez

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