Event Date: November 18, 2023
Location: The Post Oak at Uptown
Beneficiary: Citizens for Animal Protection
Presenting Sponsor: West Houston Subaru
No. in attendance: 800+
Money raised: $925,000+
Chairpersons: Jody Meritt and Christine Johnson
Honorees: Carson Brown, Dr. John Cangelosi and Natasha “Tosh” Minor, Angela Hernandez, Daniel Irion and Kirk Kveton, Brigitte Kalai, Sharron Melton, Sarah Pepper, Dr. Roxy Riefkohl, Kenny Webster, Rebecca and Anthony Yanez, Sam Alford with Dr. Eugene Alford, Wendy Markgraf and Teresa Williams, Liz and Pete Carragher, Frank Billingsley, Marisa Cavada, Madeline Garvis Smith and Nicolette St. Angel
Emcee: Owen Conflenti
Décor: The Events Company
Event Coordination: Francisco + Co.
Auctioneer: Johnny “Bravo” Holloway
Photography: Daniel Ortiz and Jacob Power
Citizens for Animal Protection Celebrity Paws Gala’s “Mission Pawsible” is “Mission Accomplished”
For over five decades, Citizens for Animal Protection has provided shelter, rescue and placement of homeless animals for adoption with loving families. Their success has been due to their mantra of speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves. Attended by over 800 animal lovers, the annual Celebrity Paws Gala proved how much our community loves our animals. Titled Mission: Pawsible, chairpersons Jody Merritt and Christine Johnson received their sealed mission orders to raise funds for the organization and these remarkable ladies took their mission seriously, raising over $925,000, and the staggering sum is still growing thanks to sponsors and loyal supporters.
The evening began with a VIP reception, where the honorees and their pets gathered near portraits taken of them by renowned photography studio Gittings. Each proudly greeted guests and lovingly showcased their beloved companions.
The ballroom doors opened into a room decorated elegantly by The Events Company. Guests were directed to take their seats by emcee Owen Conflenti, and soon, the screens revealed a surprise to welcome everyone and set the event’s vibe. A video, created by Chris Swanson and Firefox Video, recreated the Mission Impossible movie, including Tom Cruise and the iconic theme song pulsating in the background. Jody and Christine accepted their mission and were filmed in various recognizable areas of the city to receive the keys to a 2024 Subaru Outback donated by West Houston Subaru, which were contained in a locked briefcase. The audience roared with laughter and applause for a great opening!
A high-energy appeal, live auction, and raffle drawing for the Subaru Outback had everyone raising their paddles and bidding, thanks to the high-octane auctioneer Johnny “Bravo” Holloway, who captivated the crowd.
Following dinner, the honorees and pets strutted down the red-carpeted runway to non-stop ovation. Pets in tow and taking their well-earned kudos, were Carson Brown, Dr. John Cangelosi and Natasha “Tosh” Minor, Angela Hernandez, Daniel Irion and Kirk Kveton, Brigitte Kalai, Sharron Melton, Sarah Pepper, Dr. Roxy Riefkohl, Kenny Webster and Rebecca and Anthony Yanez. Additional honorees recognized were Sam Alford with Dr. Eugene Alford, Wendy Markgraf and Teresa Williams, Liz and Pete Carragher, Frank Billingsley, Marisa Cavada, Madeline Garvis Smith and Nicolette St. Angel. Angela Hernandez and bunny Buckley, adopted from CAP, were crowned as the 2023 Celebrity Pet of the Year. Lenny Matuszewski once again expertly produced the exciting runway show.
Supporters recognized for their outstanding contributions were Gloria and Frank Meszaros, Amerapex/Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Patricia and Sig Cornelius, Brook and Julie Brookshire, Dr. Mary Riley and Mica Piro, Carol and Bill Simmons, Linda Schmuck and Todd Zucker, Edna Meyer-Nelson, The John M. O’Quinn Foundation, Brian Spack and Gregory Miller.
Producing this multi-faceted event was no small feat. Event coordinator Francisco + Co. rose to the challenge and produced a gloriously happy time for all attending.
At evening’s end, Mission: Pawsible successfully became Mission: Accomplished!
Socially present (not previously mentioned): Executive Director Sandi Mercado, Kappy Muenzer, Linda Lyons Ewing and Tom Ewing, Melna and Mike Moriarty, Mary Kenner, Meghan and Clint Conroy, Hallie Vanderhider and Bobby Dees, Jody Faulkner and JP Duberg, Alicia and Eric Jansen, Nick Batesole, Cortney Cole-Hall, Dan Boggio, Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman, Ed McMahon, Hershey Grace, Francie and Mike Willis, Tamara and Dr. James Bonar, Sidney Faust, Elsie and Les Eckert, Michael Bickham, Carolyn Faulk and Terry Krailo, Kellie Geitner, Ann Ayre, Samantha Kennedy, Kamisha Mickey, Ghada Ali, Steve Johnson, Hollianne Johnson, Zac Cherry, Tammie Johnson, Heidi Rockecharlie, Dr. Alice Brams, Cheryl Byington, Bill Stubbs, Kurt Grether