Event Date: May 3, 2023
Location: River Oaks Country Club
Beneficiary: Charities chosen by Men of Distinction
No. of Attendees: 370
Money Raised: $370,000
Chairperson: Dr. John Cangelosi
Honorees: John Arnold, Jim Crane, Bill McKeon, Dr. Jim Muntz and Dave Ward
Presenting Sponsors: Sonic Automotive / Porsche River Oaks
Honoree Portraits: Gittings
Florals: Flowers by Nino
Décor: Let It Fly
Linens and Chargers: EB, Inc.
Photography: Priscilla Dickson
Five Distinguished Honorees and an Impassioned Acceptance Speech from a Houston Legend Brought the Audience to Tears
The River Oaks Country Club ballroom was packed as the Men of Distinction Steering Committee unveiled their 2023 honorees to a crowd of 370 excited attendees. What began sixteen years earlier with several socially conscious individuals wanting to pay tribute to MEN in the Houston community who have distinguished themselves through their leadership as businessmen, volunteers and philanthropists, blossomed into 65 men honored and over $5.8 million raised to support pediatric biomedical research, education and patient care in Texas Medical Center.
Former ABC newscaster Tom Koch has been the lively and engaging emcee over these many years and, once again, kept the luncheon on schedule. Dr. John Cangelosi, CEO of Sagis, PLLC, served as chairman for this annual gathering, and the five outstanding gentlemen receiving well-earned accolades were businessman John Arnold; businessman and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane; CEO of Texas Medical Center Bill McKeon; team physician for Houston Texans, Astros and Rockets Dr. Jim Muntz; and renowned newscaster and the voice of Houston for over 60 years, Dave Ward. In addition, for the second year, sponsor Sonic Automotive/Porsche River Oaks welcomed guests. Their representative Rob Dale, General Manager of Porsche River Oaks, thanked attendees and asked the crowd to visit their beautiful $45 million facility at Greenbriar and Hwy 59.
The gathering was filled with delight as some surprises transpired, which included former Houston Texan J.J. Watt, who introduced Texans team doctor Jim Muntz via video; Dr. Bernard Harris, America’s first African-American astronaut to walk in space, presented honoree Bill McKeon; former Houston Astro Jeff Bagwell spoke passionately as he welcomed Jim Crane into this auspicious group; Tilman Fertitta announced honoree Dave Ward, who, due to ill health, sent his thanks via audio, which played as his portrait covered the screens. Dave’s poignant speech moved many in the audience to tears. His wife, Laura Ward, proudly accepted the award on his behalf.
This year’s recipients of the three $100,000 unrestricted grants are Joan Nichols, Ph.D., A. Osama Gaber, M.D. and Omaima Saber, Ph.D. at Houston Methodist, Shaine A. Morris, M.D., Tam T. Doan, M.D. and Michael A. Belfort, M.D. at Texas Children’s Hospital and Dr. Gerard Francisco at Memorial Hermann.
Members of the Steering Committee are Jonathan Ayre, Oliver Badgio, Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Tony Bradfield, Dr. John Cangelosi, Tracy Dieterich, Scott Evans, Tony Gracely, Danny Klaes, Stephen Lewis, Butch Mach, Steve Mach, Ed McMahon, Billy McCartney, Michael Mithoff, Cody Patel, Ross Robin, Scott Schwinger, Jesse Tutor and board chairman David Wuthrich.
Flowers by Nino, EB, Inc. (linens) and Let It Fly (staging and photo wall construction) provided valuable services to make the event memorable. In addition, since the event’s inception, renowned photography studio Gittings has taken timeless photos of the honorees, which are placed on the wall each year.
What makes this event so unique is that 100% of the proceeds raised stay in Houston, and the grant recipients are unrestricted in their use of that grant. Another fact for which the committee is to be congratulated is that the organization prides itself on always finishing the event on time. As many in the social community are aware, it is a rare occurrence, especially on a consistent basis!
Socially present (not previously mentioned): Jim Postl, Tony and Frances Buzbee, Laura Arnold, Hallie Vanderhider, Bobby Dees, Giles Kibbe, Dr. Bernard Harris, Roland Garcia, Cora Sue Mach, Richard and Ginni Mithoff, Joe and Cathy Cleary, Polly and Elle McKeon, Regina Rogers, Denise Castillo Rhodes, Anne Neeson, Dr. David Callender, Alan Bigman, Penny Butler, John Braniff, Rod Cutsinger, Jim and Dancie Ware, Fred and Dianne Burns, Craig and Patty Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, John Kotts, Mike Linn, Tony Chase, Tony and Cynthia Petrello, Andrew Sarofim, Kevin Foyle, Ric Campo, Ernie Cockrell, Holcombe Crosswell, Bobby and Phoebe Tudor, Sheridan Williams, Janet Gurwitch, Jason Fertitta, Scotty Arnoldy, John and Diane Riley, Jim Bloodworth, Joe Van Metre, Tim and Pat Mann Phillips, Tara Wuthrich, Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman, Christine Johnson, Sami and Dr. Stephanie Shbeeb, Jody Merritt and others