If you remember correctly, last year St. Jude Children's Research Hospital hosted its annual gala at Cowboys Stadium. That was pretty special. But this year the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary with an Evening Under the Stars gala at Omni Dallas, headlined by country stars Big and Rich.
More than 700 supporters and philanthropists, decked out in cowboy chic attire, gathered at the hotel and shuffled into the silent auction, where sports and travel packages, restaurant gift cards, wine tastings, and spa packages were up for grabs. Post-silent auction and cocktail reception, guests gathered in the main ballroom for a sit-down dinner.
Emcee Scott Murray commended Brinker International restaurant Chili's for raising more than $41 million for St. Jude. Following a profound video presentation with words by Marlo Thomas — daughter of Danny Thomas and founder of the renowned research hospital — co-chairs Lydia Haggar Novakov and Marian Haggar Bryan took the stage to thank the leadership and host committees.
Novakov lauded honorary chairs Mary and Mike Terry for their instrumental support of the hospital and the Dallas-Fort Worth area — particularly the YMCA, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and more than 100 other charities.
After Mike reminisced on his "friendship and mentorship" with Joe Haggar, longtime devotee of St. Jude, CEO Richard Shadyac expressed warm thanks to Novokav and Bryan for carrying on their father's legacy. Then he introduced Maggie Cupit, a former patient of the hospital and young cancer survivor.
Cupit shed light on her struggle with cancer and shared her life-altering experience at St. Jude. She also sang a song in memory of a boy she befriended during her time at the hospital.
Without a dry eye in the room, the live auction began as guests — including Pennie and Alan Marshall, Margo and Jim Keyes, Cindy and Charlie Feld, Dan Novakov, George Bryan, Jayne and Joe Haggar III, Micki and Mayor Mike Rawlings, Holly and Doug Brooks, and Diane and Mike Gruber — finished their meals and anxiously waited for Big and Rich to take the stage.
Following the main event, the sentimental yet festive night continued with an after-party and music by local band The Rusty Brothers.