FIVE YEARS AFTER it launched, the annual “Red Hot Gala” supporting Houston firefighters is one of the, well, hottest tickets in the city’s social calendar. Created and co-chaired again this year by Alan and Elizabeth Stein to cover costs for equipment and training, Red Hot has raised more than $3.2 million since its inception, with some $625,000 coming in at this year’s 430-guest bash at the Royal Sonesta.
And what a bash it was, flowing over the course of the program from stirring to sexy! It started with the presentation of the flags by the Houston Firefighter Honor Guard and Pipes and Drums, and a stirring acapella rendition of the National Anthe by Firefighter Joe Rice, and eventually arrived at its usual apex — the shirtless catwalk-strutting of the coming year’s firefighter-calendar hotties.
The spectacle of triceps, biceps, lats and six packs was a hit with the ladies, who crowded around the merch table afterward to buy calendars and take selfies with the muscled gents. Calendar sales benefit the Burned Children’s Fund.
“The momentum continues to be up, and we are grateful for the outpouring of support,” noted the Steins about the fundraising effort.
A raucous live auction followed a dinner of rich short rib and roasted chicken. A triple strand diamond bracelet from IW Marks went for more than $12,000. A surprise, last-minute addition to the auction roster — a guitar signed by George Strait — went for more than $10,000.
One of the evening’s best moments came at the traditional after party when, to the live tunes of the Western Jelly band, the Astros Game Two win was broadcast to the happy crowd.
This year’s co-chairs were Carol and Bill Lawler, with Hallie Vanderhider serving as honorary co-chair. Generous donors Bobbie Nau and Susan Sarofim were called out for special recognition, as were committed volunteers Dee Darby, Scarlett Darby, Betty DuBose and Laura Elizabeth Stein. Notable guests included Margaret Alkek Williams, Brigitte Kalai, Alicia Smith, Van and David Greenberg, Fady Armanious, Bill Baldwin, Patti and Don Murphy, Robert Clay, Karen and Murry Penner, a slew of public officials, and emcees Ted Oberg and Houston Professional Firefighters Association President Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton.
Brigitte Kalai and Joanna Marks
Margaret Alkek Williams and David Wuthrich
Bobbie Nau, Elizabeth Stein, Hallie Vanderhider
Casey & Ryan Mitchell
Fady Armanious & Bill Baldwin
Jackie Eubank, Jo Ann Petersen, Diane Cain
Laura Elizabeth Stein, Captain Chris Garcia, Scarlett Darby
Marissa Eubank, Price Dubose, Darci Vazquez, Anna Hoffman, Kelsey Spieth
Monica & Russel Ybarra
Sarah & Dean Zubowski
Patti & Don Murphy
Shantell and Brian Wischnewsky