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Everything’s Coming Up Italian

The Houston Area Women’s Center benefits from Una Notte in Italia


Photo credit: QuyTranPhotography

General Editor: Margaret MacMillan

Publisher: Connie Kwan-Wong

The Celebration

Presented by Festari for Men, the twentieth anniversary of  Una Notte in Italia, featuring a celebrity runway show, was held at the luxurious Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston. The sold-out event, which welcomed 600 of Houston’s most fashionable, was cochaired by the always chic Brigitte Kalai and Melissa Mithoff and honorary chair Debbie Festari. Each year, the gala supports a different charity. This year, the proceeds from the fun-filled evening will go to the Houston Area Women’s Center.

The Story

The mood was festive as the crowd showed its enthusiastic support for the philanthropic businessmen and athletes who walked the runway showing off the latest in men’s fall fashions in support of this year’s worthy cause. They included businessmen Bashar Kalai, Ali Dhanani, Ed Gonzalez, Antonio Merlo, Ed Finger, Chip Lewis, Travis Torrence, Tommy Kuranoff, and Marc Nguyen and athletes Andre Hal, Greg Mancz, Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Dylan Cole, and Tyrann Mathieu. 

After the runway show, guests treated their palates to a sumptuous Italian feast and quenched their thirst with fine Italian wines. Then they got down to the serious business of bidding in the animated live action and dancing to tunes spun by DJ Senega.

The Moments

Auctioneer, Andy Cerota of KPRC 2, and Houston Area Women's Center’s chief marketing and development officer, Chau Nguyen, announced the exciting live auction items up for bid. Some of the most notable were a Houston Rockets private suite, a Houston Texans Italian dinner at the new Carmelo’s, and a Houston Astros dinner hosted by Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and his wife Rachel, as well as getaways to Cabo, Costa Rica, and Tuscany. Logan Lester, Miss Texas USA 2018, assisted with the auction.

The record-breaking sum of over $400,000 was raised for the Houston Area Women's Center.

Guests: Rachel and Jeff Bagwell, Hallie Vanderhider and Tony Bradfield, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniels,  Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Vivian Wise, Myrtle Jones, Jennifer and Chad Pinkerton, Dr. Rolando Maldonado and Jessica Rossman, Gordon Bethune, and Jessica and Michael Bertuccio.

About Houston Area Women’s Center

The Houston Area Women's Center helps families affected by domestic and sexual violence. Its mission is to work to end domestic and sexual violence and support all in building safe and healthy lives through advocacy, counseling, education, shelter, and support services. Services are free, confidential, and available to everyone.

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