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Nora's Home at the Kentucky Derby Gala Benefits Transplant Patients and Families 

By Connie Kwan-Wong   |     Photo Credit: Daniel Ortiz   |       Date: May 6, 2016 

The Houston transplant community and its supporters were transported to a night at the races during the 2016 Nora's Home Kentucky Derby Gala on Friday, May 6, 2016 at the Royal Sonesta Houston Hotel. The Annual Gala honored The Boudwin Family and The Bono Family for the families' relentless efforts to spread awareness about organ donation and the needs of transplant patients. Master of Ceremonies, KPRC 2 News Anchor Owen Conflenti, welcomed more than 600 guests that helped to raise over $500,000 for Nora's Home facility and programs that provide care, education, and support for transplant patients and their families.


The evening began with a cocktail reception where guests placed their bets in the casino room or raced to the dancefloor for live music by the David Caceres Band. VIP guests were given photo booth opportunities with a live pony and a 12-foot horseshoe made of roses. Freddy Cruz from 104.1 KRBE-Houston kicked off the night's philanthropic efforts by opening bids for the big board auction items such as tickets to the Dr. Phil Show, a private Tootsies luncheon and an Astros suite.


Guests were corralled to the ball room by the traditional Kentucky Derby bugle call to begin dinner. Emcee Conflenti took the stage to offer guests a warm welcome and to introduce Nora's Home with a video highlighting the story of Nora Gaber and her parents' love for their daughter. Drs. Lillian and Osama Gaber were applauded by the audience for the conception of Nora's Home. Special guests from the Egyptian Consulate, Honorable Khaled Rady and his wife, Dr. Manal Affara, and The Syrian Consulate Ayman Midani and his wife, Gayda were recognized.


Nora's Home Executive Director Kayla Lehmann then proudly welcomed Chairs Brigitte and Bashar Kalai to the stage. The couple spoke on their involvement with Nora's Home and asked donors to join them in the final home stretch to reach the organization's capital campaign goal of $3.5 million dollars to double the existing lodging capacity for transplant patients. Bashar announced groundbreaking may take place this summer.


Honorees, The Bono Family and The Boudwin Family, were highlighted and thanked for their continuous support before emcee Conflenti welcomed Maureen Grace and her two year old son Jude who is a recent lung transplant patient to the stage. Maureen shared her touching story of the transplant experience and the impact Nora's Home had on them throughout their journey.


The evening concluded with guests dancing to live music on the dance floor and a live auction which included lavish items including a dazzling 1.25 carat diamond pendant, an all-inclusive Costa Rica fishing trip, a private Rockets birthday party and dove hunt trip in Argentina among several additional luxury experiences. The focus of the night drew attention to the needs of transplant patients and the proceeds benefitted the Adopt-A-Family fund which provides financial support for families who cannot afford to pay the minimal nightly fee.


Friday's Gala was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous underwriters, including Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, the C. James and Carol Walter Looke Family Fund, The JLH Foundation, Hern Family Limited Partnership, Dr. Sippi and Ajay Khurana, The Linda and Jerry Strickland Family Foundation, Pat and Ben Bono, Drs. Sandra Hurtad and Michael Braun, Drs. Lillian and A. Osama Gaber, Gayle and Tom Kennedy, Caroline and Eddie Kuntz, Northstar Logistics LLC,  Ramming Family Partnership, Mrs. David M. Underwood, Biologic TX, Houston Methodist Hospital, Iberia Bank, J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center, Drs. Disha and Ashish Saharia, The Smither Family, Marian and John Zerr, and more.


If you would like to learn about Nora's Home, visit or call 832-831-3720.


About Nora's Home


Opened in 2013 as the first transplant hospitality home in the Gulf Coast region, Nora's Home welcomes patients and their families at any stage of the transplant journey. The hospitality home aims to ease burdens many patients face by helping reduce the immense expense and stress incurred while undergoing transplant care by providing affordable lodging in a loving, home-like environment. Located at 8300 El Rio Street in Houston near the Texas Medical Center, the self-supporting facility includes 16 private bedrooms and baths, a fully-equipped kitchen, community room, meditation room, education center, and provides free shuttle services to and from the medical center. For more information, visit, call 832-831-3720 or follow us on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

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