Nora's Home "Giving Back to the Future" Gala Benefits Transplant Patients and Families
Photo Credit Daniel Ortiz
The clocks stopped as the Houston transplant community and its supporters were transported through time during the 2017 Nora's Home "Giving Back to the Future" Gala on Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Royal Sonesta Houston Hotel. The annual gala honored Lynda Underwood and her late husband, David. As Chairman of the Texas Medical Center Board of Directors for decades, David gave back to future generations through his charitable and collaborative work. The philanthropic couple was honored for their past contributions that continue to support the Houston community into the future. Master of Ceremonies, Lisa Malosky, welcomed more than 650 guests that helped to raise over $650,000 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 hit the dance floor to enjoy a DJ spinning hits from the '80s. Freddy Cruz from 104.1 KRBE-Houston kicked off the night's philanthropic efforts by opening bids for the big board auction items. Guests were also given the chance to live out their Back to the Future dreams by entering a raffle for a chance to win a stainless steel 1981 DeLorean. A lucky winner named Shane Duckworth with the Oklahoma Storm Chasers claimed the prized DeLorean.
Gala goers teleported to the ball room to begin dinner. Emcee Malosky took the stage to offer guests a warm welcome and to introduce gala chairs, Dr. Sippi and Mr. Ajay Khurana, to the stage. The couple recognized and thanked the Nora's Home staff, Brigitte and Bashar Kalai for introducing them to the organization, and founders Dr. Osama and Lillian Gaber for welcoming them to the Nora's Home family.
The Khuranas also recognized the gala's honorary chair, Margaret Alkek Williams, for her commitment to philanthropy through the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation. Williams was acknowledged for the continuation of the legacy of giving established by her parents and was given a standing ovation by the audience. The Texas Medical Center's new President and Chief Executive Officer, Bill McKeon took the stage to speak on Lynda Underwood and her late husband, David's involvement in innovation that continues to benefit Houstonians today. McKeon shared his experiences working with David and how important spouses are to successful partners, especially those like Lynda who always stayed by David's side. The audience alsogave Lynda a standing ovation after she gave a moving speech about the necessity of providing care for those undergoing transplant treatments and what a gift it is to have Nora's Home in the Texas Medical Center.
The audience was brought back to 2017 for a futuristic live performance by iLuminate, a combination of state-of-the-art technology with electrifying entertainers creating the ultimate in the dark performing arts experience. iLuminate was called the "best new act in America" during its run on America's Got Talent in 2011. iLuminate's patented technology has been used in numerous performances by Grammy-winning superstars, on hit primetime television shows and various events across the globe. The performance consisted of a fusion of technology and dancers in electrified glow-in-the-dark suits performing dynamic routines and illusions on a darkened stage.
Malosky announced Nora's Home will double the existing lodging capacity for transplant patients and its groundbreaking will take place this summer. The expansion project required Nora's Home's Board of Directors and staff to launch a $6 million capital campaign. Their efforts alongside sponsors including Dr. Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Brigitte and Bashar Kalai of Amerapex Corporation and many more were highlighted for their accomplishments. Expanding the home will allow Nora's Home to provide 5,840 additional nights lodging, for a total of approximately 10,800 lodging nights per year.
Emcee Malosky welcomed Bruce and Melissa Bosshard from Waxahachie, TX to the stage. Melissa is a recent double lung transplant recipient that had to temporarily relocate 250 miles away from her home to be closer to her hospital, incurring substantial travel, food and lodging expenses for both herself and her required caregiver. The pair shared their touching story of the transplant experience and the impact Nora's Home had on them throughout their journey.
A live auction was held to support Nora's Home, which included lavish items such as a live painting by Houston Artist Taft McWhorter, Houston Rockets suite, 3-night stay at Wyndham Grand Rio Mar in Puerto Rico, and dove hunt trip in Argentina. 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. The evening concluded with a final performance by the iLuminate group.
Friday's gala was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous underwriters, including Dr. Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Brigitte and Bashar Kalai of Amerapex Corporation, C. James and Carole Walter Looke Family Fund, The JLH Foundation, The Linda and Jerry Strickland Foundation, The Underwood Family and Margaret Alkek Williams alongside Randa and Charles Williams.
About Nora's Home
Opened in 2013 as the first transplant hospitality home in the Gulf Coast region, Nora's Homewelcomes 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 www.norashome.org, call 832-831-3720