Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association’s Charitable Foundation Gala

By Jennifer Roosth      Photography by Catchlight Group

THE SETTING: The latest Red Hot gala was not only a bright spot in the midst of a tough year, but also was a flaming success.  With social distancing and after initial temperature checks by the Houston Firefighter Cadets, over 200 guests donned masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer to attend a seamlessly magical event produced by Lenny Matuszewski and Tamara Bonar. The Houston Fire Fighters Pipes and Drums, along with the Honor Guard, opened the evening and brought the audience to their feet as Houston Firefighter Joe Rice sang the national anthem acapella. Additionally, no firefighter event would be complete without Houston’s own firefighter calendar models walking the runway.

THE STYLE: The evening was a moment to gather together, celebrate, and comfort one another. Although this year’s event was less than 50% capacity of previous years, the community not only stepped out but also stepped up. “Our goal was to include every possible protective element we could and more,” noted co-chair Elizabeth Stein. Over 200 guests helped raise $410,000 for new equipment and training through the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Charitable Foundation.

THE PURPOSE: The Local 341 President Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton, event chairs Elizabeth and Alan Stein, and the Charitable Foundation’s decision to remain a live event took a great deal of consideration and additional planning. This year’s honorary co-chairs, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, shared their family’s personal experiences with firefighters in a heartwarming video. The evening also honored community advocate Hallie Vanderhider and corporate advocates Renee and Alan Helfman, Five stellar community supporters were honored on plaques at fire stations across Houston: Janet and Tom Behanick, Benjamin Berg, Troy Blakeney, Joanna and Brad Marks, and Bobbie Nau.