Charity Ball Association Celebrates Million-Dollar Fundraising Evening


By Jake Gaines      Photography by Jenna Beth Lyde


THE SETTING: The Charity Ball Association (CBA) of San Antonio’s 66th Chrysanthemum Ball was held at the Witte Museum’s Mays Family Center, with a record-breaking $1 million of funds raised by the almost 600 supporters in attendance. With pandemic protocol in place, the black-tie clad and elegantly attired guests, arrived on a 100-foot-long red carpet through a floral fantasy arch. They were then ushered into the Zachery Garden for a cocktail reception while the talented Youth Orchestra, San Antonio (YOSA), played in the background.


THE STYLE: Guests entered The Mays Family Center, greeted by a 15-foot-tall ice sculpture, in the shape of a birdcage, by award-winning Buddy Rasmussen. It mimicked the invitation design created by Elizabeth Roberts and was framed with floral details and jeweled butterflies, which encircled the base of the sculpture with magenta lighting highlighting the etched ice. Magenta, which represents universal harmony and emotional balance, was selected as the evening’s primary color palette by CBA President Terrie Musselman and Décor Chair Gayle Embrey. Complementing magenta were additional shades of lavender, green and white represented in the floral arrangements, along with jeweled butterflies that dotted the room.


The décor and floral design by Danny Cueller of Trinity Flowers was perfection with the ballroom’s beautifully adorned tables covered with oversized vases supporting a burst of colorful flowers. The centerpiece arrangements included magenta flowers, Pink Floyd roses, green hydrangeas, Queen Anne’s lace, green amaranth, curly willow, silver dollar-seeded eucalyptus, and the organization’s signature logo flower, green chrysanthemums. Meanwhile, a giant pergola of a floral effusion was installed over the dance floor.


The dinner began with entertainment by a dance orchestra. This year’s program was emceed by Albert Steves, assisted by his wife and sponsor member, Tricia Steves, with Carrie Catalani orchestrating an elaborate and exciting presentation of Prizes & Prize drawings. As the night progressed, guests savored decadent hors d’oeuvres, all by Rosemary’s Catering. Wine pairings were an elegant and perfect accompaniment to the gourmet meal. The evening was capped off by entertainment by the band, Blind Date of Austin.


THE PURPOSE: The special, unique, and memorable night was helmed by CBS Chairman of the Board Lynn Ziegler, President Terrie Musselman, and the many committees that orchestrated the festivities. The 2020 and 2021 combined gala Diamond Chrysanthemum Patrons were the Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation, Charity Ball Legacy Foundation, Kittie Nelson Ferguson Foundation, and the Mays Family Foundation. Even with the unusual year in 2020, the Charity Ball raised over one million dollars under the chairmanship of the 2020 Vice President for Patrons, Kelly Kennedy, and then again raised over one million dollars in 2021 under the Vice President for Patrons, Ellen O’Gorman.


The organization is so very grateful for The Charity Ball Legacy Foundation, which made a significant contribution of $125,000 in 2020 and an increased donation in 2021 of $180,000 to The Charity Ball Association. During these past two years, under the guidance of Sharon Seal, Vice President of Charities, a rigorous process was developed to determine the 36 charities to be funded in Bexar County. As a result, many needs were met for these children, such as food, shelter, clothing, safety, education, disabilities (both intellectual and developmental), and improved playground facilities.


The Charity Ball Association graciously acknowledged decades of giving by Cavender Cadillac. The Charity Ball Association of San Antonio supports the children of Bexar County by distributing grants each year since 1954, now totaling more than $24 million. The organization’s tenet is Children Benefit Always.

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The Texas Biomedical Forum Celebrates Fifty Years Of Triumphs


By Jake Gaines           Photography by Super Q Photography



THE SETTING: Over 50 years ago, Dottie Block, Tena Gorman, and Ruth Eileen Sullivan had the vision and creativity to launch Southwest Research Forum, today known as the Texas Biomedical Forum. The Forum extended their thanks to President & CEO of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Larry Schlesinger, M.D.,  its scientists, along with the past presidents, all who have paved the way for making the world a better place, one research project at a time. This year’s Forum President was Amy Swaney.


THE STYLE: The Forum’s activities actually began last November, when the Fall Lecture Luncheon, one of their educational outreaches to the community, took place. Then, the Past President’s Luncheon was held, and the 3rd annual Cheers for CHAIRity event followed in late February. At the beginning of March, pre-COVID-19, the Spring Lecture Luncheon hosted three panelists. Suzanne Dabbous, M.D. (Radiologist and Past Forum President), Jean Patterson, Ph.D. (Professor) and Angelica M. Olmo-Fontanez, M.S. (Graduate Student/Biomedical Researcher) who discussed the Routes of Success: From Early to Established Careers Women Discuss Pathways in STEM. To top off the year, the Charles Butt Foundation presented a check for $50,000 designated to the Forum’s K-12 grant program and generously agreed to do so for three consecutive years. The 50th Anniversary 2020 Forum Gala, chaired by Whitney Schones and Karen Bryant, with The Starry Night as its theme, was regrettably cancelled due to the virus. Table sponsors were asked to consider allowing the organization to donate their sponsorship dollars intended for the 2020 gala directly to COVID-19 research. Through their generosity, Texas Biomed received close to $325,000 for this urgently needed critical research. Cynthia Kirby will serve as the 2020-2021 Forum President.


THE PURPOSE: The purpose of the Texas Biomedical Forum is to support the Texas Biomedical Research Institute through community relations, volunteer services, and fundraising. Over the years, the Forum’s fundraising efforts have raised approximately $3.2 million to be used in pilot studies. These grants are sometimes known as “seed grants” because they are relatively small, but the ideas they power can grow to become immensely impactful. This funding has allowed researchers to apply for additional grant monies in excess of $75 million in subsequent awards for large-scale research projects, which equates to approximately twenty-three dollars in return for every dollar of Forum grants. In commemoration of their 50th year, the Forum is grateful to have received three $100,000 grant matches from the Gorman Family Foundation, the Mays Foundation, and the Sullivan Family Foundation. The generosity of these three donor matches has allowed the Forum to give a little over $400,000 to the scientists’ pilot studies this year, making a total of $800,000 in contributions to Texas Biomed in 2020.


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Landa Gardens Conservancy Celebrates 13th Anniversary Event

By Jake Gaines         Photography by Jenna Beth Lyde

THE SETTING: Circumstances this year prohibited the traditional Landa Nights soiree in the gardens under a starry sky. Instead, guests were invited to celebrate in a safe and down-to earth way–with a gala to go.  Most patrons choose to celebrate at home, while others set up their dinner parties on rooftops overlooking the city or even at Landa Gardens, where the festivities were originally scheduled to take place.


THE STYLE: This year’s event, aptly named Landa Nights: Down to Earth, allowed supporters to celebrate in the way they felt most comfortable during the pandemic. More than 200 people participated in the evening through Landa Nights sponsorship packages, which included custom, three-course meals cooked-to-order by favorite local restaurant, Outlaw Kitchens. Several Landa Nights patrons were surprised with an outdoor musical performance by Brad Normandeau, a Sinatra-style crooner who delighted guests and added an old-Hollywood ambiance to the festivities.


THE PURPOSE: Rebecca Nathan, a Landa Gardens Conservancy board member, chaired the sold-out event that was extended an extra two evenings due to high demand. The Landa Gardens Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to beautifying Landa Gardens and the five landscaped acres surrounding Landa Library, a branch of the San Antonio Public Library. It is a treasured neighborhood gem that offers enjoyment for all ages with playground structures, walking paths, over 7,000 plants, lush and native landscaping, mature tree varieties, and the cherished Valero Pavilion, a sculptured canopy created by renowned local artist, Carlos Cortés.


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San Antonio Gardenia Club Luncheon Celebrates With Oscars® Theme


By Jake Gaines       Photography by Greg Harrison

THE SETTING: Pre-COVID-19, Red Carpet At The Oscars served as the fashionable theme that inspired a recent event to support the San Antonio Gardenia Club. The fundraising luncheon and style show featured Julian Gold models in fashions they paraded down the catwalk, inspiring the guests for their future stylish looks.

THE STYLE: The San Antonio Country Club was the setting for the event, where guests were transported back to a time of Old Hollywood glamour amongst extraordinary floral decorations befitting the organization’s name. The luncheon attendees walked the red carpet surrounded by golden Oscar® statuettes, while being entertained by the likes of vintage celebrity impersonators such as Marilyn Monroe, amongst others. Upon entering the venue, they merrily toasted one another with champagne and popcorn. Then, the film-worthy song and dance routine by Melissa Gonzalez dazzled, as she channeled her inner Judy Garland, while being serenaded by students from the Woodlawn Theatre Academy captivated all in attendance.

THE PURPOSE: The proceeds of the annual fundraiser raises funds for local fine arts students. This year’s annual luncheon was chaired by Sharron Batchelor and Christy Tidwell, with Carroll Dorsey Walker serving as the president of the organization. The San Antonio Gardenia Club was founded in 1960, with the mission of providing fine arts scholarships to deserving students who graduate from Bexar County high schools, enabling young scholars to continue their education at local colleges. The club also participates in the annual Battle of Flowers Texas Cavalier River Parade, the Annual Holiday River Parade, and the King William Parade.

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World Affairs Council Event Lifts City’s International Profile

By Jake Gaines       Photography by Dos Kiwis Studios

THE SETTING: Before COVID-19, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts was the setting for the World Affairs Council of San Antonio’s 2020 International Citizen of the Year Award dinner. The event honored the Morgan’s Wonderland park’s Gordon Hartman for helping lift San Antonio’s international profile. Morgan’s Wonderland is the first-of-its-kind amusement park that is designed specifically for children with special needs and their families. The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation pursues his family’s dream of helping children and adults with special needs. His daughter Morgan, born with cognitive and physical challenges, was the source of inspiration. Over the past decade, Hartman has been recognized for his innovative designs and ingenuity in opening multiple non-profit fully-accessible theme parks for special-needs individuals.

THE STYLE: The keynote speaker for the gathering was Ambassador Roman Popadiuk, who had served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine under President George H.W. Bush. Former Ambassador Popadiuk is an expert on U.S.-Ukrainian relations and other national security issues. He is a retired career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and  was executive director of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation at Texas A&M University. He currently serves as president of the Diplomacy Center Foundation. The event featured an interview with the Ambassador by Dr. Paul D’Anieri,  University of California Riverside professor and expert on Ukraine.

THE PURPOSE: This is the 35th year the organization has hosted the annual event. Founded in 1982, the World Affairs Council of San Antonio’s mission is to promote public understanding of world affairs and United States foreign policy and to enhance the ability of the community and future leaders to participate as global citizens. The Council accomplishes its mission by presenting programs such as the Distinguished Speaker Series, Global Issues Luncheons, Diplomat Salons, the Marshall Memorial Fellows, Young Professional events, and youth engagement outreach. A not-for-profit and non-partisan organization, it is a member of the World Affairs Councils of America.

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Texas Biomedical Forum Hosts Chair-ity Event


By Jake Gaines            Photography by Super Q


THE SETTING:  Recently, the Texas Biomedical Forum held a unique fundraising event at the home of Gloria and Miguel Dilley. Usually, the black-tie gala celebrating the organization is one of the most important social events in the city. This smaller event, which began in 2017, occurred when The Argyle board decided to donate its chairs to the Forum, giving donors a chance to have a piece of the club’s history. The club was originally founded in 1854 and its incarnation as a private club began in 1955.


THE STYLE:  The Argyle contacted the gala’s president at the time, Courtney Percy, who created the idea of getting local interior decorators to put their creative spin on the chairs. The Argyle contacted the Forum’s president at the time, Courtney Percy, who created the idea of getting local interior decorators to put their creative spin on the chairs. Adrianne Frost and Mal Moorman, the 2017 special event chairs, took Percy’s idea and ran with it.


The organization is grateful to The Argyle for donating the chairs to the Forum. With Courtney Percy’s vision, the special events chair leaders’ achievements each year, and with the designers who have donated their time and talents, it has proved to be a perfect combination, thus ensuring its success at every event. The recent event was celebrated by so many well-dressed supporters who love the organization’s goals.


THE PURPOSE:  With this one-of-a-kind fundraiser, this year was the final event chaired by Gloria Dilley and Triana Grossman. The event has successfully raised over $50,000 in its three years. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute is pioneering and sharing scientific breakthroughs that protect you, your families, and our global community from the threat of infectious diseases.


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