Just after 6 p.m. Wednesday, Equest Community Engagement Director Christine Volkmer was delighted looking at the turnout for the Equest Gala kick-off party at Stanley Korshak. Someone thought Christine’s guess of 50 people was a little conservative as the crowd spilled into the various departments on the ground floor. Some were lined up at the bar, where Gala Auction Chair Lauren McHenry said she would be stationed to accept auction items. Others like Co-Chair Kendall Laughlin were shopping, while his wife/Co-Chair Lisa Laughlin was going over her notes—and what notes they were; others were happily posing for photos with the Equest mini-ambassadors.
A few minutes later, Equest CEO Lili Kellogg welcomed the invite-only guests as the mini-ambassadors took a hay break. Lili thanked the assembled group, including Gala Underwriting Chair Cynthia Beaird, Elsa Norwood , 2017 Judy Bloomberg Memorial Volunteer Spirit Awardee Harley Cozewith and Linda Faulkner Johnston , for their support of the equine therapy program that was celebrating 40 years of horse power.
To prove how the therapeutic program is getting results, 18-year old client Alex Salser told how her three years at Equest had been life changing. As her mom Lynne Salser reported earlier in the evening, of all the therapy sessions Alex has to attend, Equest has been the one that has been a joyous one for the teenager. As other girls were embracing cars, Alex was finding her own mode of happiness on a horse named Amigo.
Lisa also agreed about the importance of the Equest horses and their interaction with youngsters. Her granddaughter Elizabeth Laughlin is also an Equest client, and Lisa has become a member of the Equest board of directors. Why, she has even managed to ride along with Elizabeth.
But back to the news of the day. Lisa and Co-Chair Katherine Wyker reported that not only were they halfway to their goal of $500,000, but they had arranged to have Chef Dean Fearing create a multi-course menu for the gala including Texas Wagyu Brisket, Granny Fearing’s “Paper Bag Shook” Fried Chicken with classic southern sides of jalapeno grits, Gun Barrel greens and pickled okra, among other “Dean-licious” items.
To celebrate the four decades of “horsing around” with a purpose, Lili announced the honorary co-chairs who represented each decade including:
- 1980-1990 — Susan Schwartz and Louise and Guy Griffeth
- 1990-2000 — Steve Barnett and Dr. Chandice Chandler
- 2000-2010 — Pam and Michael Petty
- 2010-2020 — Carol and Bill Huckin and The Huckin/Lupton Family
As for the future decade, Lili announced it would be represented by Julia and Blake Schwarz and Caitlin and Thomas Laughlin.
As for the Gala itself, it will take place at Texas Horse Park come rain or shine, thanks to the covered Al Hill Jr. Arena, with the Walton Stout Bank providing the musical backdrop on Saturday, June 5. Tickets are still available here.