WHEN TYRA BANKS IS THROWING THE PARTY, you know it’s gonna be good.
Last Saturday night, 1,300 people dressed to the nines for the city’s largest gala, presented by the Altus Foundation in its first year of partnership with the Mayor’s office, hosted by none other than America’s favorite supermodel. This year’s fête at the Hilton Americas was a sold-out, show-stopping, record-breaking event, raising more than $1 million for the Foundation’s mission to provide assistance like healthcare, financial aid, food, and scholarships to Houstonians in need.
A black-tie red carpet and cocktail hour preceded a glitzy program in the grand ballroom, transformed by decor from Décor 2 Remember and entertainment by high-flying aerialist acrobats and music from Divisi Strings and Collide. High-profile guests ran the gamut from actors to pro athletes, including Bollywood star Nargis Fakhri; former Houston Texans Chester Pitts, Andre Johnson, Travis Johnson, Wade Smith, and Kevin Walter; former Houston Rocket Carl Landry; 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed; and Brennan Scarlett, who’s currently on the Texans roster.
“It’s gonna get crunk up in here,” said host Tyra Banks. “Just ’cause you dressed up doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun.”
The crowd also heard from Mayor Sylvester Turner; Taseer Badar, chairman and CEO of platinum sponsor ZT Corporate; and Altus Foundation executive team Anil Morwani, Mohsin Malik, and ThuyLan Chang. Before that, Zahid “Cruize” Gaj of Altus Health presented a tribute to Altus employee and division president Khurram Ibrahim, who was killed in a car accident earlier this year. Pop singer Taylor Thi performed a song in Ibrahim’s memory while a slideshow of photos stirred emotions in the audience.
There was more where that came from when the crowd heard the story of Altus Foundation patient Gerardo Limon, who was shot during a robbery earlier this year and left paralyzed from his injury. The Foundation helped Limon get the surgery and medical care he needed to become mobile again, and the audience leapt to its feet when he rose from his wheelchair, walked across the stage, and got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend, Sarika, who’d stayed by his side through the entire ordeal.
The rest of the evening proved more light-hearted, with a riveting live auction on items like 2019 Super Bowl LIII tickets, a private villa escape in Bali, and a Grammy Awards and after-party experience. Acrobats from Cirque Berzerk and DJ duo Natalia & Esther kept the party going.
“I am thrilled that I was part of this amazing event,” Tyra Banks said. “The Houston Gala truly embodies the Altus Foundation’s Texas-sized heart, and I am honored to be part of a celebration that will help so many people in need.”