65th Mardi Gras Gala Raises $1.1M for Scholarships

The University of St. Thomas 65th Mardi Gras Gala rocked the Hilton Americas-Houston on Fat Tuesday and raised more than $1.1 million in support of student scholarships.

A New Orleans jazz band, led by Houston native Leo “The Voice” Polk set the mood for the program with traditional Mari Gras music.  Mardi Gras Krewe captains led the Second Line March into the ballroom to kick off the festivities. Juanita Hardy, senior Nursing student, led the Krewe and was also recognized during the evening, along with the Mardi Gras Student King and Queen Alfonso Moreno and Adrienne Copeland.

UST_GALA_2015_060UST President and First Lady Robert and Marianne Ivany, and Mardi Gras Co-chairs Trini Mendenhall and Jan and Oniel Mendenhall MBA '04, welcomed nearly 700 guests for a fun and festive evening. The event included dinner, dancing and live bidding on amazing travel packages and other valuable auction items. Writer, producer and trailblazing journalist Lisa Malosky, served as Mistress of Ceremonies, and His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and a member of the UST Board of Directors, provided a heartwarming invocation. Anna Maria Martinez, the Houston Grand Opera’s Grammy-award winning soprano, attended the event with a record number of UST alumni who danced into the evening to the great sounds of the Austin-based band, Skyrocket!. The UST community also honored longtime benefactor and Houston philanthropist Charlie Thomas and his family. Thomas and his late wife Kittsie are the parents of three UST alumni and were recognized for their extraordinary commitment to the University of St. Thomas and to the Houston community. Charlie and Kittsie were married for 61 years before her passing in 2013 and have three daughters and sons-in-law: Kelly Ann Thomas ’90, MLA ’93 and Michael Alexander; Robin Thomas Klaes ’84 and Danny Klaes ’85; and Tracy Lee Everist and Jeff Everist—as well as eight cherished grandchildren. Charlie and Kittsie instilled in their children the importance of giving back, and education is a favorite cause.

“One of the liveliest and the largest Mardi Gras Galas I’ve had the honor to attend,” said Dr. Robert Ivany, UST President. “We appreciate everyone’s generosity for our deserving University of St. Thomas students.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the amazing turnout we’ve had tonight, and I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed to this worthy cause,” added Trini Mendenhall, Mardi Gras 2015 co-chair. “As the proud parent of a UST alum, I’ve seen first-hand the life-changing impact UST has on its students. It was a pleasure to chair this event with my son Oniel and daughter-in-law Jan. The Gala gives us a chance to support scholarships for future leaders. I can think of nothing more important!”

Those who were not able to participate in Mardi Gras but still want to contribute can make a secure donation to The St. Thomas Fund.

Photos from Mardi Gras Gala