(Featured photo: Roger and Marena Gault, Chairs; Greg and Kim Hext, Honorary Chairs.)**
As the sun set and cool breezes filled the air, it was the perfect setting for a Wild and Wonderful night at Zoo To Do 2022, that is the Dallas Zoo’s largest annual fundraiser, presented by the Eugene McDermott Foundation.Setting the scene in their Safari Chic fashions, Marena and Roger Gault, chairs, with Kim and Greg Hext as honorary chairs, and Sherwood Wagner as VIP chair, welcomed friends, community and business leaders to the sold-out event which brought in just over $1.3 million.
“This is just a wonderful night for the Zoo,” said Gregg Hudson, President and CEO, Dallas Zoo. “Roger and Marena topped it off this year, along with the chairs and committees on the live auction, the Big Board and silent auction, the Wine Guys, over 30 restaurants and more. I’m excited about the surprises in store for this evening.”
Anticipation of a wonderful event began as guests entered through the 10-foot-tall colorful ribbon-draped archway, echoing the brilliant jewel tones in the fabulous lion mane logo. VIPs sipped signature cocktails in the Gorilla Research Station with hors d’oeuvres, then everyone began wandering through the Giants of the Savanna habitat, enjoying libations and culinary delights from a selection of Dallas’ top restaurants. Along the way, there were Zoo staff literally armed with animal encounters, including a boa constrictor, armadillo, dwarf caiman lizard, and – the ultimate fun – guests were welcome to feed the giraffes.
Late night was a special treat which included festive and fun desserts and late-night bites in the Wilds of Africa Plaza featuring outstanding restaurants. Guests continued to bid on the Big Board items and in the silent auction until Gregg took the stage and thanked the sponsors, underwriters, restaurants, and everyone who was participating in this evening’s event.
Marena and Roger began their remarks at the podium by welcoming friends, saying they are honored to be a part of the Dallas Zoo family. Their involvement first began as patrons of Zoo To Do. After thanking sponsors, including Herd of Elephants underwriters Diane and Hal Brierley, Ruth O’Donnell Mutch and Sherwood Wagner, they thanked the hard-working committee, Zoo staff and volunteers.
Roger said that the Zoo’s commitment to creating sustainable animal habitats is cutting edge. And then the surprises kicked-in! He said, “The elephants happily roam miles a day in their state-of-the-art habitat,” and Marena threw small stuffed toy elephants into the astonished crowd. Roger continued by saying “The penguins are able to swim upstream in their specially-designed water home,” and Marena threw out small stuffed toy penguins. Roger said, “With great enrichment, Gus, our male hippo, loves to show off for guests doing barrel rolls in his underwater viewing habitat,” and Marena threw small stuffed toy hippos into the crowd. As Marena then held up a bag of Zoo Poo, Roger said, “Uh-oh, Zoo Poo is for purchase, and it will make your garden spring to life!” As Marena began opening the bag, the crowd gasped, thinking she was throwing out the bag’s contents when really, confetti was thrown out and the crowd joined in rousing applause.
A spirited live auction began featuring travel, many one-of-a-kind Zoo experiences – Glamping at the Zoo went for $25,000 – and a very special chef’s dinner, which sold three times at $30,000 each.
The evening ended with everyone dancing to the absolutely fun tunes of party band Manhattan. As guests exited, many jumped right on the festive carousel, all lit up in celebration of tonight’s event.
Robyn and Chris Chauvin were Host Committee Chairs. Diane Brierley, Cindy Gummer and Kim Hext served as the Advisory Committee; Underwriting Committee were Alex Arellano (Chair), Jake Bender, Diane Brierley, Ryan Gummer, Gail Plummer, Steven Roth; Live Auction Committee were Kari and Tim McDonald (Chairs), Barbara and Don Averitt, Lauralee and Robert Gunby, Dawn Moore, Venise Stuart, Aimee Williams-Ramey; Big Board Chair was Cindy Gummer; Silent Auction Committee were Robyn Chauvin (Co-chair), Chuck Steelman (Co-chair), Gabi Herrick, Kyleb Howell, William LeMasters, Niko Padilla, Jack Salisbury, Fabiola Sierra; Raffle Committee were Courtney and Andrew Nall (Chairs), Nick Adamson, Brandi and Rick Ellis, Christina Morris; Wine Guys were father/son teams Greg Hext and Preston Hext along with Michael Meadows and Matthew Meadows; Honorary Chef was Dan Landsberg and Chef Wrangler was Brett Krafft.
Zoo To Do is a major source of funding for the nonprofit Dallas Zoo. Proceeds from the event help support the Zoo’s dedication to providing the best animal care, delivering unique education offerings, and strengthening its wildlife conservation efforts in our backyard and around the world.
For more information about the Dallas Zoo and Zoo To Do, visit the website at www.dallaszoo.com/zootodo.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 4, 2023 and join in the fun with Zoo To Do chairs
Steven Roth and Thai-Lan Tran.
Participating Restaurants for 2022 Zoo To Do included:
Beckley 1115: Chef Sharon Van Meter
Botolino Gelato Artigianale: Chef Carlo Gattini
Bowen House: Chef Joe Shirghio
Bright Box Foods: Chef Chris Patrick
Cake Bar: Chef Tracy L. Gernean
Cane Rosso: Chef Jeff Bekavac
Circle T Ranch: Chef Dan Landsberg, Honorary Chef
Dolce Far Niete – Hot Chocolate Experience: Yasmeen Tadia
Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge at HALL Arts Hotel: Chef Anthony Hsia
Empire Baking Company: Chef Meaders Ozarow
Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs: Amber Fletcher
Gemma / Sachet: Chef Stephen Rogers
Home Cooking with Blythe Beck: Chef Blythe Beck
La Bodega Rotisserie & Goods: Chef Skye McDaniel
Las Palmas Tex Mex: Chef Hilario Serratos
Mike’s Gemini Twin : Bill Ziegler
Mozzarella Company: Chef Paula Lambert
Nothing Bundt Cakes Highland Park: Tara Cooper
Oak’d Handcrafted BBQ: Chef/Pitmaster Michael Lane
Parigi: Chef Janice Provost
Rockow Catering / Killer Caramels: Chef Jeff Rockow
Salum: Chef Abraham Salum
Sevy’s Grill: Chef Jim “Sevy” Severson and Chef Gerardo Calderon
Sift and Pour: Elizabeth Ging
SSA Group: Chef Tyler Wallace
Sugaire Glowing Organic Cotton Candy Experience: Yasmeen Tadia
Suze: Chef Gilbert Garza
Taco Y Vino: Jimmy Contreras
The Zodiac Room Downtown Neiman Marcus: Chef Sara Toth
Toussaint, A Downtown Brasserie: Chef Shaun Hinson
Truluck’s: Chef Manny Vera
Willie Ds: Chef Brad Miller
About the Dallas Zoo: The Dallas Zoo is dedicated to Creating a Better World for Animals. Named one of the nation’s Top 10 Zoos by USA Today, it is the largest zoological experience in Texas. The zoo has been accredited continuously by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums since 1985, and features a 106-acre park, more than 2,000 animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. The zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis) and is open seven days a week (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. currently), 364 days a year. For more information, visit DallasZoo.com or call 469.554.7500.
*Photos by Thomas Garza
** Photos by Rob Wythe/Wythe Portrait Studio
(Sharon Adams, Adams Communications Public Relations, is honored to represent Zoo To Do and post this Philanthropy Lifestyles Scene.)