The late Darrel Dacus founded VICTORY in 1987. He and co-chair, Eileen Moody, along with ninety other founding members established the organization with a three-year goal of creating the Cattle Baron’s Ball as a successful annual event benefiting the American Cancer Society.
In 1988, VICTORY began with a “Founders’ Party” to gain experience and promote community acceptance in preparation for the first Cattle Baron’s Ball. With Wendy Hines and Kathy Love as chairmen and the Diamond G Ranch in Bellville for the location, the Founders’ Party enabled VICTORY to present $147,000 to the American Cancer Society.
VICTORY’s first Cattle Baron’s Ball, Sage Brush Cinema Celebration, was held May 20, 1989. More than 1,200 guests attended the ball at the Louis Pearce Ranch. Chairmen Susan Johnson and Marsha Parker generated net proceeds of more than $382,000. This total broke an American Cancer Society record for a first-time event.
1990 brought the George Ranch into VICTORY’s life; it proved a wonderful setting for our second ball, The Lone Stars of Texas. Under the guidance of Gwen Francis and Barbara Kraft, the ball’s net proceeds were more than $470,000, making it that year’s second largest single fund-raiser in the country for the American Cancer Society. The ball had definitely achieved the goals set forth by the original members within the three-year schedule.
With Cattle Baron’s Ball Salutes the Old West in 1991, proceeds crossed the half million-dollar mark. Held for the second time at the George Ranch, Nancy Atlas and Karen Tellepsen had a final tally for the evening in excess of $570,000. After two such wonderful successes, VICTORY decided that the George Ranch should be the permanent home for the ball, rather than rotating it to other venues.
Ball number four, The Heritage of Texas, in 1992, was the largest single fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society in the United States that year. Anne Muntz and Daisy White brought in $640,000.
Karen Royce and Debra Wolcott’s A Tribute to the Tribal Nations of Texas, in 1993, again earned the national title for the American Cancer Society. It also set the record for Houston gala fund-raisers, netting more than $705,000.
Sue Nan Cutsinger and Glenda Nicholson’s 1890’s Texas Opera House ball also set national and local records. Not only did they retain all titles, their ball increased revenues to $725,000.
1995’s The Texas Country Fair, chaired by Ellen Gover and Lindy Hill, had a record attendance of 2,000 guests. It was the first time we had an individual gift of $100,000 and they netted $920,000.
Billie Sue Parris and Pamalah Tipps took us to A Night in Old Santa Fe in 1996. That ball was again the largest single fund-raiser for ACS in the nation and brought in $855,000.
On April 26, 1997, the dream of raising a million dollars became a reality as Sandy Bryan and Jessica Younger’s Texas Larger than Life brought in $1,030,000.
For our tenth anniversary, Kathy Ferguson and Cynthia Urquhart created A Lone Star Legend A Decade of VICTORY and netted $1,144,000. 1998 also introduced two new annual events to supplement the proceeds from the ball. VICTORY members sold The Holiday Shopping Card in partnership with Partners in Courage. Karen Comiskey and Lynn Baird led the effort and added $187,000 to the coffers. Sandy Bryan created the Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic and the tournament brought in another $56,000. VICTORY was able to present a check to the American Cancer Society for $1,387,000.
“Sold Out” was the byword of 1999’s VICTORY Waltz Across Texas. Lynda Transier and Jan Young had no seats left to sell before the invitations were mailed. The evening netted $1,080,000. The ball proceeds, supplemented by Kirby McCool and Jessica Younger’s $288,000 from the Holiday Shopping Card and $56,000 from Sandy Bryan’s Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic, gave VICTORY the opportunity to write a check to the American Cancer Society for $1,424,000.
Cattle Baron’s Ball, the Holiday Shopping Card, and the Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic reached new highs in 2000. Susie Bender and Ellen Hyman’s “Texas Swing” had ball proceeds topping $1,347,000. The Holiday Shopping Card, led by Pam Erwin and Becky Brown, brought in $416,000, and Nancy Stobaugh’s Golf Classic netted more than $64,000. The final check was written for $1,827,000.
With three established VICTORY endeavors, the 2000-2001 year focused on positive but necessary changes in our Cattle Baron’s Ball. Ably and creatively lead by Janet Bates and Susie Gold, the new state dictated format was implemented and $1,200,000 was raised. Alisa Lawrence and Jessica Younger added new merchants and superb leadership to the Holiday Shopping Card for revenues of $454,000. The Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic was a shining example of VICTORY cohesiveness and “can do” spirit. $100,000 was made on this ever-growing and popular event chaired by Franelle Rogers and Jari and Tarry Watkins.
In 2002 Diane Cain and Joan Dunlap’s big ideas continued the success of the Cattle Baron’s Ball with ¡Viva Tejas! raising $1,017,000. Houston shopped ‘til they dropped and the Holiday Shopping Card, chaired by Charlotte Priest and Sandy O’Connor, netted $495,000. Franelle Rogers brought expertise to the Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic once again and despite rescheduling due to rain, it made a sunny $105,000. VICTORY was able to hand over a check for $1,616,000 to the American Cancer Society.
VICTORY celebrated 15 years in 2003. Marilu Garza and Laura Hand, chairmen of the Cattle Baron’s Ball Rhinestone Cowboys, paid tribute to past ball chairs and, with hard work and a lot of heart, were able to raise $1,005,300 in spite of a tough economy. Charlotte Priest and Susan R. Johnson headed up the Holiday Shopping Card which brought in even more new stores and $450,000. The 2003 Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic, all about fun in the hands of Marilyne Riley, added $75,000 to the year’s total. Together, the three events netted $1,525,000 for the American Cancer Society.
2004 proved to be another successful year for VICTORY. Mary Ann McKeithan and Blanche Earthman Morello, chairmen of Texas Wildflowers, took us back to our roots raising $1,040,000. The Holiday Shopping Card, chaired by Deborah Johnson and Jo Ann Petersen, exceeded all expectations raising more than $537,000. Kim Irwin and Mary Jane Womble had so much fun chairing the 2004 Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic, which raised over $87,000, that they agreed to chair the 2005 Cattle Baron’s Ball. VICTORY was proud to present the American Cancer Society with over $1,600,000.
In 2005, Cattle Baron’s Ball chairmen Kim Irwin and Mary Jane Womble’s Cowgirls and Courage emphasized the founding principals of VICTORY courage for those touched by or working to fight cancer and raised $854,935. Courtenay Browning Butler and Julie Ramzel, chairmen of the Holiday Shopping Card, demonstrated their expertise by breaking all previous records in terms of new merchants and revenues raised by bringing in $575,337. Laura Hand and Deborah Johnson, chairmen of the 2005 Cattle Baron’s Golf Classic, proudly raised $59,411. VICTORY was able to present a check to the American Cancer Society for $1,489,683.
The 2006 ball, “Stars, Stetsons, and Stilettos” signaled a banner year as the dynamic duo of Alisa Lawrence and Jessica Younger raised $1,110,000. The ball was a sold out success with Houston’s own Robert Earl Keen entertaining. Holiday Shopping Card was, likewise, a tremendous success as diligent chairs Bebe Falik and Peggy Swoboda raised $665,701 and had over 697 stores participating. The sum of $1,775, 701 for only two events is the largest ever raised for our crusade against cancer.
Our members did themselves proud for VICTORY’S 20th anniversary by raising $2,188,000 the largest sum ever presented to the American Cancer Society by our organization. Patti Murphy, Stef Levy, and Melinda Overstreet enthusiastically saluted Houston with Urban Cowboy, and netted $1,405,000. Holiday Shopping Card chairs, Mary Johnson and Stephanie Morris. raised the bar to new heights with revenues of $783,000. We are most proud and happy to have achieved this awesome amount to contribute to the fight against cancer.
VICTORY proved themselves worthy of the 2007 “Outstanding Community Service Organization” Award presented by thte Houston Chapter of the Assocaiton of Fundraising Professionals at the National Philanthtopy Day Awards Luncheon. Chairmen Joni Ballis and Laura Hand presented the 2008 “Texas Wildlife” with wildly successful auctions and the inaugural “No LImit Texas Hold’em” Poker Tournament, netting approximately $1,200,000. Susan Ryan and Jerre Williams, chairmen of the Holiday Shopping Card, broke records with a banner yeat of raising over $934,482. They had so much func hairing the 2007 Holiday Shopping Card, they agreed to be chairmen again in 20008. VICTORY was proud to present the American Cancer Society with $2,134,482 to help find the cure for cancer.
The year 2008-2009 blew in with a bluster as Susan Ryan and Jerre Williams combated Hurricane Ike against all odds to raise $954,535 with the Holiday Shopping Card. Thanks to the experience of these second year chairs, an enormous amount of teamwork was required of all VICTORY members to get everything printed and out to the stores on time. What a fabulous success! Elizabeth Stein and Meredith Turner kicked off the “Wild, Wild West Show” with a literal “bang” as they began the year with a huge contribution of $100,000 to get the show on the road. Their total proceeds were a phenomenal $1,162,651.65. Complete with a swinging cowgirl and lots of barbecue, the George Ranch was transformed into a carnival of olde time lore. Under the leadership of President Diane Cain, the total earning for the year were $2,117,186.65.
Fundraising is not all we are about. VICTORY hosts the Cattle Baron’s Children’s Party for pediatric oncology patients. This event, totally underwritten, is organized with the cooperation of local hospitals and outpatient clinics and is our gift to these brave children and their families.
In 1992 VICTORY began hosting the Baron’s Breakfast to honor major underwriters and supporters. It is at this breakfast that VICTORY and the American Cancer Society present two very special awards: The Society Noble Visionary Award to those donors who have contributed $10,000 or more to VICTORY Special Events within the calendar year, and The Society Distinguished Visionary Award to those whose cumulative support exceeds $100,000 or in-kind donations valued at over $200,000. The Trailblazer Award, which honors a very special individual or company for their longtime support, is presented by VICTORY. For the first time in 2002, VICTORY began giving Hats Off Awards to those whose services have benefited VICTORY above and beyond monetary value.
VICTORY has given over $45 million to date to the American Cancer Society. VICTORY’s mission and its commitment as a volunteer organization with superior standards and accomplishments is a shining example of voluntarism at its finest.