FISD Education Foundation Hosts Record-Breaking A Night At The Derby Gala

FISD Education Foundation Hosts Record-Breaking A Night At The Derby Gala

The Friendswood ISD Education Foundation (FEF) hosted its 2023 Gala, A Night at the Derby, Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis Resort. The Derby-themed celebration brought together more than 700 guests and netted a record-breaking $400,000+.

The event, chaired by Tracy Hopkins, transported guests to Churchill Downs with Kentucky Derby signature cocktails, a Southern-inspired menu and a trifecta of great fellowship, entertainment and fun, all while rallying around the Foundation’s mission.

“The FEF Gala is more than an awesome party with more than 700 of FISD’s closest friends,” Friendswood ISD Superintendent Thad Roher said. “It is evidence of what a community connected to each other and a mission can do together.”

Upon entering the ballroom, guests were invited to purchase a grant at a 16’ X 66’ interactive display featuring the Kentucky Derby-famous Twin Spires, starting gates and six horses and jockeys designed by the Friendswood High School Art Department.

Every inch of the event was adorned with beautiful decor that perfectly captured the committee's vision of putting a vintage twist on the traditional Derby theme.

The silent auction, chaired by Amie Bell and Victoria Merkys, featured over 100 one-of-a-kind packages and achieved record-breaking success, bringing in over $83,000 in addition to more than $5,000 raised through the pre-event Party Perk auction.

“Amie and Vicki excellently led the Auction Committee to bring about the most beautifully curated auction that blew all previous records out of the water,” Hopkins said.

The live auction raised $95,000 and featured everything from 10 suite tickets for the Texas A&M vs. Alabama game, to a VIP Kentucky Derby experience complete with seats on Millionaires Row and a stay at the iconic and exclusive Brown Hotel. The live auction was followed by the paddle raise where guests were invited to join the race and pledged over $78,000 in donations directly to the Foundation’s Adopt-A-Grant campaign.

The race ended with live music from Plush Party Band who closed out the record-breaking night in style, dressed in full Derby attire.

The tremendous success of this year’s event would not have been possible without the generous support of Gala Title Sponsor PBK Architects.

“It is such an honor to be a part of this tradition of generosity, community partnership and excellence,” Hopkins said. “We’re in the Winner’s Circle for sure.”

Top event sponsors also included Hill Sand Company, Griffon & Griffon Enterprises, JJ’s Car Wash, Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, The Maetzold Family, Rhame Law Firm, Absolute Drywall Service, Aquamar Group, H-E-B, Heard Merman Law Firm and Crouch Law Firm, HomeTown Bank of Friendswood, Stanfield Properties, Alan & Beth Stanfield, The Branson & Hillenburg Families, The Wagoner Family, Traylor Mechanical, and UTMB Health. Event underwriters included Bayway Auto Group, Lary's Designs, Memorial Hermann, The McLaughlin Family, Virgata Property Company, Leah & Kenneth Direkly, Norman Frede Chevrolet, The Martin Family, Upside SportsPlex, Lorrie and Mike Foreman, RevIVe Med Spa & Wellness, Texas State Senator Mayes Middleton, The Adair Family, The Berkenmeier Family, Bay Area Auto & Truck Rental, Chara Christian Dance Academy, LeasePro, Maegha and Sreeja Tipirneni, Post Oak Municipal Advisors LLC, Sanjay & Durga Reddy Konda Foundation, Tina & Thad Roher, and Trish & Bruce Hanks.

To learn more about FEF, visit or contact the Foundation at or 281-996-6655.