TCU Beach Volleyball/Facebook

In landlocked Fort Worth, beach volleyball might not be top of mind when it comes to recreational activities. After all, the nearest actual beach is at least a five-hour drive away.

But that hasn’t stopped the TCU Horned Frogs from establishing themselves as a powerhouse in what’s touted as one of the fastest-growing collegiate sports in the nation.

Last weekend in Gulf Shores, Alabama, the TCU women's beach volleyball team entered the NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championship tournament ranked No. 2 in the country. The “Sandy Frogs” went 37-3 this season and nearly faced No. 1 UCLA for the title before losing a tight matchup against No. 3 USC, who ended up winning the tournament as three-peat champions. Southern Cal has now won five championships.

Advancing to the NCAA Final Four this year (after sweeping No. 15 Stetson and No. 10 Stanford) was a first for TCU’s beach volleyball program, which was established in 2015. At the time, it was the only collegiate beach volleyball team in Texas, with colleges in coastal states like California and Florida dominating the field.

In 2016, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Houston Christian added the sport, and just this season the University of Texas joined in as the only other Big 12 school to currently offer beach volleyball. (It is currently offered exclusively as a women's sport in the NCAA.)

A big “spike” in interest
TCU Beach Volleyball head coach Hector Gutierrez, who was just named the American Volleyball Coaches Association "Coach of the Year," says interest in beach volleyball is rising for several reasons, including lots of playing time for athletes.

“We play with five teams (of two), but at the end of the day, you have just one partner on the court, and you have to be involved in every play,” he says. “Players feel more in touch with the ball. There’s more opportunity.”

Olympic play has also contributed to increased popularity. In fact, three of Gutierrez’s star players, Daniela Alvarez, Tania Moreno (who were just named the AVCA "Pair of the Year"), and Maria Gonzalez, will skip next season to try to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Gutierrez is confident his team will remain competitive next season with returning athletes and potential players available through the transfer portal. Since he joined the program in 2017, Gutierrez has led the Frogs to three NCAA championship tournament appearances in Gulf Shores, where white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and a lively entertainment district contribute to the excitement.

(Back home in Fort Worth, the TCU team practices and plays on sand courts on campus.)

Picturesque locations for tournaments that double as popular vacation destinations add to the allure of the sport for athletes, says Gutierrez. The now 17-team bracket tournament has been held in Gulf Shores since its inception in 2016 at The Hangout, a popular indoor-outdoor, beachfront bar, restaurant, and live music venue.

“Gulf Shores has provided an amazing championship experience for our student-athletes and fans,” says Kristin Fasbender, director of championships & alliances for the NCAA. “The competition venue is outstanding and the commitment by the community to grow the sport has been displayed over these past seven years.”

Fasbender says beach volleyball was the fastest sport to become an NCAA championship after being on the emerging sports list.

“Institutions are providing resources to grow their beach teams and add programs,” she says. “This sport continues to grow year in and year out because of its exciting nature and the passion of our institutions.”

Yet in Fort Worth, the team and the sport have stayed largely under the radar, especially compared to other sports that have put TCU in the national spotlight in recent years. The TCU beach volleyball team's Facebook page, for instance, has fewer than 3,000 followers. TCU football's page has 164,000 followers. Like most women's sports, the Sandy Frogs get little news coverage.

"On the weekends we get a lot of people, but are still trying to get more," says Gutierrez of home game attendance. "It’s very family-friendly. You see lots of families bringing their kids and alumni seeing each other. We’d always like to have more people. Everyone that comes seems to have great experience."

Beach volleyball vs. indoor volleyball
Those new to watching collegiate beach volleyball, as opposed to indoor volleyball, might be slightly confused upon arrival. First, there are multiple games going on at once, with five individual pairs – ranked 1 through 5 by skill level – playing an opponent pair of the same rank. (At TCU there are only four courts, so matches are played in two waves.) Each pair tries to win the best of three sets in a match, and the winning team is the first to take three of the five pairs’ matches. Sets are played to 21, except the third set (if needed), which is played to 15.

Second, don’t be surprised to see fans scurry from court to court, because as soon as one pair wins their match, the countdown is on for their teammates to do the same. Fans tend flock to whoever is closest to taking the next set.

If you’re used to watching indoor volleyball, you may also notice beach volleyball runs a tad slower in pace.

“The beach court is a little bit smaller than the indoor court, but there’s still a lot of court to cover, especially on the sand,” says Gutierrez. “The ball comes a little bit slower, but you still might have to run from one corner to the other. It’s a totally different strategy.”

Coaches also aren’t allowed to talk to players during actual play. It’s only during timeouts or side changes, which happens every seven points, that coaches can provide guidance. Gutierrez says it can be challenging to move from court to court, giving pointers to athletes in various locations.

Beach volleyball players must also endure the elements, like wind, sun, and even rain on occasion, which can make the ball heavier. But challenges aside, the continual positivity exuded by many college beach volleyball players is evident by the embraces between partners that seem to occur on both sides after every single play, good or bad.

“I tell the girls to hug each other. I feel it releases a lot of tension. It’s just you and your partner on the court. The personalities are different sometimes, but when you’re on the court, something needs to click,” says Gutierrez. “Some (coaches) tell their teams to do it and some others don’t. Hugging releases stress and says, ‘We’re close and we’re in this together.’”

To keep up with women's beach volleyball at TCU and catch a game next season, check their website and Facebook page.

Photo by Brandon Bell, Getty Images

New play about Uvalde shooting takes the stage at Fort Worth university


A TCU faculty member has written a new play called For the Love of Uvalde: A Play Inspired by the Robb Elementary School, and it's premiering January 28 both in-person on-campus and online via streaming.

(Note: After the premiere, it remains available to watch here.)

Playwright Ayvaunn Penn, who is part of the Theatre TCU faculty, also wrote a play in 2020 inspired by the Botham Jean shooting by police officer Amber Guyger.

The premiere staged reading of For the Love of Uvalde promises a similar evening of art for social change, paired with a panel-led community discussion. This staged reading will feature select songs and monologues from the show.

The original play uses testimonies to explore the aftermath and varying viewpoints of the families, politicians, and medical professionals affected by the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last May. Nineteen children and two adults were killed in the deadliest shooting ever at a Texas public school.

Panel members for the discussion include Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, TCU Chief Inclusion Officer; James McQuillen, director of Theatre for Youth at Casa Mañana; Professor Lisa Devine, UNT Theatre for Social Change professor; and Shania Tari, M.S, LMFT-A & EMDR trained.

A collaboration between Theatre TCU, TCU School of Music, and El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde, the event is free to attend, though tickets are required and may be reserved here. It begins at 6:30 pm at PepsiCo Recital Hall at the Mary D. and F. Howard Walsh Center for Performing Arts on the TCU campus.

El Progreso Memorial Library will also stream the event on YouTube so that community members may join and participate in the discussion and reflection.

Legendary composer John Williams writes new ESPN anthem for TCU-Georgia National Championship

What a score

Talk about a big score. In what is believed to be the largest-scale musical commission ever for ESPN, the sports network has commissioned Hollywood icon John Williams to compose a new anthem for the College Football Playoff National Championship between TCU and University of Georgia, Varietyreports.

The game, which airs on ESPN at 6:30 pm Monday, January 9 from California's SoFi Stadium, will be preceded by Williams' new three-and-a-half minute theme called "Of Grit and Glory.”

The music will back up special visuals that convey “the feeling behind the night, fear and anticipation, triumph and failure,” ESPN co-director and producer Martin Khodabakhshian tells Variety. The magazine, which got an exclusive preview of the new anthem, says it "plays like a joyful overture, opening with fanfares and shifting seamlessly from martial urgency to anthemic splendor, all richly orchestrated and instantly memorable."

Williams - whose famous compositions include four Olympic fanfares - told Variety he was thrilled to be asked to write the theme for the championship.

"Intercollegiate football has been at the heart and soul of our nation’s life for so long that the opportunity to musically salute this great tradition has been a particularly meaningful joy for me," he tells the magazine. "The games themselves always raise the collective spirit and, in the end, the competition brings us all closer to a place where the concept of winners and losers dissolves into mutual respect and admiration. The invitation to write this music constitutes a great honor for me, and I feel especially privileged to make a small contribution to one of our country’s most treasured traditions.”

Williams reportedly recorded the theme with a 96-piece orchestra on the Sony scoring stage in a three-hour session on December 21. ESPN filmed it using seven cameras.

It remained top secret until game day, January 9.

The new music - the main anthem plus shorter snippets - will be heard throughout the TCU-Georgia matchup, but its use after the game is unclear, Variety reports.

A five-time Oscar winner, Williams, 90, is best known for his Hollywood film scores, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jaws.

Top TCU watch parties score in this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. 12 best Fort Worth bars to watch TCU Football in the National Championship. The biggest football game in Horned Frog history is happening Monday, January 9 as TCU takes on No. 1 Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship (6:30 pm local time). There’ll be watch parties all over town as Fort Worth unites to cheer on the home team. Here are 12 of the best bars to do so. And if you're heading west to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the “Natty,” here's a guide to parties, parking, and more.

2. Famous Watauga gas station restaurant (and Guy Fieri favorite) will close. A restaurant made famous by Food Network's Guy Fieri is closing: Chef Point Bar & Restaurant, the restaurant-in-a-gas-station in Watauga, will close at the end of January after 20 years. The restaurant will close its location at 5901 Watauga Rd. on Sunday, January 29.

3. These are the 10 hottest stories that had Fort Worth talking in 2022. What was Fort Worth reading in 2022? We are so glad you asked. Readers craved news about a new, state-of-the-art McDonald's; Christmas light attractions; and visits from Yellowstone royalty and real British royalty. Here was our look back at the 10 most-read CultureMap stories from the previous year.

4. Travel + Leisure heralds Fort Worth among world's 11 best places to visit this January. A national magazine is proclaiming what Fort Worth residents already know - that the city is a pretty great place to be this month. A new report by Travel + Leisurehas named Fort Worth one of the 11 best places to travel in the United States and around the world in January 2023. But the story has one big omission.

5. Yellowstone stars blaze into our 10 hottest Fort Worth society stories of 2022. As we looked back at the most popular society stories of 2022, a clear theme emerged: Yellowstone. Red-carpet and black-tie events featuring stars from Taylor Sheridan's hit show landed on the list three times. Fort Worth philanthropists also shined up their stilettos for the first Jewel Charity Ball since the start of the pandemic, donned their ballgowns for an elegant FWSO Gala, and slid on their cowboy boots and hats for Cowtown Ball.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

TCU fans' guide to tailgating, parking, and parties at the CFP National Championship in L.A.

Frogs in the Natty

Thousands of TCU fans will descend on the City of Angels this weekend to witness the Horned Frogs play No. 1 Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The game itself is at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Monday, January 9 (4:30 pm Pacific, 6:30 pm Central). As Fort Worth fans scurry to secure flights, hotel accommodations, transportation, and those pricey tickets, details on the many festivities leading up the game may have been missed. Here’s a quick overview of fan-friendly events happening all weekend long, including tips on parking, tailgating (is there tailgating?), maps, and more.

Staying home for the game? Here are the 12 best watch parties at bars and restaurants around Fort Worth.

SoFi Stadium Quick Facts
The elaborate SoFi Stadium opened in September 2020 and is the centerpiece of a district called Hollywood Park, a 300-acre sports and entertainment destination located in Inglewood, California. It’s the home of the Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angele Rams NFL teams. Fun fact: the stadium is slated to host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics. It can seat up to 100,000 people with expandable seating and is the largest stadium in the NFL.

At 70,000 square feet, SoFi’s Infinity Screen is the largest videoboard ever created in sports. It’s 120 yards long and holds about 2.2 million pounds of digital LED. It’ the only dual-sided, center-hung videoboard in the world. No matter where your seats are, you won’t miss one play.

Parking at SoFi for the National Championship
Parking is extremely limited with digital permits available for purchase only in advance for on-site and off-site lots. Stadium parking lots will open at 10 am and will remain open for two hours after the end of the game. Here’s a map for reference.

Another option is Inglewood Park & Go – remote parking with shuttle service that runs every 15 minutes. A bus rideshare service called Rally will also provide roundtrip transportation to the game from various districts around the Los Angeles area. A minimum number of riders is required.

To be clear, tailgating is prohibited for this game, so leave the coolers tents behind. (Apparently this is a College Football Playoff rule for the National Championship, not a rule of SoFi Stadium or California in general.)

But there is an official tailgate hosted by the College Football Playoff. Called the Allstate Championship Tailgate, the free event is open to all ticket holders. Running from 10 am-4 pm on game day January 9, the sponsored tailgate will be held in lots B and C outside SoFi Stadium. It will feature interactive games, sponsor activations, concessions, live broadcasts by ESPN, and performances by both TCU and Georgia marching bands. There’ll also be live concerts by Kelsea Ballerini and Yiera Kennedy.

TCU is also hosting a tailgate, but tickets are already sold out.

Playoff Fan Central
This three-day, family-friendly event, which runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am-6 pm daily, is free to attend and will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center South Hall. Go for games, clinics, band performances, special guest appearances, autograph sessions, and exhibits celebrating the history of college football. Note that TCU star running back and NFL Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson will appear on Sunday at 11 am for a live podcast recording for "Always College Football" with football commentator Greg McElroy. Here’s the full schedule of appearances.

Extra Yard 5K
Looking to burn a few calories before the big game? Sign up for the College Football Playoff’s family-friendly 5K race (that’s 3.1 miles) to held at 8 am on Sunday in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Each participant will receive a t-shirt and a finisher medal. Registration is $50, or $40 for teachers and educators. Proceeds will benefit the College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers initiative. Registration ends Saturday night at midnight.

Taste of the Championship
If you don’t want to mess with dinner reservations and still get an exclusive taste of everything delicious Los Angeles has to offer, buy tickets for Taste of the Championship, happening 4-7 pm Sunday at a chic LA event space called Hudson Loft. The fundraiser event will feature gourmet food and drinks be prepared and served by local chefs via meet-and-greet stations. Proceeds from the $300 ticket will benefit the College Football Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers initiative.

Other good things to know

  • Only clear bags are allowed inside SoFi Stadium and they should not be bigger than 12” x 6” x 12”. Small clutch purses are permitted, but they can’t exceed 4” x 6”.
  • There’s also a College Football Playoff app for those who want to keep updated with breaking news and game updates.

TCU Horned Frogs football, mascot

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Help them bring home the biggest win of their lives.

12 best Fort Worth bars to watch TCU Football in the National Championship

Frog Fever

The biggest football game in Horned Frog history is happening Monday, January 9 as TCU takes on No. 1 Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship (6:30 pm local time). But if you’re not heading west to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the “Natty,” not to worry. There’ll be watch parties all over town as Fort Worth unites to cheer on the home team. Here are 12 of the best bars to do so. Wear your purple, and all glory to the Hypnotoad. (If you know, you know.)

Fort Brewery
The brewery and pizza joint is all in on the Hypnotoad hype – so much that it brews a beer named after the mesmerizing meme mascot of TCU that’s been credited for “hypnotizing” opponents all season. Hypnotoad Haze will be $4 a pint during the game, which will be broadcast on Fort Brewery’s 12-foot big screen. There’ll even be a free pizza buffet. The party starts at 4:30 pm.

Panther Island Brewing
Wear purple and get your first Tailgater blonde ale for free during “Purple Out” watch party at Panther Island Brewing. The North Fort Worth brewery will also draw raffle tickets for prizes after every quarter. Smokin’ Cactus food truck will be on-site serving tacos, nachos, bowls, and desserts. Doors open at 5 pm.

Panther Island Brewing Tailgater BlondePerfect beer for the game.Courtesy photo

Jon’s Grille
Longtime Horned Frogs know that the latest restaurant concept from chef Jon Bonnell isn’t the first “Jon’s Grille” to exist near the TCU campus. Jon Meyerson first opened his namesake burger joint in 1989 (in the current space of Dutch’s Hamburgers), where he fed students and fans for years before taking his life in 2001. Bonnell’s version – a tribute to Meyerson – sits on W. Berry St. and serves burgers along with barbecue, tacos, baked potatoes, and the Big Frog Dog. Visit during the National Championship for purple beers, purple shakes, and Hypnotoad Margaritas.

Buffalo Bros.
There are two locations of this popular spot for wings, pizza, and games – one right on the TCU campus and a newer, flashier outlet downtown in Sundance Square. The original on S. University Drive has long drawn Horned Frog fans for game-day gatherings. The Sundance Square location boasts a 360-degree bar with TVs inside and outside the perimeter. Speaking of TVs, there are more than 90 here, along with a private room with five screens and stadium seating. Snag a seat early as both venues will be packed.

Maple Branch Craft Brewery
The Foundry District brewery is normally closed on Mondays but will open for the National Championship game. Go for wood-fired pizzas and giant Bavarian pretzels and wash it all down with the brewery’s own Hypnotoad American lager. Doors open at 4 pm and the kitchen will be open until 10 pm.

Lot 12
Located on the rooftop of the Hyatt Place TCU, this open-air hotel sports bar is home to TCU’s “most elevated” tailgate scene. There’ll be a tailgate taco bar with $3 tacos, select $3 beers, and $4 Epic Western seltzers. There’s also an entire cocktail menu dedicated to TCU-themed drinks, including the purple-hued Frog 75 made with gin and sparkling wine, and the sangria-inspired Frog Fountain. Lot 12 will open at 4 pm.

Fred’s Texas Café
The game audio will be on loud at both locations of Fred’s Texas Café, where Fredburgers can be paired with Purple ‘Ritas during the game. While the spacious new Camp Bowie West location draws crowds for its bar and enclosed patio scene, don’t sleep on Fred’s Texas Western Center. Word is Frog fans came out in full force for the Fiesta Bowl at this popular North Fort Worth neighborhood hangout.

purple margaritasLove those Purple 'Ritas.Courtesy photo

The Rabbit Hole Pub
The popular college bar on White Settlement Road will run lots of watch party specials, including $2 domestic beers, $2.50 well drinks, and $5 Purple Toad shots just for fun. Also don’t miss Rahr & Sons berry flavored seltzer called Frog Water. There’ll also be a taco truck on site.

The Pub
Open since 1981, The Pub is perhaps the longest-running campus-adjacent watering hole. It’s where most Horned Frogs wind up at least a time or two, especially on game days. The Pub has created a custom National Championship pint glass and look for other “Natty” swag including stickers and shirts leading up to the watch party there on Monday. You can also find Fort Brewery’s Hypnotoad Haze on tap, along with lots of TVs and feisty Frog fans.

Neutral Ground Brewing Co.
The Race Street brewery and tap room will open up on Monday night for a watch party. Visit for $5 full pours on all brews, including Neutral Ground’s surprisingly refreshing King Cake beer, a favorite during Mardi Gras season.

Downtown Cowtown at the Isis
The historic movie theater in the Fort Worth Stockyards will broadcast the game on the big screen with free admission. A little history: Opened in 1914, the Isis Theater was destroyed by a fire in 1935, rebuilt, then damaged again by a flood in 1942. It sat dormant, shuttered, and dilapidated for decades until it was finally purchased and restored to its original glory and reopened in 2021. With seats for 500, there’s room for lots of Horned Frog fans. The full bar will be open to serve cocktails and beer on tap.

Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena
While not exactly a bar, TCU will open its state-of-the-art basketball arena to the public for a free watch party. All concessions will be open (including beer sales) and there’ll be free rally towels. Note that only clear bags will be allowed into the arena, which has seating capacity for nearly 7,000. Doors open at 5:30 pm.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

That is one Effin Egg breakfast sandwich restaurant opening in Fort Worth

A fresh new breakfast-and-brunch spot with a sassy name is opening near Fort Worth's Medical District: Called Effin Egg, it's a small chain founded in Florida, and will open what is only its fifth location at 1305 W. Magnolia Ave., in what was previously a location of Great Harvest Bread Co.

Effin was founded by Jeff Martin, who also founded Smallcakes Cupcakery, the hugely successful cupcake chain with more than 200 locations across the U.S.

His idea was to create a fast-casual concept that specialized in breakfast sandwiches. There are locations in Georgia, New York, and New Jersey.

"[Effin Egg is] for the person on the go that needs that morning pick me up and a great cup of coffee," Martin says in a statement. "It’s for the person that partied way too hard and needs an amazing breakfast sandwich or cheeseburger at noon; it’s for the everyday person wanting quality food on the go."

The menu features gourmet breakfast sandwiches, breakfast tacos, burritos, and breakfast bowls. The restaurants are generally on the small side, with the majority of business being take-out.

The signature is the breakfast sandwich with an over-medium egg on a brioche bun, in various combinations:

  • The OG, with bacon, egg, cheddar, and Mexican sauce
  • Sausage, egg, & cheese
  • Turkey bacon, egg, cheddar, and chipotle ketchup

They also do biscuit sandwiches; burgers using Angus beef; a Beyond burger with spicy guacamole; grilled cheese; and a bagel with avocado spread.

Tacos contain scrambled eggs combined with options such as chorizo; bacon & hash browns; and brisket tacos with avocado crema.

There are also pancakes, waffles, and burritos with options such as brisket and vegan chorizo.

Effin is coming to Fort Worth thanks to husband-and-wife Nick Valdez and Ana Flores, who are fulfilling a dream to have their own restaurant. They've been diligently working on the space, and hope to be open within the next two weeks.

Working with a franchise operation has helped them cover the daunting checklist of opening one's first place, but Valdez says they also liked the fact that the food is cooked to order, and everything's prepared fresh daily.

"And the name does catch your attention," he says.

Valdez is a former logistics professional, and Flores is a nurse — which helped steer them towards the Medical District.

"We love the idea of being here to make sure our medical professionals are fed and ready to go," Valdez says. "I love the hustle and bustle, the energy in the morning, where you can help turn people's day around. If you have a good breakfast, it can pave the way for the rest of the day."

WBAP's Hal Jay shares powerful story of life-saving transplant with Tarrant Heart Ball

The gift of time

What: 2023 Tarrant County Heart Ball

Where: The Worthington Renaissance Hotel

The 411: On January 10, 2023 popular WBAP morning radio host Hal Jay collapsed from an irregular heart rhythm. On February 3, he underwent a heart transplant. By April 4, he was back on the air, and on April 22, he was sharing his story in person as keynote speaker for the American Heart Association's Heart Ball.

In his brief but powerful remarks, Jay thanked his wife, Ann Harbuck, his family, and medical providers, and God for saving his life. In keeping with the gala's theme, "The Gift of Time" Jay said he had a new-found appreciation for "giving your heart and body time," emphasizing, "I will never NOT exercise again."

The 2023 gala - chaired by Stephanie and Michael Klein - brought together hundreds of Heart Association supporters, philanthropists, and medical personnel. They were seated alongside heart disease survivors and their families, who shared their harrowing stories to inspire fellow guests.

The evening's proceedings were led by mistress of ceremonies, CBS News anchor Nicole Baker, under the guidance of AHA executive director Corrie Harris.

After a cocktail reception and multicourse (heart-healthy) meal of mixed greens salad, pan-seared jerk chicken, and berry tart and chocolate mousse, guests had the opportunity to give through an "Open Your Heart" appeal.

Those holding out with bigger bucks bid fast and furiously in a live auction. Up for grabs were trips to Broken Bow and Big Sky; packages for the Charles Schwab Challenge and Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo; Duke basketball tickets; Ginger Walker Art; and a De Boulle necklace.

Those who wanted to continue the celebratory evening took to the dance floor while the Mitchell Ferguson Band entertained.

In all, the night raised $300,000 to further the American Heart Association's work in Tarrant County.

Who: Aimee Plummer, Robin Carson, Melinda Bronstad, Allison and Tug Rix, Becca and Johnny Cheng, Lori and Brad Bruce, Trey and Kristin Carmichael, Angela and Rick Bettinger, Arturo Ruiz, Mercedes Cruz, Ava Beach, Allen Beach, Elaine and Shawn Tubre, Emily Howard, Hatice Dalton, Marcia Jacobs, Eric and Shannon Benink, Anthony and Cynthia Villagran, Nancy Murphy, Sarah Harbuck, Emily Avila, Robert Luera, Shehla Shah, Syed Nayyar Shah, Thomas Williams, Suzy Pratt, Lou Martin, Jennifer and Kenneth Willingham, Tammy and Heath Middleton, Kassy and Jacob Flesher, Chrissy and Jordan Long, Matt and Katie Foust, Treanise Owens, Joel and Lisa Mohrman, Michael Tilley, Denise Castle, Georfe Terrazas, Boozaziel Chavez, Tim Dohse, and hundreds more AHA supporters.

Tarrant Heart Ball 2023, Hal Jay

Photo by Stacey Brooks

Sarah Harbuck, Emily Avila, Robert Luera, Ann Harbuck, Hal Jay, Shehla Shah, Syed Nayyar Shah