Texas-size cowboy hats shared the spotlight with rhinestones and sequin gowns to light up the night as Assistance League of St. Louis celebrated a Rhinestone Cowboy Gala at the Doubletree by Hilton, Chesterfield.  Cocktails in hand, guests bid on spectacular "something-for-everyone" silent auction items, a wine pull and First Choice Live Auction Item (chances) before entering the "rhinestone-studded" ballroom.  Surrounded by whimsical tables adorned with genuine flower-filled old cowboy boots, the atmosphere was set for laughter, plenty of fun and some very refined fancy cuisine.

Imagine DeniseMcKibben cropThe 229 members and guests, all with Texas-size hearts were welcomed by President Denise McKibben and encouraged to raise their paddles to ensure that Assistance League of St. Louis continues to be inspired by "...the boundless spirit of compassion and unity that defines our mission."

(See more photos in Town & Style magazine.)

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Pictured: Lynne Turley, Rene Knott, and Sue Graham

Gala Chairs Lynne Turley and Sue Graham, along with a Texas-size team of tireless volunteers spent a year planning and executing Assistance League of St. Louis' largest annual fundraising event. For the first time, the Imagine! Program included ads that contributed substantially to the night's financial success, along with an impressive list of Sponsors.  

Rene Knott co-anchor of Today in St. Louis at KSDK Channel 5, and the one-and-only Assistance League of St. Louis Master of Ceremonies drove the Live Auction to unparalleled success.  His famous voice and relentless, seasoned technique resounded throughout the room, as he encouraged higher bidding.  And Rene coaxed Live Auction donors not to disappoint anxious bidders and to repeat the weeks offered at their spectacular vacation homes and tickets to the most coveted seats at St. Louis Cardinals games and the Muny Opera. Rene's energy also inspired the audience to raise their paddles high to raise cash for the five programs of Assistance League of St. Louis.   

The "Rhinestone Cowboy Gala" bottom-line has far exceeded the expectations of Assistance League of St. Louis members and guests but that should not be a surprise.  The volunteer members of ALSTL always go above and beyond expectations in their mission to change lives, secure futures and achieve goals.

The "Rhinestone Cowboy" lyrics tell a story of life's tough journey on the way to success, filled with obstacles and setbacks.  President McKibben's Program letter to the evening's guests presented a thoughtful metaphor echoing the "Rhinestone Cowboy's" story: 

"Tonight, as we gather to celebrate our achievements and forge ahead, we carry with us the stories of resilience, determination and hope that have touched our hearts.  Your support is the driving force behind these life-altering transformations."