Toast of the Town 2018


Toast of the Town 2018: Celebrating the Gift of Mobility


It was a beautiful night at the Pearl Stable on September 27, 2018 as we convened for the 6th Annual Toast of the Town honoring Helen Eversberg and the Warm Springs Foundation by presenting them with the Murlin B. Johnson Legacy Award.  We had a record turnout, filling the Pearl Stable to maximum capacity!

Sonny Melendrez served as our Emcee and people were delighted by the courtyard entertainment provided by Aerialist, Tara Smartnick and Classical Guitarist, George Gaytan.

Courtyard at the Pearl Stable

 Classical Guitarist, George Gaytan

 Helen Eversberg, Rosemary Kowalski, Sonny Melendrez


The Pearl Stable looked bright and beautiful, filled with brightly colored, hand-crafted centerpieces that embraced the concept central to Project MEND’s mission…MOBILITY. As dinner service began, Malcolm Hartman and Dr. Kelley Frost provided two toasts in celebration of Helen Eversberg and the opening was concluded with a prayer offered by Debbi Chesney, Community Chaplain.

Malcolm Hartman
Dr. Kelly Frost
Sonny Melendrez and Debbi Chesney

The Warm Springs Foundation was the result of a miss. That’s right.  In 1909, Howard Hughes was involved in an oil exploration near Gonzales, Texas.  But, it led to the discovery of an artesian well flowing with hot mineral waters, not oil.  At that moment in time, no one knew that this MISS would evolve into an opportunity to care for individuals desperately in need of healing.  That failed attempt would fuel 8 businessmen to question whether the mineral rich warm springs’ water would assist in the recovery of polio patients, as the Polio epidemic was becoming a national crisis.

Once the Salk vaccine virtually eradicated polio in the 1950’s, The Warm Springs model of care was transitioned to a Rehabilitation hospital, and the Texas Rehabilitation Hospital evolved into multiple campuses treating thousands of individuals faced with traumatic injuries.  Years later, the Board of the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospitals made the strategic decision to sell the rehabilitation hospitals and formed the Warm Springs Foundation.  The Warm Springs Foundation  provides financial support to local nonprofits who serve individuals living with disability.  Recently, CONNECT+ABILITY at Warm Springs was formed to provide support groups and resources for those living with disability and their caregivers.


Helen Eversberg, Chairman of the Warm Springs Foundation, has been instrumental in developing key partnerships with local nonprofits, such as Project MEND, demonstrating her part in transforming our community through service integrity and dedication.  In recognition of her many achievements, she received a one-of-a-kind handcrafted and handblown Garcia Art Glass piece, inspired by wheels in motion, having no beginning and no end… pushing us through difficulties and revealing our true selves to others and the world.

Helen was also presented with Samuel Pick’s artistic impression of “Celebrating the Gift of Mobility.”  Sam was a 5th grade student at Helotes Elementary when he reached out to Project MEND as part of a school project.  We were delighted to have Sam personally present his artwork to Ms. Eversberg at the gala.

Helen Eversberg

Gift of Mobility

Dexter Moon, Board Chair


In addition to a night of awards celebrating mobility, a Libations Lotto and raffle we also central to the night’s fundraising success.

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors:  Warm Springs Foundation & Mays Family Foundation and to Champaign Sponsors:  University Health System, Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, WellMed Charitable Foundation and Valero.


Walkers with Wheels

Shower Chairs

Power Chairs

Hospital Beds

Hoyer Lift





Tub Transfer Benches