"There's a lot of debate about which man was the greatest coach, but there's no debate about which coach was the greatest man," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott of the late Darrell K Royal as he welcomed guests to the inaugural 4th & Goal Gala benefiting the DKR Research Fund for Alzheimer's Disease.
Former University of Texas football players, current coaches and plenty of state politicians gathered Wednesday night at burnt orange-tinged ACL Live to revel in the memories shared with DKR on and off the field, as well as to raise not only money, but awareness for Alzheimer's Disease, an illness that currently affects a staggering 300,000 Texans.
Singer-songwriter Larry Gatlin served as emcee and comedic relief of the evening, keeping the crowd in stitches between touching video montages featuring Edith Royal, Willie Nelson and other close friends of the late DKR.
Edith Royal, the event's most revered guest, spoke poignantly, revealing the only thing she regretted was not telling her husband that she loved him often enough while ill. "Edith and Coach were a team, and Alzheimer's was their opponent," Mack Brown said of the couple's partnership.
Professional golfer Ben Crenshaw, Dr. Roger Rosenberg and Sally Brown also took to the microphone between performances by the Longhorn Alumni Band and aeriel silks dancers, imploring the audience to invest in the DKR Fund.
"We need every day heroism," Crenshaw said before Willie Nelson took the stage for a 90-minute set, opening with a bittersweet rendition of "The Healing Hands of Time" into "Whiskey River."
Willie Nelson performs.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott applauds the UT Alumni Band.
Edith Royal left, with Julie and Ben Crenshaw.
Aerial artists perform.
From left, Beau and Val Armstrong with Peter Gardere.
Elena Trombetta and Ryan Howard.
Larry Gatlin performs.
Julie Crenshaw and Ava Late.
Letitia and Cliff Holden.
Maricruz Luna and David Kazen.
Lance and Abigail Aldridge.
J and Heidi Frederick.
From left Randy and Jenna McEachern with Chic Kazen.