Troy and Kam Neal in their Wildcat Round Up duds.

The Lake Highlands Elementary PTA auction was scheduled for early February in Deep Ellum, and parent organizers had spent months arranging every detail of their western-themed soiree, from their Stetsons to their Luccheses. Then an ice storm threatened to spoil their plans.

Ten miles isn’t far to go on a normal evening, but it was slick as snot on a doorknob that night, and even the buses hired to ferry parents to the round up began to bail. That’s when LHE dad Brad Bean called his old buddy Craig Bradley, owner with wife, Veronica, of Vector Brewing, and they moved the whole shootin’ match to Lakeridge.

“We had a crew of 25 parents come to Vector at 2 p.m. on Friday to help with set up,” says PTA president Jennifer Allen. “Fathers were out on the porch breaking up ice and shoveling snow, and moms were inside moving furniture and setting up auction items. We are so proud of our community and school for banding together to make this happen. And so happy that we could work with a neighborhood establishment to pull it off.”

“We had to make a decision about our other venue, and that morning we decided the streets were still an ice rink,” says Jill Valachovic, who co-chaired the fundraiser with Megan Bean. “We couldn’t bear to let COVID cancel one auction and ice a second. We were overwhelmed with gratefulness that Vector would consider closing to the public for one night at the last minute to accommodate us. As a business that opened during the height of the pandemic, it’s obvious that Veronica and her team know a little something about relying on this amazing community to get through tough times.”

Whether the ice is inside their glasses or outside their windows, these Wildcats know how to party. The fundraiser was a rip-roaring success, and the PTA earned a record $70,000. Funds will be used to update the school’s interior courtyard and enable outdoor learning and lunch. They’ll also build a storage unit for items currently clogging school hallways, and they have plans for landscaping projects around the exterior of the building.

If you’d like to donate, it’s not too late. Email or visit the PTA website here.