By Stephanie Wilson
More than 200 of South Florida’s top philanthropists and supporting VIPs attended the Kick-Off event for the 15th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball on Thursday, May 21 at InterContinental Miami. Norman Wedderburn, President/CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida and Shareef Malnik, owner of The Forge restaurant and returning Gala Chair of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball, together announced the theme for this year’s Ball, “Imagine,” inspired by John Lennon’s influential song promoting peace and hope.
The Ball continues to signify an unprecedented partnership between InterContinental Miami and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gala Host, Jack Miller, General Manger of the InterContinental Miami, graciously underwrote the entire cost of the Kick-Off event again this year. “Last year’s ball raised a record $1.6 million for South Florida’s children in need. In the Ball’s 15-year history, the event has raised more than $7.6 million and granted more than 1,600 wishes to children in our community,” said Miller. “Our partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida is the vehicle through which lasting memories are created and dreams come true for these very special children.”
“We appreciate the support of everyone who attended the reception and those generous individuals who helped make wishes come true through their continued support of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball,” said Wedderburn. “As always, we hope to raise a record amount this year to fulfill the wishes of children in Southern Florida who are battling life-threatening medical conditions.”
Esteemed guests at the event included Lifetime Benefactor Al Malnik, entertainment sponsor Antonio Misuraca, Make-A-Wish Foundation Chairman of The Board Robby Elias, Wish Foundation Chairman of the Board of Directors Ben Eisenberg, Founder of the Ferraro Law Firm and Wish Benefactor of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball James Ferraro, couturier Rene Ruiz, Lady Monica Heftler, restaurateur Fabian Basabe and avid Make-A-Wish supporters Howard and Barbara Glicken, Jillian Dinnerstein and Jonathan Basicka. Guests also enjoyed cocktails and an elegant spread that included a kobe beef carving station, raw seafood bar with stone crabs and tiger shrimp and exotic miniature desserts. Each guest received a triple-dipped chocolate covered strawberry in tribute to the Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which was originally inspired by the name of a Salvation Army Children’s Home just around the corner of Lennon’s childhood home in London. Celebrity DJ Irie provided the beats and was thanked for his commitment and support to The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.
“On behalf of the Foundation, I would also like to thank my father Al Malnik and step-mother Nancy for their unwavering support,” announced Shareef Malnik. “Thank you also to Mr. Jim Ferraro who sponsored 40 wishes at last year’s event and Mr. Stuart Miller who sponsored 20 wishes. Because of their involvement and that of everyone in this room, the Ball has historically been hugely successful and we need your participation more than ever. In addition to attending the Ball, we ask that you consider sponsoring one or more wishes. Each wish has a profound impact on a child and his or her family. For the modest cost of $5,000, you have the ability to make a sick child forget about their medical condition by focusing on their most heartfelt wish coming true.” Malnik then introduced his father, Lifetime Benefactor Al Malnik, who also encouraged guests to experience the magic of granting a wish. The evening closed with heartfelt speeches by Wish Kids Kinsley Laurent and Marina Diez, testifying to the impact such generous donations have made upon their young lives.
Bruce Sutka of Sutka Productions has again been commissioned to produce the décor for this year’s soiree following his creation of a magical experience at last year’s mystical garden-themed Ball. Guests attending this year’s Ball can expect their “Imagine” experience to begin the minute they arrive at InterContinental Miami’s limo-lined porte-cochere. The excitement will continue throughout the mezzanine reception with an elaborate silent auction. The Ball will build up to a glittering crescendo in the Grand Ballroom where more than 800 of the most glamorous and big-hearted philanthropists will be dazzled by what will await them, including a live auction featuring a Ferrari California, donated by Ken Gorin of The Collection. Following the Ball will be an invitation-only after-party at InterContinental Make-A-Wish Nightclub held to celebrate the Ball’s endeavors and reintroduce the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida to its next generation of contributors and Miami’s premier buzz creators in the fashion, arts, music and nightlife industries.
Tables for the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball range from $5,000 to $20,000, and for the past four consecutive years, seats have been sold out two months prior to the event. Wish Sponsors range from $5,000 to $100,000. Tables, wishes and other sponsorship opportunities can be purchased by calling 954.967.9474 extension 318 or by visiting www.sfla.wish.org.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida grants the wishes of children who have life-threatening medical conditions, to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Covering a 13-county territory of Southern Florida, the chapter’s goal is to grant more than 540 wishes this year. For more information, contact the Foundation at (888) 773-WISH or log on to www.sfla.wish.org.