Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida and InterContinental® Miami celebrated the 23rd Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball on Saturday, November 4, 2017, hosting more than 900 guests at the modern cultured-themed gala. The Ball theme — “Mystical Music Box” – was inspired by enchantment, fantasy and art – and of course, music. The magical celebration was headlined by four time Grammy-award winning, multi-platinum-selling artist Lenny Kravitz, and presented by the MakarovFoundation and the Finker-Frenkel Legacy Foundation, with special performance by Alisan Porter, winner of NBC’s The Voice 2016, who returned for the second year.
Actress and filmmaker Gabrielle Anwar, who co-stars on the ABC drama “Once Upon a Time,” returned as celebrity emcee for the seventh consecutive year, helping the event to raise in excess of $2.3 million for Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida. Hosted by the InterContinental® Miami, Ball founder and in-kind donor for the past 23 years, the event was chaired by philanthropist Shareef Malnik, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, who has served as Ball Chairman for the past 13 years. The annual Ball, which is regarded as one of Miami charity season’s leading events, is the highest grossing fundraising event for the Southern Florida Chapter of Make-A-Wish® Foundation.
Upon arriving at the red carpet, guests were greeted by mod mannequins dressed in black and white ruffled egg-shaped mini dresses posing in shadow boxes, along with a six-foot “Pink Dream Horse” statue by artist and long-time Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida supporter RomeroBritto, one of the live auction items. Welcoming guests were the Ball’s “Three Amigos” – Shareef Malnik, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, Gala Chair of the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball, and proprietor of The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar; Robert Hill, Gala Host and General Manager of InterContinental® Miami; and Norman Wedderburn, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida.
With a common goal of raising funds to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, notable guests included Aland Nancy Malnik, Lifetime Benefactors of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida; Jim and Megan Ferraro; Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell; Dr. ThinhTrann; Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alberto M. Carvalho and Maria Carvalho;Orianne Collins; Barbara Becker and Juan Lopez Salaberry; Dr. Lenny and Lisa Hochstein; Aaron Resnick; Jay Phillip Parker and Alison Zhuk; Howard and Barbara Glicken; Harvey and Roberta Chaplin; Wayne and Arlene Chaplin; Bob and Alysia Press; Dr. Jeffrey Kamlet; Trina Robinson; Daniel and Merle Weiss; Brian and Andrea Holland; Jonathan and Missy Babicka; Richard Polidori; Richard and Robin Weissman; Eugene and Brooke Frenkel; Rocky and Susie Stein; AlliMalnik; Chris Paciello; Barry Skolnick and Missy Broder; and Dennis Crowley and Mari Haupert; Dennis DeGori; Ken DeGori; Ramona Messore; Jesus Rohena; Igor Makarov; Joseph Perez; Amy Bloom;and Drew and Lisa Mandala.
At the over-the-topcocktail reception on the hotel’s mezzanine, guests enjoyed libations and culinary specialties at elaborate gourmet stations, and were treated to a cigar-rolling station. A clandestine pop speakeasy, accessible through its own entrance on the mezzanine, was decorated with a Mondrian color scheme and Andy Warhol-esqueBrillo boxes. With DJ Michelle Leshem keeping the groove going, guests enjoyed the raw seafood bar with stone crabs, lobster and shrimp and cocktails in an intimate lounge setting. The Ball’s famed silent auction, which co-existed with the cocktail reception, offered hundreds of premier items and experiences, donated by InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts worldwide as well as leading entertainment, fashion and luxury brands.
In what has become a Ball tradition, a procession summoned guests to the Grand Ballroom for dinner. This year, a 150-foot-long wraparound runway was transformed into a stage backlit with a wall of video art with dancers performing to cults songs “What a Feeling” and “Fame,” orchestrated by the Ball’s production agency, DECO Productions.
An entranceway featuring music box dancers en pointe welcomed guests Inside the candle-lit ballroom, table-scapes of black and white fabrics were contrasted and complemented by sculptural floral centerpieces created by Bayfront Flora along with a 144-ft LED Wall produced by Mauricio Ferrazza and executed by PSAV who produced all video, lighting and technology for the evening. Famed DJ Irie kept the beat going, leading up to another Ball tradition, Shareef and Gabrielle’s creative dramatic moment to begin the evening. After welcoming the crowd, Shareef wound a Magical, Mystical Music Box that sat onstage, which opened to reveal a beautiful mechanical dancing doll – Gabrielle, but of course.
Fourteen-year-old Wish kid Sage Escalante, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was 12, took the stage and performed two original songs on a ukulele, enchanting the crowd. She was joined by a Wish- A- Wish Kid Madison White, whose wish for a horse was the 11,000th wish granted in Make-A-Wish®Southern Florida history. This set the stage for the wish auction, with Gabrielle using her magic touch to entice donations while guests dined on an artistic, elegant dinner created by InterContinental Miami Executive Chef Klaus Happel– Seafood, Composition of stone crab claw, jumbo shrimp and crab meat salad; bone- in Beef Tenderloin with chipotle sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetables; and a spherical passion fruit chocolate mousse – edible modern art in keeping with the night’s theme.
Alisan Porter, winner of The Voice 2016, returned for the second year as opening act, her renditions of “Desperado” and “Cry Bay” bluesy, soulful and powerful – the perfect segue to the night’s live auction. Gabrielle, with the assistance of auctioneer Brian Holland, auctioned eight items, with all proceeds benefitting Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida. The lucky winners received exotic travel packages including a five-night-stay at a private home in Beaver Creek, Colorado donated by Joseph Perez; a 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman Coupe in “Miami Blue,” from The Collection; and the Romero Britto Pink Dream Horse. Other auction sponsors included: Make-A-Wish Board of Directors; British Airways and InterContinental® London Park Lane; InterContinental® Bora Bora Resort &Thalasso Spa; InterContinental® Los Angeles Century City; InterContinental® Moorea Resort & Spa; InterContinental® Tahiti Resort & Spa; Bob & Alysia Press; Hotel InterContinenal® Lisbon; InterContinental® Porto – Palacio das Cardosas; Domaine BertaudeBelieu St. Tropez; Haute Living Magazine; Palace Hotel Byblos; JetSmarter; InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown; and Romero Britto.
And then the moment everyone had been waiting for — Lenny Kravitz. The prolific rock star took the stage, accompanied by his 13-piece band and back-up singers, giving guests an unforgettable 45-minute concert as he launched into a set of his chart-topping hits including “American Woman, “Are You Gonna Go Your Own Way” and “It Ain’t Over ‘Til it’s Over,” at one point jumping on top of a table and singing in true rock star fashion – an incredible, epic moment in the Ball’s history.
The legendary Ball continued into the night at the 10th Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Nightclub, presented by E11EVEN MIAMI. Chaired by Shareef Malnik; Vice-chaired by Ken DeGori and co-produced by Creative Director Maxwell Blandford and Clif Loftin, with creative direction by DECO Productions, the Nightclub was held at InterContinental® Miami and featured none other than hip-hop producer and artist Snoop Dogg. An electric 1980’s inspired runway show followed, curated by Saks Fifth Avenue Brickell City Centre, showcasing the holiday collection. There were references to David Bowie and Grace Jones, as models paraded the 150-foot wraparound runway in the season’s trends, including plenty of rainbow sequins, fringe, feathers and plaid. Models were coifed by in-kind donor Danny Jelaca of Danny Jelaca Hair, with makeup by Beauty for Real by Leslie Munsell. The fun continued into the wee hours at E11EVEN MIAMI, the 24/7 UltraClub, where nightclub guests were granted admission with their wristbands.
Co-chairs of the Nightclub 2017 Host Committee, comprised of the next generation of contributors as well as Miami tastemakers in fashion, arts, music and nightlife, were Maxwell Blandford; Michael Capponi; Nick D’Annunzio; Clif Loftin; Whitney McLees; Antonio Misuraca; Tara Solomon; and Clayton van Hooijdonk. Honorary Host Committee members: Peter Ancona; Nick Betancourt; Zac Bouch; Olga L. Castano; Eduardo Castillo; Rob Crosoli; Gideon Kimbrell – InList; Robert Fernandez; Louis Fonseca; Alex Holland; Sniders Jean-Jacques Black Market Luxury; Jonathan Koerner; Scott Kranz; Chris & Lee Lentz; Claudina Pimentel; Jake Roberts; David Lee Roth; Rich Santelises; Mary Showstark; Jeff Soulougque; Adriana Ospina; and the Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida office.
Every glamorous aspect of the extravagant evening was underwritten by the Chairman’s Challenge Society, which Shareef Malnik founded in 2011 as an operating cost endowment to cover all expenses associated with organizing and planning the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball. Malnik enlisted 19 businesses, civic and philanthropic leaders, who each pledged $25,000 per year for five consecutive years – to yield a total commitment of $500,000 annually, resulting in the granting of 100 additional wishes to South Florida children each year. In addition to himself and Gabrielle Anwar, other members of the Chairman’s Challenge Society are Stuart Miller, The Lennar Foundation, Marshall Ames, Richard Polidori, Todd & Kim Glaser, The Jordan Zimmerman Family Foundation, Geert-Jan & Joyce Bakker, Jim & Sue Oppenheimer, Randy & Barbara Ann Frankel Foundation, UNCS – Brett Rose & Jerry Gutierrez, The Learning Experience/The Weissman Family, Braman Family Foundation, Wayne & Cynthia Boich, Eugene & Brooke Frenkel, Armando Montelongo Companies, Inc., Brett Ratner,RatPac Entertainment, DennisCrowley & MariaHaupert, Craig Sienema& Ashley Huffman, Ameen & Zainab Killidar on behalf of the Killidar Foundation, Barry Skolnick, Richard & Suzan Finkelstein, Andrew & TatsianaAnsin, Joseph & Amanda Safina, Alan &Mruvka, Storageblue, FelipeLafratta, AssociatedMDMedicalGroup. For more information on Chairman’s Challenge Society, please visit http://sfla.wish.org/ways-to-help\/giving/chairmans-society.
In its 23-year history, the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball has raised more than $23.3 million, granting the wishes of more than 4,300 children from South Florida. The $1 million donation by Al and Nancy Malnik in 2012 remains the single highest donation of record. Over the past 23 years, the InterContinental® Miami has donated the in-kind value to underwrite the Ball’s food, beverage, parking accommodations and venue expenses, in addition to dedicating more than 9,500 management hours that have gone into the Ball’s planning.