by Bezalel Stern
On Saturday, November 2, 2013, the InterContinental® Miami and Make-A-Wish Southern Florida celebrated the 19th-annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball. The event, a resounding success, raised $2,020,421 for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. Actress Gabrielle Anwar served as celebrity auctioneer for the evening’s live auction, while Grammy-nominated recording artist Adam Lambert entertained guests with a near hour-long performance, including his hit singles “Whataya Want From Me” and “Trespassing,” as well as songs from his much-lauded collaboration with Queen.
Make-A-Wish, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, serves a vital role in helping to strengthen and empower children who are battling life-threatening illnesses. Make-A-Wish provides “wishes” to children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 18 who are struggling with severe health issues. The organization, which was founded in the United States in 1980, now operates in 47 countries around the world through 36 affiliate offices. All donations received provide much-needed support for this deserving cause.
Gala Chairman and proprietor of The Forge | Restaurant and Wine Bar Shareef Malnik, Gala Host and InterContinental Miami General Manager Robert Hill, and President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida Norman Wedderburn welcomed over 900 VIPs, socialites, celebrities, and philanthropists to the star-studded affair.
Prominent donors included the self-made billionaire Stewart Rahr, a long-time supporter of Make-A-Wish, who donated $100,000 to the charity. Rahr has previously donated over $10,000,000 to Make-A-Wish charities. Other notable contributors include Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik, who gave an unprecedented gift of $1 million at 2012’s gala in order to create the Malnik Family Wish Fund; Grand Benefactors Stanley and Gala Cohen; Founding Benefactors Howard and Barbara Glicken; and Wish Star Benefactor James L. Ferraro, as well as Wish Benefactors Harvey and Roberta Chaplin, Stuart A. Miller of Lennar Corporation, and Bob Press of TCA Fund Management.
“It is the believer who creates magic,” Hill said, “and over the last 19 years, the partnership between InterContinental Miami and Make-A-Wish Southern Florida has left its mark on the community by creating the magic that makes wishes come true, changing the lives of thousands of children who have life-threatening medical conditions. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to our generous benefactors and to all who donate their time, money, and heart to make this event an overwhelming success.” Wedderburn remarked that the charity’s events grow stronger with each year.
While enjoying hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, the VIP guests placed bids on more than 150 luxury items donated by top hospitality, entertainment, and fashion brands. Highlights included a David Yurman bracelet, an Yves Saint Laurent classic duffle, a Goodyear blimp ride, a “See You Later, Alligator” Jac Henri Wallet, a jumbo stone crab dinner for eight with wine, Gurkha Cigars, numerous golf packages, and InterContinental Hotel stays around the world, including lodging in Tokyo, Dubai, Manila, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Beijing, Rome, Atlanta, Warsaw, Vienna, Buenos Aires, Bali, Bangkok, Cannes, San Francisco, New Orleans, Athens, Berlin, Austin, Madrid, Chicago, San Juan, Washington D.C., New York City, Moorea, and Tahiti.
Following the reception, lavishly outfitted dancers summoned guests into the main ballroom for a decadent meal by Chef Alexander Feher, and Anwar kicked off the event’s famous wish and live auction by performing an illusion during which Shareef Malnik sawed Anwar in half. At the live auction, some of the prizes included a trip aboard the World (the largest privately owned residential yacht), donated by The World, Residences at Sea; an all-inclusive trip to the Vatulele Resort on Vatulele Island, Fiji, donated by Albert & Renee Bertini; a CORUM “Golden Bridge” sapphire crystal watch, donated by Levinson Jewelers; a trip to St. Tropez with lodging at the Domaine Bertaud Belieu, donated by Haute Living & Bertaud Belieu; a luxurious stay at the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico, donated by Strategic Hotels & Resorts, a real estate investment trust (REIT) and owner of the InterContinental Miami; a 2014 Maserati Ghibli, donated by THE COLLECTION; a 007-style trip to London with business-class tickets aboard British Airways, donated by InterContinental Hotels & Resort and British Airways; and a trip to Parrot Cay, a private island in the Turks and Caicos, donated by COMO Hotels & Resorts.
Shareef Malnik; Gala Host and InterContinental Miami General Manager, Robert Hill; and President and CEO of the Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, Norman Wedderburn, Indycar Driver Hélio Castroneves; “Real Housewives of Miami” star Lea Black; former Florida Governor Charlie Crist; “Queen of Versailles” stars Jackie and David Siegal, director/producer Brett Ratner; Designer Traver Rains; Miami Heat Assistant Coach Juwan Howard; boxing promoter Don King, Lisa Pliner, Al and Nancy Malnik, Wayne and Cynthia Boich, Bob Press and Stewart Rahr.
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