Diana Ross Headlines Celeb Studded Miami Gala that Raises $5.4 Million for Make-A-Wish Florida
Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida and InterContinental® Miami are proud to announce the 27th Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball, held on Saturday, November 5, raised in excess of $5.4 million, net of expenses – setting a new record for the event. The glamourous evening was headlined by the legendary Diana Ross, who performed a private concert for Ball guests. Actress and filmmaker Gabrielle Anwar made her return for the 11th year as celebrity emcee of the Ball, which was chaired by her husband, philanthropist Shareef Malnik.
Notables at the black-tie event included Miami Mayor Francis Suarez with wife Gloria Suarez, Food God (aka Jonathan Cheban), singer-songwriter Alisan Porter, country singer-songwriter John Carter Cash with wife Ana Cristina Cash; and Real Housewives of Miami stars Kiki Barth, Lisa Hochstein, Adriana de Moura, Larsa Pippen, and Dr. Nicole Martin.
Welcoming guests to the 27th Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball were Glenn Sampert, Gala Host of the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball and General Manager of InterContinental® Miami; Shareef M. Malnik, Gala Chair of the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball for the past 17 years, Chairman of the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Nightclub for the past 15 years, Chairman Emeritus of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, and Chairman of the Make-A-Wish® Capital & Endowment Campaign; and Norman Wedderburn, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida – the trio affectionately known as the “Three Amigos.”
Funds raised from the evening benefited Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, the non-profit organization that grants life-changing wishes for critically ill children. In a special introduction, Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida presented a video on its new Finker-Frenkel Wish House, currently under construction in Miami, and highlighted numerous former wish kids who spoke to the impact that the Wish House will have on future wishes.
In an unprecedented moment that made Ball history, Peter and Tatiana Cancro, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, and Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik each made a transformation gift of $1 million, for a total of $3 million.
Among the Ball’s 900 guests were Shareef Malnik & Gabrielle Anwar; Al & Nancy Malnik; Jorge Alonso & Scott Helms; David Anasgasti, Andy & Tatsiana Ansin, Michael & Lidia Appleton, Nick & Adriana Ayala, Dan Baker; David Benegas; Gal & Kali Bensaadon; Maxwell Blandford; Jeff & Lianne Caruso; Justin Clinger; Gabe Crespo & Alex de Armas; Dennis Crowley & Maria Haupert; Dennis DeGori; Ken DeGori; Dr. Art Diskin; Brian & Ksenia Exelbert; Jorge & Melinda Fernandez; Mayte Fernandez; Eugene & Brooke Frenkel; Willy Gomez & Mariaelena Ferrer; Ken Gorin; Maria Haupert; Kamal Hotchandani; Bruce & Debra Kaye; Michael & Terri Klauber; Felipe Lafratta; Cynthia Lau; Sydney Lister; Anthony Lopez; Robert & Dalia Macdonald; Lynn Martinez; Jamal & Bailey Mashburn; Drs. Ginger & Roger Medel; Hon. Marissa Mendez; Jeff Miller; Belkys Nerey; Joe Perez; Brett Rose & Jeremiah Gutierrez; Trina Robinson; Todd Rubinstein & Danielle Gonzalez Rubinstein; Glenn Sampert; Missy & Barry Skolnick; Todd & Caitlin Stella; Dave Strom; Milton & Florreyn Joyette Vickers; Richard & Robin Weissman; and Judd & Laura Zebersky.
The theme of this year’s Ball was “SUPERNATURE,” featuring an otherworldly realm of fantasy flora and fauna conceptualized by Creative Director Maxwell Blandford and creatively translated by DECO Productions. The InterContinental® Miami was transformed intoan ethereal universe, the hotel’s entrance dripping in green vines that framed a crystalized tunneled walkway transporting Ball guests to the white carpet. Greeting Ball attendees at the silver-gated step and repeat was a custom-designed hummingbird boasting a 12-foot wingspan.
The cocktail reception on the mezzanine paid tribute to historical New York City landmarks. Individually curated spaces included “Coney Island,” featuring crystalized trees and high-resolution illustrations of the New York City Library and Marionette Theater. A performance featuring a large white peacock and 17 crystal-clad dancers who were revealed under its plume feathers set the tone for the night’s creative spirit. A second performance showcased the New Century Dance Company in custom plant-like costumes dancing to Harry Styles’ hits “Falling” and “Watermelon Sugar.”
The lavish cocktail reception featured premium libations and elaborate food displays created by InterContinental® Miami Executive Chef Jhonnatan Contreras and his team, including an opulent seafood tower with whimsical SUPERNATURE-themed ice carvings that housed a variety of sushi and crustaceans. The mezzanine was also the location of the Ball’s famous silent auction – regarded as one of the most luxurious in South Florida, featuring luxury merchandise and experiences donated by leading hospitality, entertainment, fashion, and luxury goods brands. The coveted items included a Jaguar F-Type Coupe courtesy of THE COLLECTION and a large array of glistening jewels and watches from King Jewelers for Ball attendees to bid on.
DJ MCS presided during the reception, creating a vibey, supernatural ambience.
Dancers dressed as towering living plants and glowing jelly fish ushered guests to dinner, leading a procession through a 28-foot-long New York City subway tunnel into the aquatic-inspired Grand Ballroom, which was lavishly appointed with four-foot-high, all-white arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, and tulips.
Guests dined on a themed gourmet menu created by Chef Jhonnatan Contreras, including a “Super Sea Nature” jumbo lump crab cake and “Into the Woods” chocolate mousse with black currant caviar and hazelnut cream. Spirits for the Ball were donated by Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits, Duke Spirits, Adelita Tequila, and One Cru Wines.
Shareef and Gabrielle opened the ballroom festivities with their "dramatic moment," a Ball tradition. This year, in an ode to Joni Mitchell, the couple projected a music video they starred in featuring "Big Yellow Taxi” – a spoof on the prolific singer-songwriter’s 1970s hit song. The duo, styled in retro disco clothing, were backed by the supporting vocals of Undercover, a youth musician collective from Young Musicians Unite. Singer-songwriter Alisan Porter, a long-time Ball supporter, performed a number, with a touching tribute.
During dinner, wish kid Ryder Macdonald was recognized. Now cancer-free, his wish was to attend the F1 Miami Grand Prix, which he was able to enjoy during a trip to Miami, courtesy of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida. Actress and filmmaker Gabrielle Anwar, a Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida Ambassador, hosted her signature Wishes live auction, charming the crowd while raising much-needed funds.
The Ball’s famed live auction followed, with eight out-of-this world experiences and one-of-a-kind items: “The X-Factor,” a futuristic titanium-case watch with a 96-hour power reserve (MSRP: $20,600), courtesy of Ulysse Nardin; “Love Is All We Need,” an acrylic and mixed media on linen canvas art piece (MSRP: $45,000), courtesy of Unapologetic; “Welcome To The Jungle,” a seven-day, six-night vacation with firstclass tickets from Miami to Manaus, Brazil, with stay at Manaus hotel (MSRP: $31,000), courtesy of Rio Negro Queen and Captain Peacock; “Your 2022 Range Rover Velar,” an all-new 2022 Range Rover Velar RDynamic S in Fuji white with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine (MSRP: $69,315), courtesy ofLand Rover Coral Gables powered by THE COLLECTION; “Majestic Montana,” a six-day and five-night vacation for up to 15 guests at G-Clef Ranch in Somers, Montana, featuring a farm-to-table meal experience and monetary travel allotment (MSRP: $23,100), courtesy of Kelly Stone and Bruce Singer; “Ahol Sniffs Glue Live Painting,” a mixed media painting by Ahol Sniffs Glue created live during the event for Ball guests (MSRP: $45,000), courtesy of Ahol Sniffs Glue; “David Banegas Live Painting,” a witnessed masterpiece featuring a mixed media painting created live during the Ball by David Banegas inspired by the “Supernature” theme and entitled “Wild Mustangs” (MSRP: $40,000), courtesy of David Banegas; and “New
York State of Mind,” two roundtrip seats aboard a charter jet from Miami with stays at the InterContinental® New York Time Square and Casa Cipriani, including dining credit and access to the property’s member-only club, plus a four-course Chef’s tasting with wine pairings at Scarpetta (MSRP:
$11,500), courtesy of Haute Living and InterContinental® New York Time Square.
The Ball’s highly anticipated entertainer, presented by the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, was the iconic megastar Diana Ross, who performed a 45-minute set of her chart-topping hits, including “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down,” as well as fan favorites from The Supremes’ repertoire including “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.” For her final number, Ross engaged the audience and encouraged them to support Make-a-Wish® Southern Florida, closing out the show with “Reach Out and Touch Someone” in dedication to the Make-A-Wish® vision.
All guests received a VIP gift bag that included an artisanal cookie by Cindy Lou’s Cookies; gourmet snacks by Dardimans California; organic hand crème by La Chatelaine; cruelty free lip and nail balm by Santa Lira; mini gourmet tea box by Palais Des Thes; European skin care ampoules by Babor; a potted mini succulent by The Plant Guy; and aromatic room spray from Aroma360.
The official after-party, Snow Beast: The InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Nightclub presented by E11EVEN Vodka, was held immediately following the Ball at InterContinental® Miami and was headlined by five-time Grammy Award-winning artist CeeLo Green who performed a selection of his mega songs for Nightclub guests. His Miami-inspired set kicked off with disco chart-topper “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees and included samples by some of Miami’s beloved artists, including Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” and KC and The Sunshine Band’s “That’s the Way.” DJ Affect set the vibe for the Nightclub, which presented a sizzling cabaret show featuring the burlesque talents of Pamela Paz and nationally renowned cabaret star Lux-O-Matic presented by E11EVEN Theatrics.
The cabaret performers were costumed by celebrity designer Skye Yayoi Drynan of House of Skye with grooming by in-kind donors Danny Jelaca of Danny Jelaca Hair and Beauty For Real by Leslie Munsell. Additional performances included the young talents of Undercover, glam rock band Gyasi Heus, fatherand-son performance artists and DJ duo Forealism, and vocalist Yoli Mayor.
Chaired by Shareef M. Malnik and produced by Maxwell Blandford, Clif Loftin, and Nick Zazzera, the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Nightclub presented by E11EVEN Vodka recognized the following committee members: Shareef M. Malnik, Chairman; Glenn Sampert, Nightclub Host; Norman Wedderburn; Ken DeGori, Vice Chairman; Maxwell Blandford, Creative Director and Co-Chair; Nick D’Annunzio, Co-Chair and Ball committee member; Clif Loftin, Co-Chair and Ball committee member; Antonio Misuraca, Co-Chair; Gus Munoz, Co-Chair and Ball committee member; Tara Solomon, Co-Chair and Ball committee member; and Nick Zazzera, Co-Chair and Ball committee member. The Honorary Host Committee members include Violet Camacho, Olga Castano, Eduardo Castillo, Hernan A. Castro, Skye Yayoi Drynan, Robert Fernandez, Luis Fonseca, Gideon Kimbrell and Inlist, Sniders Jean-Jaques, Danny Jelaca, Scott G. Kranz, Jonathan Koerner, Shannon Mackinnon, Harris G. Mandler, Rich Santelises, Danny Santiago, Isaac Seville, Mary Showstark, Emilie Sobel, Jeff Soulouque, Rick Sykes, Erika Waserstein, and Winston Wood. Creative production for the Nightclub and the Ball was provided by DECO Productions.
As the Ball’s 27-year partner, founder, and in-kind donor, InterContinental® Miami has contributed through in-kind donations to Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida that have enabled the organization to raise more than $37 million to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions in the chapter’s region, which includes South Florida, the Treasure Coast, southwest Florida, the Sarasota area, and Tampa Bay.
“We are tremendously thankful for all the donors, supporters, and contributors of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball. Their generosity allows us to positively impact the lives of hundreds of sick children each year. For a medically fragile child, a wish isn’t just nice -- it’s necessary for their improved physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being,” said Norm Wedderburn, Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida President & CEO.
About Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida
Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida has a sole mission: Together, they create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Started in 1983 by the Plantation Junior Woman's Club, the Southern Florida chapter has granted more than 13,000 wishes. It is their vision to grant the wish of every medically eligible child in the South Florida territory.
Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida anticipates granting more than 600 wishes to local children with critical illnesses in 2022. Additionally, they expect to grant another 200+ wishes in collaboration with other chapters when children come to their territory to experience their wishes. Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida serves children and families in 22 Florida counties in Southeast and Southwest Florida, the Tampa Bay and Suncoast regions and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To learn more about how you can help make wishes come true, visit sfla.wish.org, and connect with them @makeawishsfla on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.
About InterContinental® MIAMI
With nearly 40 years as an icon of the Downtown Miami skyline, the InterContinental® Miami is located at the crossroads of Miami's Business and Arts & Entertainment districts. A beacon for business and leisure travelers alike, the hotel rises 34 stories over the city with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and the Port of Miami. The property considers guests’ comfort and safety its foremost concern. The hotel features 653 luxury guest rooms, including 22 suites and two presidential suites; 33 meeting rooms with over 135,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and exhibition space, including a spectacular Grand Ballroom; and multiple restaurants and bars including Toro Toro and Ole! on the lobby level, private kitchen dining at Table 40, and cocktails from Bluewater. The hotel offers a fullservice fitness center and spa, and rooftop pool deck and greenspace, SkyLawn. The InterContinental® Miami is a proud corporate citizen of the Miami-Dade community, invested through its annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball, and its corporate social responsibility program.