Make-A-Wish Ball Exceeds Expectations

Posted by Maryanne Salvat On November - 15 - 2011
Shareef Malnik, Gabrielle Anwar, Al and Nancy Malnik

Shareef Malnik, Gabrielle Anwar, Nancy and Al Malnik

By:  Mary Jo Almeida-Shore

Last Saturday night we were thrilled once again to attend one of our favorite events every season, the Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball, along with 900 A-list VIPs, socialites, philanthropists and celebrities, dressed to the nines in black and white, for this year’s Ball dubbed, “The Party of the Century” in homage to Truman Capote’s A-list-only vanity affair at New York’s Plaza Hotel in 1966.  Guests were welcomed to the black and white avant-garde masquerade at the InterContinental Hotel by “living chandeliers” and led to the white carpet, where they transcended into a glamorous, glowing realm of fantasy featuring psychedelic black and white art installations on the mezzanine which were brought to life by camouflaged performers.

While enjoying the Ball’s much buzzed-about hors d’oeuvre stations, which included a raw bar including lobster and stone crabs and a full sushi bar and passed delights created by InterContinental Miami’s celebrated Executive Chef Alexander Feher, guests bid on more than 125 premier items including a South African safari, children’s ride-on Mercedes SUV and Goodyear Blimp, a voice-activated interactive R2D2 replica from Star Wars; and numerous works of art and vacation packages, to name a few, raising close to $108, 000.  Following the reception, resident Ball and Miami Heat celebrity disc jockey, DJ Irie summoned everyone into the main ballroom for a decadent three-course meal of Sturgeon Mousse with Caviar, Gorgonzola Stuffed Tenderloin, and delicious desserts.


During dinner, we were entertained by a gorgeous montage of actress, Gabrielle Anwar’s illustrious film career followed by a video presentation about Make a Wish narrated by Ball Chairman and proprietor of The Forge | Restaurant and Wine Bar, Shareef Malnik, which got a laugh from the audience when Malnik stated, “You even get to bring home something from the auction” just as a photo of Anwar projected on the screen. (The two have been dating for some time).   

Following touching videos by the Ball’s key players testifying to the impact of the power of a wish, Anwar, took the stage as the emcee of the event’s wish and live auction and engaged the audience by repeatedly saying, “Who wants to play Make a Wish with me?” Longtime Make-A-Wish supporter Jim Ferraro opened the Wish Auction with a crowd-inspiring donation of $100,000, a pledge that will grant an astonishing 20 Wishes.

Anwar  went on auctioning off an array of extravagant items including a 2012 McLaren MP4-12C donated by Ken Gorin of THE COLLECTION; the James Bond 007 experience donated by Strategic Hotels & Resorts, including British Airways Club World travel to and from London, England; a week aboard The World, the largest privately owned yacht on the planet; the High Rollers Las Vegas getaway presented by Ocean Drive; a week-long exotic vacation at a Hawaiian compound; and for the second year in a row, a walk-on roll for Anwar’s hit USA Network show Burn Notice, which is filmed on-site in Miami.

Once the live auctions were completed, the sophisticated, elegant evening took a wild turn.  The minute legendary rocker, Joan Jett gave her first guitar lick and belted out Bad Reputation, the otherwise subdued crowd got to their feet and gathered around the stage and shouted right along with Ms. Jett.  Leading the singing, dancing, jumping frenzy were Gabrielle Anwar and Shareef Malnik– up front and center- who interacted with the rock star as if they were part of the band.  Jett went on to sing several favorites, including: “Cherry Bomb,” “I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You,” and “Crimson and Clover” while the excitement and momentum kept building, until just about every guest was up and jumping around (several on top of the tables) by the time she sang her number one, timeless hit, “I Love Rock and Roll.”  Without a doubt, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts performed the most energetic and memorable grand finale in the Ball’s history.  Jett looks and sounds better than ever.  We were excited to receive her latest CD as part of our swag bag.

After the Blackheart’s performance, the party people re-entered the mezzanine to celebrate the Ball’s success at the InterContinental Make-A-Wish Nightclub. Hosted by the “Three Amigos,” (see below) along with Nightclub Vice Chairmen Michael Capponi of The Capponi Group and Maxwell Blanford, as well as Nightclub Co-Chairmen Antonio Misuraca and Clif Loftin.  The mezzanine-turned-edgy-nightclub pulsed with beats by DJ Joe Dert, while models rocked the runway with fashions by menswear line Bogosse and Andrew Charles, Andy Hilfiger’s new rock-n-roll-inspired fashion collection in collaboration with legendary rock star, Aeorosmith’s Steven Tyler. Provoked by the magnetic energy and staying true to the Ball’s theme, Hilfiger closed the show with an impromptu performance on the electric guitar.

On-hand and mingling with guests throughout the evening, were the “Three Amigos:” President and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Southern Florida, Norman Wedderburn; Shareef Malnik; and Ball Host and InterContinental Miami’s General Manager Robert Hill, who brought his adorable little son- who wore a mask for the occasion.  Recently appointed to the Foundation’s Board, Malnik took his involvement in the Ball to a new level with his introduction of the ‘Chairman’s Challenge,’ in which he secured eight endowments that will assist in underwriting the cost of the Ball for the next five years. Also honored were Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik; 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 Robert Press of Trafalgar Capital Advisors.

photo credit: Manny Hernandez/


Other notable attendees included:  Major League Baseball (MLB) legend Sammy Sosa and wife Sonya; supermodel Elsa Benitez; retired MLB star Andre Dawson; The Next Food Network Star’s Chris Nirschel; Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik; attorney Jim Ferraro; President of THE COLLECTION Ken Gorin; Andrew Charles designer Andy Hilfiger; famed attorney Roy Black along with wife, star of The Real Housewives of Miami and philanthropist Lea; philanthropist Dr. Sanford Ziff and wife Beatrice Clancy; Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos A. Gimenez; soccer star Lance Parker; photographer Greg Lotus; luxury footwear designer Donald J. Pliner and wife Lisa;  Bill McCue and Lisa Petrillo and TARA, Ink. PR Gurus, Tara Solomon and Nick D’Annunzio.

Known for over-the-top themes and décor over the course of its 17 years, the Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball has featured Taiko drummers, live trees, enchanted forest creatures, human butterflies suspended from the ceiling, enormous yellow submarines created from balloons, carousels, Ball entrance through the “legs of an opera singer wearing a skirt 20 feet long, a champagne girl suspended from a chandelier, pouring champagne … (read all about these on  Deco Productions had a daunting task in matching the extravagance this year, yet they managed to succeed.  “The Party of the Century” raised $1.1 million and far surpassed the $10 million lifetime fundraising milestone.

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