Maria_Browne,_Don_Browne_&_Jennifer_ValoppiBy: Dr. Mary Jo Almeida Shore


The beautiful Mandarin Oriental overflowed with elegance last Saturday night as the 18th Annual Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program hosted its annual gala with more than 500 of South Florida’s finest- philanthropists, celebrities and socialites who gathered to sip, chat, dine and dance, oh yes, and donate, donate, donate- to young ladies in need. Gala Chair Marisa Toccin Lucas along with founders Jennifer Valoppi and Don Browne and Co-Vice President, the Honorable Katherine Fernandez Rundle planned and hosted an unforgettable evening which raised a record- breaking $900,000 this year- not bad for a day’s work, huh? All joking aside, the tireless efforts of the planning committee, helmed by Toccin Lucas became plainly evident from the minute we arrived.


The evening began with a lavish cocktail reception filled with hors d’oeuvre stations, including a raw bar, created by the Mandarin Oriental’s executive chef, complemented by a highly anticipated silent auction, including items from top luxury brands and vendors including Prada USA; Saint Laurent Bal Harbour; Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour ; Britto Central; The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort; Diane Walder, M.D., P.A. and Perry Ellis International to name a few. James Rosenquist, one of America’s greatest living artists, donated A Hole in the Wallpaper: Be Beautiful – an artpiece that sold for an undisclosed amount, well into the 6 figures. Guests also enjoyed posing with the  Heat Championship trophy during the cocktail hour.


Following the reception, guests were escorted into the ballroom, where they were treated to a four-course dinner,  live auction and a fantastic performance by South Florida’s best band, Soul Survivors.  We are not exaggerating when we say that Soul Survivors had the crowd dancing the entire night (save for the presentations and auction). There was not a space to be had on the packed dance floor.


During the auction, Pat Riley, in a surprise move, auctioned off a VIP Heat experience for a private dinner withPat_Riley_With_HEAT_Championship_Trophy he and his wife Chris, along with VIP seats to a game and signed memorabilia. THE COLLECTION auctioned off a 3 Year Lease on a Maserati Ghibli – and then awarded Honorary Chairs and expectant parents Wayne & Cynthia Boich their very own baby Ferrari walker. A Kaufmann Franco Spring 2014 Collection gown was auctioned off along with 2 tickets to the Fashion Week show at Lincoln Center in New York City. Other highlights of this year’s live auction included a $5,000 Gift Certificate courtesy of Neiman Marcus and a one of a kind Donna Karan Dress courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour and Donna Karan New York.


Toccin-Lucas said, “This year’s gala was a tremendous success thanks to an unprecedented live auction and the remarkable support from our donors. The record-breaking funds raised will help change the lives of so many young women in our community and for that I could not be prouder.”  Jennifer Valoppi, Founder & President, shared the following: “As our program continues to expand around the country, our gala continues to draw supporters from all over. They are people who see problems and are willing to take action to solve them. What better way to stop the cycles of violence, poverty and abuse than to uplift the lives of the young women who will raise the next generation.”


A heartfelt congratulations goes out to this year’s honorees:  Honorary Chairmen Wayne & Cynthia Boich; Legacy Builder Honorees Bruce & Tracey Berkowitz, The Fairholme Foundation; Leadership Award Honoree Edie Lutnick; Champion Award Honoree Miami HEAT; Excellence Honorees Tara Solomon & Nick D’Annunzio, Tara Ink; and Mentor of the Year Robbin Newman.


Miami International Film Festival OpeningShirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer


Friday night’s opening festivities for the American premiere of the movie Elsa & Fred at the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts drew A list stars, Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Radford, who attended the screening and the after party sponsored by designer undergarment label, Papi and Macys. The official MIFF opening night after party at the historic Alfred DuPont building had over 2,000 VIP guests in attendance.  Papi and Macys set up an activation where guests could munch on “Papi Popcorn” while posing with hot Papi models who where dressed in nerdy film director themed costumes, before taking home terrific swag bags. The party boasted different tastings and experiences from various sponsors, including Patron, and lots and lots of dancing!


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