The InterContinental Miami, awash in fuchsia lighting, became a colorful scene out of a Bollywood movie on Saturday, November 3, for the 18th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball, complete with gigantic murals of Buddha, an authentic, New Delhi-style Indian street-market, filled with baskets of spices, fruits, and vegetables (intermingled with silent-auction stands); lavishly, costumed dancers, ornate parasols, brilliantly hued flowing fabrics and an elaborate Indian street parade, led by an elephant, which escorted guests into the main ballroom- a kaleidoscope of colors, resembling a massive, traditional Indian tent. Think: Indian wedding meets Bollywood movie.
The party began with a reception featuring a delectable raw bar, including stone crabs, shrimp-as-big-as-your-head, lobster, and oysters; passed Indian specialties and a carving station. Once inside the ballroom, the 900 party guests were treated to an impromptu flash mob, led by Burn Notice star Gabrielle Anwar (who looked stunning in a gold sari and Levinson jewels) and her beau, Gala Chairman Shareef Malnik. Anwar and Malnik took over the stage and asked guests to untie bright chiffon orange scarves from their chairs before the flash mob emerged to the sounds of Jai Ho, from the award-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire. At which point, the crowd went wild, dancing around the tables, swinging their scarves in the air. The “millionaire” throwback set the stage for the action-packed live auction to follow, which exceeded expectations, raising more than $1.6 million (when added to the profits from the silent auction) for Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida. Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik made an unprecedented donation of $1 million to establish the Malnik Family Wish Fund, which will grant wishes in perpetuity and marks the single largest donation by an individual in the history of the charity.
After a delicious four-course meal by Chef Alex Feher (yes, there was even MORE eating!) X Factor champion Melanie Amaro performed an hour-long concert – a much needed “Seventh Inning Stretch” between the Ball and the Make-A-Wish nightclub to follow, at this “marathon” of a gala. Amaro, alongside a grand pianist dazzled guests, such as Deco Drive co-host/X Factor Insider, Louis Aguirre, with a tribute to Whitney Houston and selections from her new album, which debuts December 5. Amaro channeled Donna Summer with her dance hits and showed her versatility, performing different genres of music with her impeccable voice and presence.
Following Amaro’s performance, guests re-entered the mezzanine for the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Nightclub hosted by Nightclub Vice-Chairmen Michael Capponi of the Capponi Group and Maxwell Blandford, and Nightclub Co-Chairmen Danny Estevez, Antonio Misuraca and Clif Loftin. The after party pulsed with beats by DJ Joe Dert as models, with dramatic face painting and headdresses rocked the runway in fashions by Traver Rains, who debuted his Bollywood-inspired spring/summer 2013 collection, featuring eye-popping designs, exotic fabrics and beading, rich in color, textures, and patterns – all imported directly from India.
Distinguished Make-A-Wish supporters in attendance for the Ball and Nightclub included: Gala Chairman and proprietor of The Forge | Restaurant and Wine Bar, Shareef Malnik; and Gala Host and InterContinental Miami General Manager, Robert Hill, and President and CEO of the Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, Norman Wedderburn; actor Christian Slater; music legend Wayne Newton; Real Housewives of Miami cast members Lisa Hochstein and Elaine Lancaster; reality television personality Jonathan Cheban; President of THE COLLECTION, Ken Gorin; and philanthropists Sanford Ziff and Lady Beatrice Clancy.
Hill expressed, “The impact of granting wishes to Wish Kids and their families is life-changing, and simply cannot be measured by a number. Each story isdifferent, but the hope and joy we are able to create is, and will continue to be, the driving force behind the efforts of those involved.” “This year’s Ball was a dream come true,” said Wedderburn. “We are happy to announce that the 2012 edition of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball netted in excess of $1.6 million dollars to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in South Florida.” Make a donation here.