2018 Tropical Nights Gala Celebrates 25 Years of Excellence

Held aboard the beautiful SEAFAIR Miami Yacht

Wendi Norris, Nancy Zaretsky (Tropical Nights Honoree), Sheryl Greenwald and Dr. Michael Alessandri
Mona Nasser (Tropical Nights Co-Chair), Dr. Michael Alessandri (UM-NSU CARD Exec. Director) and Chirine Mneimneh (Tropical Nights Co-Chair)

The University of Miami – Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) hosted its 16th annual Tropical Nights gala, aboard the beautiful SEAFAIR Miami Yacht raising nearly $400,000.

More than 500 guests joined event co-chairs Chirine Mneimneh and Mona Nasser, both mothers of adult children with autism, to celebrate UM-NSU CARD’s 25 Years of excellence serving South Florida’s autism community. The awards ceremony was hosted by UM-NSU CARD’s Executive Director, Dr. Michael Alessandri who recognized the D’Eri Family and their game-changing enterprise, Rising Tide Car Wash, with the CARD Community Leadership Award for the work they have done creating a sustainable business model that employs adults with autism spectrum disorder. Also honored was UM-NSU CARD’s former Board Chairperson, Nancy Zaretsky, with the Cruz-Whitehurst Advocacy Award. Nancy has been affiliated with UM-NSU CARD for almost two decades. She has served on the board for the past 6 years, and has stimulated strategic community partnerships with the goal of creating opportunities for CARD clients to live full and dignified lives beyond home, school and work.

Since 1993, UM-NSU CARD has been supporting families affected by autism and related disabilities in our local communities with impactful and invaluable resources and supportive guidance. Their efforts to build capacity and acceptance have dramatically changed the disability landscape in South Florida and created opportunity and hope.

In honor of this notable milestone, this year’s Tropical Nights featured artist was an exceptional young talent from Broward County, Sean Brushingham. Diagnosed at a very young age, Sean first joined the UM-NSU CARD family in 1999. Over the years, they have watched with awe as both Sean and his extraordinary talent have soared.

Guests enjoyed a champagne reception hosted by Joe’s Stone Crab, followed by a night under stars including a live and silent auction, dancing, a performance by Alex and Friends, and a raffle to win getaways to New York City to see Hamilton, Key West and for a Royal Caribbean cruise. Desserts were created by The Chocolate Spectrum and Miami Is Kind, two local businesses that employ adults with autism. Proceeds from this event directly impact families touched by autism and help promote awareness and acceptance of the autism community in South Florida.

Faces in the crowd included: Robert Cambó and Patricia Menéndez-Cambó, Tom and Marie-Ilene Whitehurst, Dr. Phil McCabe, Professor and Chairman of the UM Department of Psychology and his wife Sylvia McCabe, Leonidas Bachas, UM Dean of the College of Arts and Science, Eduardo and Yolanda Atienza, Stephen and Ilise Binhak, Jack and Natasha Lowell, Dr. Jeffrey and Maria Brosco, and many more.

Corporate sponsors included: American Stair Parts, Bacardi USA, Greenberg Traurig, Anthony R. Abraham Foundation, Cole Scott, Kissane, P.A., Twin Plum Foundation, Hogan Lovells, Dan Marino Foundation, The Mas Family Foundation, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, Publix Super Markets Charities, and many more.

For more information about UM-NSU CARD, please call 1-800-9-AUTISM (x1) or visit www.umcard.org.

To support Doctors Hospital and Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute, visit BaptistHealth.net/Foundation, call 786-467-5400 or email Giving@BaptistHealth.net.

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