26th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball
Grammy-Award winner Jennifer Hudson, with actress-filmmaker Gabrielle Anwar as celebrity emcee, helped raise in excess of $2.7 million.
Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida and InterContinental® Miami are proud to announce over $2.7 million, net of expenses, was raised at the 26th Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball. The event was headlined by acclaimed singer and actress Jennifer Hudson at InterContinental Miami, where she performed a riveting concert for Ball guests. Actress and filmmaker Gabrielle Anwar made her return as celebrity emcee of the Ball, which was chaired by her husband, philanthropist Shareef Malnik. The theme of the annual fundraiser was “Galactica,” inspired by pop culture, vintage sci-fi films, and space science, which led to very creative interpretations on the Ball’s “white carpet.” Funds raised from the evening went toward granting life-changing wishes for critically ill children.
Welcoming guests were Shareef Malnik, Chairman Emeritus, Make-A-Wish Southern Florida; Gala Chair of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball; Managing Partner, Greyhawk Capital; and CEO, Forge Legacy Investments; Glenn Sampert, Gala Host and General Manager of InterContinental Miami; and Norman Wedderburn, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. The trio affectionately known as the “Three Amigos.”
Donors and notables in attendance included Shareef Malnik & Gabrielle Anwar; Al & Nancy Malnik; Karolina Kurkova & Archie Drury; Jamal & Bailey Mashburn; Lisa Hochstein; Kiki Barth; Romero Britto; Alberto Carvahlo; NASA astronaut Loren Acton; Kelly Marcel; Lee Brian Schrager; Barry Skolnick; Ken DeGori; Tatsiana Ansin; Marina Armas; Nick & Adriana Ayala; Greg & Brenda Baty; Gal Bensaadon; Peter & Tatiana Cancro; Gala Cohen; Dennis Crowley & Maria Haupert; Brian Exelbert; Mayte Fernandez; Richard & Susan Finkelstein; Eugene & Brooke Frenkel; Gary & Amber Godsey; Ken Gorin; Scott Helms; Felipe Lafratta; Michael Liebowitz; Sydney Lister; Patrick & Mary McClain; Belkys Nerey; Michael & Caroline Parrish; Joseph Perez; Danielle Rubinstein; Ken Russell; Helen, Jacob and Kevin Schwartz; Jodi Siravo; Caitlin Stella; Dave Strom; Angie Valdes; Devon Vickers; Frances Wang; Richard & Robin Weissman; and Judd & Laura Zebersky.
The lavish cocktail reception featured premium libations and elaborate food displays created by InterContinental® Miami Executive Chef Jhonnatan Contreras and his team, including a cosmic seafood tower with whimsical outer space-themed ice carvings – flying saucers and rocket ships — that housed shrimp, sushi, and other seafood. The mezzanine was also the location of the Ball’s famous silent auction – regarded as one of the most luxurious in South Florida. Brimming with coveted objects, memorabilia and travel experiences donated by leading hospitality, entertainment, and luxury brands, the silent auction included a fine jewelry concession by King Jewelers. DJ Ani Phearce presided over the cocktail reception, spinning his own brand of magic.
At the end of the reception, a performance by dancers from New Century Dance Company – resembling a small army of insect-like creatures in lime green bodysuits – summoned guests to dinner inside the Grand Ballroom, which was decorated in a silver-and-black theme, with towering centerpieces of natural gypsophilia, white roses and white orchids.
Guests dined on an elaborate, space-themed menu created by Chef Jhonnatan Contreras – “Lobsterella Causa,” a butter-poached lobster with aji amarillo and rocoto puree, lobster salad with white balsamic caviar, and crispy noodles, followed by “Cosmic Filet Collision,” an entrée of 24K gold-grilled wagyu beef tenderloin with truffle demi and potatoes Pave, with white asparagus, baby carrot bundle and golden oyster mushrooms. For dessert: a galaxy of delectables, including spheres of dark chocolate mousse with a salted caramel cremeux filling, and white vanilla mousse with a mango passionfruit center.
Shareef and Gabrielle opened the ballroom festivities with their “dramatic moment,” a Ball tradition. This year, they projected a short film entitled “The Space Oddity,” a spoof on the 1980s David Bowie song “Major Tom” that they shot at the Animation School of Miami Dade College, with Shareef as a bespectacled Major Tom and a come-hither Gabrielle in silver thigh-high platform boots a la Barbarella.
The Ball’s highly anticipated entertainer Jennifer Hudson was presented by the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation. The Grammy Award-winner and Academy Award-winner performed a 45-minute set of fan favorites, including “Natural Woman” and “Respect,” the title song from the Aretha Franklin biopic that Hudson stars in, as well as executive produced. JHud engaged the audience and even handed her microphone to Gabrielle Anwar — who was humming along from her table in front of the stage — for an impromptu vocal cameo of “Hallelujah.” The “Dreamgirls” star closed her show by jokingly reminding the crowd that she won an Oscar at age 25, before launching into her signature torch song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from the hit Broadway musical.