Barry Gibb and Olivia Newton-John Make History with Love and Hope

The 35th Anniversary Love and Hope Ball benefited the Diabetes Research Institute.

Music legends Barry Gibb and Olivia Newton-John performed together for the first time at the Love and Hope Ball.
For the first time ever, Barry Gibb and Olivia Newton-John performed together in an intimate concert at the Love and Hope Ball, held at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa on Valentine’s Day. Benefiting the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), this extraordinary black-tie gala boasts a different theme replete with surprises each year, and the 35th anniversary occasion, dubbed The Royal Ball, was no exception. More than 800 attendees were thrilled when Gibb invited Newton-John to join him on stage, making history.

“Now I get to make a dream of my own come true. We’ve never had a chance to do this,” Gibb announced to an eager crowd. “Please welcome the greatest female performer of our generation!”

The legendary duo began with “Islands in the Stream.” Then Newton-John performed “I Honestly Love You” alone, dedicating it to her husband, John Easterling, who proposed to her exactly one year earlier. Gibb and Newton-John then joined voices, and at times hands, for “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” and “Guilty”.

“Growing up in Australia watching him on TV, he was my idol. It took us all these years, but we finally did it,” Newton-John said of her performance with Gibb.

Humanitarian Honorees Jill and Cliff Viner with Life Chairman Sonja Zuckerman
The excitement continued as fawning fans rushed the stage during favorites such as “Stayin’ Alive” and “Jive Talkin’.” Gibb, always the romantic, dedicated “Words” to his wife, Linda. Also contributing his guitar and vocal talents on-stage, their eldest son, Stephen, dedicated a solo of his own to his wife, Gloria.

Prior to the concert, guests followed red carpets into a cocktail reception shimmering with silver highlights on pale green chiffon. While enjoying hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, attendees anticipated the opening of the Great Hall doors, which revealed a dance floor, a concert stage and a sea of tables draped in purple velvet, glistening with gold, and set with caviar to start. The ballroom’s décor featured accents of crests, crowns, candelabras, and castle walls, assuring that everyone present felt like royalty.

During a decadent dinner of veal chops, emcee Lisa Petrillo of CBS 4 welcomed guests by saying, “You are the love that is giving the hope.”

Following those words came the first remarkable surprise of the evening as she announced that Bonnie Inserra, who was in attendance, made a $1.5 million gift to the DRI just moments before.

Barbara Herzberg and her children, Cassandra and David, Honorary Chairmen
Petrillo then introduced the evening’s honorees, including: Humanitarian Honorees Jill and Cliff Viner; Honorary Chairmen Barbara, Cassandra and David Herzberg; Love Honoree Linda Widrich Weitz; Hope Honorees Helene and Marc Kovens; Anniversary Honorees The Lowe Family, in memory of Eleanor Lowe; Gold Star Shirley Harris; Silver Star Florence Frank; Cocktail Reception Hosts Senator Paul and Sandy Steinberg; and Preview Party Underwriter Isabel May.

The spectacular affair could not have happened without the dedication of Life Chairman Sonja Zuckerman, Executive Chairman Sandra Levy, National Chairman Kathy Simkins, and International Chairmen Linda and Barry Gibb, all of whom have been involved with Love and Hope for decades. The Gibbs are also longtime honorary members of the DRI Foundation’s board of directors.

As if the guests didn’t have enough entertainment for one night, they were also privy to an outstanding silent auction, which garnered more than $60,000 with more than 40 items, such as a pair of earrings designed by Fulvio Maria Scavia, who flew from Milan, Italy, with his family to be in attendance. Elizabeth Taylor also owns a pair of these Sandra Dia earrings, which are valued at $18,700. Other hit items included music memorabilia donated by Barry and friends of his in the business and sculptures by Marcie Ziv.

International Chairman Linda Gibb with DRI Scientific Director Camillo Ricordi, M.D.
The mission of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is to provide the Diabetes Research Institute with the funding necessary to cure diabetes now. The Diabetes Research Institute, a center of excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is a recognized world leader in cure-focused research. Since its inception in the early 1970s, the DRI has made significant contributions to the field of diabetes research, pioneering many of the techniques used in islet transplantation. The DRI is now building upon these achievements by bridging cell-based therapies with emerging technologies to restore insulin production. For the millions of families already affected by diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute is the best hope for a cure. Visit or call 800-321-3437 for more information.

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