Neighbor Helping Neighbor

The Love and Hope Ball Benefiting Diabetes Research

The stunning ballroom at the Westin Diplomat for the 2008 Love and Hope Ball was made possible through the diligence of Love and Hope's executive committee.

For 34 years, The Love and Hope Ball has been one of Miami’s grandest affairs. The 800 person charity event, which has raised more than $35 million for diabetes research, sells out months in advance and would undoubtedly be the feather in the cap for any Miami events planner. Yet the work that goes into producing this fabulous party has always been done by a group of dedicated committee members led by Sonja Zuckerman and Sandra Levy.

The Love and Hope Ball is the brainchild of Sonja, and she has served as Life Chairman since its inception. The committee now numbers more than 80 members, many of whom joined originally because a friend, or family member, was diagnosed with diabetes.

“The ball began with neighbor helping neighbor,” says Sandra Levy, Love and Hope’s executive chairman. “I became involved because a neighbor’s child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Every dollar raised at The Love and Hope Ball goes directly into research. That’s what makes the ball so special and the reason why we all work so hard. This money goes into finding a cure.”

Sonja Zuckerman preparing for the ball (L) and enjoying the results with Michael Aller (R)

The process of producing Love and Hope begins weeks ahead of the scheduled date. Sonja’s condo turns into a production line, filled with folding tables to accommodate the thousands of invitations being enhanced and readied for mailing. Committee members come around-the-clock and are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner while they work, work, work.

A few days before show time and the team reassembles at the Diplomat. Committee members fold hundreds of napkins into fans and cut and tie ribbons all under the careful scrutiny of Sonja, who insists that every bow is perfectly even with tails facing in the right direction. Of course there will be a change of napkins after caviar, so the process repeats itself with a different napkin fold and another hue of ribbon. And so it goes – all the details lovingly patted into place.

Diane and Aristotle Ares hard at work (L) and at the ball (R)

And on the night of the gala, the work of the committee blends effortlessly with the splendor of the guests. This year’s Love and Hope Ball was a magnificently elegant affair. Amongst those in attendance were the entire Gibb family, Abel and Fana Holtz, Mel and Fran Harris, Leon and Serena Simkins, Tova Leidesdorf, Sherman Simon, Lady Monica Heftler and many, many more.

Once again, SocialMiami’s superstar photographer, Hellmund, was on the scene documenting the action. Click here to see SocialMiami’s photo gallery of the 2008 Love and Hope Ball.

Esther Belfer ties one on for the ball (L) and raises a glass with husband William (R)
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