Wishing on a Star

Inaugural Social Affairs Starfish Awards

Stephen Brunelle (Vice President/General Manager of Neiman Marcus Coral Gables), Norma Quintero (Jackson Cancer Care president), Diane de Olazarra (event hostess and Starfish recipient), and designer Naeem Khan

Seven outstanding South Florida philanthropists take home the gold at the inaugural Social Affairs Starfish Awards

It was a night of gold stars all around when the inaugural Social Affairs Starfish Awards were presented at a private fund-raising dinner benefit. Created by Social Affairs publisher Norma Quintero, president of the Jackson Cancer Care Board, and Nancy Batchelor, vice president of the Jackson Cancer Care Board, the party was held at the Coral Gables home of Diane and Allen de Olazarra, who generously underwrote the event, and raised more than $160,000 for the Mitchell & Elizabeth Taylor Breast Health Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The seven honorees — Paula Brockway, Diane de Olazarra, Paul DiMare, Lian Fanjul, Nancy Hector, Elizabeth Taylor and Jennifer Valoppi — were presented with glorious, 18K-gold starfish specially designed by Mish Tworkowski of Mish New York (brooches for women, cufflinks for men). Beauty was all around, in the form of a fashion show (underwritten by Neiman Marcus, Coral Gables, thanks to the store’s vice president, Stephen Brunelle) featuring the designs of Naeem Khan, which models wore as they marched the runway over a transparent pool deck; flowers floating in the swimming pool; and jewels by Bvlgari, which donated pieces for the auction.

“The mission of Social Affairs magazine is to support philanthropic causes that have a significant impact on our community,” Quintero said. “For that reason, the Social Affairs Starfish Award was created to honor those individuals that exemplify the desire to make a difference. This year’s award is especially distinctive because it is being given for the first time.”

The starfish was chosen as the symbol for the evening when Quintero became inspired by a story she read that she found particularly poignant. Taken from Loren Eiseley’s book The Star Thrower, the story is one of a young man standing on a beach, tossing beached starfish back into their natural habitat in order to save them from dying. When an old man confronts the younger man and tells him he can’t possibly make a difference to all the dying starfish on beaches everywhere, the young man throws another into the ocean and replies, “It made a difference to that one!”

Claudine & Aldo Colli, Joellen Stump, and Paula Brockway

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