The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida held the 2009 InterContinentalMiami Make-A-Wish Ball Garden Party, a private cocktail reception for 200 of South Florida’s leading philanthropists. The intimate gathering was held at the private Palm Beach area estate of lifetime benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik and was the first event of the year in honor of the highly anticipated annual ball.
“We are very fortunate to have such dedicated individuals in attendance year after year, whose support has proven as strong as ever in these hard economic times,” states Shareef Malnik, Gala Chair of InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball.
Guests at the garden party included Norman Wedderburn, President/CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida; Jack Miller, General Manager of InterContinental Miami and Gala Host of the IC Miami MAW Ball; Shareef Malnik, owner of The Forge restaurant and returning Gala Chair of the IC Miami MAW Ball; James Ferraro, of The Ferraro Law Firm and Wish Benefactor of the IC MAW Ball. Special celebrity guests included designer and 2008 IC Miami MAW Ball Nightclub’s fashion show host Richie Rich, champion boxer Bernard Hopkins and burgeoning singer/songwriter Jamie Jo Harris. Guests mingled oceanside and enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and live entertainment by The King’s Academy Jazz Band and Choir.
Usually, when VIPs and celebrities gather, we know to expect an opulent atmosphere emphasized by a lavish dinner, elaborate cocktails, and the country’s A-listers dressed to the nines. On November 10, this exact depiction took place at the InterContinental Miami, however there were a few exceptions. First, there was a charitable reason behind it all, the 13th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish ball, and second, there was an exceptional host, Sharon Stone.
The big screen femme fatale and off-screen philanthropist was the soirée’s definitive highlight, aggressively seducing the attendees as well as their hefty wallets. Stone captivated the crowd with a touching story of how a young girl with HIV asked Stone to grant her wish before beginning the auction. Accordingly, she went to work by firmly stating, “You’ve got the money and I’m going to get it!”
Stone also played a major role in the highly anticipated auction of the night: the offering of her vintage black 1985 Rolls-Royce. The highest bidder, Jim Ferraro, bought the car for $160,000, which included a case of vintage Dom Pérignon, a bottle of Rémy Martin Louis XIII, Tiffany & Co. crystal champagne stirrers, and seven key chains carefully stored in the car’s trunk.
Another prized item up for auction was a Ferrari F430 F1 Coupe donated by The Collection, Miami’s premier luxury car dealership. The car collected the highest bid of $240,000 from Dr. Roger Medel, CEO of Pediatrix in Miami.
With more than 900 guests spanning from socialites to philanthropists, the ball was packed. Notables included Scottie Pippen, Mike and Alicia Piazza, Al Malnik, Rob Van Winkle (aka Vanilla Ice) and South Beach diva Elaine Lancaster. Guests enjoyed a lavish five-course Hollywood-themed gala dinner while Triton Productions wowed the crowd with a video presentation beamed onto a circular video screen. The video montage featured welcome speeches by 2007 Ball Chairman Shareef Malnik and President/CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, Norman Wedderburn.
Ms. Stone truly fulfilled her goal, as the star-studded event was one for the record books, raising $1.5 million for terminally ill, young children across South Florida. Wishes at the event were bought at $5,000 each, with real estate mogul Jim Ferraro buying a record 40 wishes at a total of $200,000, emerging as the star donor of the event for the second year in a row. Following Ferraro was Market America’s CEOs J.R. Ridinger and his wife, Loren, who purchased 20 wishes.
“We are overwhelmingly delighted that our 13th Annual InterContinental Make-A-Wish Ball has managed to raise a record amount of money for our children,” Wedderburn said. “The money raised this year beats last year’s amount by more than $600,000. These generous funds will go toward granting hundreds of wishes for underprivileged children throughout South Florida. I would like to particularly thank my good friends Shareef Malnik and Jack Miller for their continued hard work, personal support, and friendship.”
In the 13 years that the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball has been conducted, more than $6 million has been raised to benefit the South Florida branch of the organization. The ball is the perfect excuse for a night of fun that is ultimately a rewarding experience for all in attendance.
Al Malnik Interview with Merideth Viera on the Today Show 070109
Merideth Viera- You know, I look at the images you have offered to share with us this morning, both still photos and the videos, and its clear that yours was a place where Michael felt he could come and relax and take the masks off his children, both literally and figuratively. What are some of the fondest memories of the time he spent with you and your family?
Al Malnik- Well, there are so many stories. As I’m sitting here I just thought of one. At a dining room table, which is sitting right next to me, we were having dinner one night and Michael mentioned how fond he was of Louis Armstrong, and I said Michael, that’s extraordinary that you said that, because the dining table here, that we’re having dinner on, was once Louis Armstrong’s table and chairs in New Orleans. He broke down and sobbed. Michael was filled with humility, sensitivity, reverence and respect for anyone and everyone. And most of all the love that he had for his kids equalled the love that he had for his fans. He just was a guy that was beyond amazing and it’s just sad to hear all the spurious stories that have been created about him.
MV- You know, Alvin Malnik, I’m struck by the photos, or the video actually, that was shown in Mike’s piece that was taken at that supermarket. You took Michael Jackson to a market in the middle of the night so he could do what everybody else does normally, just go shopping, and how much fun he had there. And it seemed to point out to me how isolated he must have been in his daily life to get such a thrill out of this. Did he ever talk to you about the loneliness he felt?
AM- He said loneliness is part of his obligation, because he really felt he had a God given talent that he was required to share with the world. And that’s what he did, and a part of that was for his personal loneliness to suffer. He was well equipped and agreed to do that.
MV- You know, I get the sense looking again at these images that his children seem well adjusted, at least the pictures show them to be well adjusted. Is that the way they came across to you?
AM- Not only well adjusted,…great story- You know I asked him, I said to my staff you have a lot of extra work with the kids staying here, do we need some extra work efforts on your part? They said there isn’t any extra effort. Michael’s kids clean their rooms, they make up their beds, polish the mirrors and they take care of everything, and he (Michael Jackson) said that’s the way I bring up my kids and that’s exactly what they did. Each and every morning Michael’s children, their first chores before breakfast were to clean their rooms.
MV- Are you concerned about the kids welfare right now? I mean they just lost the only parent they’ve ever known.
AM- Yes I am, but I think the Jackson family love these children just as they loved Michael, and I have no doubt at the end of the day the kids are going to be fine and they’re going to be well provided for.
MV- You know Al, there were reports that at one point you had claimed to be Blanket’s biological father. Do you want to set the record straight here this morning?
AM- (Laughs) Yes, it would be very interesting (for people) to realize that I didn’t meet Blanket until he was two years old, so that would really qualify as a Ripley (Believe It or Not) event, I think. Of course I’m not the biological father.