The Make-A-Wish organization has this sentence floating across the screen on their Web page promoting World Wish Day, April 29, 2010: “Today is when tomorrow’s wishes start coming true.”
Growing up, Al Malnik may not have been dreaming about becoming a lawyer, restaurateur or successful businessman. But what he did know was that he would, without a doubt, make something of himself. “Growing up in a very poor neighborhood in St. Louis – experiencing poverty – gave me an uncanny, almost compulsive desire to make something out of myself,” he said. “Whether it was consciously or unconsciously, that desire included being important in whatever I did.”
An extremely private man, Al rarely agrees to interview requests but his business success, including a large consumer loan business and at one time Miami Beach’s world-renowned and recently renovated restaurant, The Forge, is owned by Shareef Malnik. “I haven’t really paid much attention to what’s been written,” he said. “People pretty much write what they want and that gets repeated.”
Documented or not, he definitely succeeded and that success has been in more areas than just business. Right from the start, Al began making financial contributions to charitable organizations. That generosity certainly deserves respect. But going the extra mile – donating your time and opening your heart and home to those in need – is worthy of even more.
It’s no surprise that both Al and his wife Nancy are active supporters of organizations committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals in need. The scope of their philanthropic activities is broad: children’s causes, religious-based charities, education and a large donation to Jackson Memorial Hospital, in honor of the late chairman and his friend Jay Weiss, are just a few.
A life-altering experience began in 2004 when one of the Malnik’s triplets, six-year-old Jarod, was diagnosed with AML leukemia. While Al and Nancy had always held a special passion for groups focused on helping children and made a point to focus much of their charity work on those groups, they came face to face with the reality of just how fragile human life is and the amount of faith and endurance they would need to fight this battle.
Throughout Jarod’s seven-month cancer treatment, Al and Nancy’s belief that even a single act of kindness can positively impact a child’s life was reinforced. Even before having their own children, one organization, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, has always been a favorite for the couple. They say seeing a child’s face light up with happiness and joy is something unforgettable
Years have passed since their family’s battle with cancer and Jarod is strong and healthy. Their commitment to charitable organizations is stronger than ever. Grateful for any opportunity to see their own son smile during his treatments, they wanted to make things easier for other families as well. For several years now, they have been lifetime benefactors of the organization.
Some say success is often helped along by a healthy dose of luck or good timing, but looking back at Al’s business ventures it’s clear he left little to chance. When you have the ability to walk into a restaurant known primarily for its $2 dinners and see more – turn it into The Forge, or represent clients other lawyers wouldn’t consider – more than luck is at play. “I’ve always done what I’ve wanted to do, within reasonable bounds or what I’ve considered reasonable bounds,” Al said.
Make-A-Wish families and children in need of some special wish-granting are glad he did.
For more information about Make-A-Wish, visit www.sfla.wish.org or call 954-967-9474.