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December 2008

Honoring A Dear Friend’s Memory – Jay Weiss

“Jay was the finest, nicest, kindest human being I’ve ever met in my life,” says Al Malnik, who has pledged $1 million to support the Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity, named in honor of his friend. “I knew how much Jay loved the work he was doing with the hospital, so when I heard there was going to be a center that would not only be named after him, but also be devoted to doing the activities he so loved, I wanted to be part of it.”

The Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity was officially established in 2005 in memory of philanthropist Jay W. Weiss, a longtime champion of the underserved in the Miami-Dade community. The center is working to achieve Jay Weiss’ vision that the poor have access to the same quality of health care available to those with resources.

Considered “best friends” since the day they met, Al and Jay’s friendship dates back to the late 50s. Jay’s daughter Jennie Block says, “I can’t remember a time when our families have not been friends. Al was always very proud of my dad and his work on behalf of the community. We’re deeply appreciative of his support and many, many years of friendship. He continues to be a good friend to my father in death as he was in life.”

Malnik was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He moved to Miami to pursue a law degree at the University of Miami, which he earned in 1959, and has been here ever since. He practiced law, and then 1986 founded Miami Beach’s world-class dining institution The Forge Restaurant; his son, Shareef Malnik, became the proprietor in 1991 and is currently the CEO of the operation. Malnik has been presented the key to Miami Beach twice for The Forge’s contributions to the community.

“When Bernie Fogel, Jennie and I had lunch with Al he reflected on nearly 50 years of their friendship and about one quality in particular which he felt most passionately about. It was Jay’s ability to make you go further than you imagined you could.” Says Jay’s daughter Laurie Nuell. “He recalled a time when he really was questioning himself and was not as confident as he should have been, Jay told him that he could be anything he wanted to be, and should not settle for less. In many of his successes it was always Jay’s encouragement that helped him. As a friend, he could always turn to Jay for support-they were like brothers.”

Malnik, like his friend Jay Weiss, is deeply committed to helping his community. The Jay Weiss Center is just one of numerous organizations he supports. His is an active board member of many local arts and civic organizations, such as United Foundation for AIDS, Miami City Ballet, and Miami Symphony. The Malnik family is deeply committed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and on Saturday, March 3, 2007, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce honored Al Malnik and his son, Shareef, as Outstanding Citizens of the Year.

Dana-Farber Gets 1 Million From The Malnik Family

Al and Nancy Malnik saw firsthand the quality of Dana-Farber’s expertise when their son, Jarod, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and their subsequently turned to Dana-Farber’s Chief of Staff Stephen E. Sallan, MD, for consultation on his treatment.

Three years later, Jarod is in remission and the Malniks, inspired by this experience, have given $1 million to establish the Al and Nancy Malnik Family AML Research Fund at Dana-Farber under the direction of Dr. Sallan.

“Nancy and I feel privileged that our son was the recipient of the most caring and

Wondrous advice that anyone could possibly receive,” said Al Melnik. “With this gift, we hope to further the research for AML cures while also honoring the unbelievable relationship Dr. Sallan has with all his patients.”

This gift will alson provide critical support to Mission Possible: The Dana-Farber Campaign to Conquer Cancer. This $1 billion fundraising initiative, of which$450 million is designated specifically for research and care, will help the Institute’s scientists find more effective therapies for diseases, such as AML, and save even more patient’s lives. Attacking the disease at it core

AML is a disease that starts in the bone marrow and often moves into the blood. The bone marrow cells do not develop correctly and, as a result, clog the bone marrow and circulation.
Dr. Sallan has organized a team, headed by Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD, who have found that leukemia stem cells—a small number of self renewing cells within a tumor are likely responsible for maintaining AML and, therefore, may represent highly relevant targets for anti-leukemia therapies. With this gift, they are pursuing several studies focused on defining the stem cell that provide the basis for the disease’s generation and persistence, which will enable them to further identify how AML evolves.

Investigators can also build off this knowledge to develop new treatment methods, while lessening potential side effects and focusing on the growing importance of many quality-of life issues. Dana-Farber researchers, including Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, and Todd Golub, MD, are focused on identifying already approved drugs that can target AML stem cells and abnormally-activated, cancer-causing genes.

Often, rare diseases such as AML, do not receive as much attention from industry as more common cancers. As such, this gift will dramatically influence the drug discovery and clinical trials process and, ultimately, improve survival rates for patients with this terrible disease.

“The Malnik family’s generosity allows us to establish an AML focused research effort, which has the potential to affect patients everywhere with this disease,” said Sallan. “We are moving in a truly revolutionary direction which will ultimately result in saving more patients lives and improving their quality of life.”

Party In The Garden – Malnik Style

The Malnik family hosts an exclusive spring event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Florida.

The Miami Symphony Orchestra played, cocktails were served, hors d’oeuvres were passed, and synchronized swimmers performed at the Oceanside Malnik estate in Palm Beach as 200 of South Florida’s leading philanthropists attended the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball Garden Party on Sunday, March 2, 2008.

The guest list for the event included Norman Wedderburn, president/CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida; Jack Miller, general manager of the InterContinental Miami and gala host of the IC MAW Bali; L. Robert Elias, chairman of the board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida; and James Ferraro of the Ferraro Law Firm and wish benefactor of the IC MAW Baili. Special celebrity guests included world champion boxer Lennox Lewis and Erinn Cosby, daughter of actor Bill Cosby.

The fundraiser’s proceeds directly benefited the children of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, which was founded in 1983 to grant “wishes” to children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions, and enrich their quality of life. Since its establishment, the organization has granted more than 6,000 wishes to children throughout 13 South Florida counties, each costing an average of $5,000.

Seven-year-old Jonalya, whose dream was to become a firefighter, made the foundations 6000th wish in 2006. “I want to save lives,” she said. So the foundation partnered with an entire engine company to make her wish come true. Jonalya was able to go to the firehouse, ride around the station in her custom-made uniform and helmet, and save a stuffed Dalmatian during a staged fire emergency.

“We are extremely proud and privileged to be part of the Make-A-Wish family knowing their selfless dedication to suffering children will always be full speed ahead no matter what time of day, week, month, or year it may happen to be,” said Al Malnik, lifetime benefactor of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The garden party marked the first in a series of events, including the Spring Fling Flower Fashion Show and the Uncork-A-Wish Wine Tasting fundraiser, leading toward the highly anticipated InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball, which will be held on November 8, 2008. Last year, guests at the ball raised $1.5 million, exceeding the previous total of $850,000 in 2006.

“We are so fortunate to have so many individuals coming out year after year with their continued support for the ball,” said Shareef Malnik, gala chair of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball for the last 13 years.

Guests of the ball have included musical legend Natalie Cole, actress Sharon Stone, and former basketball superstar Scottie Pippen. This year’s ball will mark the 25th anniversary of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, and the 14th anniversary of the IC MAW ball. Hundreds of socialites, philanthropists, and A-List VIP’s are expected to attend the soiree, making it foundations most event this year.