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April 2010

World Wish Day

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 or call 954-967-9474.

An Afternoon in the Garden of Good At Al Malnik’s House

Al and Nancy Malnik, lifetime benefactors of the Intercontinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball, hosted an intimate garden party at their palatial, Art Deco estate on Sunday, for two hundred of the foundation’s top supporters. During his emotional address, Philanthropist Al Malnik set the bar for this year’s Intercontinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball at a record $2,000,000.00, eliciting a collective gasp from the select crowd. The billionaire with the huge heart motivated and moved his guests with a personal account, “Nancy and I have recently been touched with our own personal tragedy with one of our little ones, so the foundation has come to mean even more than ever before.” Al Malnik’s son, Shareef, returning Gala Chair, beamed with pride as his father spoke, making it obvious that the two have a close relationship and that Shareef admires his father’s zeal and stamina, (after all, Al, who is in his mid-seventies, has given Shareef six siblings ages of ten and under!) Now that’s chutzpa!

The jazz band and choir from King’s Academy entertained the crowd, who mingled in the estate’s gardens, just steps from the ocean, enjoying passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails on a perfect Sunday afternoon. At last year’s garden party, a team of synchronized swimmers delighted guests by performing various numbers in the pool, with the precision and prowess of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas.

Distinguished guests included Norman Wedderburn, President/CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, who assured supporters that he “would not stop, would not sleep, until every wish was granted;” Jack Miller, General Manager of Hotel InterContinental Miami and Gala Host of the IMAW Ball; 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 IMAW Ball. Other notable guests in attendance: champion boxer, Bernard Hopkins, burgeoning singer/songwriter, Jamie Jo Harris, designer, Richie Rich, Baby Chic, Nick D’ Annunzio, Tara Solomon, Fabian Basabe, Antonio Misuraca and Michael Valdes. The palpable excitement prevailed throughout the afternoon, in anticipation of this year’s ball to be held on November 7 at the Hotel Intercontinental. Over 900 guests are expected to attend. This year’s host remains a secret, but several attendees requested Sharon Stone return as host this year. Shareef promised he would try. Kim Kardashian did a good job last year, but Sharon Stone left some pretty tall stilettos to fill after the 2007 gala!

Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball

Posted by Mary Jo Almeida-Shore

Imagine there’s a Heaven, it’s easy if you try
The Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball brings a little taste of Heaven to those who need it most. At Saturday’s ball, where “Imagine” was the theme, the beautiful, 16 year old Marina Diez, gave a poignant speech, detailing the thrill of having her wish to go to Wimbledon fulfilled and explained what having a wish granted means to a sick child.

No hell below us
Just a vibrating, dance floor to the sounds of DJ Irie, who packed the dance floor before dinner. Guests showed no intention of sitting down until Lifetime Benefactor, Al Malnik, took the stage, almost an hour behind schedule. DJ Joe Dert’s music had the same effect at the Make-A-Wish Nightclub, until about 3:00 a.m.

Above us only sky-
Lucy in the Sky that is, along with giant jellyfish, an enormous lobster and a host of other characters from Octopus’ Garden, which paraded around, and escorted guests into the ballroom.

Imagine all the people-
More than 800, having a blast, including Florida Governor Charlie Crist along with wife, Carole; actress and live auction emcee, Pamela Anderson; tennis star, Venus Williams; retired NBA player, Scottie Pippen and wife Larsa; director, Brett Ratner; Market America founders, J.R. and Loren Ridinger; Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik; President of THE COLLECTION, Ken Gorin; Lady Monica Heftler; Southern Wine and Spirits’ Wayne Chaplin and wife Arlene; designer, Rene Ruiz; shoe designer, Donald Pliner and wife, Lisa; CEO of Greenberg Traurig, Cesar Alvarez; Latin pop star, Ana Cristina; director, Michael Bay and fashion designer, Richie Rich.
Living for today…
…One of the most fun days (nights) of the year, with performances by Beatlemania Now and Tokyo Diiva and a fashion show by Richie Rich and Pamela Anderson.

Imagine there are no countries, it isn’t hard to do
This is a tough one, with an A-list crowd of international jet-setters bidding on gift certificates to InterContinental Hotels worldwide, including Hong Kong, Rio, Shanghai Pudong, Madrid, Prague, Athens, Rome, London, Tahiti, Bangkok and Abu Dhabi to name a few.

Nothing to kill or die for-
Except for incredible auction items, such as the Ferrari California and St. Andrews and Punta Mitta trip, that went to James Ferraro, after a fierce battle.

And no religion too-
Just a shared mission of granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, providing ”hope, strength and joy.”

Imagine all the people, living life in peace…
Drinking, dancing, lobster, and Pamela Anderson, what’s there to fight about?

You may say I’m a dreamer
Or slightly delusional, when I describe the yellow submarine composed of thousands of balloons, the giant strawberries with dancing dudes, the carousel flanked with circus freaks, including the strong man and bearded lady, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or the bobble head Beatles, so please check-out my photos!

But I’m not the only one-
I’m in the company of some great folks, including: President/CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, Norm Wedderburn; Ball Chairman, Shareef Malnik; InterContinental Miami’s recently appointed General Manager, Robert B. Hill; former GM, Jack Miller; Lifetime Benefactors, Al and Nancy Malnik; Grand Benefactors, Stanley and Gala Cohen; Founding Benefactors, Howard and Barbara Glicken; Wish Star Benefactor, James L. Ferraro; Wish Benefactors, Harvey and Roberta Chaplin; Stuart A. Miller, of Lennar Corporation; Robert Press, of Trafalgar Capital Advisors; Principals of Tara, Ink., Tara Solomon, and Nick D’Annunzio; Gil Dezer from The Apprentice, Edward Freedman, Founder/CEO of Total Merchants; football star, Bernie Kosar; Craig Robbins, CEO/President of Dacra Development; David Siegel, President of Westgate Resorts; Deco Drive’s Louis Aguirre; attorney, L. Robert Elias; Dr. Lenny Hochstein, David Grutman, Michael Dreiling, Rich Santelises, Aaron Resnick, Matt Heien, Suzy Buckley, Jacquelynn Powers, Jose Ortiz, Jamie Jo Harris, Jeffrey and Yolanda Berkowitz and Yannick and Hadley Henriette, to name a few.

I hope someday you’ll join us-
Save the date: next year’s gala is November 6, 2010.

And the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can-
Not at this gala, with over 140 auction items from top hospitality, entertainment, fashion and luxury brands, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Ocean Reef Club, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Lines and Christian Dior.

No need for greed or hunger-
Done- lobster, lamb chops sushi, stone crabs, and steaks!

A brotherhood of man-
Current and former nightlife impresarios came together, such as Michael Capponi, Shareef Malnik, Eric Milon, Hardy Hill, Nicola Siervo, Antonio Misuraca, Tommy Pooch and Alan Roth; as did publications such as Ocean Drive, 944, Florida International Magazine and newcomer, Miami Pop.

Imagine all the people… sharing-all the world…
Thanks to the sponsors, organizers and attendees, this year’s gala raised over $1, 000,000.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one-
To date, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida has granted 1, 700 wishes.

Take my hand and join us-
How about today? Make a donation to:

And the world will live as one.