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November 2010

16th Anniversary InterContinental Hotel Make A Wish Fund Raiser – The Wish Of The Rising Sun

On Saturday, November 6th, 2010 the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida and the InterContinental Hotel Miami celebrated the 16th anniversary of its annual fund-raiser with an Asian-inspired theme. Javier Velarde of Triton Productions, who produced the event twice before, in 2006 and 2007, separated the hotel’s mezzanine into multiple spaces using floor-to-ceiling red and orange draping. He used geishas, samurai swordsmen, live taiko drummers, sushi bars, a ribbon dancer, an artificial cherry-blossom tree, and a Chinese dragon to convey the “Zen and the Art of a Wish” theme.

“People come here to be seen, but they also come here to see what we’re going to do, so we try to challenge ourselves every year,” said Robert Hill, gala host and general manager of the InterContinental Miami. “This year, we took the traditions of the Orient to be the symbols of hope, strength, and joy, which are such an important part of a child’s wish. We tried to touch on all of the senses with what we created and keep the energy level high.”

The event, known to begin the social season, raised about $900,000 and attracted 850 guests—50 more than last year. It also drew more sponsors: 79, up from 33 in 2009. “This year we challenged the board of directors and the committee members to identify some new people they would reach out to and get them to engage and commit,” Hill said. “And the sponsors that have been with us over the years have come up even bigger this year.” Sponsorship opportunities ranged from a $500 individually priced ticket to $20,000 premium tables. Philanthropists Al and Nancy Malnik, Trafalgar Capital Advisors, American Airlines, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, and Carnival Cruise Lines were among the key sponsors.

As in the past, there were both silent and live auction components. This year, Paula Abdul served as the celebrity M.C. of the live auction (past auctioneers include Pamela Anderson, Sharon Stone, and Kim Kardashian). A 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia from recurrent sponsor the Collection, a walk-on role on an upcoming Ben Stiller movie, and an all-inclusive trip for two to Asia valued at $60,000, courtesy of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, were among the top items up for bid during the live auction, which followed a dinner prepared by the hotel’s executive chef, Alexander Feher. An act singing songs from Broadway musical Jersey Boys was the night’s featured entertainment.

For the third year in a row, the organizers added an after-party to the evening. In the past, this was held in the same ballroom as the dinner and live auction. This year, the organizers chose a separate space—the mezzanine used during the cocktail reception. Velarde toned down the lighting, added a DJ platform, and recruited Harajuku dancers to reinvent the mezzanine into a nightclub experience called “Enter the Dragon.” He also staged a runway for designer Nicole Miller, who presented a retrospective fashion show.

Some 500 guests—a combination of dinner guests and people who bought separate tickets—attended the after-party from around midnight until 3 a.m. “The nightclub has been instrumental in raising awareness of the ball and its mission to an entirely new group—a generation we hope will one day be our new lifetime benefactors and ultimately continue the power of the wish,” said gala chairman Shareef Malnik, proprietor of the Forge restaurant.

The pre party for the November 6th, 2010 Main Event – InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball Garden Party held at Al and Nacncy Malnik’s ocean front estate

Miami, FL (April 21, 2010) –  On Sunday, April 18, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida held the 2010 InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball Garden Party, a cocktail reception for South Florida’s top philanthropists. Hosted by Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik at their oceanfront estate in Ocean Ridge, the intimate gathering was the first event of the year in honor of the highly anticipated annual ball, to be held Saturday, November 6, 2010.

“I am extremely moved by the support we received on this very special day,” said Shareef Malnik, Chairman of the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball. “It clearly shows that the Ball and its cause have one of the most loyal followings, and for this I am extremely grateful. I would also like to thank my father Al and his lovely wife Nancy for putting on this beautiful event each year, which honors those generous individuals who help make wishes come true.”

Guests at the Garden Party included “The Three Amigos:” Norman Wedderburn, President/CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida; Shareef Malnik, Ball Chairman and proprietor of The Forge; and Robert Hill, Gala Host and General Manager of InterContinental Miami. Special guests included legendary boxing promoter Don King, Burn Notice actress Gabrielle Anwar and designer Rene Ruiz. Guests enjoyed Rising Suns, a specialty cocktail designed by The Forge Restaurant & Wine Bar’s mixologist; hors d’oeuvres; beats by DJ Joe Dert and a performance by Japanese Taiko drummers Fushu Daiko.

“This year’s Garden Party was a truly memorable event. Not only was it the first for Shareef’s and my new “amigo” Robert Hill, but especially because it had its best attendance yet, despite the April showers. This proves not only that the power of a wish is alive and well, but also gives me hope that this year’s Ball will be better than ever,” said Norm Wedderburn, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida’s President/CEO.

The Garden Party was first event of the year in honor of the upcoming 16th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball. This year’s Ball will mark the 27th anniversary of The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.  Last year’s Ball raised more than $1 million and granted 200 wishes, more than 40 percent of all the wishes the chapter granted last year.

For the past 15 years, InterContinental Miami has worked exclusively with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida on the annual Ball. “Our partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida is a testament to our commitment to give back to the community,” said Robert Hill. “I am very much looking forward to my first Ball as Gala Host and most importantly, making dreams come true for these very special children.”

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida grants the wishes of children who have life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Covering a 13-county territory of Southern Florida, the chapter’s goal is to grant more than 525 wishes in 2010. For more information, contact the Foundation at (888) 773-WISH

Jackson children were prepared for spotlight

LOS ANGELES — Even Michael Jackson knew the masks and veils would have to come off one day.

After a lifetime of hiding from the media glare at the insistence of their impossibly famous father, Jackson’s children are front and center. Though their inevitable debut came a way no one could have predicted, those close to Jackson and the family say his three kids may be better prepared for the onslaught of attention than anyone could expect.

“They are going to grow up in the limelight,” said Al Malnik, a former Jackson financial adviser and friend, “but I think because they way that Michael has brought them up and that they have the capacity to deal with it.”

They are also – for now at least – being cared for by Katherine Jackson, who has raised a whole family in the public eye.

“If anyone knew how to deal with the scrutiny and the whole culture of paparazzi, it was the Jacksons,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, a confidant of the Jackson family. “It is not new to them.”

The lives of Michael Jackson’s children never qualified as normal. They had no mother, wore masks to conceal their faces and traveled the world while being raised by one of the planet’s most famous figures.

But by all accounts from those who have watched and been close to the children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris-Michael Katherine, 11, and Blanket (Prince Michael II), 7, are not only normal, but model children: unaffected by fame, sweet, polite and very smart.

“Those kids are exceptionally bright. They really have the capacity and understanding,” said Malnik of Jackson’s kids, who were home-schooled.

Whether they will retain those qualities following the death of their father, a potential custody fight and the enormous media scrutiny that they have been placed remains to be seen. Already, they have been on the covers of magazines and tabloids, their images endlessly replayed on television – ABC this week devoted an entire hour in prime-time to an expose on their lives.

“Michael just having passed away, it’s difficult enough to deal with privately, much less publicly and making statements about it,” said Malnik.

But Sharpton says that Katherine Jackson, 79, and the rest of the Jackson clan are working hard to provide some semblance of normalcy as they grieve.

“The kids are at the compound,” said Sharpton of the Jacksons’ Encino, Calif., home. “The days that I was there, they would play with their cousins and were very familiar with them and their aunts and uncles. … That’s the only family they knew.”

Katherine Jackson, who Michael named as his choice of caretaker in case of his death, was named by a judge as the temporary guardian of Jackson’s children, and they have been with her and the entire Jackson clan ever since his June 25 death. Their longtime nanny, Grace Rwaramba, has also been with the children, according to a source close to the family who is not authorized to speak for the family and requested anonymity.

While the Jackson family has long been perceived as dysfunctional – their battles have played out famously on the public stage – what struck many people at Jackson’s memorial service on Tuesday was their display of unity.

Paris-Michael clutched grandmother Katherine during the service, while Prince Michael held onto his Aunt Janet as his sister made her tear-jerking testament of love about her father. Blanket hid behind a phalanx of Jacksons siblings onstage, and when Michael’s brother Marlon broke down while addressing the Staples Center crowd, the entire Jackson family, including the children, embraced in one powerful group hug.

“The family is much closer than one wanted to perceive,” said Sharpton, who acknowledged that Paris’ speech was spontaneous. “People far overestimate and embellish any perceived differences in that family.”

The public images of a Jackson family united in grief may help Katherine Jackson as she heads into Monday custodial hearing involving Mrs. Jackson and the biological mother of Jackson’s two oldest children, Deborah Rowe. Rowe, who was previously married to Jackson, has not had a relationship with Prince or Paris-Michael, but since Jackson’s death has expressed interest in raising not only her two biological children, but Blanket as well, to whom she has no relation (the mother of Blanket, born to a surrogate, has never been revealed).

It is unclear if a custody battle will develop. Rowe’s attorney said she has not decided it she plans to seek custody, and people close to interactions with both camps, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said both sides have been gracious and cordial, not contentious.

Sharpton said the Jacksons haven’t been anticipating a battle, but when asked about the best interests of the kids, said: “They ought to be around the people they are most familiar with. This is not the beginning of their relationship (with the Jacksons).”

Still, some have expressed concern that the Jackson’s kids may suffer by being placed with their extended family. Michael’s father Joe has been roundly criticized for promoting a record label on television in the days after his death, and Michael had long described him as physically and emotionally abusive. Katherine’s age has led to questions about her ability to look after adolescent children.

Dr. Arnold Klein, Jackson’s longtime dermatologist and friend, told “Larry King Live” on Wednesday night he feared that the performing family might turn Jacksons’ kids into “The Jackson 3, their intelligence dancing away – because these children are bright.”

But Sharpton dismissed the idea that the Jacksons would seek to exploit the children or take them on a path other than the one Michael Jackson had intended for them.

“For the life of me I don’t now why people would assume based on no evidence at all why the Jacksons wouldn’t have their own grandchildren and niece and nephews at heart,” he said. “It is the most ridiculous notion I’ve heard.”