Paula Abdul Idolized After She Helped Raise $900,000 At Miami Make-A-Wish Ball

On Saturday, November 6, 2010, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Southern Florida and InterContinental Miami celebrated the 16th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball with a captivating Asian-inspired, Zen-like theme. With beloved, internationally celebrated host Paula Abdul as the emcee of the live auction, a performance by Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys and the third anniversary of the Ball’s InterContinentalMiami Make-A-Wish Nightclub featuring a fashion show by designer Nicole Miller, the evening captured the “Art of the Wish” and proved itself to again be one of the hottest social events of the season.

“This year’s Ball was a great success in so many ways,” said Norman Wedderburn, President/CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida. “From the exceptional décor and stellar performance by Paula Abdul as the celebrity emcee, to the post-Ball celebration, I believe this year’s Ball to be one of the most special to-date. We saw a community come together in support of a great cause and have an unforgettable time while doing so. Most importantly, I want to thank each and every guest, volunteer and sponsor whose support and generosity helped raise an incredible amount of funds for children in need.”

This year’s InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball was made possible by the committee’s star players and “The Amigos:” President/CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, Norm Wedderburn; Ball Chairman and proprietor of The Forge Restaurant | Winebar, Shareef Malnik; and InterContinental Miami General Manager and Gala Host, Robert B. Hill. Also honored were Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik; Grand Benefactors Stanley and Gala Cohen; Founding Benefactors Howard and Barbara Glicken; Wish Star Benefactor James L. Ferraro, as well as Wish Benefactors Harvey and Roberta Chaplin, Stuart A. Miller of Lennar Corporation and Robert Press of Trafalgar Capital Advisors.

Immediately upon arrival, guests were greeted by visions and iconic figures from the Orient including glowing orange Chinese lanterns and fashion-forward Geishas. Transformed by Javier Velarde of Triton Productions, the hotel’s Mezzanine level was brought to life by Samurai swordsmen, ribbon dancers, a gigantic Orange Blossom tree and the palpable energy created by 20 live Taiko drummers. While enjoying the Ball’s much buzzed-about hors d’oeuvre stations created by InterContinental Miami’s celebrated Executive Chef Alexander Feher and spirits provided by Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., guests raised $140,000 by bidding on more than 130 premier items, including a guitar autographed by John Mayer; children’sMercedes-Benz ride-on SUV; luxury goods by Betsey Johnson, Valentino, Burberry, Diane Von Furstenberg, Longchamp USA, Judith Ripka and more; as well as hospitality packages ranging from local Miami stay-cations to destination packages in the Grand Cayman Islands, and a number of worldwide travel experiences courtesy of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts: InterContinental Abu Dabi, InterContinental Athens, InterContinental Bali, InterContinental Bangkok, InterContinental Boston, InterContinental Carlton Cannes, InterContinental Chicago, InterContinental Costa Rica, InterContinental De La Ville Rome, InterContinental Frankfurt, InterContinental Le Grand Paris, InterContinental London, InterContinental Madrid, InterContinental Miami and mySpa, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, InterContinental Montelucia, InterContinental New Orleans, InterContinental The Barclay New York, InterContinental Rio de Janeiro, InterContinental Toronto Yorkville and InterContinental Willard Washington DC, among others.

Following a dramatic parade led by a 42-foot-long dragon and beats by resident Ball and Miami Heat celebrity beat-master DJ Irie, guests were summoned into the dining room. Up-and-coming crooner Duane McLaughlin opened the main event with his inspirational song, “Ready to Live,” as 20 children dressed in white encircled the stage with glowing smiles. During the heart-warming performance, guests enjoyed a three course meal.  Following touching videos by the Ball’s key players testifying to the impact of the power of a wish, Paula Abdul, host of CBS’s new show LIVE TO DANCE, took the stage as the emcee of the event’s famous wish and live auction. Longtime Make-A-Wish supporter Jim Ferraro then opened the Wish Auction with a crowd-inspiring donation of $100,000, a pledge that will grant an astonishing 20 Wishes. Following his lead, the legendary pop icon and emcee donated $10,000 of her own money to grant two wishes for South Florida children in need.

During the action-packed live auction which raised a total of $160,000, guests bid on high-stakes items including a walk-on role for USA’s hit show Burn Notice, which was notably auctioned off by its own star, Gabrielle Anwar; another walk-on role for the film Tower Heist starring Ben Stiller, donated by director Brett Ratner; a $25,000 gift certificate for Rene Ruiz Couture provided by the designer himself; the ultimate Los Angeles Jet-Setting weekend getaway courtesy of Jason Binn and Niche Media; a luxurious Judith Ripka-inspired New York City experience complete with a $5,000 shopping piece from the designer’s collection;  an all-expenses-paid getaway to chic hotspot St. Barth’s, as well as a spectacular tour of the Orient with accommodations courtesy of the InterContinental Hong Kong, InterContinental Shanghai, InterContinental Beijing, InterContinental Tokyo, and Business Class travel by American Airlines.Closing out the live auction and following personal greetings by Abdul to more than half of the crowd, was a custom 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia donated by Ken Gorin of THE COLLECTION. After the auction, guests were entertained with a live performance by Tony Award-winning music production Jersey Boys, a story-like show based on the lives of famed 1960s rock-‘n’-roll group, The Four Seasons.

Following dinner and dancing, and for the third year in a row, guests re-entered the Mezzanine to celebrate the Ball’s success at the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Nightclub, titled “Enter the Dragon” and hosted by Robert Hill, Shareef Malnik,Michael Capponi, Clif Loftin and Antonio Misuraca. Taiko drummers were replaced with go-go dancers and their drumming with beats by DJ Joe Dert, as guests – both Ball attendees and the next generation of contributors – were captivated by a retrospective fashion show by Nicole Miller featuring a collection of the designer’s looks previously worn by celebrities includingAngelina Jolie, Demi Moore, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Helena Christensen, Carla Bruni, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Sheryl Crow and Carmen Electra, among others. Ball attendee and international model Ines Rivero made a surprise appearance as the show’s opening and closing model.

More than 900 A-list VIPs, socialites, philanthropists and celebrities attended the Ball – joining the likes of live auction emcee Paula Abdul and auction item presenter Gabrielle Anwar, including E!’s Michael Yo; founders of Market America J.R. and Loren Ridinger with daughter Amber; Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik; attorney Jim Ferraro; President of THE COLLECTION Ken Gorin; designer Rene Ruiz; international model Ines Rivero; designer Nicole Miller; nightlife impresariosMichael Capponi and Antonio Misuraca; artist Romero Britto; founders of clothing line Bogosse Patrick and Fabrice Tardieu; television personality Katrina Campins, Thomas Kramer, and more.