Inside The 25th Anniversary Of The Upcoming Intercontinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball

Robert Hill, Shareef Malnik, & Norm Wedderburn
Robert Hill, Shareef Malnik, & Norm Wedderburn

Photo Credit: Seth Browarnik/World Red Eye

The season of giving is upon us in the Magic City, and it is kicking off with no grander affair than the highly-anticipated InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball. The lavish extravaganza delivers the greatest and most philanthropic names in the city each year, and 2019 is no different as it’s poised to be one of the greatest yet as it celebrates its 25-year milestone. Always known for bringing A-list entertainment and awe-inspiring production, it’s no surprise that this year, the team behind the Ball is presenting legendary rock star Steven Tyler of Aerosmith with the Loving Mary Band as the headliner of the night, who will undoubtedly bring a high-energy and extraordinarily memorable performance.

Here, Haute Living sits down with the leading forces behind the event to find out what’s in store: Ball Chairman Shareef Malnik and his wife and event emcee Gabrielle Anwar; Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida President and CEO Norman Wedderburn; InterContinental® Miami General Manager and Gala Host Robert Hill.; and Make-a-Wish® Lifetime Benefactors Al & Nancy Malnik.

HL: Tell us about this year’s upcoming Make-A-Wish®  Ball. I know you can’t give too many details away, but what can we look forward to?

Robert Hill: This year’s 25th Anniversary of the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball is really special. How this Ball has evolved into a showcase production over these 25 years is spectacular, and I can assure you that November 2 is going to be another amazing evening. Guests at the Ball will be surprised by new scenes around each corner at the highly-acclaimed cocktail reception, and it will certainly be ‘the place to see and be seen.’ I cannot wait to see Steven Tyler perform for an intimate group of great Make-a-Wish® supporters in the Grand Ballroom.

Shareef Malnik: Every year, our goal is to blow away the prior year’s Ball. Since this year is our 25th Anniversary, you can look forward to the impossible—there isn’t anything that we aren’t going to do to blow you away.

HL: What will the Masterpiece XXV entail?

RH: What I can say for the 25th Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-a-Wish® Ball, is that it has to be a masterpiece. The theme Masterpiece XXV, inspired by Game of Thrones, is really a loose interpretation of this great series, but I can tell you that the Battles for Supreme Style will be epic.

SM: Think of what A Clockwork Orange did to Beethoven. That’s what we are going to do to the Game of Thrones.

HL: What are your goals for this year’s event?

Norman Wedderburn: We have the same two goals as we have had for the 24 Balls. We want to make sure that the guest experience is first-class, and we want to raise as much money as possible to grant as many wishes as possible. We want our guests to leave mesmerized by the experience. If we exceed expectations from a guest experience standpoint, they will continue to support Make-A-Wish®. It is a charity event, and therefore, how much money we raise is equally as important. We have over 600 children in the pipeline for wishes, so we must raise a tremendous amount of money to change all those lives.

HL: Any new programming/additions that you’ll be adding?

RH: We have a few surprises for the 25th Anniversary, for sure. There is a new performance at the InterContinental® Miami Make-a-Wish®  Nightclub. The storyline details behind the fashion show and the performance has built upon the amazing success of the after-party last year.

HL: How do you feel about returning as emcee this year?

Nancy and Al Malnik, Gabrielle Anwar and Shareef Malnik at the 2016 Make-A-Wish Ball
Nancy and Al Malnik, Gabrielle Anwar and Shareef Malnik at the 2016 Make-A-Wish Ball

Photo Credit: Make-A-Wish South Florida

Gabrielle Anwar: I feel fortunate to have been asked back! I like to push the envelope of entertainment—one day I may push a little too far!

HL: Can you give us any hints as to what your grand entrance will entail?

GA: I can tell you what it won’t entail—nudity, violence and politics. This is an R-rated event.

HL: What are you most looking forward to?

GA: I’m looking forward to breaking through the $3 million mark. That’s a very decent amount of wishes!

HL: What has been your most fond memory of the ball over all of your years hosting/co-hosting?

Al & Nancy Malnik: It’s all about the kids for us. Seeing the “Wish Children” perform onstage and narrate their “Wish” experiences with such enthusiasm and glee serves as fuel to us and only strengthens our resolve to continue this important initiative. 

HL: What do you feel has been its greatest success?

A&NM: The Ball is about two important things, and one depends on the other. First, the goal is for the community to get together and have the best time of their lives. And then the second thing happens—the community keeps coming back every year and funds lots of wishes to our children with life-threatening illnesses.

HL: What is your favorite aspect of the Ball?

RH: After 11 months of planning, I love to watch the setup that starts on Wednesday and how the theme comes to life over the next three days. That final walk-through on Saturday afternoon when everything is ready is the final adrenaline rush before we welcome the guests on the lobby red carpet. There are so many great aspects during the entire evening, but after the setup is done, my next favorite part is greeting the guests on arrival and seeing the excited anticipation for the evening ahead.  

SM: Galvanizing our Make-A-Wish® family of guests by taking them on a magic carpet ride for the night to do holy work.

NW: I love seeing how generous our guests are. It’s a reminder to all of us that our community is full of good and generous people who are willing to part with their treasures to help us change lives. We read so many negative things in the newspaper and see so many negative stories on the news. When you come to the ball, you see great people doing great things and that makes me both proud to call South Florida my home and blessed to run such an incredible organization.