More than 850 people attended the 18th Annual Best Buddies Miami Gala, at The Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The star-studded event raised $2.5 million in total donations for Best Buddies International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The evening celebrated the organization’s expansion into Southeast Asia. As a result of phenomenal support, Best Buddies was able to extend its reach globally, and has established a presence in this part of the world with several chapters founded throughout the region since January 2014.
The evening’s festivities included a fabulous cocktail hour, gourmet dinner, unique live and silent auctions, and a live performance by special musical guest Jon Secada. Best Buddies Ambassador and YouTube sensation Marlana VanHoose opened the Gala with a riveting performance of the National Anthem. The Miami Heat’s Alonzo Mourning and Chicago Cubs Sammy Sosa delivered autographed basketballs and baseballs to guests who pledged $1,000 to ‘Sponsor a Buddy’ to attend Best Buddies International’s Leadership Conference, raising more than $65,000 for the organization. Best Buddies Chairman and Founder Anthony K. Shriver, along with several Best Buddies Ambassadors, handed out medals to Best Buddies Challenge: Miami participants, who cycled 62-miles through the streets of the Magic City earlier in the day, to help raise over $500,000 and awareness for the organization.
As always, there were many one-of-a-kind items up for auction, including an exclusive Dwayne Wade Hublot Timepiece; a custom made Cannondale Best Buddies EVO Bicycle; a five-star Trip to Bangkok, Thailand which includes two round-trip tickets from Miami to Thailand and a 7-night stay in the cities of Bangkok and Koh Chang; a one-of-a-kind Romero Britto portrait which sold twice for a total of $90,000; a stay at Karisma Resorts in Azul Mexico which includes a four day-three night vacation experience; a Napa Valley experience package; and a stay at a luxurious Villa in St. Remy de Provence. The silent and live auctions raised more than a total of $585,000 for the organization.
Photos by: Julie Pauline