The University of Miami & Nova Southeastern Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) hosted its annual fundraising gala, Tropical Nights, at the Intercontinental Miami Hotel. The event, which raises money to fund free programs and services for families in South Florida, featured a special celebration of Dr. Michael Alessandri, for his 25 years of service and leadership at UM-NSU CARD and in the South Florida autism community. In addition to the award, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Raquel Regalado proclaimed Saturday, December 18 as “Dr. Michael Alessandri Day,” honoring him with a special plaque in recognition.
As part of the ceremony, UM-NSU CARD celebrated the work of young and talented adults with autism spectrum disorder. Nicolas Morgalo, a 14-year old artist, created this year’s featured art piece, “Fun Times in the City of Lights,” which went for $10,000 in the live auction. In addition, gifts included handcrafted chocolates by The Chocolate Spectrum and soaps by Hannah’s Happy Hands, two businesses that employ adults with autism spectrum disorder. Note cards were created by talented artist Sean Brushingham, and handmade candles, displayed at each table setting, were made by Crafters from Our Pride Academy.
Tropical Nights, which raised over $500,000 to fund programs and services for families and the community, was made possible by a celebrated list of sponsors including the Whitehurst Advisory Group, Whitehurst Family Foundation, The Cambo Family Foundation, The Atienza Family, The Binhak Family, Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A., Dr. Jennifer & Mark Durocher, Hennelly Family Enterprises, Ryder Charitable Foundation, Visa, Milieu Children’s Center, Twin Plum Foundation, Dan Marino Foundation, Els for Autism Foundation, the Autism Science Foundation, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, MasTec, Jackson Health Systems, The Gordon School of Beth David Congregation, Crystal Academy Premium Therapy Center and School, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Raquel Regalado, Florida House Representative Michael Grieco, Bacardi, among many others. #iBenefitAutism @UMNSUCARD