InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball raises more than $2.3 million

The annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball returned for the 23rd year on Nov. 4 and raised more than $2.3 million dollars in support of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida.

More than 900 guests attended the gala, which was emceed by actress and filmmaker Gabrielle Anwar, who co-stars in the ABC drama “Once Upon a Time.”

Celebrity emcee Gabrielle Anwar and her husband, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, Shareef Malnik.

The Ball’s “Three Amigos” — Chairman of the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida Shareef Malnik, InterContinental Miami General Manager Robert Hill, and Make-A-Wish Southern Florida President and CEO Norman Wedderburn — hosted the event and welcomed guests at the red carpet as mod mannequins clad in black and white danced in shadow boxes and attendees posed in front of a six-foot “Pink Dream Horse” statue by artist Romero Britto, one of the live auction items.

Upstairs on the hotel’s mezzanine, DJ Michelle Leshem set the mood behind the decks at a hidden pop-up speakeasy decked out with Andy Warhol-style Brillo boxes. In the main ballroom, DJ Irie kept the grooves coming strong. The vision behind the ball’s whimsical “Mystical Music Box” theme was the brainchild of Creative Director Maxwell Blandford.

To kick off the main event in the Grand Ballroom, 14-year-old Wish kid Sage Escalante performed two original songs on a ukulele, followed by a performance by The Voice 2016 winner Alisan Porter.

Wish kid Sage Escalante
Alisan Porter

Accompanied by a 11-piece band with back-up singers, headliner Lenny Kravitz stole the show — even jumping on a table at one point — during a 45-minute concert that covered iconic hits like “American Woman,” “Are You Gonna Go Your Own Way,” and “It Ain’t Over ‘Til it’s Over.”

Later on in the evening at the InterContinental Make-A-Wish Nightclub, presented by E11EVEN MIAMI, guests were treated to a special holiday fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue Brickell City Centre, as well as an exclusive DJ performance by hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg.

Snoop Dogg

As in past years, ensuring the seamless execution of such a large-scale event requires painstaking attention to detail. But to InterContinental Miami General Manager and gala host Robert Hill, the challenge is well worth the end goal — “raising funds that will grant many more wishes to children dealing with the challenge of a critical illness,” said Hill. “When I put that in perspective, it is not much of a challenge at all.”

“I believe we have mastered the art of having fun and doing good at the same time,” added Make-A-Wish Southern Florida President and CEO Norman Wedderburn, on working with Malnik and Hill. “All three of us have granting wishes as our compass. Every decision we make is made with the sole goal of granting more wishes and changing more lives.”

The InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball is the largest revenue producer for the Foundation.