Miami Living Magazine

Jennifer Esposito

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In the Business of Granting Wishes The Malniks take fundraising to the next level with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida Words by Briana Dodson The InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball has always been one of Miami's leading events during charity season. Since its inception in 1933, it sits as the highest grossing fundraising event for the Southern Florida Chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Make-A-Wish foundation serves a unique and vital role in strengthening and empowering children that are battling life-threatening medical conditions by granting them wishes. The ball has been extremely successful, and has granted more than 10,000 wishes to children. For the last 21 years, Al and Nancy Malnik, Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida "Lifetime Benefactors," along with their son Shareef Malnik and his wife actress Gabrielle Anwar, have catalyzed the extreme growth seen in event attendance and donations. As board chairman, Al's mission has been to increase the amount of money raised for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. So far, the fundraising event is doing extremely well and has raised $21.3 million –this amount continues to grow greater every year. And every year the fundraiser is even more lavish than the last. "We operate on the philosophy: If you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards. So, we can't afford not to constantly reinvent and reassess," says Shareef. To kick-off charity season, the Malniks hold a private event at their Ocean Ridge, Florida estate, and welcome more than 200 supporters to celebrate the upcoming ball. The family and proprietors of Miami's iconic The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar announced this year's theme for the 23rd Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Foundation Ball will be Mystical Music Box. It is already anticipated to be another sell-out event and the largest ball to-date. Gabrielle will return as celebrity emcee for the 7th year and Grammy Award-winning musician Lenny Kravitz is scheduled to headline the November 4th ball. Though the ball is still months away, planning begins a year out. Chairman Society members Richard Polidori, Todd and Kim Glaser, Eugene and Brooke Frenkel, Brett Rose and Jerry Gutierrez and Denise Crowley, are joining forces to make this ball the best yet. We asked Shareef a few questions about the highly-anticipated event and how he got into the family business in the first place.

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