The stars were shining bright at the 8th Annual Wishmaker’s Ball benefitting Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida which was held on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at the Hilton Naples. The stars for the event were seven Wish children and their families who were joined by celebrity emcees, Food Network star, Keegan Gerhard, and Amy Sedlacek, ABC7 Morning News anchor, who also co-chaired the Ball with Jenny Foegen and Dylan Sanders.
The night began as guests arrived and were photographed in front of a white carriage fit for the finest prince or princess. Tiny ballerinas from Dance Arts by Maria flanked the white carpet and greeted everyone with a curtsey as they entered the festivities.
Over 225 guests enjoyed the themed gala, When You Wish Upon a Star, which included a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, an exquisite dinner and dancing to the tunes of the Steve Chase Society band. Rick Gallo, volunteer auctioneer worked the crowd along with the emcees to encourage bidders to raise their paddles high and often for one-of-a-kind VIP packages such as the WGC Cadillac Championship “inside the ropes” and for the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction. The night was filled with hope and enthusiasm as the crowd rallied to raise funds to grant 25 wishes to local children facing life-threatening medical conditions in our community.
Megan, a Wish child that is now 24 years old, shared with the crowd the impact her wish had on her life and her family. She was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 13 and said her wish shined a bright light on a dark period in her life. Her wish was to attend the Ocean’s Twelve premiere at Hollywood’s famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and attributes her experience to a career choice in the TV and film industry.
Engle Dentistry was this year’s presenting sponsor and was joined by Arthrex, Aubuchon Homes, Inc., BB&T Insurance Services, Eyetopian Optical, FineMark National Bank and Trust, LeeSar, Naples Illustrated, Roetzel, Valpak of Southwest Florida, Vein Specialists, Wells Fargo Advisors, and Wheels for Wishes, in making wishes come true. In-kind sponsors included: Dance Arts by Maria, Pink Tangerine, Hilton Naples, Shula’s Steakhouse, Norman Love Confections, and Charlie McDonald Photography.
“It was a night of hope, dreams and wishes,” said Norm Wedderburn, President/CEO of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. “Every wish touches the lives, of not only the wish child, but those around them including their families and volunteers. It’s an experience that lasts a lifetime.”
Wedderburn shared that when the chapter began 30 years ago, two wishes were granted during the first year. He went on to say last year more than 500 wishes were granted in the Southern Florida Chapter and more are waiting to be granted every day.
Celebrating 30 years of wishes, Make-A-Wish Southern Florida grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. The Southern Florida chapter grants a wish every 16 hours and has granted more than 9,000 wishes since its inception in 1983. The chapter’s vision is to make every eligible child’s wish come true.
For more information about Make-A-Wish, visit www.sfla.wish.org
or call 888-773-9474 to get involved.