MIAMI, FL., November 20, 2017 – A total of 700 people attended the 21st Annual Best Buddies Miami Gala: Expansion in India at Ice Palace Studios in Wynwood, Florida on Friday, November 17. The star-studded event raised nearly $3 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).
This year’s Gala celebrated the organization’s expansion into India. The event included a fabulous cocktail hour, gourmet dinner, unique live and silent auctions, and a live performance by the four-time Grammy nominated, multi-platinum rapper Iggy Azalea!
During the Gala, philanthropist Ralph Winter was honored with the Spirit of Leadership award for his $1 million gift to Best Buddies that will be used to promote and expand the organization’s mission of friendship, jobs, and leadership development for individuals with IDD around the world.
This event, as always, brought together some of Miami’s most notable residents and celebrities from around the globe. In attendance were Actors Nolan Gould, Jason Lewis, and Kevin McHale; Singer Austin Mahone; Actress and Model Charlotte McKinney; Four-time Tour de France Winner Chris Froome; Miss Teen USA 2017 Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff; and International Pop-Artist and Best Buddies Global Ambassador Romero Britto.
There were a number of exclusive items up for auction, including a limited edition Hublot Best Buddies Cycling Timepiece, a custom portrait by Pop-Artist Romero Britto, a luxurious Aspen getaway, and a Tour de France experience with pro cyclist Chris Froome and Team Sky! In total, the silent and live auctions raised $747,000 for the organization.
The crowd was captivated by an Indian dance troupe, acrobatic dancers, and a live elephant that welcomed guests into the Indian themed event. Several Best Buddies participants showcased their amazing talents throughout the evening including Best Buddies Ambassador Jack Mayor who delivered a powerful speech about the impact Best Buddies has had on his life.
Friday’s festivities kicked off bright and early with the Best Buddies Challenge: Miami, a 100K six-star cycling event, limited to just 50 cyclists that began and ended at Marlins Park. The Challenge was led by Tour de France winner Chris Froome, and pro cyclists George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde.
The Challenge and Gala weekend concluded on Saturday with a White Mass held in partnership with the Archdiocese of Miami and Father Roberto Cid, in thanksgiving for the lives of individuals with special abilities.
Sterling Foundation Management and the The Ferraro Law Firm are the Friendship Sponsors of the event; Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, Carnival Corporation & PLC, Carnival Foundation, Celebrity Cruises, Chateau Gaby, Tracfone Wireless are the Employment Sponsors. Leadership Sponsors include the Abaco Wines, Braman Motors, Capital Trust Group, The GEO Group Foundation, Inc., IPC, Sheba Lucas, Mack Cycle & Fitness, Park West Foundation, Pepsi-Cola, Michael Schlesginer, Sandy & Tony Tamer and WSVN 7 News.