The Coral Gables Community Foundation held its 21st anniversary fundraising gala, featuring a Club Monaco casino theme, on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Coral Gables Country Club, 997 N. Greenway Dr.
Festivities began at 7 p.m. as guests streamed into the foyer, where they were treated to music sung by Tony Fernandez, who also served as DJ for the night. An open bar sponsored by Bacardi U.S.A. awaited guests inside.
Some 250 friends of the foundation were in attendance, donning black-tie apparel and mingling throughout chandelier-lit rooms adorned in casino-style decor.
“Tonight’s gala is a wonderful way to support the foundation. It does so many good things,” said former Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick, a former chair of the foundation. “We are very invested in this organization and what it has done. The foundation really helps draw the community together.”
Attendees bid on a series of silent and live auction items, ranging from a seven-day stay at a luxurious international resort to earrings provided by Coral Gables’ own Snow’s Jewelers.
Casino chips were available to guests, who used them for an array of table games, such as American roulette, blackjack, Caribbean stud poker and craps.
“This is a delightful event!” said Christine Rupp, acting director of the Coral Gables Museum. Her boyfriend, Dean Richardson, agreed. “We played blackjack and bid on jewelry. We’re having a very great time.”
Once everyone was seated in the ballroom, the foundation’s chair, William A. “Bill” Bonn, welcomed guests and introduced five distinguished citizens who were being honored for their leadership and service to the community.
“During the past 21 years, the foundation has done much to better the lives of those who live, work, study and/or play in the ‘City Beautiful,’” said Mr. Bonn. “These five individuals have demonstrated extreme talent, generosity, patience and devotion in their respective fields of endeavor and to the communities in which they have worked and lived.”
The night’s award ceremony honored community leaders in five categories:
•Willy Bermello Legacy Award: Robert J. “Bob” Fewell, for his generous contributions to the Coral Gables community, including $2 million to the Coral Gables Museum
• Community Award: Wayne E. “Chip” Withers, for his 20 years of service as a city commissioner and piloting the formation of the Coral Gables Museum
• Culture Award: Steven “Steve” H. Krams, for spreading artistry throughout Coral Gables and allowing it to flourish via the Coral Gables Art Cinema
• Education Award: Dr. Joyce J. Elam, for her impact on community education after serving as executive dean of Florida International University’s College of Business for 15 years
• Sports/Entertainment Award (posthumous): Paul T. Dee (accepted by Cathy Zuckerman Dee), for his impact on and involvement in the athletic community as University of Miami athletic director and general counsel
Once the award ceremony reached its end, dinner was served. Guests dined from a menu featuring delicious selections, such as a steakhouse Caesar salad, beef tenderloin with butter-poached lobster tail and a dessert platter.
Mark Trowbridge, president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, led the gala’s live auction. Applause filled the room as bidders showed their support for the foundation and walked away with valuable prizes. The silent auction wrapped up afterward.
Marielena Villamil and John Allen, members of the foundation’s board of directors, chose the night’s winning raffle tickets for such prizes as a Bacardi beach package, romantic weekend package, sports fan package and Coral Gables package. Music then resumed and guests took to the dance floor for a fun-filled night of communal celebration that lasted until 1 a.m.
Founded by community leaders in in 1991, the Coral Gables Community Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those who live or work in Coral Gables. All of the gala’s proceeds benefit the foundation.