By Ashley Marco Posted November 23, 2011, 12:14 PM EST
Organizers of the fifteenth annual Best Buddies gala, held November 18, chose a hotel as its venue, a first for Best Buddies International, a global organization that aims to create employment for the disabled. “We really liked the atmosphere at the Fontainebleau because we keep our guests moving from room to room throughout the evening and this venue allowed us to do that,” said Best Buddies International vice president of special events Scott Tracy.
While the 2010 event had an international theme, this year the organization honed in on Italy to celebrate its expansion into the country. The event for 840 guests, with a “viva Italia” theme, featured a lavish cocktail hour, dinner, live and silent auctions, and a performance by LMFAO. Gladiator models on stilts flanked the front entrance of the event, while other Roman-clad models waited inside the ornate Fontaine/Fleur de Lis ballroom where the cocktail hour and silent auction were held.
Walls with soft red up-lighting provided by EventEQ led to a stage in the back of the room where DJ Leo spun music for the first part of the affair. Guests also posed in a living room setup for photos sponsored by Patrón and networked in a white-tented lounge hosted by sponsor Piaget. Carrying on the Italian theme, burlesque models dressed in full costume with masquerade masks posed inside a cage.
Blooming Design & Events decorated the the 33,630-square-foot Sparkle ballroom with floor-to-ceiling white draping and ornate red and cream floral arrangements. The centerpieces varied in style with some wrapped in ivy and set with candles and others dangled like crystal chandeliers. Promoterline Inc. and EventEQ created a catwalk that flowed through the center of the ballroom, where, for the first time, a fashion show took place with looks by Italian brand 100% Capri with jewelry by Piaget. LMFAO performed later, and more than 400 Miami-Dade and Broward students watched the pop duo.
Guests also had the opportunity to view and purchase select works from the Best Buddies Fine Art Collection, including pieces by Keith Haring, Romero Britto, and Jim Dine, showcased in anticipation of Art Basel next month. The event raised more than $2 million, almost doubling the amount raised last year.