By D. Channing Muller Posted October 20, 2009, 1:54 PM EDT
The Miami Children's Hospital Foundation hosted the annual Diamond Ball, its largest fund-raiser of the year, on Saturday night at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, a considerably smaller venue than the American Airlines Arena where it was held in 2008 for 700 people.
“Because of what's happening in the economy, we wanted to make [the event] more personal, with a smaller group and more outreach to our donors,” said the foundation's senior vice president, Meschelle Heuther. “It's more one-on-one with an intimate group.”
The event sold out for the third year in a row with 450 guests, the maximum capacity for the hotel's ballroom. Additionally, the foundation brought in 33 sponsors—two fewer than last year due to the reduced number of tables—including American Airlines, the Miami Heat, and Macy’s.
Sponsorship package prices remained the same (ranging from the $10,000 Platinum Diamond sponsor to $50,000 White Diamond), but new elements were added, such as naming opportunities at the event and hospital, as well as a selection of Wish List items like library books and video gaming stations that donors could purchase for the children in the hospital.
The hotel's event and design department, led by creative director Bruce Barbaree, used the colors on the event's save-the-date—which had a map of the world colored in red, orange, yellow, green, and blue—as inspiration for the decor. The lights underneath the ice sculpture centerpieces—either a diamond and the foundation's logo—coordinated with that table's level of sponsorship, such as Red, White, or Green Diamond.
The night's program began after the hotel served an internationally inspired three-course dinner. A video from President Bill Clinton commending the hospital on its work with children from all over the world ran on the two video screens at each end of the ballroom. Afterward, N.B.A. All Star and Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade was inducted into the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation's International Pediatric Hall of Fame for his work with underprivileged youth through his Wade's World Foundation.
Following dinner, guests headed to a separate room for the event's official after-party, where Barabee used the Moroccan-style sofas, pillows, and ottomans from the cocktail area to decorate the bilevel space. Former members of the Billy Joel Band and child piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick entertained until the event wrapped up around midnight.