Children's Miracle Network Creates New Year's Eve Fund-Raiser Around Sunglasses

Photo: Tony Firriolo

More than 200 guests donned sunglasses—from classy to wacky—along with their party attire at the Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network inaugural New Year’s Eve gala. The Sunglass Soiree at the Orlando World Center Marriott raised about $43,500 for the nonprofit, which supports programs at the Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando and Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville.
“We were looking at the most successful charity events throughout the state, and all of them seemed to have one thing in common—an interactive, dress-up factor,” said Chris Esposito, an account executive with Hello! Florida, who managed the event along with Exhilarate Events. “When you are looking at things like a masquerade ball or hatter's ball, they give guests the chance to dress up, but put their own fun spin on it. So we were trying to think of something similar, a cool accessory that people could make their own.”

Esposito said the Sunglass Soiree title will continue to be used for this event in the future, but each year with have a new sub-theme. For 2010, the secondary theme was “Walking on the Sun.” Decorators transformed the ballroom with a red and orange palette and suspended a 12-foot lighted balloon from the ceiling to look like the sun. Tall lighted columns with simulated flames on top flanked the perimeter of the room, while sunflowers—some topped with sunglasses—served as centerpieces.  

In addition to live music from the Malones, the evening’s entertainment included six acts involving fire, from a fire-breathing contortionist to belly dancers performing a fire fan dance and fire sword-swallowers.  

The bulk of the revenue—$35,000—came from ticket sales of $250 per person, $400 per couple, or $2,500 per 10-top table. Organizers also sold six cabanas at $3,000 each that were situated on risers with a view of the stage and dance floor and decorated with red lounge furniture. The remainder of the revenue came from a silent auction that offered 45 items. Actor and singer John Schneider, a co-founder of the Children’s Miracle Network, served as the evening’s host and also performed.

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