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Calls to Action

Autism Speaks Gala Recognizes Those Who Support The Autism Community

October 04, 2014

Trump National, 4400 NW 87th Avenue, Doral- The South Florida Chapter of Autism Speaks hosted its 4th Annual Puzzle Pieces of Our Community Gala, to recognize outstanding individuals and corporations for their exemplary leadership and commitment to the autism community. Chaired by Susie Casal of SusieLife Events, this year’s event was themed “A Blue Night in Rio“  to commemorate Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue initiative which spreads autism awareness throughout the world including Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Alberto Carvalho was the evening’s (main honoree and) keynote speaker and honoree. The 2014 Honorees also included Michelle and Ralph Cruz, who spearheaded the very first Walk for Autism in Miami; Cindy and Mike Moran, whom have supported the autism community for almost 20 years and continue to through their partnership with Butterfly Effects;  and IMUSA USA, who has been a major corporate supporter, raising funds, awareness and even created an Autism Speaks puzzle piece sauté pan.

The evening began with a cocktail reception where patrons had an opportunity to bid on auction items, everything from spa and vacation packages to designer bags to HEAT game tickets. Guests were then welcomed into the ballroom by Gil Samba and his Brazilian dance team to kick off the evening program. The Ivanka Trump Ballroom was beautifully decorated in blues and greens with gorgeous orchid and feather centerpieces. Elika Crespo and Tony Calatayud served as the Emcees for the evening. Cristina Lopez of BrightStar was the Fund the Mission host, and spoke about how autism has impacted her life with her son Matthew who is on the autism spectrum. The evening also featured a spectacular live auction with lavish trips to Africa, Paris, Napa Valley, Casa del Campo, a private yachting Caribbean voyage and courtside tickets to see the Miami HEAT.

South Florida Ford was the presenting sponsor for the gala, as well as major sponsors BrightStar, Patricia and Robert Cambo and Greenberg Traurig. Other sponsors included American Airlines, Baptist Health South Florida, BDO, Michelle and Ralph Cruz Family, Extra Supermarkets, IMUSA, La Colonia Medical Center, Latin American Agribusiness Development, Law Offices of Corredor, Husseini & Snedaker, P.A., Perry Ellis International, SunTrust, Ten Import & Export Inc., The Casal Group, The Coca-Cola Company, The Vazquez Family, Wells Fargo.