The fifth annual Autumn Moonlight fundraising event at Specialty Automotive Treatments (SAT) in Fort Lauderdale took place on Friday, Nov. 9. The event raised over $75,000 for the University of Miami- Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD).
Generously hosted by Rafael Jorge, owner of Specialty Automotive Treatments, Autumn Moonlight honored two of UM-NSU CARD’s most devoted supporters — Dr. Glenn Parker, co founder of NationsHealth, and Carmen Zaldivar, a former CARD Constituency board member and CARD legislative chair — for all of the hard work, commitment, and support they have contributed to the organization and to the autism community in South Florida.
Last year’s honorees, Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and his wife, Rachel, served as the event’s honorary chairs. Autumn Moonlight, an annual festive fundraising celebration, is designed to raise awareness of autism and support the programs, services and research initiatives of UM-NSU CARD.
“While CARD has made an enormous impact on improving the lives of all those affected by autism, there is still much work to be done to ensure that people with autism are included, valued and treated with the dignity and respect that their remarkable gifts deserve,” said Dr. Michael Alessandri, executive director of UM-NSU CARD.
During the presentation ceremony, Jeff Ireland also spoke about his relationship with UM-NSU CARD and how critical the organization was with helping his family when he relocated to South Florida almost five years ago.
“Fifteen years ago when our girls were diagnosed with autism, there really weren’t any organizations able and ready to provide the type of early intervention and care that families dealing with autism really need,” Ireland said. “UM-NSU CARD has changed all that. Being a part of Autumn Moonlight has provided Rachel and me with a purpose to fight for other families that need help.
“Combining Rachel’s passion and my competitive spirit with a great organization such as CARD, has driven us to raise as much money as possible to help South Florida families who have children with autism. As general manager of the Miami Dolphins, I’m proud to use this platform to bring awareness to autism and the UMNSU Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD).”
The inspiring evening featured music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres from The Capital Grill, cocktails from Bacardi USA, smooth sounds from DJ 1 Tre (aka Michael Marino) and a fabulous silent and a live auction which featured an exclusive Chopard watch donated by Weston Jewelers, a fabulous Miami Dolphin charter package to an away game, a Super Bowl Package courtesy of SitInMySeat VIP Tickets, Travel & Concierge Services, plus other fantastic excursions, luxuries and memorabilia. Will Manso, Local 10’s sports director, served as emcee for the evening.
For more information about UM-NSU CARD, visit online at www.nsucard.org.