Ball stirs ‘Memories of Madrid,’ benefits Community Foundation

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The Biltmore Ball to benefit the Coral Gables Community Foundation presented by Paul and Swanee DiMare took place on Oct. 20 at The Biltmore Hotel.

Themed “Memories of Madrid,” the romance, rich heritage and architectural allure of Spain set the scene for the evening as more than 400 of Miami’s philanthropic, social, civic and business eliteturned out in Spanish flare to celebrate the evening’s distinguished honorees and the Foundation’s accomplishments during the past 26 years.

Co-chaired for the third year by Sissy DeMaria and Mary Young, the black-tie fundraiser is a time-honored tradition for the City Beautiful which benefits the pivotal outreach efforts of the Coral Gables Community Foundation. The gala raised funds earmarked for worthy Gables High School students pursuing dreams of a college education among other passionate projects the Foundation champions.

The evening began as guests were serenaded by Spanish guitar during the cocktail reception and treated to a Baila Flamenco performance presented by Cosentino and the Spanish Office of Tourism.

Guests bid on priceless vacations and gifts, including stays at a mountaintop villa in Costa Rica courtesy of NPI; the Rosemary Cottage on exclusive Fisher Island; a sprawling castle in Alladale, Scotland; the Al Capone suite at the Biltmore Hotel, as well as stunning diamond earrings by Montica Jewelry.

Within the grand ballroom, adorned in tapestries of brilliant reds and golds, guests were in for a culinary journey to the Iberian Peninsula by The Biltmore Hotel’s culinary team. Spanish delicacies were prepared by 35-year industry veteran and award-winning executive chef David Hackett, executive pastry chef Oliver Rodriguez, and Michael Vietta who has been with The Biltmore for nearly a decade.

Manny Medina and the Medina Family received the Willy Bermello Legacy Award presented by Greenberg Traurig; Jon and Nancy Batchelor were recipients the Arts and Culture Award presented by Trish and Dan Bell; Swanee and Paul DiMare were awarded the Jerry Santeiro Community Award; Tom and Marie-Ilene Whitehurst were honored with the Philanthropy Award presented by Paul and Swanee DiMare; Mike Lowell received the Sports and Wellness Award presented by Doctors Hospital and Miami Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute; Dave Lawrence was honored with the Education Award presented by MG Developer and Bacardi received the Landmark Award presented by The Biltmore.

“We are delighted to celebrate these pillars of our community; we thank our gala chairs Sissy DeMaria and Mary Young and all of our sponsors who have helped make this gala such a success,” said John O’Rourke, chair of the Coral Gables Community Foundation Board of Directors.

“This year, in a strategic partnership with the Biltmore Hotel, we have renamed our signature event to ‘The Biltmore Ball,’ extending our reach and visibility. It’s an honor to have such overwhelming support which, in turn, is helping us do more for our neighborhood and our neighbors in need,” he added.

“It’s a tremendous point of pride to unveil the latest edition of our gala — most especially in tandem with the Biltmore Hotel,” said Mary Snow, executive director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation. “This year’s event will pay special tribute to Coral Gables, serving as a celebration of our city’s distinctive heritage and worldly roots.”

For more information about the Coral Gables Community Foundation visit

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