Amigos For Kids 25th Anniversary Gala Raises $500,000 for Mission of Child Abuse Prevention and Service to Underprivileged Families


International Superstar Armando Christian Pérez aka Pitbull and Entrepreneur Jacqueline Chariff Dascal Presented With Amigos For Kids Highest Distinctions

Amigos For Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect by valuing children, strengthening families and educating communities, raised $500,000 during its 25th Anniversary Gala celebration held on Saturday, November 4, 2017.  The event took place at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Miami, Florida.  The star-studded evening, themed “The Park,” gathered nearly 500 supporters from South Florida’s civic, business, entertainment, and corporate sectors to celebrate the organization’s 25 years of continued service to the community.

“Our 25th Anniversary Gala was a tremendous success, exceeding all expectations,” said Amigos For Kids President and CEO Rosa Maria Plasencia.  “On behalf of the children and families we serve, I extend a heartfelt thank you to our Gala Chairs Lourdes and Felipe Valls Jr., the Gala Committee, as well as to all our generous supporters. Their philanthropy will help us continue to raise awareness about child abuse prevention, and aid countless families in need.”

A highlight of the evening included Alitza Weiss’ announcement of a $100,000 gift benefiting the organization’s important mission, on behalf of the Jack J. and Caroline Weiss Family Foundation.

“It was an incredible honor for me to be a part of such a magical night benefiting the children of our community,” said Gala Chair Lourdes Valls.

Amigos For Kids honored two champions of the organization’s mission with its two highest distinctions, entrepreneur Jacqueline Dascal Chariff received the Celebration of Friendship Award, and international superstar Armando Christian Perez aka Pitbull, was bestowed with the Lollipop Award.

The Amigos For Kids Celebration of Friendship Award recognizes individuals and entities whose support of the organization is instrumental in its success and ability to provide services to children and families within the community, and its tireless work to raise awareness about the prevention of child abuse.  Past recipients of the award include Bacardí U.S.A.; the Capó Family; the Gloria Estefan Foundation; Miami Dade College President Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón; the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and the Ford Motor Company Fund.

Dascal Chariff leads Continental National Bank’s board of directors as chairman. An exemplary philanthropist and community leader, Dascal Chariff has supported Amigos For Kids since 2009, and has donated and raised more than $250,000 for the organization.

The Amigos For Kids Lollipop Award was instituted to memorialize the tragic death due to child abuse of Lázaro Figueroa, Baby Lollipops, and recognizes the outstanding effort and dedication of the recipient on behalf of children’s causes.  Past Lollipop Award recipients include: Lauren’s Kids Founder Lauren Frances Book; Miami Dade County School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman; Child Advocates Sara B. Herald, Modesto Abety and Dr. William F. Lambert; Founder of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation David Lawrence Jr.; Former Barry University President Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin; Former Amigos For Kids Board Member Ofelia San Pedro (posthumously); Miami Dade County Commissioner Hon. Rebeca Sosa and Amigos For Kids Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus Jorge A. Plasencia.

Grammy Award-winning global star Pitbull was honored for his work on and off the stage dedicated to helping advance learning opportunities for children around the world.  His efforts include the Hard Rock Heals Foundation, the SLAM Foundation, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, The Salvation Army, the T.J. Martell Foundation and founding SLAM!, a public charter school in one of Miami’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

Accepting the Lollipop Award, Pérez (Pitbull) shared “When we talk about Amigos For Kids, I was one of these kids.  I lived on Fifth and Fifth, blocks away from their program at Jose Marti Park in Little Havana.  Having the opportunity to be up here tonight accepting this award and being able to give back, is a true blessing.”

“We are profoundly grateful to each individual that has served our organization with their time, talents and treasure over the past 25 years,” said Amigos For Kids Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus Jorge A. Plasencia.  “Thanks to so many supporters, the 25th Anniversary Gala was epic in every way, but especially because we raised much-needed funds for Amigos’ crucial mission. I again congratulate Jackie and Armando, and commend Gala Chairs Lourdes and Felipe Valls, Jr., the Gala Committee, Board Chair Nicole Valls and our Board of Directors, and President and CEO Rosa Maria Plasencia along with the Amigos staff as this was a night for the history books.”

Longtime Amigos For Kids supporters, celebrities Lili Estefan of Univision and Carlos Ponce of NBCU Telemundo, served as masters of ceremony. Additionally, Eugene Ramirez, anchor of CBS Miami, served as the evening’s live auctioneer.

The Gala featured cocktails by Bacardí USA; wines courtesy of Gloria Ferrer Winery, Sonoma; entertainment by Groove Republik; and a first-rate silent auction.

Funds raised will aid the organization’s vast programming, including the Little Havana/Jose Martí Park After School Program; the Amigos Strengthens Families & Communities Parenting Program; the Annual Holiday Toy Drive, and the Amigos For Kids yearlong There’s NO Excuse For Child Abuse!® Blue Ribbon Campaign and Prevention Efforts.

 The event was made possible through the generosity of major sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor: The Weiss Family Foundation; Platinum Sponsor: Versailles Cuban Restaurant; and Sponsors: Academica; Bacardí USA; Baptist Health South Florida; Cantera and Associates; Pamela Silva Conde; El Dorado Furniture; Victoria San Pedro Madani; República; and TD Bank.

ABOUT AMIGOS FOR KIDS-  Amigos For Kids is a 501(C) 3 nonprofit corporation founded in 1991 to respond to the diverse needs of South Florida’s abused, abandoned, neglected, and less fortunate children and their families, through education, abuse prevention, and community involvement. To fulfill its mission, Amigos relies on the support of dedicated volunteers and donors. Throughout the year, the organization creates awareness of its cause through public service campaigns, fundraising events, and community efforts such as the Amigos For Kids’ There’s NO Excuse for Child Abuse! ® Campaign. For more information, visit and follow on social @amigosforkids.

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