Gables Community Foundation’s Brazil-themed gala sets records

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The Coral Gables Community Foundation and eight distinguished local honorees were celebrated on a beautifully cool recent Friday night at the 2022 Biltmore Ball to benefit the Coral Gables Community Foundation.

The foundation’s community grant and scholarship programs will benefit from the record attendance, sponsorships and auction sales.

In the spirit of this year’s theme, “The Road to Rio: A Gala from Ipanema,” 400 of Miami’s philanthropic, social, civic and business influencers donned headdresses and sequins in a tropical cultural fete.

The Biltmore Hotel served as the tropical paradise backdrop to an evening of vibrant costumes and beguiling rhythm as patrons were transported to Rio de Janeiro while celebrating the foundation’s accomplishments over 31 years.

Honoring distinguished community leaders, the event was co-chaired by Sissy De Maria-Koehne, who has chaired the annual affair eight times, and co-chair Lauren Harrison Brown.

The evening’s honorees included: Knight Foundation president and CEO Alberto Ibargüen for the Legacy Award, the foundation’s highest accolade; Katie and Eddy Arriola were recognized with the Community Award; UM Frost Music School Dean Shelly Berg received the Education Award presented by Trish and Dan Bell; Alonzo Mourning accepted the Sports and Wellness Award presented by Doctors Hospital and Baptist Health Orthopedic Care; FIU’s Joanne Schulte was honored with the Arts and Culture Award presented by Knight Foundation; Bobi and Jim Eroncig received the Philanthropy Award; the family of beloved Nino Pernetti accepted on his behalf the Gables Beautiful Award presented by Ray Corral and Mosaicist; and The Plaza received the Landmark Award.

“This was no doubt one of the most spectacular and enjoyable galas we have ever had.

Emerging from two years of successful in-home events, neighbors were so excited to see each other in person. We’ve been to Venice, to Shanghai, to India and to Spain, but The Road to Rio may have topped it all,” DeMaria-Koehne said. “We are grateful to our guests for their support and are humbled by the work of the pillars we saluted in our community that evening and for the generosity of our sponsors.”

Guests enjoyed a silent auction full of amazing deals including a three-night stay at the Copacabana Palace, A Belmond Hotel in Rio de Janeiro; a luxury Villa at Valentines Resort and Marina in Harbour Island, Bahamas; an al fresco pizza dinner for 12 at the Coral Gables home of famous gourmand Lee Schrager, and a stay in the Everglades Suite at The Biltmore Hotel Miami. Silent auction sales reached a record amount.

This year’s events wouldn’t have reached Amazonian proportions if it weren’t for the record-setting, generous sponsors of “The Road to Rio.”

Presenting Sponsor: Trish and Dan Bell.

Carnival Sponsors: Baptist Health Orthopedic Care/Doctors Hospital; Knight Foundation, Ray Corral and Mosaicist; The Clinton Family Fund and Norma Jean Abraham and The Abraham Family Foundation.

Ipanema Sponsors: Bacardi; The Plaza; Belmont Village; Wells Fargo; Compass; Bobi and Jim Eroncig; The Village by MG Developer; UHealth Miller School of Medicine; Seacoast Bank; Daniel Varela; Mneimneh Family Foundation.

Bossa Nova Sponsors: 719 Biltmore Way by JQ Group of Companies; Cultivate PR, and Mike and Constance Fernandez.

Automotive Partner: Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables.

Hotel Partner: The Biltmore Hotel Miami, Coral Gables.

Media Partners: Coral Gables Magazine, WLRN, Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald

Corporate Partner: Amerant.

Gala Partners: Consulate General of Brazil and the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida.

The next big event for Coral Gables Community Foundation, “Tour of Kitchens,” will take place on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023. Tickets and sponsorships will be available soon.

The Coral Gables Community Foundation works to enhance the quality of life for those who live, work, learn and play in the City Beautiful. Since 1991, the foundation has been at the forefront of Coral Gables’ evolving needs by effectively bringing together beneficiaries and benefactors to fund programs with the greatest impact and benefit to “The City Beautiful.”

The Foundation, through its discretionary, donor-advised and scholarships funds, provides grants to local nonprofits, scholarships to deserving students and has supported issues within the foundation’s focus areas: education, arts and culture, historic preservation and social and health services. The foundation has awarded more than $11 million to worthy causes throughout the community. Learn more at

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