November luncheon, bike ride, walks and gala raise funds for charity


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November has been a busy month for fall fundraisers with multiple events seemingly every weekend.

On November 15, The Plaza Health Network Foundation’s “Women of Distinction & Caring” fundraising luncheon honored eight dynamic women at the Hilton Miami Downtown. The affair was chaired by Norma Jean Abraham who seems to be everywhere making a positive impact wherever she goes much like those being honored.

The festivities this year began with a champagne reception, boutiques and a silent auction coordinated by Joanna Barusch and Nancy Schwartz. Following the reception, guests moved on to an impressive luncheon program. This year marks the event’s 10th anniversary. The 2019 honorees included Hon. Amy N. Dean; Lilliam Machado; Barbara Reese; Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D.; Barbara Montford. M.D.; Michele Ryder, MSN, RN, MSHSA; Patricia Whitely, Ed.D.; and Silvia Elena Rios.

Proceeds from this event help The Plaza Health Network Foundation, a 501 ( c ) ( 3 ), fund its patient focused innovative programs and services that go beyond what is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance. The Foundation contributes to covering the costs of $2 million of uncompensated care provided by the Plaza Health Network annually to patients and residents in need.

The annual 165 mile two-day SMARTRIDE brought in more than $1.3 million for aids related charities the weekend of November 15-16, 2019, with 100 percent of monies collected going to charity. Once again a team from the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club supported the event with their time, talent and treasure, donating to the cause and manning water stations for the two days in their Wizard of Oz costumes.

With a different theme every year, the group, which became involved because of Glen Weinzimer from the first ride, is led by their Pit Manager Carmen Suarez. Those volunteering for this year’s ride were club members Dr. Iris Torres, Mayra Dominguez, Ruth Martinez, Linda Hartwell, Donna Myrill, Vicki McGroarty, Dale Poster-Ellis, and Martha Black. In addition, club member Cindie Ruiz actually rode the 165 miles from Miami to Key West representing the club, one of 450 riders participating.

The Orianne and Phil Collins’ Little Dreams Foundation’s 5th Annual Gala was a night to remember/ Held in Miami’s Design District on Nov. 16, guests gathered under the modern arches of the historic Moore Building participating in an LDF casino experience.

Champagne flowed during the VIP cocktail hour followed by an amazing four-course dinner as guests enjoyed an unplugged musical styling by music icon Richard Marx, Phantom of the Opera’s Tim Howar, and the talented Alex Di Leo, who were joined by Foundation’s beneficiaries, the Little Dreamers.

The evening wrapped up with more than 300 of South Florida’s most prominent business leaders and celebrities dancing the night away and supporting the Foundation’s efforts. The Orianne and Phil Collins’ Little Dreams Foundation is a 501 ( c ) ( 3 ) nonprofit that helps children without financial means, between the ages of 6-17, with a passion for and talent in music, art or sports to pursue their dreams. For more information on the Foundation, visit

Until next time, keep making each day count.

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A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Active in many non profits, she received numerous awards across the community. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education; helps coordinate charity partners for the Westin Colonnade's Annual Give Kids the World Breakfast; serves on the board of directors of Doral Business Council; is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club; serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and is Publicity Chair; and is a member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee. Gloria is also an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, where she sings in the choir. She can be reached at


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