The Publix Charities Summer Groove Benefit Gala

South Florida’s leading socialites and supporters of Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade’s World Foundation gathered for a philanthropic evening of entertainment and goodwill during the Publix Charities Summer Groove Benefit Gala, held on Saturday, July 17th at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.

As part of Seminole Hard Rock Presents The Summer Groove Hosted by Zo & D. Wade, The Summer Groove Benefit Gala was appropriately named “Agua Y Fuego, A Sizzling Summer Night”. Attendees were welcomed on to the red carpet by costumed performers before entering in to an elaborately furnished cocktail reception, complete with ice sculptures, live music and a flamboyant dance troupe.  Among the VIP/celebrity attendees were Mike James (NBA All-star), Samuel Dalembert (Sacramento Kings), Brandon Bass (Orlando Magic), George Wilborn (comedian), Rodney Perry (comedian), Red Grant (comedian), Damon Williams (comedian), Mike Phillips (musician), Nykesha Sales (WNBA), Robin Aitkens (PGA golfer), Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics), Arron Affalo (Denver Nuggets), Deborah Cox (r&b artist) and Dikembe Mutombo (former NBA All-star).  Guests participated in the silent auction displayed throughout the reception area predominantly featuring signed basketball memorabilia from current and former NBA stars.  The Hard Rock Live auditorium was transformed into a icy and hot wonderland, with sparkling silver tables each adorned with shimmering beads and an upright Summer Groove guitar signed by Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade that were auctioned off throughout the night.

Master and Mistress of Ceremony: CNN analyst, Roland Martin and NBC6 anchor, Jackie Nespral welcomed the guests of the gala, before Max Osceola, The Hollywood Tribal Council representative, addressed the audience with his welcome speech.  Keno Tate, a student at Overtown Youth Center, was welcomed on to the stage for the invocation, before guests commenced with their “Zo’s Summer Salad” appetizer.

A much-anticipated highlight of the evening followed when Kim Jaeger, Media and Community Relations Manager for South East Florida Publix Super Markets, presented the Publix Student Achievement Award and a $10,000 scholarship to Carcelia Renee Roberson. Renee has been in the Honey Shine Mentoring Program from more than five years as part of the Liberty City Church of Christ group. Renee is also a senior at William H. Turner Technical High School. The skills learned at Honey Shine have allowed her to navigate through many obstacles to become the great young woman she is today.  Renee would like to be an emergency room doctor and work in a trauma center. She was this year’s recipient of the Honey Bug of the Year Award and part of the Honey Bug Leadership Team, voted by her peers to represent her age group.  Renee also received a fully-loaded Dell computer and a $400 Publix gift certificate.

Publix awarded each of the three runners-up with a laptop computer, a $200 Publix gift certificate. Moved by the stories of the nominees, Publix, on the spot, decided to present each with an additional $5,000 per student, only to have the donation generously matched by three corporate representatives from the audience, resulting in all four students walking away with a $10,000 contribution towards their education.

As dinner was served, the initial entertainment for the night featured internationally renowned percussionist, Daniel de los Reyes, who joined teenagers from The Overtown Youth Center, for a highly energized on-stage performance by The Overtown Rhythm All-Stars.

As guests enjoyed an extravagant entrée of Spiced Chicken Breast, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, Baby Carrots and Summer Squash in a Rhubarb Strawberry Sauce, the two MC’s for the evening commenced with the live auction, offering a selection of tantalizing luxury packages, including: Zo and Magic’s 8-Ball Challenge in Los Angeles – a special invitation to the All-Star game benefiting Alonzo Mourning Charities and The Magic Johnson Foundation; a ride for four people on the famous “Spirit of Innovation” Goodyear Blimp; an exclusive visit to the set of TV show, Burn Notice, starring Jeffrey Donovan; Miami Heat Trinity VIP Experience – four VIP tickets to a Miami HEAT game, with a Meet-and-Greet prior to the game as well as signed NBA memorabilia; a five night stay in a four-bedroom villa at Viceroy Anguilla, and an Iron Chef Dinner Party for up to 20 guests, presented by Publix Apron’s Cooking School Plantation and featuring a cook-off with Chef Wade and Chef Mourning.  All live auction items were sold to the highest bidder with proceeds benefiting the kids of Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade’s World Foundation.

Alonzo Mourning, founder of Alonzo Mourning Charities and Dwyane Wade, founder of Wade’s World Foundation, took to the stage to address the audience and thank those organizations and individuals who have and continue to support both charities.

“I would personally like to give all our supporters, sponsors, staff and volunteers a heart-felt thank you for helping to make this year’s Summer Groove such a tremendous success,” said Mourning.  “We are the collective voice of the thousands of children and even though this event helps us provide much-needed services, there is still much to be done. We hope that as this week comes to a close that you think about how else you can become involved to make a difference.”

“Wade’s World Foundation provides support to community-based organizations that promote education, health and social skills for children in at-risk situations,” said Wade.  “Thanks to your generosity and through initiatives like The Summer Groove, we are able to give back to underserved communities and support real issues that are impacting the lives of families and children everywhere.”

The night’s finale featured a 20-minute multicultural choreographed drum and percussion production entitled Rhythm Evolution, performed at the event by DrumJungle, Inc. The live act gave a heart-pumping, high-energy fusion of authentic world rhythms, dance and song, produced and performed by Daniel de los Reyes, who has recorded with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Sheryl Crow, among others.

Now in it’s 14th year, Seminole Hard Rock Presents The Summer Groove Hosted by Zo & D. Wade takes place throughout South Florida July 14-18, 2010, with the majority of events taking place at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The Summer Groove has become one of the largest fundraising events of the year, raising funds for programs supported by both Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade’s World Foundation, who provide services to youth and their families throughout the community.

The 5-day Summer Groove kicked off on July 14th with The Summer Groove Golf Classic hosted at Doral Golf Resort & Spa; Youth Sports Conference Hosted by Gatorade & Nike July 15th; Youth Basketball Clinic Hosted by Gatorade & Nike July 16th; Alters Law Firm Summer Groove Comedy Jam hosted by Heineken at Hard Rock Live July 16th; Michael Fux Foundation Summer Groove Youth Empowerment Summit and Publix Charities Summer Groove Benefit Gala, themed “Aqua y Fuego, A Sizzling Summer Night” at Hard Rock Live, takes place July 17th; the Block Party Hosted by Pepsi and Carnival Cruise Lines Summer Groove All-Star Basketball Game at AmericanAirlines Arena take place on July 18th.

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Photo Credit: Alonzo Mourning Charities by Mitchell Zachs.

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