Tropical Nights Dazzled Autism Supporters

Annual event benefitting UM-NSU Center for Autism & Related Disabilities

Coral Gables (May 26, 2010) — Tropical Nights, the signature fundraising event benefiting the University of Miami - Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD), took place on Saturday, May 22, on a picture perfect Miami evening under the stars. More than 530 supporters attended the eighth annual event.

This year’s honorees included Teresa Becerra, President of The Autism Society of Miami-Dade and Constituency Board member of UM-NSU CARD, and David Lawrence, South Florida’s leading advocate for the rights of all children and their families, including the many South Florida children and families affected by autism. Serving as the Master of Ceremonies was Mike DiPasquale from WSVN 7. The event is a major fundraiser for the organization, and its proceeds fund free programs, services and research initiatives for over 5,300 individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who serve them. Tropical Nights also gave a Special

Recognition Award to the University of Miami Psychology Department, in the UM College of Arts and Sciences, which was accepted by the Psychology Department Chair, Dr. Rod Wellens.

Live music for dancing was provided by Junior’s Entertainment Group whose band members were stylishly dressed by Perry Ellis International’s Cubavera Collection. Bacardi USA generously provided a full bar for the guests, while Republic National Distributing Company donated the wine for the event. GG created a painting especially for Tropical Nights titled “Together,” which was sold in the live auction.

The Event Chair was Jennifer Feinstein, a parent of children with autism and the former UM-NSU CARD Board Chair. Michelle Cruz, Dr. Cristina Cabrera-Alvarez and Jorge Colona secured over 200 items for the silent auction including many vacation packages to Latin America and the Caribbean, while Accord Productions created a new UM-NSU CARD video which was unveiled the same evening.

Corporate Sponsors and underwriters included: Bilzin, Sumberg, Baena, Price & Axelrod, LLP, Greenberg Traurig LLP, Hogan Lovells, Florida Power & Light, Sabadell United Bank f.k.a. Mellon United National Bank, Health Foundation of South Florida, Falk, Waas, Hernandez, Cortina, Solomon & Bonner, P.A., Odebrecht Contstruction, Paso Alto Corporation, Univision –Telefutura, Selecta Magazine, Publix Super Markets Charities, Perry Ellis International and many more.

Faces in the crowd included Robert & Patricia Cambo, Tom and Marie-Ilene Whitehurst, Mary Partin from the Dan Marino Foundation, Ralph and Michelle Cruz, Dean Jackie Dixon, Dr. Phil McCabe and Dean Sam Grogg from the UM School of Communication, Todd and Liz Ruderman, Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance from the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, Dr. Andrew and Rhonda Labbie, Mike & Luanne Welch from Easter Seals, Alan Axelrod, Patience Plumer Flick, Robert & Jean Schomber, Dori Foster Morales of Elser Foster & Morales and Jimmy Morales, former Miami-Dade County Commissioner and many more.

UM-NSU CARD is one of seven university-based programs in Florida that provides support and assistance to over 5,300 families of children and adults affected by autism. All services are provided free of charge. Launched in 1993, UM-NSU CARD also provides community outreach programs, research initiatives, school-based consultation and technical assistance, and professional training. The program is a division of University of Miami’s Department of Psychology and Nova Southeastern University’s Fischler School of Education and Human Services Programs in Speech, Language & Communication.

Autism is a neurological disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand language, play and socially interact with others. It typically appears before the age of three and is currently the third most common developmental disability in the world, occurring in about 1 of every 110 births. Over 1.5 million Americans are affected by autism spectrum disorders. Just today, over 50 families in America will find out that their child has autism.

For more information about UM-NSU CARD call 1-800-9-AUTISM (x1) or visit us online at http://www.umcard.org. For more information about Tropical Nights, visit http://www.cardtropicalnights.org.

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The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. http://www.miami.edu.


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University of Miami Media Contact:

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University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of our diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.