When she was 79 years old, Marjory Stoneman Douglas formed a lasting advocacy group to protect her beloved Everglades, the only place like it in the world.
Now that group, Friends of the Everglades, will celebrate its 50th anniversary at a benefit April 7 at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables.
That happens to be Marjory’s birthday. Though she died in 1998 at 108, Marjory would be proud of all the accomplishments of her Friends.
“Friends members pride themselves on our grassroots approach to elevate citizens’ voices, and we make a powerful impact,” said Connie Washburn, longtime board member and current secretary. “We are plaintiffs in some of the most important litigation for the Everglades, defending some of the world’s most diverse and distinctive wetland landscapes; more than 3,000 species of plants, and animals — at last count, 67 of which are threatened or endangered; and safeguarding the drinking water supply for more than seven million people across South Florida.”
At the event, the Friends will unveil the Florida Historical Marker that will ultimately be placed in front of Marjory’s house in Coconut Grove.
Students and a teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland are expected to attend.
“Many of the persons who knew Marjory will be in attendance to talk with the students and commend their spirit of activism that is so like the namesake of their school,” Washburn said. “Friends also will present a metal print photo of Marjory that will hopefully be placed in Marjory’s Garden at the school.”
The event’s master of ceremonies will be Louis Aguirre of WPLG-Channel 10, and the 50th Anniversary Award recipients are Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava and Coconut Grove attorney Paul Schwiep.
Everyone is invited to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails overlooking the gardens, live music, an environmentally themed silent auction, and a keynote address by Everglades restoration leader Maggy Hurchalla.
The Friends of the Everglades 50th Anniversary Celebration Benefit is 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. April 7 at the Garden House in Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road. Tickets are $100 and include membership in Friends of the Everglades. Friends’ tickets are $60.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.everglades.org or call 305-274-4772. Contact Susan Holtzman at Susan@eventuresmiami.com for sponsorship opportunities.
A donation that makes a difference
Michael Haggard, a lifelong Miami-area resident and trial attorney, understands how devastating Polycystic Kidney Disease can be both personally and to a family.
Haggard has PKD, and his mother, uncle and maternal grandmother also had it. His two teenage children are at risk of having the disease as well.
The Coral Gables attorney recently donated $2 million to the PKD Foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri. He said there is no greater mission for his family than to support treatments and to fund PKD research for a cure.
“This disease is devastating. It ravages entire family trees due to the hereditary nature of the disease. It can be painful and debilitating. My children are my life and they each have a chance of getting this disease,” Haggard said.
The chronic genetic disease causes cysts that grow in the kidneys and other organs. This can lead to kidney failure. There is no known cure and only one known treatment can slow the disease.
“The PKD Foundation is the only organization solely dedicated to advancing treatments to find a cure for this disease, which is our family’s mission and our number one priority going forward,” Haggard said. “Our commitment is for my two children, but also extends to every PKD family to one day rid this disease from our existence.”
Haggard’s gift has enabled the PKD Foundation to triple its research. He was fortunate to receive a living kidney donation from his brother-in-law, Allen Buckhalt, in 2016. Buckhalt, a major in the U.S. Army, has served since 2001, including several tours in the Middle East and South Korea. To learn more about research, and for support, visit www.pkdcure.org.
German Club Scholarship
Miami-Dade County high school graduates with at least two years of German language study can apply for a scholarship from the German American Social Club of Greater Miami Inc.
Applications will be accepted until April 5, and interviews will be held April 22. The applicants will meet with the scholarship committee for face-to-face interviews in German.
The Erich Dietsch Memorial Fund is named after the first president of the German American Social Club of Greater Miami. Dietsch was a strong promoter of German language and German culture studies. His generosity allows the club to now provide scholarships. For more information, and the application form, visit http://gascmiami.org/Scholarship.
Immaculata-La Salle reunion
Alumni of the Immaculata-La Salle High School Class of 1969 are invited to reunite with old friends at the 50th high school reunion, 7 p.m. to midnight, April 27 at the Hotel Aria (formerly the Sonesta Coconut Grove Hotel), 2889 McFarlane Road.
Teachers from that time are invited too. There will be a 1960s band, a DJ, an open bar, and dinner. Tickets are $135. Contact organizer Annie Calleja at firstname.lastname@example.org or send her a text at 305-298-7220 for more information and to purchase tickets.
World War II vet is guest speaker
Bernard (Barney) Mayrsohn, 95, was awarded the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Combat Infantry Medal for his World War II service.
The Miami Springs Historical Society will host a free community program with Mayrsohn as guest speaker at 2 p.m. March 31 at the Pelican Playhouse in the Miami Springs Community Center Rebeca Sosa Theater, 1401 Westward Dr.
Mayrsohn is the subject of a 240-page biography, “From Brooklyn to the Battle of the Bulge and on to Building an International Business,” written by Barry University and Nova Southeastern University Adjunct Professor of History Seth H. Bramson.
All are welcome, and light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Jennifer Graham, president of the Miami Springs Historical Society, at email@example.com.