Miami Beach

Beach Buzz: Star-studded event raises money to help cure paralysis

Nick Buoniconti and Christian Slater attend Destination Fashion 2016 presented by Swanee and Paul Dimare benefiting The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis on March 5, 2016, in Miami, Florida.
Nick Buoniconti and Christian Slater attend Destination Fashion 2016 presented by Swanee and Paul Dimare benefiting The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis on March 5, 2016, in Miami, Florida.

More than 2,500 guests helped The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project, celebrate its 30th anniversary on March 5 at Bal Harbour Shops (which again closed its doors to host the event).

The Destination Fashion 2016 extravaganza — which raised “millions” according to organizers — included a concert by Pitbull, fashion show featuring Brunello Cucinelli’s spring collection and progressive party showcasing fashion/entertainment trends throughout the decades.

Emcee for the evening was NBC’s Today show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie; Honorary Co-Chairs: Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Tommy Lee Jones and wife Dawn Jones, and Christian Slater and wife Brittany Slater. Event chairs were Nick Buoniconti, Marc Buoniconti, Dr. Barth Green, Gretchen Jordan, Suzie Sayfie and Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard.

Award recipients included the Estefans, Swanee and Paul DiMare; Stanley Whitman, Randy Whitman and Matthew Whitman Lazenby; Micky and Madeleine Arison; and Edie Laquer.

Celebrity presenters included golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton, Barry Gibb, Phil Collins, former Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor and sports stars from the NBA, MLB and NFL and more.

The Miami Project at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine is the world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center. To learn more,


Barbara and Allan Pekor hosted a Sunday brunch for 60 guests at their Miami Beach condo clubhouse on March 6. It commemorated the 50th anniversary of Temple Shaari Emeth, the synagogue in central New Jersey which they co-founded in 1966.

The Pekors — married to other spouses at the time — were among nine families who had migrated from New York City to the sleepy Manalapan Township. The families worked together to create the Reform Jewish congregation.

Allan served as the new synagogue’s first (and third) president. Today, the synagogue serves over 600 families.

“We decided it would be great to celebrate our former congregation’s landmark birthday with an event in Miami Beach and did exhaustive research to locate fellow alumni who had since made Florida their home,” Allan Pekor said.

The gathering included nine past presidents of the congregation, as well as the temple’s spiritual leaders, Rabbi Melissa Panken and Cantor Wayne Siet, who flew in from New Jersey to attend. Rabbi Emeritus Phillip Schechter, who led the congregation for 30 years, extended his greetings via phone from his Connecticut home.

The Pekors – who wed in 2013 – now are members of Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom, where Allan serves on the board and Barbara participates in a program for feeding the homeless.

“There were tears of joy as Cantor Siet sang his rendition of The Impossible Dream and old acquaintances shared great memories. It was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion,” added Barbara Pekor.


The galleries of Miami Beach’s Bass Museum of Art are closed for renovation, but support is going strong.

At the annual fundraiser held Feb. 20 under a tent in Collins Park, Executive Director Silvia Karman Cubiñá announced the donation of three gifts totaling over $2 million. Ambassador Paul Cejas and Bass Board member Trudy Cejas donated $1 million, as did Bass Museum Board President George Lindemann. An anonymous donor also made an additional major gift. These funds will be used to underwrite museum exhibitions and programs for the reopening in November.

Through July, the museum is hosting bassX, a pop-up gallery space across the street in the Miami Beach Regional Library. To learn more, call 305-673-7530 or visit


The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) will host “Swirl: A Wine Tasting Event” 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, at La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach.

The open-to-the-public event ($125 per person) will include hors d’oeuvres and tastings of red, white and sparkling wines from Italy (donated by Southern Wine and Spirits) presented by Master Sommelier, Master of Wine Eric Hemer.

Over half a million people in the U.S. are living with, or in remission from lymphoma, the most common form of blood cancer. Based in New York City, LRF is the nation’s largest nonprofit devoted to funding research and serving the lymphoma community.

LRF’s predecessor organization was founded by Jerry Freundlich, a non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor and his wife, Barbara, who will co-host the evening, along with Walter Andrews, Debbie and Kevin Fennessey, Leigh and Cory Olson and Florence and Robert Werner.

For Swirl information or to RSVP online, visit

Beach Buzz appears every other Sunday, and focuses on people and businesses throughout the Beaches, Aventura and Miami. To reach Debra K. Leibowitz, call 305-531-7887 or email, or become a fan of her Beach Buzz page on Facebook.