2014 Tropical Nights Gala Raises More Than $350,000 to Serve South Florida’s Autism Community

UM-NSU CARD Gala Event Honored UM Professor Dr. Rod Wellens

The University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) hosted its 12th annual Tropical Nights gala on Saturday, May 10, at the InterContinental Miami. The event raised more than $350,000.

CARD Executive Director Dr. Michael
Alessandri and Dr. Phil McCabe,
professor and associate chair, UM
Department of Psychology

‌More than 500 guests joined event co-chairs David Pike and Mary Palacio-Pike, from Crystal Academy, to celebrate CARD’s excellence in serving South Florida’s autism community. This year’s gala honoree was Dr. Rod Wellens, Chair of the Department of Psychology in the UM College of Arts and Sciences, which is home to CARD.

 “Dr. Rod Wellens welcomed CARD into the Department of Psychology in 1993 and has embraced the program's vital role in the community for the past 21 years with enthusiasm and pride,” said Dr. Michael Alessandri, Executive Director of CARD. “Without his support, CARD might not have thrived and blossomed as it has.”

The evening highlighted, via video, five culturally diverse families that have moved to South Florida to receive CARD services. Determined to get help for their children with austism spectrum disorders (ASD), the families came to the Miami area from as far away as Lebanon and Russia to access CARD’s expertise.

Faces in the crowd included: Robert Cambo and Patricia Menendez-Cambo; Miami-Dade County School Board Member Raquel Regalado; Tom and Marie-Ilene Whitehurst; Andrea Travaglia; Dr. Phil McCabe, professor and associate chair, UM Department of Psychology, and his wife Sylvia McCabe; Leonidas Bachas, Dean of the UM College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, professor of clinical pediatrics at the UM Miller School of Medicine, and his wife Maria; Dan and Diane Hennelly of The Tire Choice; and Mary Partin and Michael Marino of the Dan Marino Foundation.

Corporate sponsors included: Bacardi USA; Value Store-It; The Tire Choice; Greenberg Traurig LLP; Bilzin, Sumberg, Baena, Price & Axelrod; Setnor Byer Insurance and Risk; Premier Beverage Company; and many more. Media sponsors included Brickell Magazine and Key Biscayne Magazine.

May 28, 2014