INsite Magazine

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Noche de Gala 2009: A Night to Benefit the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation

Noche de Gala 2009, the sold-out Oct. 3 fundraiser for the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation, raised more than $1 million for a future children's hospital in Gainesville. The 105 sponsors, 200 volunteers and 950 guests were treated to an evening of dazzling performances, fine foods and dancing.

After arriving to the red-carpet treatment, guests could roam through more than 30,000 square feet of tent space. Several of the lounge tents featured drinks and comfortable leather sofas to relax on, cappuccinos, hand-rolled cigars to purchase, or the silent auction to bid on.
The auction featured more than 100 items, including autographed footballs from the 1996 and 2006 Gator national championship teams, a guitar autographed by U2, artwork and jewelry, and an autographed Michael Jackson album.

The main entertainment started as dinner began. The theme, a Venetian masquerade ball, was apparent in all the decorations and performances. Ted Keegan, who played the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, was met with a standing ovation for his performance.

The entertainment paused as Horst and Luisa Ferrero gave a heartfelt speech about the reason for the gala: their son, Sebastian. Tears welled in both their eyes as Horst said, while holding Luisa’s hand, “I can still see my son running in the field at the barn, the day before the tragedy.” Their friend and host of the event site, Benjamin Leon Jr., then pledged $100,000 to the foundation.

After dessert, a band played dance music favorites. So many people were dancing that they spilled off of the dance floor and onto the grass. The band kept the guests upbeat with rousing music until the gala ended, at the stroke of midnight.

To make a donation to the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation go to the organization's Web site.
—Story and photos by Timothy Carswell

To see more photos from the night's festivities, check out INsite's photo slideshow on our Web site!

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