Orange Appeal January/February 2020

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2020 Women of the Year: Dynamic Disruptors

94 124

These seven ladies — Stephanie Darden Bennett, Marci Doyle, Rosene Johnson, Whitney Laney, Suneera Madhani, Maritza Martinez-Guerrero and Dr. Romie Mushtaq — are shaking things up, coloring outside of and blurring the lines, and leaving a wake when they leave the room. They are smart, passionate and serious with a side of savvy and a dose of humor. We have gotten to know them all over the past few years and watched them flourish. We can’t wait to see what they do in 2020.

Love Stories — Wonderful Weddings

From a special wedding at Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College and Country Club of Orlando to an Old Florida wedding at The Alfond Inn, and from a glamorous affair at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to a fun-loving wedding at the Omni Orlando Resort, and festive fall nuptials at Highland Manor, five couples share details about their picture-perfect days. VICTORIA ANGELA PHOTOGRAPHY


Go Red for Women

Sixteen years ago, Go Red for Women was born as a campaign to raise awareness among women about their great health threat — heart disease. Locally the women — and men — in the Circle of Red support the ongoing efforts. And the 2020 Go Red for Women Luncheon, chaired by Jayne Willis, vice president, chief nurse executive, Orlando Health, will raise critical funds in the fight against the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of women — heart disease and stroke.


on the cover: Rosene Johnson, Marci Doyle, JIM HOBART, MACBETH STUDIO



january | february 2020

Whitney Laney, Romie Mushtaq and Stephanie Darden Bennett photographed by Jim Hobart at Macbeth Studio. Hair by Gary Lambert Salon and makeup by Cord Skyla (for Rosene, Marci, Whitney and Stephanie). Suneera Madhani and Maritza Martinez-Guerrero (shown on this page) were unavailable for the original shoot. Story on page 102.

january | february 2020


january | february 2020





People, places and things: Gucci boutique re-opens in The Mall at Millenia; Morning Star Runway for Giving returns for fashionistas and fans alike; Women to Watch: A special

partnership with Easterseals Florida and its A Pair to Remember committee; Hope for More Foundation’s Anti-Gala committee brings more tailgating fun to its second annual event; A few of the dedicated supporters of The Spa Invitational benefiting Grace Medical Home; The Faine House presents a new Mission Impossible theme for its annual Evening of Hope Gala; Jennifer Gouaux’s breast cancer journey and her newfound love of running through Track Shack events.


New kicks that don’t sacrifice style; The F.I.T. (females in training) team regroups to run and honor their former trainer; Drs. Deborah and Victor Harding discuss the complexities of weight gain and the latest treatments for obesity and diabetes; Women Who Inspire: Dr. Nathalie McKenzie combines her medical training with her personal passions to help better care for her gynecologic oncology patients.




The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, unveils its new culinary concept, Knife & Spoon; The Orlando Food & Wine Festival aims to raise even more money for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation in its second year; Enjoy one of these cool winter cocktails this season at The Alfond Inn, or try the recipes at home; Indulge your senses at this year’s Tables Extraordinaire at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Orlando; Enjoy three different culinary experiences at the Arnold Palmer Invitational; Taste of Windermere celebrates 10 years of fun, food and wine.


Rifle Paper Co. commemorates its 10th anniversary with a new collection at Anthropologie; Co-founder of Marc-Michaels Interior Design, Marc Thee introduces a new tile line in collaboration with local tile company, Audrey Lane; Council of 101 and Orlando Museum of Art present the second annual Festival of Fine Arts and Flowers: ART IN BLOOM.



Community and charity events: AdventHealth’s Golden Gala XXXIX; National Philan-

thropy Day awards breakfast at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando; Support Our Scholars Dream Makers event; Harbor House of Central Florida’s annual Purple Door Luncheon; Council of 101’s Festival of Trees Opening Night Gala; Shepherd’s Hope Famous Faces Masquerade Ball; the annual Wishmaker’s Brunch; Canine Companions for Independence Tales & Tails Gala; and much more.


Josh and Gallite Kestler recount how Cannonball Kids' cancer Foundation gave their family more time and memories with their son, Jake, who had terminal brain cancer, by funding a clinical research trial that extended his life. Orange Appeal makes a great gift any time! Subscribe at Get all the event info by signing up for the e-newsletter or visiting our interactive website. For changes of address, or to cancel or renew your subscription, visit 2


Behind the Scenes: It’s More Than a Village THE NO. 1 QUESTION asked of Kate

Creative collaborators: We get to work

and me is: How do you do it all? The answer

with an absolute dream team — from

is not so simple. We know we are climbing

friends and family who help us with arti-

uphill every day in the declining publish-

cles, proofreading, events and more, to

ing industry, but we believe if we bring

professionals who provide photography,

you, our readers, something real and gen-

design, production, writing, and hair and

uine that you cannot get anywhere else,

makeup services. We realize we can’t do

we can maintain and grow our audience.

everything and virtually no one would

So, here is how it really works.

want us to. Sometimes you can find their

Community involvement: We know we

names in article credits, but many times

have to be very immersed to share the sto-

you won’t see them mentioned. Thank you

ries and discover new subjects to write

to our magical magazine fairies!

One of our dream team members, hairstylist extraordinaire Dale Dees (pictured here with close friend Ericka Dunlap) unexpectedly passed away after Thanksgiving. One of the kindest, most giving people, he was scheduled to be with us for the Women of the Year shoot. Fortunately, Gary Lambert and Shawn Hunt, Gary Lambert Salon, came to the rescue.

about. On my most difficult streak, I was

Nonstop on the job: It’s not uncommon

at an event every night for eight days. Oth-

during a deadline week for us to each work

er days have included a breakfast, lunch

70 hours with weekends included. I often

and dinner event. It looks like a lot of fun

start at 5:30am — but don’t ask me a tough

to the casual observer, but trust me, if we

question after about 4pm. Recently I set a

have the camera out, we are working! We

new record, starting at 3:30am. And even

Always grateful: We are so thankful for

have taken hundreds of thousands of pho-

when we are out taking care of personal

all those who helped us start and keep

tos and I have replaced my camera at least

errands and activities, there will always be a

going, from our investors to our advertis-

four times. (We won’t even mention the

business component somewhere — and

ers. They make everything possible.

number of laptops we’ve been through!)

usually when I have no makeup on.

It’s was business and pleasure at AdventHealth’s Golden Gala XXXIX where we met Minnie and Mickey and heard Lady Antebellum while mingling with 2,000+ guests and supporting the Vascular Center of Excellence. Follow us on 4

More than print: It’s hard to believe,

Drive to do it right: We always

but we are already planning the 10th annual

want to present our stories in

Orlando Women’s Conference, scheduled

the best light, so we take care to

for April 9. Our sponsors and speakers

discover new subjects, ask the

make this thought-provoking day such a



success. The two of us do all the planning

check the facts. That doesn’t

and most of the execution but have an

mean a comma or apostrophe

incredible on-site crew of volunteers and

might not get misappropriated

AV pros to pull it off without much of a

on occasion. We use high-quality

hitch. We also have our monthly luncheons,

(read: expensive) paper and have

our Women of the Year reception (Janu-

kept the size even though most

ary 29), e-newsletters and social media

magazines are shrinking. Rita

channels to share and celebrate.



Tyrrell makes sure every page

2020 vision: We hope to bring you more

is well-designed and her atten-

of everything you want while continuing

tion to detail is unerring. We

our commitment to our local nonprofit

strive to make every issue a little


better than the one before and think you deserve all this.



Happy New Year!







Deborah Harding, MD Victor Harding, MD Josh and Gallite Kestler Cami Renzoni Annette Snedaker PHOTOGRAPHERS

Amalie Orrange Photography Erika Grace Photography, Inc. Jenn Hopkins Photography Jim Hobart, Macbeth Studio Kristen Weaver Photography Victoria Angela Photography PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Rita Tyrrell FOR ADVERTISING: FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS: Copyright 2020. No materials may be reproduced without permission. Please do not send unsolicited articles or photographs. Publisher not responsible for individual opinions contained herein. Orange Appeal (Permit #201) is published bi-monthly by Appeal Media & Events Group, 1903 Michael Tiago Circle, Maitland, FL 32751. Printed in USA. Standard postage paid at Harrisburg, PA and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Orange Appeal, 1903 Michael Tiago Circle, Maitland, FL 32751 6

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EVENTS Orlando

The Orlando Women’s Conference, held each spring, CONFERENCE is one day for empowerment and inspiration. For details visit For sponsorship information email


Monthly Ladies Luncheons with special guest speakers are held on the last Tuesday of the month from January through October. Space is limited and reservations/prepayment is required. For more information visit the Orange Appeal Facebook page.


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Items from the Flora Collection

thelist flora & more Gucci lovers rejoice! The high-fashion label has reopened at The Mall at Millenia with more than 7,000 square feet showcasing a wide collection of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, luggage, small leather goods, accessories, silks, jewelry, watches and eyewear. With a look that invites customers to feel welcome and relaxed, the interior design is discreet. Soft elements like velvet armchairs offset harder surfaces and industrial elements, such as rivets.




ontemporary luxury is suggested not only by the display of beautiful and idiosyncratic materials, but also through a spare use of space. In keeping with the elegant and contemporary eclecticism that characterizes Gucci’s collections, the store’s design is a combination of traditional and modern, industrial and romantic.

Contrasting merchandising elements represent different design codes, inviting cus-

tomers to feel like they are constantly discovering new aspects of the store. The mood within the store is one of discretion, where understated drama is created by the surprising and unexpected combination of materials. Marble polychrome inlays generate decorative three-dimensional effects on the floors, while being harmoniously integrated with the herringbone wood flooring. Technical, mechanical display units contrast with the softness of the rich fabrics that adorn the rooms; round tables offset rectangular ones; varnished, sage green iron wall finishes complement cherry red velvets, used for upholstery and fitting rooms. Throughout the store there are sumptuous chairs, and vintage oriental rugs are layered over each other for a textured effect. The result is a space that entices, surprises, yet feels personal. Founded in Florence in 1921, Gucci is one of the world’s leading luxury fashion brands, with a renowned reputation for creativity, innovation and Italian craftsmanship. For further information, visit


More from new Gucci collections including the Flora mule and bag, a standout pink shoe and a familiar character on a bucket bag and sneaker.


A RUNWAY FOR GIVING APPEALS TO FASHIONSTAS AND FANS ALIKE As Central Florida’s longest running charitable event, the 58th Annual Runway for Giving to benefit Morning Star Catholic School has been a delight for fashionistas for decades — and this year should be no exception. Everyone always dresses to impress and for many, this is the beginning of the spring fashion season. Hint: start looking for your outfit as daytime dressy is the code.

The 58th Annual Runway for Giving will be held on Friday, February 7, and promises to be bigger and better than ever. Featuring a runway show with fashions from some of Winter Park’s finest boutiques including Tuni, John Craig, The Grove, See, The Collection Bridal, Arabella, Charyli, Violet Clover and J. McLaughlin, the day will be emceed by former news anchor and current blogger Sonni Abatta Orosz and WFTV’s Brian Shields. Additionally, guests will be able to experience a Wine Pull, sponsored by Stanley Steemer, and an exclusive lounge and photo area, sponsored by Systematic Home Staging. Last year, Morning Star Catholic School welcomed nearly 300 guests to Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. And this year, Eric and Diane Holm of Golden Corral are once again presenting sponsors. Guests are invited to mix and mingle beginning at 10:30am while sipping mimosas, tasting passed appetizers and browsing the silent auction. At 11:45am attendees will be seated for the fashion show, enlightening program and gourmet luncheon, all to benefit Morning Star Catholic School. The students, whether modeling or participating in the program, manage to steal the show every year — and hankies are a necessary accessory. Since 1960, Morning Star Catholic School has been working to fulfill its mission to provide children with special needs the opportunity to embrace their potential — to enable students to function more independently and guide them on their spiritual, academic, social, physical and emotional journey. Morning Star Catholic School relies heavily upon the generosity of the community — those who recognize the need to provide quality education to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. For more information, contact Jessica Hubbard at 14



A Decade to Remember

by Kate Slentz

Every spring, typically the first Friday in March, I wake up and put on my best spring dress and chicest shoes, and head to The Mall at Millenia for one of my favorite events of the year. It’s one we’ve always looked forward to and Orange Appeal


has been proud to support for the last decade: Easterseals Florida’s A Pair to Remember. t’s hard to put into words the feeling of the day at this ladies’ brunch and auction to benefit the many programs for people with disabilities at Easterseals Florida. From

the moment you step inside the mall, there is an energy of positivity, camaraderie and gratefulness. As you join guests in the Orchid Court for the morning champagne reception, old and new friends greet each other and compliment one another’s outfits. There are toasts, pictures and laughter. Charming local celebrity men walk around and show off swoonworthy shoes that will be part of the live auction packages, which also include

Orange Appeal’s table at A Pair to Remember 2019: Wendy Tramell, Pam Lively, Eva Krzewinski, Mary Colton, Margie Supplee, Christi Ashby, Michelle Greene, Michal Yakar and Kate Slentz.

exclusive local experiences as well as pop-

different stores. Our crew typically heads

lenge provides 63 acres of recreation for

ular travel destinations.

to Neiman Marcus where we are greeted

children and adults with disabilities. Camp-

As attendees are ushered into the

with champagne and friendly service. We

ers stay in climate-controlled cabins while

Grand Court for the lunch program and

leave feeling exhausted but also energized

still enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature.

live auction, we continue to converse and

by the connections we made and the cause

Overnight camp allows campers to gain

greet people we may have missed during

we helped support.

independence and make new friends

the reception. A plated lunch and wine

Through our partnership with Easter-

service awaits, and we eat and catch up

seals Florida and helping them promote

while providing respite for caregivers and

with friends at our table before the main

this annual fundraising event, we have

Easterseals Florida was recently awarded

event begins — the lively live auction

become familiar with many of the local

a multi-year grant through Orange County

where the shoe men from the reception

programs the organization offers, such as

Citizen’s Commission for Children. The

work the stage and try to run up the bids

the adult day health care services at Day

funding fully supports its Disability Navi-

on their auction packages. The crowd

Break at the Miller Center. Members

gator Program with a team of six staff.

claps, cheers and encourages other bid-

enjoy activities designed with individuality

This Disability Navigator Program pro-

ders, knowing the funds raised will bene-

in mind to benefit core balance, cognitive

vides screening, referral, linkages, and

fit a worthy cause. Easterseals features

and motor skills, problem solving and

case management services for children

several of their clients and their stories

socialization. Participation in the adult day

with disabilities. Through this new pro-

throughout the program.

program, which also includes dementia

gram, Easterseals staff are advocating and


When the program and auction con-

care, allows time for caregivers to work out-

helping to ensure that disabled children in

clude, it is far from over as attendees are

side the home and provides support for

Orange County’s most vulnerable zip

encouraged to shop at participating bou-

caregivers and other family members.

codes have access to needed services and

tiques within the mall, which donate a per-

Another very special program, close to

centage of proceeds back to Easterseals. The

my heart and my home, is Camp Challenge,

party continues as guests group up and shop

off State Road 46 in Sorrento. Camp Chal-


interventions. For more information visit easterseals. com/florida.



Committee members photographed in the gardens at Day Break at the Miller Center. Shoes provided by Lilly Pulitzer, Giuseppe Zanotti and Jimmy Choo at The Mall at Millenia. Left image: Paige Cooper, Whitney Laney (co-chair), Sarah Grafton (chair) and Kim Strong. Right image: Kate Slentz, Ashley Landers, Amy Calandrino, and Easterseals Florida CEO Sue Ventura. Committee members not photographed: Marissa Colli, Ricci Culver, Audra Wilks and Brenda Lounsberry.


A Pair to Remember As Easterseals Florida’s largest fundraiser, A Pair to Remember is not possible without the dedication of its committee, which I was proud to join last year. Together we work to secure sponsorships, silent auction items and those coveted live auction experiences. For the 16th annual event, we’re introducing a garden party theme and are excited to be partnering with Arthur’s Catering on the food and beverage and Our DJ Rocks on the entertainment, along with our continued partnership with host The Mall at Millenia. “Our committee cannot wait to share the surprises we have in store for A Pair to Remember 2020, including a new theme and entertainment! We are going to have even more fun while doing even more good!” says A Pair Chair Sarah Grafton. “I am so excited to share with you this year’s garden theme! We have incorporated all the things you know and love about the event and have added layers to it; bringing new life and energy to Easterseals’ A Pair to Remember,” adds Co-chair Whitney Laney. The highlight of the event every year is a live auction featuring the hottest designer shoes, donated by boutiques in The Mall at Millenia, such as Lilly Pulitzer, Giuseppe Zanotti and Jimmy Choo, and local boutiques like Sultre and Tuni in Winter Park. These are “paired” with exclusive travel experiences that in the past have included VIP trips to New York City with tickets to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; a weeklong stay in a house in Nantucket; and a two-night stay at the luxurious Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah. These packages often include round-trip flights courtesy of long-time partner JetBlue. You’re invited to Easterseals’ annual A Pair to Remember garden party on Friday, March 6, from 10:30am – 2:00pm at The Mall at Millenia. Enjoy this exclusive ladies’ luncheon where you have the opportunity to view the latest spring fashions and raise your bid paddles for the hottest designer shoes and unique travel experiences to benefit children and adults with disabilities in our community. For information on sponsorships, tickets and event details, contact Amanda Concelman at, or visit





A Fresh Take on the Traditional Gala Fundraiser

Forget the tux and cocktail dress and get ready to party tailgate-style at Hope for More Foundation’s Anti-Gala.


Anti-Gala Committee (from left): Samantha Sauer (co-chair), Hunter Kelly, Alex Gren, Delaina Baker, Jessica Kendrick (H4MF board), Marisa Bryan (H4MF board), Sarah Geltz (H4MF board), Paul Massey, Carina Leeson (co-chair) and Suzanne Reams (H4MF Board). Not pictured: Audra Wilks (H4MF board).

local group of philan-

and other special needs in the Central Flor-

little ones and adolescents, OCA’s services

thropic businesswomen

ida area. OCA is dedicated to enabling

continue year-round. In addition to indi-

— Sarah Geltz, Jessica

individuals and families with autism and

vidual and group therapy services, children

Kendrick, Marisa Bryan,

other disabilities the opportunity to maxi-

have the opportunity to engage in outdoor



mize their abilities through functional,

activities, indoor games, music, dance, art

Audra Wilks — founded the Hope for More


behavioral, social, recreational and voca-

and other recreational activities. Their

Foundation to identify and fund outstand-

tional programs.

summer camps provide crucial and unique

ing nonprofits in the community to further

Among other incredible offerings, OCA

opportunities for typical peers to provide

their efforts in outreach, advocacy and fun-

provides resources like after-school pro-

age-appropriate modeling in social skills

draising. To make an even larger impact, the

grams, applied behavior analysis therapy,

training, language development, and gross

Foundation created an annual fundraising

vocational training, summer camps, respite

and fine motor movements. Perhaps most

event called the Anti-Gala, a casual, high-

care and social activities. OCA is also com-

importantly, OCA is dedicated to provid-

class tailgate party that included lawn

mitted to providing affordable program-

ing a range of quality, specialty services to

games, food trucks, beer and spirits, kara-

ming for families living with autism or

those in need in a safe and supportive

oke, silent auction and entertainment.

other disabilities.

environment. To learn more about OCA,

The inaugural Hope for More Founda-

OCA is much more than a local organi-

tion Anti-Gala, held in 2019, was a smashing

zation that provides services to an in-need

its services or how to get involved, visit

success, raising more than $50,000 for

population in our community. The organi-

The second annual Hope for More Foun-

Embrace Families. For its second annual

zation’s dream is to build a village in Cen-

dation Anti-Gala, presented by Lexus of

Anti-Gala, to be held on Saturday, February

tral Florida where individuals with spe-

Winter Park and The Kendrick Law Group,

29 at Lexus of Orlando, local nonprofits

cial needs can live, work and play. At the

promises even more tailgating fun, includ-

applied to become the event’s beneficiary.

core of the OCA mission is the desire to

ing exclusive silent auction items, party

This year, the beneficiary organization

raise the bar with respect to the services

games and entertainment, and a beer gar-

of the annual Hope for More Foundation

that are made available to those living

den provided by JDub’s Brewing Company,

Anti-Gala will be Opportunity Community

with special needs in our community.

on Saturday, February 29 at Lexus of

Ability (OCA), an organization changing the

OCA offers programs for participants

lives of children and adults with autism

as young as 18 months and beyond. For the


Orlando. For tickets and sponsorship information, visit





by Christi Ashby


Kelly Nierstadt, Sherry Magee, Stephanie Garris and Holly Wilton in the Spa at Hyatt Regency Orlando wearing clothing from Athleta, The Mall at Millenia.

Spa Invitational promises even more exciting “holes” to play and a day of renewing and building relationships while contributing to a cherished community charity. It only takes a few seconds with founder Sherry Magee to know why this event is so special. Her enthusiasm is so infectious it’s no wonder she easily recruits more than 45 volunteers to help plan and run the invitational that benefits Grace Medical Home, a medical facility for the uninsured in Central Florida. “The thing that’s most exciting for me is to think about all the people who have been involved since the beginning and as we continue to gain momentum, we have not lost the people who started with us. After eight years we are still going strong — it’s getting better and better and better. It’s pretty amazing and a testament to the engaged volunteers,” says Sherry Magee, senior director, community relations, KPMG Learning, Development & Innova-

created. I was hooked by the story and the

don’t have much to be able to come and get

tion Center.

mission — it’s just a very heartfelt mission

their care in such a beautiful place with

“It is the most fabulous event, hanging

for me. I had always done other fundrais-

people who are so caring is something I

out with friends and colleagues. But more

ers for Grace and when I heard about the

am really passionate about,” says Kelly

importantly, it raises a lot of money for

Spa Invitational, it was an exciting pros-

Nierstadt, president, Winnie Palmer Hos-

Grace Medical Home which provides tre-

pect to be involved. And it’s a fun day,”

pital for Women & Babies.

mendous resources to serve more patients.

explains Holly Wilton, Realtor, Keller

It’s such a gift to be the beneficiary of such

Williams Winter Park.

a great event,” adds Stephanie Garris, CEO, Grace Medical Home.

The championship course is the Spa at Hyatt Regency Orlando and the 18 holes

“Orlando Health has been involved with

are pampering services including facials,

Grace Medical Home since the beginning.

massages, nail polishes, hands-on activi-

Participants love the casual camaraderie

We are a proud sponsor and continue to

ties and more. Warming up takes on a new

and also the fact that they are supporting a

support the great work that they do. My

meaning as the day starts at the Rocks

wonderful local nonprofit. “Originally, I

team — the Winnie Palmer administra-

Fairway with a continental breakfast and

was involved with Grace Medical Home

tive team — and I had the opportunity to

health, beauty and local retail shops and

when they built their first facility. I made

visit recently and we continue to be in awe


a book for them with all the photos of the

of the work they are doing in the commu-

From there, the players are encouraged

building being created, which tells the

nity. Their new space is a beautiful home

to have one goal in mind — Less Pace, More

story of the organization and why it was

for their patients. I think for families who

Grace — to slow down, escape and relax




the day away while raising valuable dol-

attending and I had the pleasure of meet-

Keller Williams Winter Park, Dr. Phillips

lars for Grace Medical Home. The invita-

ing a lot of women in the community. To be

Charities, CNL, Arnold Palmer Invita-

tional also includes an inspirational lun-

around other women passionate about phi-

tional and AdventHealth are also sponsor-

cheon, activities related to health and

lanthropy is amazing,” Kelly explains.

ing the 2020 event. There are a limited

well-being, an afternoon wrap-up reception and silent auction. For Sherry, the best part of the day is

In addition to presenting sponsor

number of other sponsorship opportuni-

Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital

ties available. For more information visit

for Women & Babies, Holly Wilton —

the luncheon where everyone is together. “You always have that healthy fear about how the day is going to go when it gets started, but by lunch I know it’s going to be great,” she says. “My favorite part is winding down with everyone at the end of the day. Everyone is relaxed and chatting. It’s a great bonding experience,” Holly adds. “The event itself is wonderful. A lot of our male colleagues get to go play in golf tournaments and we support them, but this is a chance for the women to really spend time together and bond while supporting a great cause. Last year was my first time


ABOUT GRACE MEDICAL HOME Grace Medical Home closes the gap between those who enjoy quality medical care and those who do not. Currently, almost 1 in 4 Central Floridians lack health insurance. The nonprofit fills a void in the local healthcare system by developing a solution to remove the burden from the current healthcare community, including hospitals, ERs and urgent clinics. Grace provides the highest level of quality healthcare — everything from primary, specialty and preventative care to mental health and spiritual care services to uninsured Orange County residents, birth to age 65, who reside at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. As 1 in 7.5 Floridians do not have health insurance, Grace Medical Home is this safety net for thousands of families. This is all accomplished almost completely through private donations and volunteerism. The medical home recently moved into its new 19,000-square-foot location at 1417 E. Concord Street in downtown Orlando. For more information visit



An Evening of Hope Gala Benefiting The Faine House

by Annette Snedaker

Photos taken at The Faine House holiday celebration by Jen Adams Photography.

You may not see them, but they’re there. You may think you don’t know one, but we promise they have greeted you at the grocery store, served your family dinner at a restaurant, or graduated high school alongside your own son or daughter. And for 10 years, their cause has inspired over 600 community influencers to graciously gather for an evening of hope, inspiration and fun. From left: Tiffany Payne, Kirk Mackey, Debra Condello, Jeff Condello, Dianna Chane, Jeff Faine, Heidi Hyman and Lee Faine


e are talking, of course, about Central Florida’s young adults in or on the verge of homelessness.

Aging out of foster care, never being adopted into a permanent family, or unsuccessfully navigating adulthood after trying to on their own, these young adults now have a house that has become a home: The Faine House — an incredibly needed, successful and empowering program of Children’s Home Society of Florida. For 10 years, Faine House supporters from Maitland, Orlando, Winter Park, Apopka and beyond, have teamed up with The Faine House founder and veteran NFL player Jeff Faine and his wife, Brittnie, to 26

Kathie Holmes, Bruce Holmes, Tara Hormell and Kirk Mackey


Back row: Greg Vella, Jeff Forrest, Brittnie Faine, Mark Ashy and John Miller; front row: Caroline Bryan, Annie Kunst, Mary Ashy and Erica Miller

Sarah Asima and Christina Lalikos

tear down the stubborn obstacles homeless

of caring staff and community volunteers.

evening featuring exciting stunts, live

youth face. Located in the neighborhood of

Where there was once no reliable family

music, dancing, and a spirited live auction.

Pine Hills, The Faine House has become

or friend to help, The Faine House has

Whether you are able to attend, sponsor or

an extension of the Faine family’s heart

become a family of support these young

volunteer for this fun-filled event, you are

since Jeff was adopted himself at 7 days old.

adults never had and so urgently needed.

offering hope to the young adults served

Jeff never forgot his good fortune and

The 11th annual Evening of Hope Gala

by The Faine House. For sponsorship and

now insists on being a solution-oriented

on Saturday, April 4, at The Hangar Orlan-

ticket information visit

leader on the issue of young people with no

do will be a Mission Impossible themed


reliable family or friends. Jeff and his family partnered with Children’s Home Society to create a safe haven for young adults facing the possibility of incarceration, unemployment, pregnancy or drug addiction, and now for seven years, The Faine House has served as a beacon of light to those 18 to 23 years old needing love and support. For up to four years, these residents of the 10-bedroom Faine House receive mentoring from staff and volunteers, along with a personalized plan toward independence that includes access to education, housing and transportation, employment, heath and wellness, and financial management. Since opening its doors, The Faine House has served nearly 70 residents and more than 30 other young adults in the local community, each of whom created and worked very hard to achieve their individual goals under the watchful eyes 28

Back row: Jeff Condello (Faine Maker), Debra Condello, Ronnie Perez (Gala board chair), Jeff Faine (Faine Maker), Brittnie Faine and Tiffany Payne (Faine House board); front row: Sherri Gonzalez, Sean Montegio (Gala board member) and Jessica Allen (Gala board member)

thelist Jeff & Brittnie Faine

From Ronnie Perez, Chair of the 2020 “Evening of Hope” Faine House Gala: The question is asked, “why The Faine House?” I say, “why not?” Just imagine for a moment you’re a young adult who’s had to endure the pitfalls of the foster care system; the emotional heartaches of life; the not having a parent to turn to or a close relative that affirms you; the constant uncertainty, not being sure where you fit in. Just as you turn 18 years old, which should be a happy celebration for most of us, you’re about to age out of the system that has, at the very least, provided some sort of family structure. So when you turn 18 and age out, what do you do? No family to turn to, young and, hesitant and feeling alone. What now? The answer, The Faine House. A home dedicated to supporting young adults who are just starting on their journey of adulthood. A safe haven for those who have been met with uncertainty and lifechallenging responsibilities. A safe and secure environment that provides hope and affords young adults the ability to transition successfully into the next phase of their journey. So when someone asks, “why The Faine House?” we can all respond, “because that’s where hope resides.” I would like to personally thank everyone that has and will support this endeavor of assisting others to reach their purpose and potential, so that dreams turn into reality, and the cycle of brokenness turns into a testimony of accomplishment. So please join us in being part of this wonderful legacy.” 30


Running on Gratitude: Jennifer Gouaux is Beating Breast Cancer With a Thankful Heart by Cami Renzoni

Jennifer Gouaux is strong and independent, but most of all, she’s grateful.

nifer participated in the Run for Love

On November 30, 2018, just days after

myself the time to gather my strength,

Thanksgiving, Jennifer was diagnosed

breathed deeply and took in the beauty of

with stage II invasive breast cancer. “At 59

the environment. It was the last race with

years old, I’d had nothing but normal

my natural breasts; a sort of thank you

mammograms. My doctor, Steven Selznick,

and goodbye,” Jennifer explains.

Two days before her mastectomy, Jenevent. “I walked and jogged my heart out, thought of the processes to come, allowed

demanded that I get one. I didn’t want it,

She had her double mastectomy surgery

but thank God I got it done,” Jennifer says.

on February 11, 2019, and walked the Win-

She later wrote Dr. Selznick a letter of

ter Park 10k on March 24. “I wasn’t run-

gratitude, a thoughtful gesture she continues to this day. “I tell everyone, ‘This man

helped her face cancer.

ning, but I crossed the finish line,” she says.

“When you have cancer, so many peo-

“Track Shack events are a shot of good

ple want to talk. Simply listening means

medicine,” she continues. “With cancer, you

Jennifer had a double mastectomy to

the most,” she explains. Her AdventHealth

should also have a prescription for Track

remove a two-centimeter tumor and had

breast cancer navigator, Jaclyn, was one

Shack events as part of your get-well plan.”

reconstructive surgery in February 2018

such listener. “Jaclyn walked me through

Today, Jennifer’s energy and endurance

before starting adjuvant (treatment in

treatment one step at a time. She held my

are improving, and she’s looking forward

addition to curative-intent surgery) with

hand through it all,” Jennifer remembers.

to many runs, including the Lady Track

saved my life,’” Jennifer says.

One moment, in particular, stole her

Shack 5k on February 1. She wants to get

“Advancements in chemotherapy and

heart. “The night of my double mastecto-

back to her 12-minute mile, too. “All I want

genomic testing allow us to offer patients

my, I was on morphine, but I asked the

to do this year is run,” she says.

like Jennifer more options for chemother-

nurse if I could walk around. It was 3 in

Since 1978, thousands of mothers and

apy,” says Dr. Carlos Alemany, a medical

the morning, but I walked the hallway for

daughters, sisters and friends have come

oncologist at the AdventHealth Cancer

20 minutes,” Jennifer says. “The nurse

together at this all-women’s 5k to celebrate


an oral medication.

said, ‘Well, I’ve never seen this before,’

women’s health and fundraise to provide

“Through genomic testing, we learned

and I said, ‘Well, you’ve just never met a

early diagnosis for those in need through the

that Jennifer’s cancer wasn’t aggressive,”

Cajun gal like myself,’ and we laughed.

AdventHealth Breast Cancer Care Fund.

he adds. “She was a candidate for adjuvant

She shook her head as if to say, ‘You go,

And for more than 20 years, AdventHealth

hormone therapy and received treatment

girl.’ It was just this little moment that

and Track Shack have partnered to make

with an oral agent.”

meant a lot to me.”

the Central Florida community — and

Despite a five-year pill regimen, calci-

At Track Shack, Jennifer’s found a

people like Jennifer — healthier in body,

um supplements and weekly treatment

running hobby that’s as healthy as it is ful-

mind and spirit. Learn more or sign up for

with vitamin D capsules, Jennifer’s opti-

filling. “Walking with Track Shack is a

the AdventHealth Lady Track Shack 5k at

mistic and grateful for everyone who

boost to my morale,” she says.

Story originally appeared on 32

beautybody&spirit style for miles Whether your 2020 fitness goals include a grueling marathon or gentle jog, some new kicks might be on your shopping list. And who says you can’t be a little fashion-forward with your picks. Clockwise from top left: New Balance Women’s FuelCell Echo; Saucony Women’s Ride ISO; Brooks Women’s Levitate 3; Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Sparkle; Under Armour Women’s HOVR Phantom SE; and ASICS Women’s GT-2000 8 Trail.



F.I.T. AGAIN: RUNNING FOR A REASON With a commitment to get fit 10 years ago, a group of women decided they would train for and run in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. They worked hard and all say one person made it possible for them to get to the finish line — their volunteer trainer David Cassidy, who was an athletic trainer and sports medicine marketing manger with AdventHealth Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.


ver the past decade some of the women have continued with half marathons while others have been more casual runners, but

a sudden loss — David Cassidy’s 2019 suicide — brought them back together and they jumped into training mode. They will once again take on the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, on January 11, to bring awareness to mental health issues. “Ten years ago, AdventHealth — Florida Hospital back then — was talking about doing something to get people healthier. So, I took that challenge and I actually reached out to people I knew in the business community as well my kids’ school and other places,” Samantha (Sam) O’Lenick explains. “Actually 30 ladies came and joined us. Dave Cassidy was our coach and was quite an inspiration to all of us. We had been flirting with the idea of getting back together again and then tragically, Dave took his own life. That got us jazzed and ready to go. We are going to raise awareness for Dave and mental health. Each and every one of us struggles with it and if we can eliminate the stigma, that’s what we want to do.” The F.I.T. (females in training) 2020 team includes: Leah Shepherd, Samantha O’Lenick, Sara Brady, Wendy Sullivan, Alison Appelbaum Polejes, Kari Conley, Pam Saffran and Dr. Aileen Field. And although the group is smaller than the original one, it is no less enthusiastic and motivated.

F.I.T. team photographed at Track Shack. Top: Sara Brady, Sam O’Lenick, Wendy Sullivan, Ali Polejes and Betsy Hughes; bottom: Kari Conley, Pam Saffran and Leah Shepherd. Not pictured: Dr. Aileen Field 36

“I think the gift that I got from this was the connection with these women and

beautybody&spirit David Cassidy, Sam O’Lenick and Ali Polejes

also that I have been running for 10 years. This is a big challenge — we’re all 10 years older. Dave brought all the joy into this and also took the pressure off us in terms of our own competitive ways. It’s about the camaraderie and the accomplishment — and it’s special that we are doing this for Dave,” Sara Brady says. “The biggest thing for me is that Dave was such an encouragement. I started running 10 years ago because of Sam and Dave. I have run nine marathons since then, and he encouraged me. I actually ran the Marine Corps marathon with him a few years ago. He was always there for me,” Wendy Sullivan explains. “I met Dave back in the mid-’90s when I worked for the Orlando Magic. So, when I heard he was going to be our trainer I thought it was great our paths had crossed again. It was like no time had passed. He was like an old friend and it was heartbreaking to get the news. To run in his honor, especially on his birthday, is even more special for us,” Leah Shepherd says. “As a mental health counselor, this is really important for us to raise awareness for these issues that are out there and a lot of people don’t talk about,” Pam Saffran adds. “I’m thankful for Sam who brought us together, and Dave for being with us. It made possible what we all thought was impossible. We trained in so little time, just like we are doing now. I remember the morning of the race I started to freak out a little, but he gave us all the inspiration to do it,” Kari Conley explains. “It’s going to be very emotional crossing the finish line. It was the first and second time, but this time we will be crying different tears,” Ali Polejes says. “Ten years ago, I helped a little with the coaching. Dave had been a friend of Track Shack for years. He had an athletic training background, so to coach all the ladies was a piece of cake for him. He loved it. David’s widow and daughter are also planning to run the race,” shares Track Shack owner Betsy Hughes.



Understanding Weight Gain and the Latest Treatments for Obesity and Diabetes by Deborah Harding, MD and Victor Harding, MD,

Harding Medical Institute Over the last few decades, obesity rates in the United States have skyrocketed. Most states have nearly 40% obesity rates. The numbers are even higher among middle-aged and elderly people. Nearly a third of people over 50 are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Of these people, nearly 87% who are untreated will go on to die early from a heart attack or stroke.


Zerona Laser Treatment

besity and diabetes increase

we call andropause, where testosterone

the risk of various cancers,

levels may fall to 50% or less of previous

dementia, arthritis, and other

levels in about half of men.

in treating obesity. New studies demonstrate how statins mixed with higher doses of EPA, a compo-

diseases of premature aging.

Hunger and satiety are controlled by

nent of omega-3s found in fish oil, reduce

In the new year, we’d like to

ghrelin and lepton, which are hormones

heart attack and stroke rates in diabetics.

look at the exciting advances in the treat-

that get upside down with many factors,

Additionally, a new study from Israel has

ment of obesity and the related disease of

particularly lack of sleep and stress. Corti-

shown in a very large group of patients

type II diabetes.

sone levels, greatly affected by stress, also

how statins greatly reduce mortality rates in elderly people.

Much effort has been done to better

may have a profound effect on weight

understand obesity. We now know that obe-

gain. Hormones called incretins have

Our understanding of how fat cells

sity is controlled by many factors that go

been shown to be very powerful weight

gain and lose fat is growing rapidly. Tradi-

well beyond how you eat and exercise.

modifiers, and delicate balances deterio-

tionally we have thought weight is mostly

New research is now showing how other

rate with aging and obesity. A newer class

affected by how many calories are eaten or

hormones play a tremendous role in

of medicines mimicking hormonal incre-

stored and how many burned. With new

weight regulation. For example, many

tins are very potent reducers of risk of

technology and research, we now know

women gain significant weight during

heart attacks and strokes in diabetics. Tre-

that fat cells and body metabolism, includ-

perimenopause when estrogen domi-

mendous strides have also been made in

ing weight loss and gain, is far more com-

nance develops due to falling progesterone

the understanding of the role of growth

plicated. Fat cells are affected by many

levels. Many middle-aged men have what

hormone and growth hormone precursors

hormones, stem cell factors, genetics and


beautybody&spirit environmental conditions. Even spices

loss. Recent research has shown that very

bariatric surgery because of newer laparo-

such as curcumin and turmeric may have

specific wavelengths of light cause fat cells

scopic and robotic surgical techniques.

profound effects on what foods get absorbed

to “dump” their fat. Zerona laser treat-

The surgical risk has been reduced with

by the intestines. Other toxins and factors

ments to the abdomen and back are

these advances, and this type of surgery

may harm absorption by causing “leaky

thought to be very safe and noninvasive.

has been shown to be very successful in

gut syndrome.”

Over several treatments most people will

reversing diabetes and obesity. Progress

have a noticeable decrease in waist size.

can be measured in doctors’ offices using

Considerable science has been developed on new ways to treat obesity and dia-

Multiple medications work as appetite

minimal-dose CT body comp machines.

betes. We now understand that the sense

suppressants. Sglt-2 inhibitors (such as

Additionally, resting and active metabolic

of being full can be variable from one food

Jardiance) are diabetic medicines that

rates can easily be measured if your doc-

to another, even at the same meal. This is

cause sugars to be urinated out of the

tor has the equipment.

called selective hunger and satiety. For

body, which prevents the uptake of about

Patients should talk with their doctors

example, research shows if someone fills

300 calories per day. This medication has

to become familiar with ways to prevent

up on one type of food, a few minutes later

also been shown to reduce cardiac disease,

developing obesity and diabetes.

they will not want another serving of the

strokes and high blood sugars in diabetics,

food. However, if they are offered a sweet

which can be additive to GLP-1 and other

dessert, such as ice cream, most people


will want a fairly large serving.

Researchers using DNA techniques,

Dr. Deborah Harding is board certified in internal, sleep disorder and anti-aging

The good news is that new technologies

including gene editing, have made tre-

medicine. The Harding Medical Institute

involving research, diagnosis and treatment

mendous progress in helping to correct

is located in MetroWest. Learn more at

are rapidly evolving. We, as doctors, have

weight gain because of genetic defects.

several new treatments available for weight

Finally, great strides have been made in



Dr. Nathalie D. McKenzie A Passion for Care

Dr. Nathalie Dauphin McKenzie is an award-winning, board-certified gynecologic oncologist with tremendous expertise and experience providing advanced surgical treatments including laparoscopic and robotic-assisted procedures for women with all types of gynecologic cancers. A cancer survivor herself, she provides compassionate, holistic, integrative and state-of-the art medical care.


hile for some that

the surgical specialties — both with my

to take care of themselves, from mindful-

might be enough,

surgical aptitude and the way I approach

ness, nutrition and physical activity to get-

for Dr. McKenzie

life — I’m a fixer. Fairly early in my train-

ting an annual check-up. “Too often I

it’s just the tip of the

ing, about 15 years ago, I was diagnosed

meet a woman with cervical cancer who

iceberg. In addition

with breast cancer. That sort of solidified

tells me she hasn’t had a pap smear since

to her duties as a gynecologic oncologist,

my decision to continue down this path I

her last child was born 15 years ago. These

she is also piloting a program on lifestyle

was already on. To this day, I believe this

cervical cancers could have been caught

education and changes for cancer patients

first-hand experience helped me become

perhaps when they were pre-cancers,

and survivors. She serves as the current

a better doctor.”

where a tiny procedure fixes the diagnosis

program director of Gynecologic Oncology

United States Congress designates Jan-

versus being diagnosed with an advanced

Fellowship and has affiliate faculty appoint-

uary as Cervical Health Awareness

stage cervical cancer that requires a com-

ments with the FSU and UCF Colleges of

Month. Nearly 13,000 women in the Unit-

bination of chemotherapy and radiation,”

Medicine through which she regularly men-

ed States are diagnosed with cervical can-

she adds.

tors students and residents. Dr. Mckenzie

cer each year, but the disease is prevent-

But Dr. McKenzie likes to take her

also sits on numerous boards for charity

able with vaccination and appropriate

treatment beyond traditional methods. “I

organizations, goes on surgical missions to

screening, according to the National Cer-

am so passionate about being able to bring

impoverished areas internationally, and

vical Cancer Coalition.

more options, outside of chemotherapy

frequently lectures nationally and internationally.

“I always tell patients, ‘Put your own

and surgery, to my patients that I’ve

oxygen mask on first’ because as women,

undergone additional training — board

Her work is her passion as she describes

we are nurturers. Whether it's diving

certification in lifestyle medicine,” she

her journey into gynecologic oncology: “It

deeply into our careers, or taking care of

says. She recently started a program for

was through my desire to specialize in a

pets, friends, children, significant others,

cancer patients that offers intensive life-

field where I felt like I would protect women

aging parents — we always seem to be put-

style education and changes through an

— where I would be allowed to follow

ting others’ needs above our own. So much

interactive program, where they learn

them throughout their journey, whatever

so that we forget to stop and take time for

about nutrition, sleep, physical activity,

that would be; I knew I wanted continuity

ourselves,” Dr. McKenzie explains.

stress reduction, relationships and more.

of care. I also realized I very much liked


She encourages women to take the time

She hopes to transform this into sophisti-

beautybody&spirit cated research on how lifestyle changes may augment survivor rates and decrease side effects among cancer patients. She’s dedicated to expanding her knowledge and giving back. She volunteers her time and surgical expertise through mission trips to serve countries in need. She also dedicates her time to a pediatric cancer organization by sitting on their scientific review committee. “I have the opportunity to be selected to review grant trials for cancer research and comment on the scientific merits of these proposed research studies,” she explains. “During my free time, I like to relax and spend quality time with my husband and two young children, ages 7 and 12. But my favorite thing to do when I have down time is travel and see the world,” she says.


One call to AdventHealth for Women’s Health Navigator Doreen Forsythe, BSN, RN, can help you coordinate all your health care. AdventHealth for Women understands the intricate role women play in their family’s healthcare decisions and needs. Doreen is a specially trained registered nurse who is available to help women access AdventHealth’s extensive network of services across Central Florida. This coordination specialist not only provides expert, clinical assistance, but also helps manage your overall care and identifies ways to speed up the process of scheduling physician appointments and procedures. The health navigator acts as your personal advocate — creating a seamless healthcare experience that focuses on health, wellness, hospitality and convenience. As a registered nurse, Doreen has been a valued member of the AdventHealth team since 2001. Graduating from Villanova University in Pennsylvania, she has more than 15 years of experience in multiple nursing disciplines including cardiology, neurology, surgery and nursing education. No matter what kind of women’s health services you need, Doreen can connect you with the right doctors and resources to ensure you receive the best treatment available. This complimentary service is available to all women. Learn more at


Doreen Forsythe, BSN, RN

Chef John Tesar

tastes&experiences culinary concept coming The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is making way for its new dining concept, Knife & Spoon, a signature steak and seafood restaurant conceived and led by celebrity Chef John Tesar. Set to begin welcoming guests spring 2020, Knife & Spoon joins the resort’s array of food and beverage outlets. Featuring an elegant dining room and covered terrace space, the eatery will celebrate the bounty of Florida on land and at sea, combining the cutting-edge meat and seafood cookery of Chef Tesar.




A Slam Dunk for Orlando Magic Youth Foundation The 2nd Annual Orlando Wine Festival & Auction, March 13-15 at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is poised to be the palette-pleaser of the season. Chef Michael Symon headlines a star line-up of chefs, wineries for the event that benefits the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation. Last year’s event raised $900,000, and this year the hope is to surpass the $1 million mark.


his is an event unlike any oth-

Wine expert and restauranteur George Miliotes and Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier get ready for the event with a private wine tasting.

er that’s ever been done in the Central Florida community. It’s an opportunity to raise funds for the kids in Central Florida,

bringing the greatest winemakers and the greatest chefs from around the country together for people who love food, who love wine, and who also want to help raise GEOFF FORBES, ORLANDO MAGIC

money for at-risk children,” says Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. Some of the scheduled 2020 chef participants include: Chef Michael Symon (Food Network, Lola flagship restaurant, Cleveland), Chef Art Smith (Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Disney Springs), Chef Akshay Bhardwaj (Junoon, New York), Chef Michael Tiva (Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill,

Among the notable wineries being rep-

Popular packages for the event are the

Disney Springs), Chefs James and Julie

resented are Napa wineries: Peter Michael

Grand Cru — $9,250 for 2 guests — that

Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig, Winter Park),

Winery, Casa Piena Vineyards, Rudd Win-

includes VIP access to all festivities, hotel

Chef Jamie McFadden (Cuisiniers, Orlan-

ery, Dakota Shy Wines, Hourglass Win-

accommodations and private car service;

do), Chef Melissa Kelly (Primo, Orlando

ery, Relic Wine Cellars, Revana Family

Premier Cru — $6,500 for 2 guests — that

and Rockland, Maine) and Chef Kathleen

Vineyard, Roy Estate and O’Brien Estate

includes access to all festivities and pri-

Blake (Orlando).

Winery. Also on the list are Gracianna Win-

vate car service; and Reserve — $2,500 for

ery, Sonoma, and Penfolds Wine, Australia.

2 guests for outdoor food and wine tasting,

A highlight of the multi-day event is

Chef Michael Symon

the wine auction. Last year the top lot,

The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation

which sold for $40,000, included two tick-

is committed to helping children in Central

ets to the 2020 Super Bowl and dinner at

Florida realize their full potential, espe-

Thomas Keller’s new Miami-area Surf

cially those most at-risk, by supporting

Club Restaurant. A three-day wine trip to

nonprofit organizations offering youth-

Bordeaux sold for $38,000.

based programs in the areas of education,

“Because we’re in sports and entertain-

housing/homelessness, the arts, and health

ment, we have a great opportunity to take

programs focused on preventing childhood

the wine auction to a different level in


incorporating a lot of sports and entertainment experiences along with wine and travel,” Alex adds. 50

live auction and after party.

For more information visit or call 407-89-MAGIC.

tastes&experiences 2020 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: Sunday, March 8, Noon

E-auction Opens ( Friday, March 13

Vintner Dinners at private homes throughout Central Florida Celebrity chefs and wineries will showcase the artistry of wine and food pairings in an unparalleled dining experience. Saturday, March 14

Aerial view of the festivities at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

Outdoor Wine Festival, 2-5pm, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes Guests will wine and dine with cooking demonstrations by local and celebrity chefs, music, live auction displays and exceptional wine. Saturday, March 14

Wine Auction, 5-7:30 pm, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes The live auction will feature unique and priceless experiences. Dinner, 7:30-10pm Dinner and live entertainment celebrating the impact made on the lives of Central Florida at-risk children. Sunday, March 15

Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Hornets, tip-off 6pm, at Amway Center Culminating the weekend of events and in celebration of the funds raised for the youth of Central Florida.


Participants at the 1st Annual Orlando Wine Festival & Auction



WINTER OLD FASHIONED (Maduro Old Fashioned) Notes of cinnamon, vanilla and molasses combine with the caramel spice notes of the rye/bourbon for a complex yet flavorful cocktail.

2 ounces Bullitt rye or bourbon 3/4 ounce Maduro simple syrup 2 droppers Bittermens Hellfire habanero shrub Combine ingredients in mixing pitcher. Stir 35-40 times. Strain into glass. Garnish with flamed orange peel.

WINTER WONDERLAND MARTINI Take your taste buds for a walk through a winter wonderland with this delightfully creamy cocktail with hints of peppermint, raspberries and chocolate.

2 ounces Bacardi 8 1 ounce Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream 1 ounce Godiva White Chocolate 1/2 ounce Chambord 1/2 ounce peppermint schnapps

Just because the holidays have come to an end doesn’t mean the celebration has to. Wesley De Souza, food and beverage manager for The Alfond Inn in Winter Park, shares recipes for the hotel’s winter season cocktails, including the Winter Old Fashioned and the Winter Wonderland Martini. Both can be ordered at dinner at the Hamilton’s Kitchen restaurant or in the hotel’s lounge.


Combine in container and shake all ingredients. Serve into a chilled martini glass garnished with swirled raspberry syrup. Optional: top with chocolate shavings.



Imagine a novel fundraiser that is both a spectacle for the senses and an inspiration for entertaining in a fun, festive style. Imagine a large room filled with more than 30 lavishly decorated holiday and themed tables — some sky high and others spilling onto the ground. This is Tables Extraordinaire, a celebration of imagination.


he 11th annual Tables Extraor-

Puff ’n Stuff Catering.

Birdie Told Me, Mardi Gras, Have An

dinaire offers something for

Last year’s tables ranged from funky,

everyone, whether it is a tour of

colorful ’80s décor to sophisticated and

the tablescapes, a luncheon or

formal black-tie settings, and everything

The event helps sponsor a guest room

dinner reminiscent of a trip to

in between — Star Trek, “Let Them Eat

for a family at Ronald McDonald House

the Greek Isles, an intimate coffee with a

Cake,” Celestial Celebrations, A Little

Charities of Central Florida, a home away

delectable dessert, or the Saturday grand finale gala dinner and silent auction. The Saturday evening gala features butler-passed hors d’oeuvres, open bars with premium liquors, musical entertainment, and a 5-course meal prepared by renowned Orlando chefs. Guests are served at one of the spectacular tables and are invited to dress to its theme, as the majority of guests do. This year, Chef Wendy Lopez of Tapa Toro; Brio of Winter Park; Chef Al Walker of Walt Disney World; and Chef Albert Barrett of Stella’s Modern Pantry will be preparing the meals, with appetizers from 56

“Ice” Christmas, “Frankly My Dear…” and even Go Red for Women.

tastes&experiences from home for a family whose child is undergoing treatment at AdventHealth hospitals or Orlando Regional Medical Center. Additionally, proceeds will benefit the AdventHealth Transplant Institute in their effort to support the Transplant House, which is located on the campus of AdventHealth downtown Orlando, as well as the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Beautification Project. Tables Extraordinaire is sponsored by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Orlando in Maitland and takes place at its Reception and Conference Center, January 29 – February 1 (Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 8pm; Saturday, 10am – 2:30pm). Tickets are $10 (includes entry to view tables, access to silent auction items, and marketplace) with a limited number of gala tickets available for $150 each. For more information about the event and gala tickets visit



CULINARY EXPERIENCES at the ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL Ladies, grab your date or your girlfriends and head to the Arnold

for Friday, March 6, the 2-5pm event in a

Palmer Invitational presented by Master-

No. 9, and a signature commemorative

card. The annual tournament at Arnold

wine tumbler.

covered open-air venue at The Landing on

Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge is not just

On Saturday, March 7, fans watch the

about golf. The culinary experiences —

tournament from The Landing (near No. 9),

Wine & Dine on 9, Birdies & BBQ, and the

while nationally recognized 4Rivers Smoke-

all-new Mastercard Brunch & Bloody

house serves up its signature smokehouse

Marys with celebrity chef Graham Elliot

fare. The Birdies & BBQ ticket ($90) includes

Emmy Award-winning hit cooking com-

— are the place to be at Bay Hill come



petitions Top Chef. This culinary and social

tournament time.

12-3pm event, beer from Anheuser-Busch,

event features items custom curated by

and a signature commemorative koozie.

the award-winning celebrity chef. This

Friday’s Wine & Dine on 9 allows fans to



enjoy delectable appetizers and fine wine

New in 2020, you won’t want to miss

event — exclusive for Mastercard card-

pairings from some of Orlando’s top restau-

the Mastercard® Brunch & Bloody Marys

holders — is located at The Landing from

rants, including Fleming’s, Ocean Prime

with Graham Elliot. Spend your “Sunday

10am – 2pm. Tickets ($120) can be purchased

and Rocco’s Tacos. The all-inclusive ticket

Funday” on March 8 with the James Beard

by visiting

($110) comes with tournament admission

Foundation nominee and judge on Bravo’s

(Terms & conditions apply.)


Sip & Savor: 10thAnnual Taste of Windermere IF FOOD AND FUN ARE ON YOUR LIST of best bets for a Saturday night, then you won’t be disappointed at the 10th Annual Taste of Windermere, taking place at The Grove shopping and dining center in Windermere on February 29 from 6-9pm. With dozens of participating restaurants, and wines, plus specialty cocktails and live entertainment by Unkle Funk, a good time will be had by all. Some of the participants include:

Cypress, Il Mulino New York Trattoria,

sal Orlando, T-REX Café, The Boathouse,

American Social Bar & Kitchen, Bar 17

Jake’s American Bar at Loews Royal Pacif-

and The Vineyard. Wines will be provided

Bistro at Loews Aventura at Universal

ic at Universal Orlando, Jeremiah’s Italian

by The Vineyard Wine Bar.

Orlando, Capa at Four Seasons Resort

Ice, Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carl-

Proceeds benefit the Central Florida

Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort,

ton Grande Lakes, Nicole Macaron, Rain-

Women’s League Foundation for commu-

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant,

forest Café, Ravello at Four Seasons

nity nonprofit grants and scholarships. VIP

Crooked Can Brewery, Ellie Lou’s Brews

Resort Orlando, Seasons 52, Slate, Spoleto

tickets are $125 and general admission tick-

& BBQ, Hawkers Asian Street Fare,

My Italian Kitchen, Strong Water Tavern

ets are $90 in advance. To purchase tickets,

Hemingway’s at Hyatt Regency Grand

at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Univer-

visit Taste of Windermere on Facebook.

january | february 2020


home&design pretty little sippers For fans of the whimsically appealing designs of Anna Bond’s Winter Park-based Rifle Paper Co., these too-pretty-for-thecupboard cups with gilded monograms, available through a creative collaboration with Anthropologie, are just what we want to sip from. The collection also marks the 10th anniversary of the Rifle lifestyle brand that has us smiling.




by Christi Ashby



arc Thee, principal and cofounder of Marc-Michaels Interior Design, Inc., recently unveiled his new line of Waterjet and Skord (a play

on scored; a term for making lines and notches into a surface) patterns manufactured and represented by Audrey Lane, founded by self-proclaimed tile geeks Jennifer Horning and Holli VanCleave. The collection has already received several awards including Best of BDNY (Boutique Design New York) 2019. “For Audrey Lane, the opportunity to access Marc Thee’s talent for our first designer collaboration has been more than exciting. Marc and his team of gifted partners have designed 15 new Waterjet patterns and six stunning Skord patterns that exquisitely complement our existing line.

Bath: Love Always Wins; tiles, from top: Beautiful Soul, Good Karma and Turning Point

The collection consists of organic and

“We had talked about a tile line and

“It’s interesting because you try to find

graphic patterns meant to evoke positivity

using our mass approach to product and

like souls when you decide to collaborate

with a masculine appeal, all while allowing

design — everything you could possibly

because you only have so many hours in a

one to create bespoke interior floor and wall

imagine in a house from the floors and

day as well as wanting to make it fun and

spaces,” says Holli Van Cleave, co-founder

walls, to the ceilings and the furnishings.

seamless. We have found that surround-

and creative director of Audrey Lane.

We wanted to do something that wasn’t

ing ourselves with positive energy, laugh-

available. I don’t know how these two ladies

ter, ease, and just a good spirit builds us

walked through the door…,” Marc says.

up. With this tile line, we believe in some-

With the Marc Thee original patterns, consumers and professionals can design a truly bespoke tile surface with multiple

“We muscled our way in,” Holli adds.

thing I call infused meaning — which is

color and scale customization capabilities.

“Since we’ve been working in Orlando for

going beyond the beauty and identifying

Audrey Lane designers are available to

so many years [both ladies designed at

some characteristic that gives you a posi-

collaborate on custom projects as well.

Trinity Surfaces and are still affiliated] we

tive reinforcement. We are trying to sur-

The large-format porcelain tiles have the

had worked on projects with Marc-

round ourselves in every part of our homes

look of natural materials without the

Michaels. We have always been fans, but

today with things that help us feel good

upkeep of stone, wood or metal in nearly

when you were looking to design your

and nurture our souls.” Marc explains.

100 finish and color options. The tiles are

own tile brand, we caught wind of it. We

This is obvious when studying the differ-

then fabricated to order after the design

had started our brand three years ago and

ent patterns that really do have a feel-good

process. It’s something you have to see —

were really itching for a designer to bring

vibe to them. And the names reflect that as

and you can with the rendering tool at

on a new collection. We thought this was

well with Beautiful Soul, Fresh Start, Good And it was definitely

our chance. A mutual designer friend at

Karma, Bright Side, Happy Thoughts and

something I wanted to learn more about, so

Trinity put us in touch with the team

Love Always Wins. They reflect an organic

I sat down with the creatives to discuss.


aesthetic with a sophisticated playfulness.


With the Waterjet tiles, the patterns can be scaled and are equally appropriate on walls or floors — and in just about every room. The Skord patterns offer an easy approach with much larger tiles that appear to be mosaics when grout is used to fill the notched lines. “There was a bit of a learning curve in determining what patterns could be fabricated efficiently. So we studied what they had already done and asked a lot of questions. Then we brought our creative team together. We really spring boarded off what they had already done,” Marc adds. Tiles, from top: Mind Over Matter, Good Vibes and Wonder

Kitchen: Happy Thoughts january | february 2020



ART IN BLOOM Festival of Fine Arts & Flowers Prepare to bloom with excitement at ART

About Margot Shaw

IN BLOOM, a museum-wide kaleidoscope of floral designs inspired by works from

Margot Shaw is the founder and

the Orlando Museum of Art’s permanent

editor-in-chief of Flower Magazine.

collection and current exhibitions, well-

Now in its 12th year, the magazine has

curated antiques, lifestyle events, and

grown to include features on homes,

design to inspire everyone. The festival

gardens, entertaining and lifestyle.

kicks off with an Opening Night Party on

Margot is a sought-after speaker at

Thursday, March 26. Throughout the

antique and garden shows, museums,

three-day festival, guests can experience a number of themed events and classes,

botanical gardens, interior design

including Appraisal Days, Floral Design

centers, and more. She is the author

Workshops and more.

of the newly released book, Living

Guest speakers include Carleton Varney,

Floral: Entertaining and Decorating

president/owner of Dorothy Draper & Co.,

with Flowers.

Inc., and Margot Shaw, editor-in-chief of Flower magazine and author of Living Floral: Entertaining and Decorating with Flowers. Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year, and the Council of 101 and Orlando Museum of Art want to celebrate it with the Central Florida community. For more information, contact Council of 101 at 407-896-4231 ext. 254 or visit


Friday, March 27, 10am – 5pm Saturday, March 28, 10am – 5pm Sunday, March 29, 11am – 4pm


$15 per person; includes admission to the Museum’s exhibition Living Color: The Art of the Highwaymen

SPECIAL EVENTS Thursday, March 26

• Opening Night Party

Friday, March 27

• Guest Speakers Margot Shaw & Carleton Varney VIP Event

• Guest Speakers Margot Shaw &

Carleton Varney Lecture & Book Signing

• What’s It Worth? Appraisals 66

Saturday, March 28

• Mystery Home Tour • What’s It Worth? Appraisals

Sunday, March 29

• What’s It Worth? Appraisals


• Antiques Dealers • Art in Bloom • Floral Workshops • Blossoms & Blooms • Café 101

Over the years, Council of 101 has raised more than $12 million for the Orlando Museum of Art’s educational programs and operational expenses through its fundraising efforts. The Council of 101 was founded in 1965 to further the cultural development and appreciation of the visual arts in Central Florida. Today, this outstanding group of volunteers comprises an organization of nearly 300 women. These dedicated members devote countless volunteer hours, boundless energy and strong personal skills to annual fundraising projects like ART IN BLOOM.

About Carleton Varney MICHAEL ARNAUD

Carleton Varney, one of America’s best-known interior designers, is the president and owner of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc., located in New York City. It is the oldest established and continuous interior design firm in the United States and is named after the founder of the company, Dorothy Draper, one of the doyennes of interior design in the U. S. from the 1920s to the 1960s. The Varney design philosophy stresses the use of bright colors and the rejection of all that is impractical, uncomfortable and drab. In embracing this practice, he continues the tradtion of Dorothy Draper by being associated with the imaginative use of vibrant colors, floral patterns and bold contrasts.

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Photography: Victoria Angela Photography


Location: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort

Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s global initiative to end heart disease and stroke in women. Launched in 2004 to close the gap in awareness, Go Red quickly expanded into a worldwide movement dedicated to removing the barriers women face to achieving good health and well-being.

This year’s local Go Red for Women campaign is led by longtime ambassador and volunteer Jayne Willis, chief nurse executive at Orlando Health. “I had the pleasure to attend the first Go Red luncheon 16 years ago, and it’s amazing to reflect on the tremendous progress that the movement has made,” Jayne says. “The 2020 campaign marks the third time I have served as chair of Go Red for Women. I have stayed involved because I feel strongly that women should be educated and empowered to take control of their health.” Go Red strives to inspire women to do just that, with an emphasis on improving diet, increasing physical activity and managing blood pressure. In addition, Go Red is dedicated to closing the gender gaps in research and STEM careers while improving access to care, advocating for change through public policy, and much more. “I’ve been a registered nurse at Orlando Health for more than 37 years and have seen the impact that heart disease has on women and their families,” Jayne explains. “I’ve also seen the impact that the American Heart Association has had on treating and preventing heart disease and stroke.” An essential component of the Go Red for Women campaign is the Circle of Red, a society of local ambassadors who are committed to ending heart disease and stroke in women. Circle of Red members (pictured) use their influence and generosity to connect more women to the cause, while supporting research and education that saves lives right here in our community.


Jane Willis Vice President, Chief Nurse Executive Orlando Health


This year’s Go Red for Women Luncheon, the anchor of the Go Red campaign, will be held at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando on Friday, February 7. The event features an interactive exhibit area, gourmet food and drink, surprise giveaways, inspiring stories, and a panel discussion with local health and wellness leaders. “There is nothing more powerful than seeing more than 500 women dressed in red all united for a common cause,” Jayne adds. To learn more about the Go Red for Women movement and to secure your seat at the luncheon, visit

2020 CIRCLE OF RED MEMBERS Kristen Ackley Rajia Ackley Victoria Angela Christi Ashby Michelle Bates Kim Bell Dana Bledsoe Billinda Boldt Wendy Brandon Tere Brun Beth Clift Kari Conley Judith Conrad Dr. Megan Core David Cross Megan Cross Debra Davis Ericka Dunlap Jenni Dzenis Kelly Edmondson Camille Evans Kari Fleck

Deirdre Fortune Pat Foss Renee Friedman Gabriele Gannaway Chris Gearity Sarah Geltz Dr. Deborah German Brittany Gruber Michelle Hartog Kim Hone Leigh Ann Horton Jessica Kendrick Dr. Swathy Kolli Eva Krzewinski Jada Marzolf-Beekman Andrea Massey-Farrell Yolanda McLeod-Terry Suzanne Menendez Danielle Newbold Sonja Nicholson Julie Normann Peggy Parish

Lorraine Parker Debi Pedraza Dr. Giorgina Pinedo-Rolon Christina Pinto Ellen Prague Valarie Sanders Lisa Schultz Jill Schwartz Angela Sechrest Cyndi Shifrel Traci Sihle Dr. Mary Lou Sole Bernadette Spong Darlene Stevens Kim Strong Holly Stuart Wendy Terry Stacey Tol Jayne Willis Julie Wright Ericka Dunlap with 2020 Circle of Red Co-chairs Kristen Ackley and Victoria Angela january | february 2020


Wendy Terry, Dr. Giorgina Pinedo-Rolon, Kim Strong and Christina Pinto

Kimberly Bell, 2018 Chair, Jayne Willis, 2020 Chair and Dana Bledsoe, 2019 Chair 96

“We Go Red for our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women — more than all cancers combined. Let’s raise awareness that 80 percent of cardiac events are preventable!”

Jada Marzolf-Beekman, Rajia Ackley, Gabriele Gannaway, Billinda Boldt and Traci Sihle

january | february 2020


Go Red for Women provides a platform for women and their families to lead healthier lives, and drive collective action for community transformation. It’s not just about wearing red; it’s not just about sharing heart health facts. It’s about: • Providing women with opportunities to prioritize and take charge of their own health; • Building communities that support and provide access to healthy choices; • Demanding equal access to healthcare for all women and their families; • Increasing women in STEM in upcoming generations.

Chelsey Burns, Dr. Mary Lou Sole, Kari Conley, Kelly Edmondson and Jayne Willis


Peggy Parish, Andrea Massey-Farrell, Dana Beldsoe, Kari Fleck and Yolanda McLeod-Terry

Judith Conrad, Jenni Dzenis and Brittany Gruber

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Kim Bell, Jill Schwartz, Camille Evans, Christi Ashby and Sonja Nicholson

Go Red for Women grew into a movement that not only brought together thousands of women annually, but became the trusted, passionate, relevant force for change to eradicate heart disease and stroke all over the world.


LaSonia Landry, Executive Director/ Vice President American Heart Association, Jillian Candaffio, Go Red & Heart Ball Event Specialist, American Heart Association, and Christy Clelland, Senior Development Director

Julie Wright, Suzanne Menendez, Eva Krzewinski and Renee Friedman

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2020 WOMEN of the YEAR


These seven ladies are shaking things up, coloring outside of and blurring the lines, and leaving a wake when they leave the room. They are smart, passionate and serious with a side of savvy and a dose of humor. We have gotten to know them all over the past few years and watched them flourish. We can’t wait to see what they do in 2020. Stephanie Darden Bennett lit up the City Beautiful with her ORLANTONE collections showcasing the colors that define our region. Marci Doyle broke ground as a PGA TOUR tournament director and is surely making Arnold Palmer proud. Rosene Johnson is changing girls’ lives every day through her leadership at Pace Center for Girls. Whitney Laney picked up and packed up to help the devasted Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian with no experience. Suneera Madhani flipped the credit card processing industry on its head and her Fattmerchant has exploded. Maritza Martinez-Guerrero is overseeing the newly created Partnerships and Innovation Division and the re-imagined office of Community Relations and Economic Development at UCF. Dr. Romie Mushtaq went from accomplished neurosurgeon to master of mindfulness-based techniques and now consults with Fortune 500 companies. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JIM







President + Chief Creative Officer, Prismatic

HOW SHE DEFINES A DISRUPTOR: A disruptor is never afraid to ask “why” or “why not?” A disruptor breaks down barriers to build vital bridges.

HER SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Stephanie created the >GOOD Initiative where a portion of all profit at Prismatic is donated to domestic non-profits through in-kind cre-

WHY SHE’S A DYNAMIC DISRUPTOR: Stephanie launched her creative agency, Prismatic, at the age of 23 after the dot com bubble burst. She overcame the economy, sexism, and ageism to forge a nationally recognized creative agency, then expanded her agency into a second office in New Orleans to serve clients in 29 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.

ative services. Nearly $1 million in creative services have been donated since its inception in mid-2008. “Last year our team launched the “localphile” initiative ORLANTONE. The purpose of ORLANTONE is simple: have fun and tell the story of local Orlando through the charming, quirky, pop culture that defines it like Beefy King, Lake Eola, I-4, Wally’s, and crowd favorite — downtown’s neon green parking ticket envelopes. Using Instagram and products we designed, we share Orlando’s vibrancy with the help of user-generated content by fellow Orlandoans. All of the proceeds from every ORLANTONE product goes back into funding future localphile initiatives to spark joy and more love for our hometown. I’m most proud of my family — raising strong, creative, loving and smart young men, and helping to raise my amazing bonus daughter. We are entering new territory, and while many people fear the teenage years, I’m running toward it with excitement. I love this crucial stage of their lives and look forward to navigating it together as a blended family.”

HER MOTIVATION: Adversity is my motivation muse. Breaking down barriers. Creative problem solving. Overall, using every corner of my brain to explore, dissect, and then solve unique challenges really energizes and propels me forward.

HER INSPIRATION: I’m inspired by my mother, Sally Shinn. She’s a dynamic, unapologetic, brave and fun-loving woman who raised four distinct women and did so while running our home, getting her PhD, pursuing her career and always being present. She lives to help people, hold people up, and positively impact their lives by any means necessary.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S RECEIVED: Give it all that you have — give completely. It will come back to you in the end. And… never, ever, ever burn bridges. Orlando is a small, small world after all.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S GIVEN: When opportunity arises like a rogue wave and shakes you out of your comfort zone… when you think it’s impossible and feel the pull to retreat from that opportunity, dig deep. Find courage. And leap into it. Life, love, and opportunities begin at the end of your comfort zone.

FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: Ha! Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Stephanie has received numerous awards and recognition for her ability to unite her career in creative arts with solid business acumen. Honors include Florida Trend’s “All-Star 30-Something” and Orlando Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” (four times) and “Women Who Mean Business” (two times). She has two sons Jaxon (15) and Tyson (13), and bonus daughter Lulu (9) with her husband, Vincent Bennett.

january | february 2020



“Mine’s pretty obvious, being 1 of 2 female tournament directors on the PGA TOUR when being asked to take over the position in 2014 (now 1 of 4 on TOUR), in what was once an extremely male-dominated industry/ sport — we are certainly working to change that!”

MARCI DOYLE, Chief Operating Officer & Tournament

Director, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard

HER MOTIVATION: I’ve had several wonderful mentors and supporters that have either inspired and/or motivated me along the way. I call them my “team,” which includes those who positively impact me on a regular basis — whether it’s providing tough love to help guide me in a different direction, to talk through all of my options to consider, to help me look at things from another perspective, and sometimes simply to encourage me, confirm I’m on the right track. My special team includes my wonderful family, some very close and dear friends from all walks of life, and co-workers and bosses throughout my career. I’ve had wonderful business mentors throughout my career and most of them were men, since there weren’t many female executives in sports and entertainment as I was coming up in the industry.

HER INSPIRATION: Arnold Palmer has been an incredible inspiration and motivation, as I was blessed to work down the hall from him for eight years. After having the opportunity of getting to know him, nothing motivates me more in my current position every day than to continue to maintain and grow the Arnold Palmer legacy — to make him proud of what we are doing, with his tournaments, his foundation, his business overall. The 2017 tournament was the first major event after his passing, and I felt a humbling responsibility to ensure every single element was the right representation and celebration of this accomplished man. That motivates me to continue to “do better” in everything we are working on — growing this tournament, giving more money to charity, ensuring the young golfers and overall generations are educated about him, what he believed, what he has and continues to influence. The other person that continues to inspire me is my dad, Denny Doyle. Not unlike Mr. Palmer, he has touched an incredible number of lives, all through the connection of sports. It is uncanny how much they remind me of each other — both the hardest working athletes of their time; both all about the people and the fans, both finding ways to continue to give back and do good in the world; both making you feel like you’re the only person in the room when they spoke to you.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S RECEIVED: As hard as it is while you’re in it, you will learn much more from a tough situation/job/boss/client/decision than you would if it were easy. Evaluate and understand what you were supposed to learn from it, and how it can make you better.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S GIVEN: Don’t apologize for being passionate about what you believe.

FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: “Swing your swing. Not some idea of a swing. Not a swing you saw on TV. Not that swing you wish you had. No, swing your swing. Capable of greatness. Prized only by you. Perfect in its imperfection.” – Arnold Palmer Marci is involved in the Central Florida community and active on several boards and committees including Greater Orlando Sports Commission, WISE (Women in Sports & Events), The Perfect Game Foundation, and numerous women’s networking groups. She has also contributed to her family’s business, Doyle Baseball, throughout its 40+ years, which is committed to making young men and women better athletes and individuals. She is a passionate sports advocate and proud graduate of the University of Florida. 104


Executive Director, Pace Center for Girls, Orange HOW SHE DEFINES A DISRUPTOR: My idea of disruption is not chaos but changing an old way of thinking or doing to improve life circumstances. I’m honored to have that title


“My definition of a disruptor is a person that challenges the status quo in an attempt to make things better for all. I guess I’ve always been that person… even as a kid. I was the one that stood up for the kid being bullied or fighting for social justice in college.”

because that’s exactly what we do at Pace every day!

HER SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Recognized by the Orlando Business Journal as a “Top 40 Under 40” business leader, Rosene has built a career developing successful children and supporting those that work with them. A published author and researcher in the child development field, Rosene was appointed to serve on the Valencia College Board of Trustees, ranked nationally as the top two-year college in the country. And she was recently cited by the Orlando Sentinel as one of the “10 people that make Orlando a great place to live.” “I am most proud of the growth I have witnessed in our girls and center at Pace Orange. I am looking forward to expanding our center with a new building and new programs for our girls in STEM, the arts, as well as mental health programs.”

HER MOTIVATION: My coach Stacia Pierce motivates me. She is such a strong, brilliant boss babe changing lives all over the world by connecting people to their purpose and their passions. It is because of her I am doing the work I am doing. She constantly motivates me and teaches me how to dream bigger and push the limits of my potential.

HER INSPIRATION: My girls inspire me because they remind me that you don’t ever have to be stuck in life. What these beauties have faced could truly be thought of as insurmountable, but somehow they have such resiliency and grit to push past it all and become all they were meant to be.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S RECEIVED: “Say yes and figure out the rest!” from my mentor Stacia Pierce. She has coached me that sometimes things will not always be perfect, but take the chance, seize the moment, and go for it anyway! It’s amazing what happens once you choose to accept the opportunity; everything works out!

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S GIVEN: Hmmm… that’s tough. I hope I have given good advice. I often tell my girls, “Gratitude will place you before great people and opportunities. Always, be grateful.”

FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: “What’s written is real!” stated by Stacia Pierce. We have the power to improve the course of our lives by what we write and script in our life. It is has worked for me many times over! Rosene leads Pace Center for Girls, Orange to provide counseling and academic services for girls in need of support after unresolved trauma and adverse experiences attempt to weigh them down. Her goal to find the great in every girl has assisted the organization in keeping more than 95% of their girls out of the juvenile justice system and ensuring that more than 85% of them complete high school and move forward to post-secondary education. She lives in Orlando with her husband, Yancy, a technology entrepreneur. january | february 2020



“I am a disruptor because I don’t wait to be asked or told what is the right thing to do. I don’t wait for it to be perfect or have it all figured out. Coordinating relief and figuring out logistics for the Bahamas post-Dorian is a prime example of that.”


REALTOR & Bahamas Disaster Relief Coordinator

HER SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS: This past fall, with no prior experience, she began coordinationg relief efforts in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian devasted some of the islands — from getting initial first responders in place, to finding planes, food, water and donations to help the most devastated islands. She helped rescue hundreds of people to safety and coordinated medical care; ran logistics to get schools, fire trucks, clean water and fuel going in Marsh Harbour and much of Abaco. Her long-term goal is to get Abaco fully functional again… while she’s no longer on the ground there, she has set up an infrastructure and still coordinates relief planes every week. “I am so thankful for the wonderful people in my life and the Central Florida community. I have learned it takes a village in life. Whether it is in raising kids, growing a career, disaster relief, or throwing a charity gala; many people and their support coming together is what leads to change and great things.”

HER MOTIVATION: My children motivate me. I want my son and daughter to grow up knowing what a strong woman looks like. That we can be wonderful mothers, and we can serve others and have successful careers.

HER INSPIRATION: My faith inspires me. I feel fortunate for my life and upbringing and understand I did not do anything to deserve it; I was simply born in a country and family with more opportunity. And no matter our circumstance, we are all equal and deserve great things in life. I feel called to serve those in need, speak for the voiceless, and to love people who otherwise may not feel loved.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S RECEIVED: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It has taken my entire life to understand (and it’s still a work in progress) the importance of taking care of yourself.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S GIVEN: Love God and love people. I believe when I look back on my life I won’t think about the things I had, but instead I will cherish the ones I love and the memories I made. I will remember the faces, the experiences and the lifechanging moments.

FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: “Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.” Whitney grew up in Winter Park and sang professionally as a child. She was a radio personality for 10+ years in Orlando and was on the XL 106.7 morning show. She loved the experiences it gave her to get to know and serve the community that she grew up in and loves. She now loves to serve her community through real estate. Her first year as a Realtor she was named Keller Williams Rookie of the Year and has since started her own real estate company and team with Keller Williams Winter Park. She is also on the board of directors of the Winter Park Public Library and co-chair of Easterseals A Pair to Remember, benefiting adults and children with disabilities.



Founder & CEO, Fattmerchant

HER SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Suneera is a payments and technology innovator who catapulted her business idea from startup to $5 billion in processing — disrupting the payments ecosystem as the “Netflix” of credit card processing with the first flat, subscription model for payment processing for businesses in the US. She is a noteworthy


“I am a disrupter because less than 2% of venture capital in the U.S. goes to womenfounded companies and less than 1% to minorities. I was able to break through many glass ceilings by raising $20 million in venture capital in a financial technology industry all while raising two girls under the age of 3.”

keynote speaker that has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance, TedXOrlando and others. Fattmerchant has been recognized as the nation’s fastest growing fin-tech company by Inc. ( #17), and has won numerous awards — Best Places to Work and Fastest Growing Company in Central Florida by Orlando Business Journal. Suneera has also received several awards for her leadership such as CEO of the Year by the OBJ and Most Influential Woman in payments by Payment Source.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR HER: Over the next two years, I hope to continue to grow Fattmerchant to be a household name and our customer-base by 5x.

HER MOTIVATION: My team motivates me on a daily basis as they are the hardest working team I have ever worked with. Our core value of GSD (get shit done) and one team are evident daily as you walk through our elevator doors.

HER INSPIRATION: My inspiration comes from my family who has overcome an incredible amount of adversity. My parents both immigrated at an early to the U.S. without any support. They gave my brother and me everything we could have imagined so we had equal opportunities to achieve success.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S RECEIVED: There is no such thing as a billion-dollar idea, only a billion-dollar execution.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S GIVEN: It will never get easier and your challenges will only grow the bigger you grow, so buckle up for the ride and enjoy the journey.

FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: Get Shit Done. ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: I am very humbled by this award and all the accomplishments of Fattmerchant. I am always the one to get recognized but it takes an entire village to get to this position. I want the opportunity to thank my co-founding team who collectively carries the burden, challenges, and hard work with me. Suneera shares her journey and struggles of balancing working mom life on her Instagram and blog (@mombossco ) where she hopes to inspire many young women to pursue their dreams. She has received numerous prestigious awards including: Orlando Business Journal 2018 CEO of the Year; 2018 Most Influential Women in Payments (Payment Source); Florida 500 Most Influential Business Leaders (Florida Trend); Top 40 Under 40 (Orlando Business Journal); Young Entrepreneur of the Year (IACC), and Best Places to Work by Entrepreneur.

january | february 2020


WHY SHE’S A DYNAMIC DISRUPTOR: She is a community builder, collaborator and problem solver who uncovers new approaches and is not afraid to take chances when handed a project. She has the ability to maneuver through any obstacle with grace and grit.


Associate Vice President for the Division of Partnerships and Innovation, and Director for the office of Community Relations and Economic Development at UCF WHAT’S NEXT FOR HER: I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked for, and been inspired by, two great leaders who contributed so much to our Central Florida community and our great hometown university, Dr. John C. Hitt and Vice President Emerita Helen Donegan. In the next year or two, as designed by Interim President Thad Seymour, the newly created Partnerships and Innovation Division and our re-imagined office of Community Relations and Economic Development will “Charge On” to build on this great legacy, by not only delivering meaningful external community engagement, but also making sure our UCF assets — 13 colleges, 69,000 students, more than 16,000 graduates per academic year, and our intellectual assets and high-quality research have the opportunity to reach their highest potential. We look forward to working closely with regional economic development entities to ensure Central Florida remains a national leader in terms of job growth, and desirable places to live, work, play, and learn.

HER MOTIVATION: There are numerous sources of motivation for me. At the top of the list are my mother and grandparents who moved to this first-class country in hopes of a better future. It is up to my brothers and me to make sure their audacious endeavors are honored.

HER INSPIRATION: My daughters, Juliana and Mariana, have been inspiring me for 16 and 14 years, respectively. I am a better version of myself, a better human, because I know they’re watching, and they have no qualms about putting Mami on blast (calling me out) when I fall short!

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S RECEIVED: I have been the recipient of many pearls of wisdom. One of my favorites for its simplicity, succinctness and humor is “aim to do one of three things: lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!” (I’m looking at you Brian Watson.)

FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: Ugh! I have so many it’s hard to pick just one. I’ll highlight this one, “when people show you who they are… believe them.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT: I feel lucky to live in Central Florida/Orlando, where the best values of our country are reflected by its residents every day. Maritza is a strategic and trusted public affairs professional with more than 15 years of experience strengthening internal and external stakeholder relations in higher education. She is involved with several local organizations, serving on the boards of the Heart of Florida United Way, National Entrepreneurship Center, the Downtown Orlando Partnership, Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, and the African American Chamber, among others. Maritza received her bachelor’s, master’s and MBA from UCF. She was named as a Orlando Business Journal’s 2012 Woman to Watch; listed in July of 2013 as one of Orlando Magazine’s 12 people to watch; honored as one of Onyx Magazine’s Women On The Move in 2017; and named 2018 Leadership Winter Park Community Leader of the Year. Maritza is married to Julio E. Guerrero, and has two daughters, Juliana and Mariana. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.



Physician, Speaker, Chief Wellness Officer at Evolution Hospitality HER SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Dr. Romie Mushtaq entered neurology at a time when less than 5% of brain doctors were women. After undergoing life-saving surgery 10 years ago, Dr. Romie traveled around the world learning mindfulness-based tech-


“Being a disrupter requires an individual to start with a foundation of knowledge, leadership and skills in a particular industry or discipline. Being able to create solutions to problems others didn't see disrupts processes, systems and behaviors in an industry. I am doing this every day.”

niques. She now works with Fortune 500 companies, professional athletes and global associations. Her expertise is routinely featured in national media such as NBC, Fox Business, Forbes and TEDtalks. She serves as Chief Wellness Officer for Evolution Hospitality, steering the mindfulness and wellness initiatives of more than 6,000 employees, and hosts their podcast Wellness Evolved. She is currently writing her first book, The Busy Brain Cure, based on her three years of research. “I was born and raised in Danville, IL, as a daughter of immigrants who firmly believe in the power of education and I am thankful to my parents for all they sacrificed. I have spent the last two decades building my career and overcoming adversity. I haven’t lost hope in the possibility of a second chance at love in my life and share this intention for all the fellow single professional women who seek a life companion.”

HER MOTIVATION: I am the daughter of immigrants — English is my second language — and I grew up at a time when young girls were pushed into home economic classes in public schools, not STEM. By any U.S. statistic or standard, I should not be in my current position as a successful business owner and leader. This happened because of a larger divine guidance and I am thankful to God. I am motivated to give back and be of service to others.

HER INSPIRATION: At every stage of my career I have been blessed to be surrounded by women who model courage in the face of adversity. My maternal grandmother raised five children as a widow at a time when women did not have independence on the Indian subcontinent. Early in my neurology career, I drew inspiration from my female epilepsy patients who balance work and family with chronic disease. Today, I am inspired by the young women who I meet through Support Our Scholars and World Pulse who are determined to improve their lives and those of their loved ones.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S RECEIVED: “There is a divine order in all that happens in the circle of life. Keep a strong faith in God and you will overcome all of life’s obstacles.” – my maternal grandmother, Hametha Chaudry.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE SHE’S GIVEN: Learn to recognize the voice of fear in your mind. Use tools of self-development, psychology and mindfulness to overcome that fear. Overcoming fear is the secret of success as a leader, innovator and disrupter.

FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: “To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Dr. Romie firmly believes the economic empowerment of women starts with a right to education, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. She volunteers for Support Our Scholars in Central Florida and serves on the board of World Pulse. january | february 2020



The Wedding of

Victoria Farina Ben Latimer and

Date: June 15, 2019 Ceremony: Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College Reception: Country Club of Orlando Wedding coordination: Susie Weiss, Wonderful Weddings Photography: Kristen Weaver Photography Videography: Jeffrey Stoner Invitations: Maureen H. Hall Stationery and Invitations Stationery: Letterings by LeeAnn Custom Monogrammed Crest: Leslie with Giddy Paperie Hair and makeup: LeJeune Artistry Transportation: Mount Dora Trolley Company Floral and décor: Ian Tafoya Designs Band: The Buzzcatz Ceremony trumpet: John Almedia Dress: Calla Blanche, The Collection Bridal Veil: Custom cathedral-length veil by Thread & Needle Alterations Tuxes: Jos. A. Bank Honeymoon: The Harborside Hotel, Spa, and Marina in Bar Harbor, Maine, and The Waldorf Astoria in Maui.

Their story: Ben and Tori met while she

was visiting a friend in Gainesville. They hit it off that weekend and after frequently talking, as well as visits between Gainesville and Orlando, Tori and Ben officially started dating in March 2015. After a few months, it was time for Tori to pick up and move to Boston to teach; a plan solidified well before meeting Ben. After many letters exchanged, Facetime calls made, flights taken, Tori landed a job in Jacksonville and moved back.

The proposal: Ben proposed on the Lagoon

Bridge in Boston’s Public Garden after the two spent a week in Maine hiking Acadia National Park. Ben’s original plan was to pop the question after reaching the top of Cadillac Mountain for the famous sunrise hike, but a sleepy Tori and rainy, misty weather derailed his plan. Tori’s best friend was there to capture the picture-perfect moment in her favorite spot in the world! 112

Ceremony and reception: Their ceremony was held at

Knowles Chapel at Rollins College and reception at the Country Club of Orlando. Both places hold special meaning to Tori; especially Knowles Chapel, where her parents were married almost 30 years ago. The day went flawlessly and fit Tori’s theme of “simple, classic, Nantucket elegance.” With a color scheme of deep navys and whites, the candles, gold accents, greenery and white hydrangeas popped. Special pieces, like the striped table runners and custom monogram, stood out but didn’t overwhelm.

Personal thoughts: Tori: I felt calm and collected all

day! My heart started racing as my dad and I were about to head down the aisle, but as soon as the doors swung open and I reached Ben, I felt so at ease, peaceful, and beyond excited to marry him. Ben: Obviously, my heart was fluttering waiting for Tori to come down the aisle and racing even faster as we held each other’s hands at the altar. After the ceremony, it was smooth sailing and good times for the rest of the night.

Where they are now: Ben and Tori are currently living

in Jacksonville Beach with their kitten, Spanky. Ben is in his third year at the Mayo Clinic and the lead P.A. in the dermatology department. Tori has left education and is happily learning the ropes of inside sales at Ferguson Enterprises; of course, asking her dad, Victor, all the plumbing and building questions along the way.


The Wedding of

Hayley Webb Nate F lynn and

Date: September 14, 2019 Venue: The Alfond Inn Wedding coordination: Nicole Hollinghead Florals: Heirloom (by Nicole Hollinghead) Photography: Jenn Hopkins Photography Videography: The Polk Brothers Invitations and stationery: Heather O’brien Design Dress: LoAdoro by Rachel Allan gown from Solutions Bridal Hair and makeup: Lea Montes & Team Catering: The Alfond Inn Cake: Sprinkles Custom Cakes Entertainment: The BuzzCatz Live painter: Krstin Cronic Fine Art Honeymoon: The Crane Resort, Barbados Their story: “Nate and I met the night of Nate’s 26th birth-

day. One of my best friends had been invited to his birthday party and I decided to crash the party. About an hour into the night I noticed a good-looking guy with a man bun staring at me. He walked over, introduced himself and told me, ‘One day I’m going to marry you.’ Three days later we went on our first date and the rest is history,” Hayley explains.

The proposal: Nate and Hayley are both ocean lovers, so

they decided to take a long weekend to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. He dives this spot every year called The Blue Hole. Nate had originally planned to propose while they were diving, but the water was choppy, and Hayley was having a rough time. “Nate proposed on the beach right after we finished diving. It was perfect!” she says.

Ceremony and reception: The ceremony and reception

took place at The Alfond Inn in Winter Park. “Both of us being Florida natives, we wanted an elegant but Old Florida vibe to the wedding. We incorporated oranges, lots of greenery, and beautiful white flowers throughout the entire décor, with just a hint of lace and a watercolor blue color. In true Florida style, it started to rain right as we were saying our vows. It was the most magical wedding ever, even though I am biased,” Hayley shares. 116

Personal thoughts: Hayley: Nate and I

had been waiting for this day to come for quite some time and it was truly the most amazing day. We agreed that we would not have changed a single thing about our wedding, not even the rain. It was so touching to have our family and friends all together to celebrate and it gave us such an overwhelming feeling of love.

Where they are now: “We are crazy. Two

weeks before we got married, we bought a great house in DeLand right behind Stetson University. Nate works locally for his company, Central Florida Building, as a contractor, and I work throughout Orange, Volusia and Marion counties as a medical sales rep for a company called Orthofix. We love DeLand; it is a fun historic little town with so much to offer,� Hayley says.


The Wedding of

Rachel Bassett JustinCreamer and

Date: November 9, 2019 Venue: Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Planning and design: Jess from Blush by Brandee Garr Photography: Amalie Orrange Photography Videography: Jeffrey Stoner Florals: RJ Glamour & Innovation DJ and lighting: Soundwave Entertainment Cake: Sprinkles Custom Cakes Hair and makeup: Makeover Station Dress: Mikaella Paloma Blanca gown from One and Only Bridal Dance Floor: Letz Dance on It Chandelier: Swag Decor Their story: Justin and Rachel are from Bradenton, a small town and seaside resort com-

munity located on the Gulf Coast. The couple grew up less than a mile apart, but it was not until they attended UCF as freshman that the two became friends. It became clear they had an undeniable bond and love for each other extending beyond a friendship and began dating in 2011.

The proposal: Justin and Rachel were vacationing in Maui and traveled the Road to Hana, a

winding, 52-mile highway along Maui’s northern shore. Along the way, the couple stopped at Black Sand Beach, a shoreline made up entirely of black glistening lava rock. Justin led Rachel up a rocky cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, bent down on one knee, and asked Rachel to spend forever with him.

Ceremony and reception: The ceremony and reception were held at the Dr. Phillips Cen-

ter for the Performing Arts. The ceremony was located on the rooftop balcony and the reception was in the DeVos ballroom; a room boasting sliding glass walls overlooking downtown Orlando. The ceremony space was adorned with white flowers, greenery hedges, and a rectangular arch. The modern and romantic reception flaunted asymmetrical floating centerpieces and candles, as well as a sparkling chandelier centered over a twinkling dance floor.


Personal thoughts: The couple experi-

enced a culmination of calmness, peace and overwhelming feelings of love and gratitude. “Aside from marrying our best friend, we were most excited to celebrate this special time with the people we love most in this world in the beautiful city where we fell in love and call home,� Rachel says.

Where they are now: Justin and Rachel

live in Colonial Town South with their beloved cats (Jax and Luke) and dog (Penny). Justin is a finance manager at Charles Schwab and Rachel is in her fourth year of the Clinical Psychology PhD program at UCF. The couple spends their free time volunteering at local animal rescues, exercising Penny at Baldwin dog park, walking Lake Eola, and sampling the local cuisine of Mills50, the Milk District and downtown Orlando.

january | february 2020


The Wedding of

Karen Pipek Michael Kassem and

Date: September 14, 2019 Venue: Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate Wedding coordination: Blush by Brandee Gaar Photography: Victoria Angela Photography Videography: Legendary Films by Damir Florals: Lee Forrest Design DJ: Danny Garcia Quartet: Classern Quartet Dress: Christina Wu gown from Lily’s Bridal Hair and makeup: Karmel Design Team Artistry Ice cream: Ben & Jerry’s Cake: Sugar Sugar Cake Boutique Choreography: Fiorella Rossi Their story: Karen and Michael met on September 15, 2013,

at an ice cream social. “My roommate introduced us to each other but while Michael was trying to make moves, I was more focused on creating the perfect ice cream sundae. A few dates and some (extremely) corny jokes later, I was hooked,” Karen explains.

The proposal: “We had just celebrated our five-year anniversary when Michael’s family invited me on a cruise. I knew something was up when he convinced me to do a ‘photoshoot’ on the beach in Aruba. Michael knows how much family means to me so during our photoshoot he popped the question and my parents came running from behind some bushes (yes, he surprised me with them in Aruba!)” Karen says.

Ceremony and reception: The couple wed at the Omni

Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate on September 14, 2019. “We chose that date so that we would be celebrating our sixyear anniversary at midnight. Our reception was in an elegant ballroom with beautiful chandeliers, lilac flowers and a fun atmosphere. Our special day was full of surprises — Michael


surprised me with vows in Spanish, we did a hip-hop first dance that we had choreographed for months, and during dessert we brought out Ben & Jerry’s, who was there to make our love story come full circle with ice cream. It was the sweetest ending to our day,” Karen shares.

Personal thoughts: Karen: On the wedding day

I felt like an absolute princess! I had tried on 64 dresses before I found this beautiful Christina Wu ball gown and the second I put it on, I knew it was the one. The whole weekend was so emotional, and my heart was so full of love; it was very surreal to be surrounded by all of our favorite people at the same time. Michael: My heart was racing all day. It’s something that while I was mentally prepared for, it was still so emotionally overwhelming. Our first look is something that I will never forget.

Where they are now: Shortly after getting back

from their honeymoon in Santorini, the Almalfi Coast, and Venice, the newlyweds moved out of state to the Washington DC area and began a new chapter. Currently, Michael works as an international tax attorney while Karen is working toward becoming a licensed mental health therapist.

january | february 2020


The Wedding of

Nicole Nateghi Christopher Mansbach and

Date: October 11, 2019 Venue: Highland Manor Day-of coordination: Michelle Edmiston Photography: Erika Grace Photography, Inc. Videography: Elegant Entertainment DJ and Video Services Florals: Lee Forrest Design Catering: Dubsdread Catering Cake: Publix Dress: Custom Rita Vinieris Alyne gown from The Bridal Finery Hair and makeup: Kristy’s Artistry Design Team Groom/groomsmen attire: Generation Tux Entertinament: Weddings Only DJ Entertainment Honeymoon: Royal at Atlantis — Bahamas

Their story: Christopher and Nicole met through Facebook. She messaged him and

realized they had a mutual friend, Lauren Lankford. Nicole knew that if he was friends with Lauren, then he must be a good guy. On May 13, 2016, Nicole was bartending, and Christopher surprised her at work and swept her off her feet!

The proposal: On February 22, 2018, Christopher took Nicole on a walk to a bridge spe-

cial to the Mansbach family. Christopher’s parents, Bob and Daisy, would walk and enjoy the scenery while his dad would rest and regain his strength before walking back home. His dad was battling cancer and lived until 2010. Nicole’s passion is American Sign Language, so Christopher got down on one knee on the bridge and said in American Sign Language, “Will you marry me?” Nicole screamed, “Yes!”


Ceremony and reception: “Both the cer-

emony and reception took place at Highland Manor in Apopka. We went with a rustic theme — our colors were maroon, navy and ivory, and we had a beautiful outside ceremony. Fall is our favorite time of year, so everything couldn’t have been more perfect for us and our loved ones,” Nicole explains. “We both agreed that our wedding day blew by, but it was everything we imagined and more!”

Personal thoughts: Nicole: “We knew

that our wedding day would be tough by not having Christopher’s life-long friend Austen George standing by his side due to a traumatic brain injury. He was in a medically induced coma the day of our wedding. Thankfully he is in recovery but has a long road ahead of him. Please take a moment to read his story at”

Where they are now: The newlyweds

live in Orlando. Nicole is currently working with Workers Compensation claims and Christopher works for Lockheed Martin. “We enjoy exercising, spending time with loved ones and each other, and cooking. We plan on buying a house, traveling, and having children in the near future,” Nicole says.



Cannonball Kid’s Cancer Foundation:

Giving the Gift of Time by Josh and Gallite Kestler

Our son, Jake, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 7. He did not respond to the standard chemotherapy protocol and required a bone marrow transplant. Miraculously, our daughter, Lily, who was 5 years old at the time, was a perfect match for Jake and was his donor. After radiation, the transplant went smoothly, and Jake fully recovered and returned to “normal” life for four and a half years.


t the age of 12, Jake began experiencing headaches and was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer called glioblastoma. The

doctors believe that this tumor was a side effect of the radiation that Jake received prior to his bone marrow transplant. Heartbroken, we began the recommended treatments to extend Jake’s life as long as possible. In September 2017, Jake had a tumor reoccurrence and we ran out of options for treatment locally. We spent countless hours researching the most innovative and promising treatments available and we reached out to doctors across the country to explore Jake’s eligibility for participation in various clinical trials. Jake was

pan is about 12 months. Jake lived for two

at a future where they’re healthy and that

rejected by several hospitals and we were

years and four months. While nothing but

the treatments they’ve received won’t

running out of options when we came

a full lifetime with Jake will ever be

cause problems later in life. Together we

across a clinical trial funded by Cannon-

acceptable to us, this clinical trial gave us

can give kids like Jake a longer life, and

ball Kids’ cancer Foundation (CKc). The

more time to have countless amazing

ideally a healthier life.

remarkable Dr. Gregory Friedman at the

experiences and create so many memo-

University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB)

ries with Jake.

We are forever grateful for the extra time that we got to spend with Jake and

quickly accepted Jake into his pediatric

What makes CKc so special is that it’s

for all of the happy moments that he had

oncolytic virus trial, which uses a virus

helping to find a way to make better treat-

thanks to the effectiveness of the UAB trial.

called G207 to attack the cancer cells and

ment options available for children. We

This would not have been possible with-

awaken the immune system to the pres-

spent so much time watching children go

out the generous support of CKc donors.

ence of cancer cells.

through the standard types of treatments

To find out more information about

It meant the world to our family that

that essentially just poisoned them and

this amazing organization, or to make a

Jake was able to participate in this CKc-

made them even sicker. To know that CKc

gift, please visit cannonballkidscancer.

funded trial. First, it gave us hope when

provides doctors and researchers the

org. Save the date for their fabulous fund-

we had none. Second and most importantly,

resources to discover safer ways to treat

raiser, Gold Gala, on March 7, at The Han-

we now know that participation in the trial

these children is an amazing thing. We

gar at the Orlando Executive Airport.

materially extended Jake’s life. Jake had

want people to understand that by donat-

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are

glioblastoma for which the typical lifes-

ing to CKc, you are giving children a shot

available on their website as well.


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