The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities raises over $700,000 to support the autism community

CARD celebrated 30 years in the South Florida community with a fundraiser to help support free programming and services for more than 17,000 families and adults.
ucas Ortiz (Gardenia sponsor, Horsepower Electric) David Villaronga (Tropical Nights featured artist), Gillian Perez (UM Student/Tropical Nights Volunteer), Michelle Costa (Communications/Community Outreach Manager), Rockefeller Edouard (Guest of Horsepower Electric and winner of Tropical Nights featured art in Live Auction)
Lucas Ortiz (Gardenia sponsor, Horsepower Electric), David Villaronga (Tropical Nights featured artist), Gillian Perez (University of Miami student and Tropical Nights volunteer), Michelle Costa (CARD's communications and community outreach manager), and Rockefeller Edouard (guest of Horsepower Electric and winner of the Tropical Nights featured art in the live auction)

The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Miami - Nova Southeastern University (CARD) hosted its annual fundraising gala, Tropical Nights, at the InterContinental Miami Hotel on Saturday, April 27. CARD celebrated its 20th annual Tropical Nights fundraiser, along with the center’s 30th anniversary.  

The event celebrated the lives CARD has touched, the milestones the center has achieved, and the extraordinary support from the community that has made it all possible. Tropical Nights is CARD’s signature event, which raises critical funds to support the center’s innovative programs and services. CARD provides services to over 17,000 families in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties, all at no cost to the families. The center is part of the psychology department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Juan and Natalie Fernandez (Co Chairs), Dr. Jennifer Durocher (CARD Director), Michelle Costa (Communications/Community Outreach Manager), Blake and Jennifer Sando (Honorees), Dr. Michael Alessandri (Executive Director), Lorena Valentini and Chendo Chavarria (Co-Chairs), Dr. Michael Alessandri (Executive Director)
Juan and Natalie Fernandez (co-chairs), Jennifer Durocher (CARD's director), Michelle Costa (communications/community outreach manager), Blake and Jennifer Sando (honorees), Michael Alessandri (CARD's executive director), and Lorena Valentini and Chendo Chavarria (co-chairs)

Nearly 600 guests attended Tropical Nights as Co-Chairs Chendo Chavarria, Lorena Valentini, and Juan and Natalie Fernandez celebrated CARD’s 30 years of unrivaled excellence serving families in South Florida. This year, longtime CARD champions Blake and Jennifer Sando received the Cruz-Whitehurst Advocacy Award. They are an extraordinary family in so many ways and are considered by all at CARD to be one of the center’s foundational families, always leading the way, supporting the community, and inspiring meaningful change.

As part of the ceremony, CARD celebrated the work of young and talented adults with autism spectrum disorder, including David Villaronga, a 21-year-old artist who created this year’s featured art piece, “Miami Mambo,” which sold in the live auction. In addition, gift bags included gifts from businesses that employ adults with autism spectrum disorder: The Chocolate Spectrum, El Car Wash, Hannah’s Happy Hands, Sean Brushingham, Learning Links School (Beyond Links Marketplace), Rising Tide Car Wash, and Rishi’s Snacks.

Tropical Nights, which raised over $700,000 to fund programs and services for families and the community, was made possible by our Presenting Sponsor Zumpano Patricios and a celebrated list of sponsors including Bacardi, Go Wine, Visa, Braman Miami, The Cambo Family, Richard Cole and Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A., Dan Marino Foundation, MasTec, Ryder System, Inc., The Sando Family, Joyce Seewald Sando, The Whitehurst Family, Horsepower Electric, JLL, Autism Safety 101, KW Property Management & Consulting, LLC, Gabriel & Zulema Camps, the Mneimneh Family Foundation, and many more.