MIAMI — The circuit of velvet-roped bashes and athlete and celebrity cameos that accompany the Super Bowl this year presents a startling juxtaposition to the tragedy in Haiti.
But event organizers -- sensitive to South Florida's singular relationship with the quake-stricken country -- are hoping to harness and leverage the power of fame to raise funds for the relief and recovery efforts.
"It's the perfect combustible combination. The celebrities can bring attention to a very important cause and the media will cover it,'' says Marc Pollick, founder of The Giving Back Fund, which provides philanthropic management and consulting to professional athletes and entertainers. ``In terms of raising funds, you couldn't have picked a more perfect place for a Super Bowl. Miami has all the elements for successful fundraising.''
Even before the enormous scale of the earthquake in Haiti was fully realized, one lifestyle magazine began planning a fundraising event to help with the relief effort.
From the beginning, one detail was clear: It would be held on South Beach during the week of the Super Bowl, among the greatest concentrations of celebrities, athletes and wallets in one place.
``We put together this art and photography auction, something sophisticated that we could invite high-net worth celebrities and tastemakers to,'' said Marc Lotenberg, the founder and CEO of 944 Media, which publishes a Miami edition. ``Miami is a culturally influenced market with a lot of Haitian ties. And we knew we wanted to take the star power that will be here this week and use it towards a good cause.''
Some events, like the auction and a benefit concert, are dedicated exclusively to the Haitian crisis. Others, mostly parties already in the works for months, have shifted part of the focus this week from entertainment to charitable giving.
NFL players and celebrities are hosting a string of events that will benefit Haiti, including a ball at Jungle Island, a fashion show at Grass Restaurant and Lounge, and an evening of sports and art at the Haitian Heritage Museum. And on Friday, BET presents SOS, Saving Ourselves, a benefit concert and telethon at AmericanAirlines Arena that will air live on BET, MTV, VH1, CENTRIC and BET International.
``We knew there was going to be a lot of talent already in Miami for the Super Bowl, so it made sense to do it there,'' said Stephen Hill, BET's president of programming music and specials. ``We also liked the timing of the Super Bowl, which allowed for a little air under the story. Well after the news cycle ends, we want to remind people the efforts in Haiti are ongoing and we want to send as much money as humanly possible.''
Proceeds from the event will be divided among Yele Haiti, CARE, Project Medishare and Children's Safe Drinking Water.
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