On Saturday, November 23, celebrities and athletes gathered on the sands of North Beach for the second annual Celebrity Soccer Match presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, founded by Julianna Strout, who partnered with Alex Avellanet for this year’s event, to benefit Best Buddies. Celebrities and Buddies played in three friendly matches as the crowd cheered on the teams. Local residents had access to children’s soccer clinics and other games run by Concacaf Next Play, La Liga Academy, MIC Tournament and Inter Miami CF. Fans also enjoyed a halftime show by Miami HEAT Cheerleaders while VIPs enjoyed a lounge with bites by NaiYaRa, Oggi Ristorante, Metropol and Merkado 31, Madelyn Pacheco sweets as well as spirits by Veuve Clicquot, Belvedere Vodka, Heineken, Figenza Vodka, Moet & Chandon, and Dom Perignon. The event wrapped with a trophy presentation to Best Buddies South Florida. City officials in attendance included City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Florida Senator Jason Pizzo and Miami Beach Commissioners Mark Samuelian and Michael Góngora, who championed this event and brought it to the City of Miami Beach.
Celebrities in attendance included former soccer player and Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis, actor Jason Lewis (Sex and the City), Bachelor in Paradise cast member Connor Obrochta, soccer player Marco Borriello, former Venezuelan soccer player Juan Arango, TV/Radio personality and former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, former Miss Colombia/Sports Illustrated model Ariadna Gutierrez, former Premier League player Enoch Olusesan Showunmi, professional soccer player Juan Fuenmayor, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, Miss Nicaragua Adriana Paniagua, Miss Universe Costa Rica Karina Ramos, Miss Florida USA Nicolette Jennings, Miss Universe US Virgin Islands Andrea Piecuch, former baseball player Carlos Gomez, former soccer player and current Inter Miami CF Academy Coach Julius James, Miss Haiti Gabriela Clesca, Miss Fort Lauderdale Heather Lee O’Keefe, Former Miss Florida and Miss World Puerto Rico Genesis Davila, Former Miss Universe EL Salvador Marisela de Montecristo, Miss Pensylvania Kailyn Perez, Miss Kentucky Jordan Weiter, Miss Teen USA Kaleigh Garris, Miss Florida Teen USA Katia Gerry, Grammy Award Winning Salsa Artist and Composer Marlow Rosado, soccer freestylers Laura Biondo, Victor Miranda, Jayzinho, and Frankie FLO Gonzalez, Mr. Purple, Miss California Brasil Priscila Sales, professional model Stephanie Dana, celebrity trainer Tony Thomas, professional baseball player Tyler Austin, NFL player Greg Joseph, former soccer player Daniel Godoy, artists Moi Berlanga and Marcello Ibanez and Sports Illustrated models Clarissa Bowers, Kristen Louelle, Mara Martin, Nour Guiga, Gabriella Bongiovanni and Tara Yazdi. The event was emceed by El Zol’s Meca y El Boricua Loco.
Founded by Julianna Strout, North Bay Village Commissioner and Miss America contestant, who partnered with Alex Avellanet, Principal at BonVoix, Corp. and sports radio host, for this year’s Celebrity Soccer Match, the event is a passion project committed to raising awareness for the incredible work accomplished by Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For the last decade, Strout has dedicated her time and resources to this organization and has successfully reactivated their employment program. Her counterpart, Avellanet, has played an integral role in large-scale city events working with major music artists, sports organizations and governmental entities.
In partnership with Concacaf (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) and Inter Miami CF (Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami) and The Beach Soccer Foundation, as well as ZeroFractal, an award-winning creative & technology agency, the matches took place beachside between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the North Beach Bandshell Sand-bowl at 7275 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, FL. Sponsors included the City of Miami Beach, City of Miami, Miami HEAT, Football Unites, Miami Marlins, Miscellaneous Marketing Ltd., Soccer 7 USA, Fütness, Coca Cola, Red Bull, The Broadmoor Hotel, Heineken, Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design, Merkado 31, Autism Soccer, Ocean Terrace Holdings, Shutts & Bowen, Figenza Vodka, Oggi Risorante, AquaDry, Optimum Spine, Mofongo Calle 8, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Tito’s Vodka, Miami Grill, The London Essence, Berkowitz Development Group, Shirley Pear Tans, Madelyn Pacheco, Elite Miami, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, Dr. Rico Perez, NaiYaRa, Maham, USA Sports Therapy, Lashhouzz, Atlantic Broadband, Miami Beach Life Magazine, 305 La Radio, CG Producciones, Unanimo Deportes, Gozando con Salsa and Haute Living with the support of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, GMCVB, and Unidad of Miami Beach.
The partnership between Celebrity Soccer Match and Best Buddies offers the first fully integrated Best Buddies employed sporting event. The mission is to promote a culture of sports inclusion, social responsibility and employment integration of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) as a way to make a positive impact in the communities.
Hundreds of guests were welcomed to the star-studded event, including sports fans, socialites, industry professionals, notable philanthropists and city officials with a common goal of raising funds for the Best Buddies organization.