Friendship Circle event raises awareness for people with special needs

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We all need more joy and friendship in our lives. This is especially true for people with special needs who often feel unfairly left out of everyday activities.

You can help out this community when the Friendship Circle of Miami hosts its annual Walking 4 Friendship 3K Walk and Community Carnival starting with registration at 9 a.m. March 18 at 8700 SW 112th St. The walk is at 10 a.m., and the carnival is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“At the Friendship Circle, part of our mission is to heighten the community’s awareness, sensitivity, and sense of responsibility to individuals with special needs,” said program director Nechama Harling in a release.

Through the programs, each child is paired with a teenage volunteer to help them during activities, but also to develop friendships. Volunteer students develop tolerance and understanding for their peers with special needs through compassionate and safe programs in art, music and sports.

The upcoming fundraiser will gather more than 1,000 participants to help the organization that brings social connection to those who might otherwise feel isolated.

Noah McPherson - Friendship Circle

Noah McPherson, 19, has been a participant in the Friendship Circle for six years. After his assigned volunteer and friend went to college, they continue to write and call one another. Noah is now a teenage volunteer helping others with special needs.

Photos provided to the Miami Herald

Success stories Noah McPherson, 19, and Alexis Greenberg, 38, are now volunteers with the Friendship Circle after being involved in programs where they could make friends and experience camaraderie.

The Friendship Circle of Miami is nonprofit and community-based, and its mission is to offer acceptance to “children, teens, and young adults with special needs, regardless of their disability, while empowering teenage and young adult volunteers by building their leadership skills and fostering values of altruism and volunteerism.”

One in every 68 children in the U.S. has autism spectrum disorder. This is a 30 percent increase from one in 88 just two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is no cost to join the walk-a-thon, though donations are accepted. Food will be available for purchase. Wristbands will be sold for unlimited rides and entertainment after the walk. All money raised will benefit the Friendship Circle of Miami.

Visit to learn more, volunteer, or help with sponsorship. You can also contact Harlig at 305-234-5654 Ext. 11 or Heidi Rutland at 305-234-5654 Ext. 10, or write an email to

Help prevent suicides

The Dylan Schopp Sunshine Foundation will hold its third annual Sunshine at the Park event to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 18 at Markham Park, 16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise.

The festival will feature bounce houses, face painting, Zumba, a karate demonstration, silent auction and live performances by Hip Hop Kidz. A rock climbing wall, massage therapist and food trucks will also be featured. The event will finish with a butterfly release.

“When we started this event, we never imagined it would become such a huge part of our community,” foundation director Debbie Schopp said in an email. “We hope that with the funds raised this year, we will continue to raise awareness and support various suicide prevention and mental health programs.”

Event registration is open and tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids. Purchase at Proceeds benefit suicide prevention organizations including the HOPE Sunshine Clubs created by Weston-based Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention,

Beethoven on the Beach

Orchestra Miami is set to present its popular, free event that this year includes one of Beethoven’s most beautiful yet least performed pieces, the Symphony N. 4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60.

Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi will conduct the 38 musicians of Orchestra Miami, 6 p.m. Sunday at Gateway Park, 151 Sunny Isles Beach Blvd. The group also will perform the Coriolan Overture. Guest soloist is violist Richard Fleischman in Bruch’s Romanze for Viola and Orchestra, and Telemann’s Concerto for Viola in G Major.

Bring lawn chairs or blankets. There’s a play area for kids. Concessions can be purchased, or bring your own picnic. Free parking in the Gateway Park garage. Get information on the free shuttle at 305-792-1706. More at

Shores Woman’s Club luncheon

All proceeds will go to charity at the next Miami Shores Woman’s Club luncheon and fashion show starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Miami Shores Country Club, 10000 Biscayne Blvd. There will be raffles and door prizes. For more information and tickets, call 305-754-0258. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door.

Author talk

Award-winning writers Dave Barry, Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel will discuss their book “For This We Left Egypt? A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them.” The event will start with a 6:30 p.m. reception Wednesday at the Alper JCC, 11155 SW 112 Ave., where there will be Israeli wine tasting and chocolates from Le Chocolatier.

Tickets are $18, or $36 for preferred seating at the author talk at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds go toward literary and performing arts programming. Visit

Women of Impact awards

“Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,” is the theme for the 30th anniversary of Women of Impact awards, 2:30 p.m. March 18 at the Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon, 5101 Blue Lagoon Dr. The Women’s History Coalition of Miami-Dade County hosts the event. Tickets are $65 per person.

Maud Newbold is chair of the event, which will honor Miami-Dade School Board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Constance Collins, Maha A. ELKolalli, Ivon Mesa, Betty Osceola, Marcia M. Reisman, and The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade. For tickets and information, contact Helen McGuire at 305-242-6293 or Rene Tew at

Big book sale

Book lovers and collectors will find more than 2,000 titles to choose from at the upcoming sale hosted by the South Miami-Dade Chapter of the Brandeis National Committee. The popular event will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 18 at the Publix on Southwest 146th Street and U.S. 1.

This sale is known for its selection of donated cookbooks, children’s books, art books, biographies, history, travel, and science. You will also find current and classic fiction. The BNC bibliophiles, who have as their motto “old books for new,” have spent the year collecting and sorting books. Proceeds support the Brandeis University Libraries.

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