A Christmas gift to the children at Florida Hospital

Michael W. Freeman

College Park Forum Editor

December 25, 2013


Although Christmas was still more than a week away, an early Christmas gift was presented to the staff at Florida Hospital – with the benefits going to the children being treated there.

“This generosity,” said David Collis, chief development officer at Florida Hospital, “helps heal the thousands of children we treat here.”

Collis was standing inside the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children, where the entrance had a Christmas tree decorated by Mickey Mouse dolls.

He was shaking hands with Michael Flaskey, the executive vice president of sales and marketing in North America for Diamond International Resort, the resort development based in Las Vegas, Nevada, but which has been expanding into Orlando.

It was Flaskey who raised a check for $410,000 to be presented to Florida Hospital for Children – the proceeds from a major fundraiser, held earlier this month, for the benefit of the hospital and its children.

“We have a special day today,” Collis said. “We get to say thank you to one of our most generous sponsors.”

Diamond Resorts International, which has more than 300 vacation resorts in 33 countries, had raised the money at its first annual Brian Gay Invitational, held at Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club in Celebration on Dec. 6-8.

More than 300 attendees, golfers and celebrities turned out for the event, which included a private golf clinic with PGA touring professional Brian Gay, followed by a celebrity/amateur golf tournament and award dinner.

The fact that they raised so much from it, Flaskey said, was impressive and confirms that this is going to become an annual event.

“Our event could not have come off better,” Flaskey said. “We were honored to have raised $410,000 for Florida Hospital for Children.”

Florida Hospital for Children, located at 601 E. Rollins St., recently completed a major expansion, and now provides state-of-the-art care provided by leading experts in pediatric medicine.

The Imagineers from Walt Disney Company helped create the entrance to this wing of the hospital, one that captures the look of a magical place that won’t seem scary to young children going there for treatment.

Flaskey said Diamond Resorts recognized the important work that Florida Hospital does to provide care for children, and wanted to help their mission.

This event, he added, also reflects Diamond Resort’s success in Orlando and increased interest in the tourism and hospitality market here.

“Diamond Resorts International is based out of Las Vegas, but we have in the Orlando market over 400 rooms,” he said. Their local resorts include Grand Beach, Grande Villas Resort, Mystic Dunes, Polynesian Isles and Cypress Pointe Resort.

“Orlando has quickly become one of our largest marketplaces,” Flaskey said, and when the company was planning this fundraiser, “We chose Orlando, and we chose Mystic Dunes to be the host.”

Having a popular player like Gay assist in the event, he added, was also a major boost and a critical part of the fundraiser’s success.

“Having him as our ambassador to headline the event gave us an amazing head start,” Flaskey said. “It’s amazing what we were able to achieve.”

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