A sea of black dresses, gold pins, and smiling faces greeted guests attending the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital “It’s All About the Kids” gala at the JW Marriot Marquis Miami on Sept. 19.

The smiling faces guests saw upon arrival belonged to members of the University of Miami School of Communication PREP team. Assisting the Gala for more than five years now, members of PREP help the event organizers and public relations committee by assisting with greeting guests, checking in media, coordinating the red carpet, and escorting VIPs.  

“From the moment the guests arrived, we were there to greet them and make them feel welcome,” said Nadia Bacchus, a senior in PREP. “We guided them to the red carpet and helped the gala run as smoothly as possible.”

The gala was disco themed, had an open bar, and silent and live auctions. Gifts were given out to the attending guests, and awards were offered to several inspiring St. Jude’s patrons.

“Since this was the first event that I’ve had the chance to work, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a mixture of nervous and excited. Getting the hands-on experience was great, because it’s not something you can get anywhere else,” said Bacchus.

 “St. Jude’s gala was my very first PREP event, and although I did not know what to expect, I ultimately loved the experience,” said Kaitlyn Hopkins, a sophomore and new member of PREP. “We were all very involved in different aspects of the gala [to keep it] running smoothly. I was responsible for greeting VIPs on the red carpet and pinning them with St. Jude’s logo pin.”

“It was great to work with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital again this fall,” said Gabrielle Bardfield, PREP Senior Manager. “This event allows us to experience different aspects of the gala while working, including red carpet, media check-in, photography assistance and more. It is always exciting to work with the staff at St. Jude since they are so welcoming and supportive of the work that we do.”

The gala, which helps support children who are living with life-threatening diseases, brings together celebrities, prominent members of the South Florida community, and families with children who have been treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to raise money and give thanks for all of the wonderful assistance they’ve provided.

 “Working this event with PREP taught me how to formally greet celebrities – some of which I definitely recognized from television – and showed me just how much work goes into running events such as this,” said Bardfield, who participated in the program for 1½ years before moving into a management role. “It really opened my eyes to what a future in this field could be like.”

PREP is set to work with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital again on Sept. 26 for the inaugural 5K walk/run held at Zoo Miami.