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Miami chefs hold benefit for cyclist

All-you-can-eat-and-drink for a good cause

Some of Miami's top restaurateurs are coming together for one night of charitable fun. Chefs from eateries such as Beaker and Gray, STK and The Local will cook up their best bites at the Strong Will Benefit, an all-you-can-eat (and drink) soirée at The Sarsaparilla Club in Miami Beach on Friday, October 21.

Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, chefs and owners of The Sarsaprilla Club, organized the Strong Will Benefit to raise money for their friend, Will Orellana, an avid cyclist who nearly lost his life when he got hit by a car in Coral Gables this past March. 

“One day he was riding back [home] ... and he he got run over by a car,” McInnis explains over the phone. “Will went under the car. It should have been a fatal accident but Will being so strong and in such good health, his body held on.”

At the time of the accident, the Miami native’s wife was nine months pregnant with their daughter Vayla. Orellana missed the birth of his first child while he was in a coma for nearly five months. The doctors said he had a 4-percent chance of living but he has continued to fight. Orellana re-learned to walk and talk, but after a brain aneurysm a month and a half ago, he’s back in his wheelchair.

To help subsidize the financial burden of Orellana's medical bills, plus the costs that come with a newborn baby, McInnis and Booth coordinated the inaugural Strong Will Benefit. They hope to not only raise funding but also awareness to bicyclists in the city.

"The irony of it this is Will worked in insurance for a living," McInnis says. "As we all know, insurance is good and important, but disabilities is a whole [different] sector, and they don't have any disabilities [insurance], so we're trying our best to raise money. We know there's a long road ahead [for] Will and Tara and the family, and we're trying to raise as much money as we can through this event to give to Vayla and to Will for all their expenses."

The Strong Will Benefit will celebrate how far Orellana has come in the battle for his life, bringing chefs, foodies and friends alike together for a bacchanalian night of feasting.

Booth and McInnis, along with 12 Miami chefs, will present their favorite dishes at different stations around the candle-lit pool deck.

"You definitely will get full and you definitely shouldn't eat dinner [beforehand]," McInnis says.

There will be multiple bars: one sponsored by Heaven Hill Distilleries with whiskey, bourbon and tequila, another by Don Q with rum, gin and vodka. Wynwood Brewing Company will set up a beer bar and Juan Rochaix will present a wine bar.

If the four bars aren't enough to keep the spirits high, Deejay Smeejay will, while spinning 80s and 90s music.

The party will also have outdoor games like giant Jenga, corn hole and ping pong.

Additional funds will be raised through a silent auction at the event. Guests can bid on prizes, such as a pool day at the Raleigh Hotel, a spa day at Exhale or a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Anyone who feels inclined to donate but is unable to attend the Strong Will Benefit can do so here.

The Strong Will Benefit begins at 6 p.m. for VIPS and 7 p.m. for general admission on Friday, October 21, at The Sarsaparilla Club in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach Hotel, 1 18th St., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $125 for VIPs and $75 for general admission, and can be purchased at Call 305-341-1400 or go to "The Strong Will Benefit" on Facebook., Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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