Big Sisters "Abracadabra" Ball is Magical

Miss Teen Rhode Island, Stephanie Mulcahy

Hocus Pocus! It was a magical evening at the Hyatt Regency Newport, where roughly 300 guests gathered to support the Big Sisters of Rhode Island at the organization’s Abracadabra Ball. With Newport’s own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and wife Sandra Whitehouse serving as co-chairs, and with some highly influential Rhode Islanders being inducted into its “Magical Circle” set of honorees, the event had quite a degree of ‘star power’!

Contributing to the stellar aura was Carl Beane, best known as the “Voice of Fenway Park” since 2003. Beane naturally commanded everyone’s attention when he stood at the microphone to make announcements during the bustling silent auction; especially enticing for avid sports fans was the opportunity to wear the two Red Sox championship rings for a moment (and a photo): a prize for one lucky bidder!


Sheldon Whitehouse speaks

(photo courtesy of Big Sisters RI)

Silent auction offerings were extensive (easily 100 or more!), ranging a variety of categories which were organized according to Newport Street names: Thames Street, Bellevue Avenue, Memorial Boulevard – complete with corresponding street signs to serve as markers! Floating balloons in gold and silver shades were also being distributed for sale from $25 – 100, with the promise of a gift certificate worth at least $25 inside; however, balloons were not to be popped until Mr. Beane (may we call him that?) gave the word later!

As the silent auction wrapped up, guests were ushered next door into the grand ballroom, where blue, gold, and silver decorations graced round tables, and white hanging lanterns hung from the ceiling in an elegant glow. WPRI-12 news anchor Mike Montecalvo served as master of ceremonies and auctioneer for the evening. BSRI Executive Director Deb Saunders and Board President Annette Cerilli joined him onstage to present event honorees.

Carl Beane, Red Sox announcer and "The Voice of Fenway Park"

Beloved Dr. Dorothy Pieniadz, one of BSRI’s founding mothers in 1967, was presented with a lovely bouquet by the vibrant Miss Teen RI International 2011, Stephanie Mulcahy. “Magical Circle” honorees were then announced and invited to each give a few remarks at the podium, including Dr. Nancy Carriuolo, President of Rhode Island College; Robert A. DiMuccio, Chairman, President, and CEO of Amica Insurance (unable to attend), Ronald K. Machtley, President of Bryant University, and Gina Raimondo, RI’s State General Treasurer.

Since 1967, Big Sisters of Rhode Island has matched compassionate volunteers with high-risk girls, to serve as role models and provide them with companionship, encouragement, and hopefully access to a brighter, more positive future. The organization is currently expanding on a grand scale; not only did they add 100 girls in the last month, but they are now reaching out to include at-risk boys as well. Part of this expansion is thanks to a federal to serve an additional 600 children, but donations received from the gala will go a long way as well.


Vincent Cerilli and Board President Annette Cerilli

Co-chair Senator Sheldon Whitehouse later took the stage and gave remarks, and the energetic crowd danced to the jazzy, rocking beats of the always crowd-pleasing Felix Brown Band.

To learn more about Big Sisters of Rhode Island, visit



Founding mother Dr. Dorothy, Deborah Saunders, and friend

Busy silent auction tables

April House & Laura Edwards

Carl Beane announces that the silent auction is almost over!

Robin & Jeff Knisley

Fun auction displays

The Sox lover's dream auction item!

Carl Beane models his championship rings

Ron & Kelly Simoneau, Chris & Lisa Maury

Seated for dinner

The ballroom

WPRI's Mike Montecalvo speaks

WPRI's Mike Montecalvo speaks


Deborah Saunders thanks sponsors


Selling prize balloons


Jeff Deckman & Dr. Dorothy


Nautical dessert display


Annette Cerilli


Beautiful hanging lanterns


Preparing to present awards to honored guests


Jill Andy accepts an award on behalf of Bob DiMuccio


State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is honored


Nancy Carriuolo, President of Rhode Island College,

accepts her award


Annette Cerilli, Deb Saunders, and Ronald K. Machtley,

President of Bryant College


Sharing a moment onstage


Ronald K. Machtley speaks


Felix Brown Band


Where do you want to go next?


Festive table decorations


Friendly Hyatt Bartenders Stu & Steve pose with

Miss Teen Rhode Island


Tim Watson, Event Designer Abby Capalbo & husband Andrew


Don Morash & Emily Hampton


Sheldon Whitehouse speaks

(photo courtesy of Big Sisters RI)


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