When 800 guests enter the Renaissance Ballroom this November for the black-tie CARES Gala, they will be dazzled by the exquisite décor and the elegant setting. From the centerpieces to the table linens, every detail will be perfectly coordinated and in perfect taste.
man behind it all is Cleveland’s own Maria Miller, who is more comfortable going about her good works behind the scenes rather than front and center. The attention to detail at the CARES Gala each year is tangible evidence of Mrs. Miller's personal involvement, but her dedication to and impact on CARES extend far beyond the decorative details.
“Maria Miller is the heart and soul of the Gala,” says Scott Hamilton, paying tribute to the woman who has become not only a supporter of his favorite cause but also a dear friend to him and his family. Mrs. Miller and her husband, Sam, are legendary in their generosity to local charities and organizations. From a new Emergency Services facility at Cleveland Clinic to scholarships for underprivileged students, the Millers have opened their hearts to the community for years. The Millers have been long-time supporters of Cleveland Clinic, but the couple first met Scott at a Cleveland Clinic Partners in Philanthropy dinner several years ago. A friendship developed between Scott and the Millers, and he shared his vision for CARES in several conversations with them.
“Cancer has devastated Maria’s family over the years,” Scott explains. “She hates cancer and, when we decided to move forward with CARES and the Gala, she wanted to be part of it. The Gala gives her a direction to funnel her energies and do what she does best.”
That includes not only arranging details of the Gala dinner, but also making one-to-one personal contacts for philanthropic support for CARES and the Gala. “With all of Maria’s personal losses to this disease, she has decided that this is where and how she can make an impact, and she does,” Scott says. “She has literally an army of friends and supporters that she rallies in support of CARES.”
Those individuals fortunate enough to be in Mrs. Miller’s close, personal circle describe her as the most generous person they know, giving not only of her financial wealth, but also her time, kindness and caring. “With Sam and Maria, being involved in a cause means more than writing a check,” Scott says. Although they have been honored on many occasions for their philanthropy, the Millers shy away from the spotlight. “They carry out their personal mission of philanthropy out of genuine concern for other people,” Scott adds. ‘What can I do to help you?’ is always Maria’s first instinct.”
Attention to the details that make everyone comfortable is one of Mrs. Miller’s personal hallmarks in everything she does, including the CARES Gala. “Without Maria’s personal touch and the elegance and style she brings to the Gala, CARES would not be as successful as it is,” Scott says. “She is our angel.”