The first ever Heart Ball of the American Heart Association was held in New York City in 1949 with Dwight D. Eisenhower as the honored guest. Sixty-four years later, the American Heart Association (AHA) thrives, since having hosted 190 events across the US.
Annually they raise over $60 million to support their mission to help build lives free of cardiovascular disease and strokes. On February 8th, the Cape Fear Heart Ball fund-raiser will celebrate their 16th anniversary at the Wilmington Convention Center downtown.
Heart disease constitutes the number one killer in America. “Funds raised from these events support research, public health programs, and community education to fight heart disease and stroke,” Ashley Miller, development director of the AHA, informs. Last year the association brought in over $150,000, and according to Miller the amount of money raised grows with every fund-raiser.
As well, the Wilmington community always seems to find a place in their heart for the cause. This year’s sponsors include: New Hanover Regional Medical Center, SunTrust, AAIPharma, PPD, Perry’s Emporium, Dan and Marta, Henry and Roya Weyerhaeuser.
“Heart disease is the top killer of women—more than all cancers combined,” Miller adds. As well, it’s a disease that transcends all ages and backgrounds.
This year boasts the theme “A Key to your Heart.” Inspiring and educating patrons of the event remains at the night’s core. Last year’s attendance reached 400, and WECT anchor Frances Weller host the event. Weller will return as this year’s host in long-standing support of the AHA—along with her mother, Katherine Weller, whom is a stroke and heart attack survivor. Katherine Weller even was honored at the 2013 event.
“Frances understands the connection of staying healthy and avoiding heart disease,” Miller notes. “[She] is a great community advocate for women’s health issues.”
Guests can look forward to live entertainment from local band Jack Jack 180 who will be performing at 7:30 p.m. They blend pop, rock, and dance with a little bit of folk and country music. It’s their third time performing at the Cape Fear Heart Ball. “Their drummer, Don Spiers, is the husband of our Heart Ball chair, Sandy Spiers, of SunTrust Bank,” Miller tells.
The ball will feature a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner catered by Wilmington Convention Center, with live and silent auctions. A fantastic set-up of items will be for grabs, including a Caribbean trip to Tortola, beach-house vacations, boat cruises, fabulous jewelry, catered dinners, art and wine.
“The event celebrates the organization’s mission to build healthier lives through research and education,” Miller explains. Research funded by the AHA results in new technology advances for pacemakers, innovative surgical techniques, and drug discoveries that extend life. Plus, it helps fund educational programs, such as hands-free CPR.
“The Heart Ball is one of the Cape Fear’s premier black-tie events, attracting the region’s most recognized corporate, business, healthcare, civic, and social leaders,” Miller includes. “It’s an evening celebrating the generosity of individuals from our community who have contributed to the success of our year-round campaign.”
One of Miller’s favorite parts of the Heart Ball is the “Open Your Heart” portion of the evening. It highlights when individuals are asked to make a donation to the AHA.
“We show a short video featuring three local survivors and stress the importance of life-saving research to further advance the elimination of heart disease and stroke,” Miller tells.
This year six heart transplant survivors attending the event will tell their story. “Transplant survivors are great stewards as to what we do at the AHA,” Miller says. “We raise funds for life saving medical research,” Miller reveals. “Having a heart transplant is a huge accomplishment and is helping these individuals live longer lives. Without medical research, many of them would not be with us today. We celebrate their life journey.”
Miller finds inspiration to work for this cause year after year because it effects so many—something which can be seen in everyone’s day-to-day life. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by heart disease.
“We as individuals need to take better care of our health and know our family risk factors as to not develop heart disease.”
Tickets are $150 and can be purchased on by calling 1-910-538-9270. The ticket price covers the cost of the evening, along with a donation to the mission.DETAILS:
Cape Fear Heart Ball
Wilmington Convention Center • 515 Nutt Street
Sat., Feb. 8th, 6 p.m.