The Iredell County Heart Ball is all about building healthier lives. It’s also about building healthier numbers.
This year’s event is well on its way to achieving both.
Because this is the black-tie fundraiser’s 40th anniversary, organizers set an ambitious goal of 400 attendees – a significant boost from the 350-plus from last year.
“We’ve already well exceeded that,” said Mae Jackson, Piedmont HealthCare marketing manager, who is co-chairing the event for the second straight year with Dr. Robert Kimball and Marian Kimball.
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Organizers of the Feb. 7 event hope that will mean another strong donation total in support of American Heart Association programs, a sum that reached $128,000 last year. The night of dining, dancing, live entertainment and live and silent auctions attracts a wide range of corporate, medical and community leaders.
The silent auction, 6 to 8 p.m., will include sports memorabilia and artwork. Some of the live auction items include high-end jewelry, dinners and trips to a beach house or mountain house. “There’s pretty much something for everybody,” Jackson said.
Last year, 155 businesses and individuals donated goods and services to the live and silent auctions, raising $50,000.
One highlight in this year’s program will be a “Faces of Heart” segment that honors 3-year-old Evan Geisler and his family. Evan has had two open-heart surgeries. The last few hours are for dancing and fun, with entertainment provided by Charlotte five-piece band Mo Money.
In the past 40 years, the event during American Heart Month has raised more than $2.5 million in Iredell County to fight heart disease and stroke.
“Every penny that we raise goes back into research and benefits this community with those research dollars,” Jackson said. “It’s very rare to find someone who hasn’t been touched in some way by someone with heart disease or stroke.”
Heart disease isn’t just the No. 1 killer of Americans; diseases of the heart are also the leading cause of death in Iredell County, per the American Heart Association. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in America.
Daunting as those numbers may be, one of them represents another indicator of healthier numbers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke dropped from the nation’s fourth-leading cause of death to No. 5 in 2013 – the second time since 2011 that stroke dropped a spot in those rankings.
American Heart Association President Elliott Antman said the change reflects the commitment of everyone who’s fighting stroke. Fundraisers like the Heart Ball are key to these efforts.
“It’s just a very nice event, and for such a worthwhile cause,” Jackson said.