Heart and Stroke Ball returns to Los Angeles to plant the seeds of change in local communities
When it comes to glamour for a cause, the Heart and Stroke Ball knows what it’s doing and what the people want—which this year included, among other things, husband and wife dancing duo Jenna Johnson and Val Chmerkovsky of “Dancing with the Stars” entertaining the crowd and the Los Angeles American Heart Association raising $925,000 (its best year yet) to advance their efforts to change health outcomes as they relate to heart disease and stroke.
Before the American Heart Association existed, people with heart disease were thought to be doomed to complete bed rest — or destined to imminent death. In 1948, the association reorganized, transforming from a professional scientific society to a nationwide voluntary health organization composed of science and lay volunteers and supported by professional staff. Since then, the AHA has grown rapidly in size and influence — nationally and internationally — into an organization of more than 33 million volunteers and supporters dedicated to improving heart health and reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
The black tie optional affair, co-chaired by Tom Jackiewicz, CEO of Keck Medicine of USC, and Carol Peden, MD, MPH, executive director of the USC Center for Health System Innovation, shone a light on AHA’s collaborative work with supporters and community partners to help millions of people enjoy longer, healthier lives. It also drove a sense of urgency of the fact that despite the progress made in the fight against heart disease and stroke over the past several decades, both are still the No. 1 and No. 2 killers globally.
TV host / sportscaster and event emcee Charissa Thompson welcomed everyone to the elegant night in celebration of the life-saving achievements of local physicians, philanthropists and volunteers committed to improving heart and brain health, reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and ensuring equitable health for all.
Setting the mood
Nearly 400 formally clad guests gathered at the Taglyan Cultural Complex in Hollywood where they mixed and mingled in a lively cocktail hour and red carpet photobooth on the picturesque courtyard.
The garden-themed event featured a vertical planter and fruit and vegetable displays throughout the venue in honor of the 10th anniversary of the AHA’s Teaching Gardens program, an outdoor garden laboratory that teaches kids to grow food and eat healthy. Rooted in Los Angeles, the program has grown to more than 400 school gardens nationwide. There are 60 Teaching Gardens in LA, reaching more than 50,000 students and parents.
Husband and wife dancing duo Jenna Johnson and Val Chmerkovskiy of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” delighted the crowd with two riveting performances, after which guests danced the night away to a live band.
The soiree included a live and silent auction and a vibrant three-course dinner consisting of a fresh berry salad, followed by an entrée choice of wild Scottish salmon with asparagus, rosemary roasted mini potatoes and baby carrots, or vegetable meatballs served with a medley quinoa on a light tomato sauce. For dessert, guests were served an assortment of Italian sorbet.
Champions of change
Emotional and inspiring was the survival story of Dr. Frank Howard, whose life was saved by innovations in technology and advances in research throughout this 64 years.
Dr. Howard has saved many lives throughout his illustrious career as an oncologist.
The American Heart Association has been fighting heart disease and stroke, and striving to save and improve lives for nearly 100 years. The organization’s work includes funding innovative research, addressing socioeconomic barriers that make it difficult for many people to achieve health, bringing health education programs to women and their families, setting science-based best practices for treating heart disease and stroke, and advocating for policies that positively impact cardiovascular health.