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2017 Guilford Heart Ball Raises Funds, Awareness in the Fight against Heart Disease

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IMG_1528Nearly 200 local leaders from businesses and communities around Guilford County gathered at the Elm Street Center recently for the American Heart Association’s annual Guilford Heart Ball. The elegant evening included music, dancing, auctions, and a gourmet dinner to celebrate those who have contributed to the fight against heart disease and stroke in Guilford County. Nearly $100,000 was raised over the course of the evening. The money will be used to fund heart disease and stroke research and prevention education.

Live and silent auctions were held to raise funds for heart disease and stroke prevention research and education. Auction items included a landscape by Chip Holton, artist in residence at the O. Henry Hotel, which was painted live in front of guests earlier in the evening, and a tour of WFMY broadcast studio followed by dinner with anchor Eric Chilton. Chilton was present as host of the Heart Ball for the second year in a row.

The Heart Ball reception served as the awards ceremony for the winners of the third annual LeBauer Visionary Award. The award recognizes local healthcare professionals who were nominated by their peers based on exceptional patient care, use of groundbreaking medical procedures and research, and contribution of time and effort to the community healthcare system. This year’s LeBauer Visionary Award Winners were cardiologists Dr. Michael Cooper and Dr. James Allred.

“It’s a huge honor to be recognized tonight,” said Dr. Cooper. “I just want to comment on what a great team we have at Cone in our medical community and our cardiovascular community. It’s been a real pleasure to be part of this.”

Dr. Allred agreed.

“We have incredible folks here in Greensboro, and Cone Health gives us opportunities to take our progress in the best, most incredible direction… Our patients are wonderful to take care of. Our field is changing very rapidly, but we’ve been given the tools to do what we need. We’re excited about the future.”

The winners were announced by Rich Lundy, vice president of heart and vascular services and imaging services at Cone Health. In his speech, Lundy praised all the nominees for their individual contributions to heart health, as well as for their teamwork.

“They’ve really created the ultimate in multi-disciplinary team approach to patient care,” said Lundy. “This carefully planned approach is why we are one of the top cardiovascular programs in the nation. There’s no reason to go anywhere else.”

A particularly moving part of the evening was a video from the family of Lucas Alcacio, a local boy who has survived open heart surgery and whose family credits local cardiac care with saving his life.

“There was one point in the cardiac unit when he coded on them almost every day,” Lucas’ mother recalled, “and he’s still as happy as any child I’ve ever seen…the doctors are my everything.”

Roughly $39,000 of the almost $100,000 raised at the Heart Ball was garnered by heartfelt donations from the crowd after Lucas’ story was shared.

This was just one of many successful fundraisers held by the American Heart Association in the Triad. The 2016 Guilford Heart Ball raised nearly $230,000; nationwide, the 2016 Heart Ball campaign netted over $71 million.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death the world over, according to statistics compiled by the American Heart Association. Every one in seven deaths in the United States can be linked to heart disease; that means someone in the United States is killed by heart disease every 84 seconds. In Guilford County, heart disease is the second leading cause of death in both men and women, resulting in 799 heart disease related deaths across the county in 2016.

Gretchen O’Shay, developmental director for the American Heart Association of the Triad, said events like the Heart Ball are a way to lower these grim statistics.

“We have served $4 billion in research since 1949,” said O’Shay, “And we continue to expand on innovative research approaches so that more people can continue to live longer, healthier lives.”

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