With the 2012 DC Heart Ball only a week away, American Heart Association (AHA) board member Aaron Daniels sat down with WashingtonExec for an exclusive interview. Daniels, a survivor himself of a heart attack, talked with WashingtonExec about his “grassroots” involvement with the American Heart Association (AHA) and plans for this year’s DC Heart Ball, to be held at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner.
The 2012 DC Heart Ball fundraising goal for this year’s Heart Ball is set at $1.25 million. For more information, visit the 2011-2012 DC Heart Ball website here.
WashingtonExec: How did you become so involved with the American Heart Association annual Heart Ball?
Aaron Daniels: I am a survivor of a heart attack. I had a heart attack in 2004 and on my five year anniversary of surviving I decided that I needed to give something back in recognition of this milestone. We had also had a number of either heart-related deaths or illnesses in our family. It was an opportune time to become involved.
WashingtonExec: What made you want to become more involved with the Heart Ball?
Aaron Daniels: I think we each have a responsibility, particularly those who’ve been more fortunate, to try to give back. At that point in my life I really hadn’t done that much charitable giving and yet I had been pretty fortunate in my career. We were really looking for a way to become more involved in something. We got to know American Heart and the Greater Washington Region folks and we really appreciated the way in which they were going about their mission and felt like the Heart Ball was a great way to become more involved.
WashingtonExec: You mentioned that you had been to multiple American Heart Association Heart Balls. Is there anything about this year’s event that is different from years past?
Aaron Daniels: That’s a hard question because they are all, in their own right, really good. This year, for me, having looked at the list of attendees it seems that we’ve got a particularly good line-up, we’ve gotten a lot of new folks to participate. We’re still working to try to fill out the dance card but it looks like there is going to be a lot of new companies and firms that are going to participate this year. I think that is pretty exciting to me to see a new blood coming in.
We will be honoring our Heart Heroes (watch the video) again this year but we have expanded the program to include not only military doctors, but a patient who has returned to active duty and a doctor who was involved in helping first responders of 9/11.
Also, our auction is always incredible! This year a highlight is two tickets to a taping of Project Runway that includes a personal meet-and-greet with the show’s crew. Best of all you get a private jet service from Metropolitan Aviation, from Manassas Regional Airport to New York City.
WashingtonExec: How much money do you all plan on raising this year?
Aaron Daniels: It is $1.25 million. Through the leadership of our co-chairs, Candy Duncan of KPMG and Matt Voorhies of Anybill, we hope to top our goal.
WashingtonExec: Are there tickets still available for the Ball? Where can we find them?
Aaron Daniels: They can find them online – Greater Washington Region American Heart Association on the DC Heart Ball website, www.DCHeartBall.com.
WashingtonExec: How has your participation with the American Heart Association evolved over the years?
Aaron Daniels: My role for the last couple of years is that of “Ambassador.” I have visited different companies to give presentations about how they and their companies can become more involved with the American Heart Association and help their employees lead heart healthier lives. It is a very grass roots kind of an effort. We go out and we talk to folks about things like the Heart Ball and the Heart Walk and it generates a lot of excitement. I think that’s one of the reasons why we are having such a successful Heart Ball event this year.
Between participation on the Board and helping out as kind of an Ambassador and being an individual donor myself I think we are really making a lot of progress at the American Heart Association. I’ve participated in other things in conjunction with the American Heart Association – I was a little bit of a poster child for the CDC’s Million Hearts campaign. They shot some video which is available on the CDC website. We really try to get out and spread the word and the Heart Ball is just an excellent event to do that.
The other thing is that Candy Duncan and Tim Gillis with KPMG, along with Jay Blackwell at AHA, have provided a huge amount of leadership. We really got a jump on the event this year.