With the American Heart Association‘s annual DC Heart Ball right around the corner, WashingtonExec spoke with Open Your Heart chairwoman Margie Halem, a Long & Foster Team Leader. Open Your Heart is an opportunity for individuals to make a purely philanthropic gift to the the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, with 100 percent of the donation directly benefitting the Association’s mission.
This year’s Open Heart campaign features the story of Lily Grace. Lily was born in China with only half of a heart, which was positioned upside down, backward, and in the right hand side of her chest. Shortly after birth, she was abandoned on an Emergency Room bench with very little hope for a future. After two failed attempts at open heart surgery, Lily was labeled “terminal” and placed on a list for adoption. Lily’s transplant is said to be the most complicated heart transplant ever done in the United States.
WashingtonExec: Why are you involved with the American Heart Association?
Margie Halem: I am involved with the American Heart Association because my family has been impacted by heart disease for generations. Stroke, heart attacks, by-pass surgeries, high blood pressure, angioplasty, stents, atrial fibulation make up my family history. Thanks to research funding and extraordinary cardiac care, my parents have survived. Heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women each year … more than all forms of cancer combined! My personal commitment is to raise awareness as this is a global epidemic.
WashingtonExec: Can you describe to our readers what the Open Your Heart Committee is?
Margie Halem: The Open Your Heart Committee reaches out to individuals who have personally been impacted by stroke and heart disease and who want to make a difference. This year’s OYH Committee is a group of woman determined to build a network of awareness and philanthropy. We have reached out to our colleagues, employers, neighbors, friends and relatives and are proud of the generous donations and support we have received. Our goal is to raise $280,000 by Feb. 27, so this last month of fundraising is critical to our success. Please consider making a donation in support of the Open Your Heart campaign. You can do so by visiting our website.
WashingtonExec: With your life experience, was it a natural decision for you to become the chair of this committee and take on that extra role?
Margie Halem: Over my professional and personal life, I have found myself serving, learning and being mentored by volunteer organizations. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Mary’s Center, Knock Out Abuse, Temple Beth Ami Sisterhood, Hebrew Home of Greater Washington and Autism Speaks. Connected [by]these charities, it dawned on me that my life is affected by Heart Disease and that it should be my mission to continue to raise funds and awareness. This is my calling…
WashingtonExec: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Heart Ball?
Margie Halem: I am looking forward to celebrating with the devoted and amazing American Heart Association volunteers who work tirelessly every day to make a difference in the lives of those impacted by these conditions and, to raising lots of money so that the next medical breakthrough can be developed.
WashingtonExec: Is there anything you would like our readers to know about the American Heart Association?
Margie Halem: The American Heart Association strives to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. That single purpose drives everything they do. We hope you will attend and support the Greater Washington Region’s 18th Annual Heart Ball.