This Saturday, Feb. 25, the Greater Washington Region Chapter of the American Heart Association hosts the highly anticipated D.C. Heart Ball. This annual black-tie event will be held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. The evening includes live and silent auctions, dinner, dancing and special presentations.
Patient First Medical Director Dr. Mark Paster continues his service to the Auction Committee as chairman for the second year in a row. WashingtonExec recently spoke with Paster about the event and his work with AHA.
WashingtonExec: What keeps you coming back to work with the American Heart Association?
Mark Paster: I’ve been involved with the organization for several years now, and it’s really the people and the mission of the association that keeps me coming back. As a physician, I see the effects of cardiovascular disease every day in my practice, and there’s no organization that does more with regards to prevention and trying to impact people’s lives than the AHA. As far as I’m concerned, there’s really no organization that has such a positive impact on people’s health.
WashingtonExec: Do you have any personal relationships with individuals who have dealt with heart disease, whether in your family or co-workers?
Mark Paster: Several members of my mother’s family have passed away from heart disease, and unfortunately, we’ve lost a few patients despite our best efforts to treat them. Even with the technology and scientific advances that have been developed, heart disease still takes a significant number of people each year. Someone dies from heart disease every 40 seconds — just over 800,000 people each year.
WashingtonExec: What are some highlights of the Heart Ball for you?
Mark Paster: As chair of the Auction Committee, the biggest highlight for me includes spending time with all the wonderful people with whom we work so hard to put this event together.
WashingtonExec: What are you most excited about this year?
Mark Paster: The live auction is probably my favorite part. It’s just after dinner, and the excitement in the room is very energetic. The auctioneer, just as you can imagine, goes around the room putting up some of the best items that we have, and it’s a really fun part of the evening. Then, after the official program has ended, there is the “Heart After Dark” after party with live music into the wee small hours.
It’s a wonderful time for everyone to even more so let their hair down and enjoy themselves for the rest of the night. Everything is done with this great cause in mind, and it’s a great way to raise money for a worthwhile cause. The PULSE young professionals committee alone has raised more than $62,000, while the Executive Leadership Committee has raised more than $1 million.
WashingtonExec: Can you tell us about the auction solicitation efforts the Auction Committee has done during the past year?
Mark Paster: We always have a lot of really fun travel options. This year, National Geographic Expeditions and Delta Air Lines, who have always been and remain to be wonderful sponsors, put together an Alaska trip for two people including tours of the landscape and wildlife. It sounds like a really great experience.
Delta Air Lines and Total Wine also put together an amazing wine tasting and touring experience in Tuscany. Fairmont Hotels will also be providing rooms at their locations in Western Canada, including Banff Quebec and Lake Louise. Plus, we have an amazing beach house in Jamaica.
Even locally, D.C. was named by Bon Appetit as one of the best food cities in America, and Michelin came out with several Michelin Star restaurants in the D.C. area. We put together a package with several local restaurants, to provide meals, so whoever wins will have some very special dining experiences. We will also have several wine baskets and opportunities for touring in and around D.C. as well.
In addition to the travel and local items, we have some one-of-a-kind experiences that are very sought after. Every auction, we have four VIP tickets to “The Daily Show” in New York as well as two tickets to a live taping of “Pardon the Interruption” here in D.C.
WashingtonExec: Are there any additional donors you’d like to highlight?
Mark Paster: In addition to National Geographic Expeditions and Delta Air Lines, who have generously donated for several years, Total Wine and the Fairmont Hotel have been very gracious with their donations of several rooms around the world. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel will also be donating rooms in Barcelona, Spain, for three nights and one night at their Washington, D.C., location.