We are nearly a week away from the American Heart Association‘s highly anticipated annual D.C. Heart Ball. On Feb. 25, more than 500 of the area’s most prominent medical, corporate and community leaders will converge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for the black-tie event.
As chair of the Open Your Heart Committee, Boomer Foster, president of general brokerage with Long & Foster Real Estate, directs his fellow committee members in soliciting donations from individuals in the community willing to make a difference for those impacted by cardiovascular diseases.
WashingtonExec: Why are you involved with AHA?
Boomer Foster: There are so many reasons to support AHA. When you consider that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in our nation, and stroke isn’t far behind at No. 5, AHA’s mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke takes on a significance that is both personal and universal. These diseases affect everyone; they don’t discriminate. Men, women and children are affected by it, and that really strikes a chord with me.
WashingtonExec: Can you describe to our readers what the Open Your Heart Committee is and why you accepted the position as chair?
Boomer Foster: Open Your Heart is the Heart Ball’s individual giving campaign. It’s an opportunity for individuals to make a purely philanthropic gift to AHA. These individual donations support the organization’s efforts to educate people on the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease and stroke, as well as enable them to develop hospital guidelines and protocols to improve patient care and to fund groundbreaking research on both of those fronts.
The Open Your Heart Committee works to promote this individual level of giving and to raise awareness locally. Our goal this year is to raise $300,000 by Feb. 25, so this last week is critical to our success, and I would encourage any of the readers to make a donation by visiting our website.
I accepted the position as the chairman after being asked by my predecessor Margie Halem, who is an agent here with us at Long & Foster. She led a very successful campaign last year and has continued to support the committee as the chair emeritus. Margie’s enthusiasm and passion for the organization is clearly evident, and when she asked me, I was pleased to accept the role.
WashingtonExec: What can attendees of the Heart Ball expect as some of the highlights for the evening?
Boomer Foster: The gala is a spectacular celebration of the life-saving work of AHA complete with a live and silent auction, a wonderful dinner and dancing, but I think that the highlight of the Heart Ball is meeting the family who will be honored during the program. Rosemary Veltz personifies the mission of AHA and reminds everyone of the necessity for more AHA-funded research.
WashingtonExec: What has involvement with AHA brought to you and your company, Long & Foster?
Boomer Foster: Long & Foster has been involved with AHA on a number of fronts. We’ve got a robust team across our seven states and the District of Columbia that fundraises and participates in the annual Heart Walk event in different areas between North Carolina and New Jersey. We also recently started offering CPR demos and certification courses to Long & Foster employees, and we just installed two AEDs at the Bethesda, Maryland, office, which are obviously very important to have on hand in case of an emergency. Just this morning, we were actually discussing as an executive group a golf tournament we are going to host in support of AHA and to increase our involvement with AHA.
WashingtonExec: Is there anything further you would like our readers to know about AHA?
Boomer Foster: I think AHA provides many wonderful opportunities for individuals and businesses to have a positive impact on the community. I would encourage the readers if they want to learn more to visit AHA’s Greater Washington Region page. Both for myself and my company, we get approached all the time to support worthy causes, but a couple years ago, we made a decision to support AHA on a companywide basis for a number of different reasons. One such reason was that everybody knows someone that has been affected by heart disease or stroke. It’s something that everybody has a story about, and we’re excited to be involved in the fundraising for research.