“Carpe diem,” Latin for “seize the day,” is the theme for this year’s Greater Washington Heart Ball, and event chair Rob Franklin is encouraging participants to do just that.
“As much progress as the American Heart Association has made through its efforts to fight heart disease and stroke, there is still a lot of work to do,” said Franklin, co-founder of Morgan Franklin Consulting and president of cultural and employment branding firm GoodSeeker. “We want to emphasize that as an organization. Seize the day, and help us improve the cardiovascular lives of everyone.”
The mission is personal for Franklin, who has a daughter who suffered from cardiac issues as a preteen. Now in her 20s, she is in good health, but the cause remains important to Franklin.
The Heart Ball will be on Feb. 24 at the Mandarin Oriental, from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., including the afterparty hosted by the American Heart Association’s PULSE committee of young professionals. As in previous years, the ball is a black-tie event featuring dinner, dancing, live music, a silent auction and a live auction.
The event is expected to draw 500 of the region’s prominent medical and corporate leaders.
“As an organization, we’re always looking to get local corporations and businesses involved in supporting our efforts,” Franklin said. “Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 cause of death for all Americans and worldwide. It really affects the business community as well because businesses are made up of people.”
There is still time to buy tickets and commit to corporate sponsorship. Businesses and individuals can also still donate auction items, said auction committee chairman Doug Mullen.
“We have (items) ranging from really wonderful, extravagant trips, to local restaurant certificates, to wine tastings at nearby vineyards,” Mullen said. “There is an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to get involved.”
Funds raised from the event go toward community outreach efforts to provide education about heart disease, stroke and the effects of childhood obesity. Funds also go toward research, which has led to breakthroughs in treatment, including artificial valves, CPR, pacemakers, angioplasty, bypass surgery, medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol and many other inventions and discoveries.
Open Your Heart Committee chair Taryn Zimmerman said the Heart Association’s mission is personal for her.
“Several years ago, my dear friend, who happened to be the Open Your Heart committee chair for the 2017 Heart Ball, asked me to join (the) committee,” Zimmerman said. “The organization has made life-saving discoveries possible for many of my loved ones, my grandparents, and even our sweet eldest dog suffered a stroke and heart disease.”
Open Your Heart is one of several committees focused on fundraising and augmenting the main event.
“Basically, it’s an assembling of a network of people to reach out to our own families and friends, colleagues and employers, neighbors and all of our communities to build awareness and raise critical funds,” Zimmerman said. “These funds go directly to the AHA’s mission.
“No one is immune to heart-related diseases, and it takes a group of people — a village basically — to help support the goals and mission of the American Heart Association.”
Zimmerman said she enjoys the sense of togetherness and community the ball provides — and this year, she’s making it a family event.
“My youngest daughter is going to be my date at the ball, so I’m excited about that,” she said.
Mullen said this year’s auction items include some family-friendly options, such as an Orlando travel package with Disney World and Sea World passes. Bidders can use a mobile platform to browse and buy.
“I think the silent auction is great because it fills the room with a lot of energy throughout the night, and by the time you get to the live auction, there’s a lot of anticipation and excitement,” Mullen said. “I really think that gets the crowd lively. The other thing for me that’s really wonderful about the program is the heart and stroke survivors’ stories, which bring home why the American Heart Association and the Heart Ball are so important. I don’t think there are any dry eyes in the audience when we go through these stories.”
View an Open Your Heart video here: