Fort Worth patrons opened their hearts and wallets to give generously at the 2018 Tarrant County Heart Ball. And it's no wonder, as this year's American Heart Association gala, chaired by Melinda and Jerry Johnston and held at Shipping & Receiving, had a special focus: kids.
Proceeds raised from an "Open Your Heart" campaign around the room brought in enough money to fund lifesaving CPR training kits for 23 Fort Worth ISD middle and high schools; each kit costs $5,000. One especially generous couple put their paddle up at the $25,000 level.
As the kits were funded, icons of schools lit up on a map of Fort Worth projected on big screens, creating an applause-worthy conclusion to a heartfelt campaign. (The AHA will continue to fundraise toward its ultimate goal of providing kits for all 44 FWISD middle and high schools, a spokesperson says.)
The evening started with a spirited cocktail reception at the venue's bar. Guests got their first chance to big on big board auction items, including Dallas Cowboys tickets, a Neiman Marcus anniversary Gucci handbag, and a custom suit from The Man's Shop. The Western Flyers provided early musical entertainment.
Nearly 400 attendees, dressed in their best Western-casual chic attire, sat down for a dinner of smoked brisket and sausage, mac and cheese, and veggies, catered by Heim BBQ. Guests enjoying the festive evening included Marsha and Barclay Berdan, Julie and Mark Schulze, Micah and Craig Woodcook, Kayemille and Joey Goss, and Tonya and Roe Patterson.
As a clever touch — in keeping with the theme of saving lives — packages of Lifesavers candies had been placed around the floral arrangements on each table.
Plates were cleared, and survivors of heart disease and their families took the stage. They shared their personal stories, underscoring the message that heart disease and stroke can happen to anyone at any time and at any age.
Bidding was fast and furious in a live auction conducted by Jim Jungers of the Stokes Auction Group. The fabulous items up for bid included a Tom Petty-autographed guitar (garnering the top bid of the evening, $15,000); a private dinner for eight by chef Jon Bonnell ($10,000); and a private dinner for eight by Heim proprietors Travis and Emma Heim ($8,000).
Once the guests were fed and funds were raised, the party moved outdoors, where patrons danced the night away to the music of Live 80 band.
In total, the event raised $725,000 for the for the Tarrant County Division of the American Heart Association. The AHA's mission is to help fund research, advocacy, awareness, and information to prevent and treat heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death around the world.