Country star Josh Turner gets hearts pumping at annual Heart Ball

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 145 views 

ROGERS — They called it Summer in Southampton — and guests took the theme to heart, donning seersucker, linen and other breathable materials. But when rising country star Josh Turner took the stage, guests at the Northwest Arkansas Heart Ball were back in the South, swaying and singing to Turner’s contemporary country tunes.

The affair, directed by the award-winning staff at the local office of the American Heart Association and event chairmen Scott and Jennifer Huff, drew a crowd of more than 1,300 guests and is expected to net more than $400,000.
Activities kicked off with a VIP reception at Blakeman’s Fine Jewelry, in the nearby Shoppes at Pinnacle Hills. The jeweler was to give 10 percent of all reception sales back to the heart association.

Over at the convention center, the first couple of hours were taken with cocktails, lots of picture-taking among clever boardwalk and beach decor and a stroll through a silent auction. By 8 p.m., dinner was almost an afterthought, as guests clinked some more glasses and sat back for a live auction that was more animated than usual, even for ace auctioneer Richard Clifton.

Two of the five live auction packages sold twice. One was a New Year’s Eve package including airfare and accommodations and dinner with an exclusive view of the New Year’s Even Ball Drop on Times Square. The other was the VIP treatment for two to the Southeast Conference championship in Atlanta in December.

A few of the 2012 class of American Heart Association Sweethearts circulated the crowd to rouse interest for all the live auction items.

The Sweethearts, a group of community-minded high school sophomores, raised more than $20,000 toward the heart ball’s haul.

“It’s just phenomenal for a group of sophomore girls to have that kind of passion,” said emcee Angela Taylor, anchor for 40/29-TV. Radio personality Jake McBride shared the podium with Taylor.

A highlight of the night was a heart-felt “thank you” from the family of Sydney Salmon, recipient of a heart transplant and delegated to deliver this year’s survivor story. The girl was too bashful to address the masses, so her folks spoke for her.