More than 1,100 people “partied with a purpose” in the Fayetteville Town Center on Saturday (Jan. 24) at the 14th annual Paint the Town Red event that raised money for the American Heart Association (AHA).
The event is expected to raise $205,000 this year, to top the $170,000 brought in last year, said Rebecca Buerkle, director of communications for AHA. Richard Appleton, co-chair for Paint the Town Red, said they sold out several days in advance.
“We sold about 1,100 tickets. Sold out three days before the event,” he said. “This is first year we sold out before the event.”
Buerkle said Paint the Town Red intentionally targets a younger professional crowd to attend the event.
“It’s a great opportunity to reach out to that audience to talk about the importance of knowing more about heart health and getting involved.”
On Saturday night, that included showing a short video entitled, “Life is Why” which featured people from around Northwest Arkansas sharing why supporting AHA is important to them.
“One in three deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease and stroke. Everyone is affected by this,” Buerkle said. “So everyone has a reason why proper heart health is important to them. It is their ‘why’.”
Some of the money raised on Saturday will go to the national American Heart Association organization, some to research and some will stay in Arkansas, Buerkle said.
“Right now Arkansas has 11 research grants underway, funded by the American Heart Association,” she said. “These are pivotal in making huge leaps when it comes to research and moving forward within science and ways that end up extending and saving lives.”
During the short program on Saturday, even co-chairs Megan Crozier and Richard Appleton encouraged the crowd to be involved and said that, due to the efforts of AHA, death by strokes recently decreased from 4th to 5th as the leading cause of death in the United States. This would not have happened without the support of people supporting the AHA with their time and money, they said.
Crozier and Appleton also introduced Ryley Williams, a pediatric stroke survivor. Williams thanked the crowd and AHA for their support.
During the evening, guests enjoyed sampling a variety of food from 10 area restaurants: Flying Burrito, Hog Haus, Houlihan’s, IDK? Café, JJ’s Grill, Marley’s Pizzaria, Mimi’s Café, Mojo’s, Noodles, Rick’s Bakery, Taziki’s and The Hive.
Guests could also bid on different pieces of art, created by local artists Sasha Rayevskiy, Matt Miller, Tolik Rayevskiy, Beckett Byars and Eli Mathis. Their work ranged from huge banners displayed from the ceiling to spray-painted cars donated by Crain Automotive and parked along the walk leading up to the Town Center. All the artwork was auctioned to raise money for AHA.
A silent auction was available and attendees could place bids on hundreds of items. Also, for the first year, the event offered “mobile bidding.”
“Everyone is on their cell phone these days, so they can go on to our mobile bidding site and they’ll get an alert if someone has outbid them,” Buerkle said. “They don’t have to stand right by the table, but can just enjoy the party.
Big Mike Kaufman and Jake McBride of KIX 104 were emcees for the evening and Memphis-based band, Almost Famous, played for the crowd. Major sponsors of Paint the Town Red were Harps, RB, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, General Mills and Johnson & Johnson. The City Wire was a media sponsor of the event.
Organizers of Paint the Town Red asked that #paintnwa be used when promoting the event on social media.