Cardiac arrest patients in Northwest Arkansas – which in recent history has included a U.S. Senator – are a step closer to having access to therapeutic hypothermia as a result of the Mercy Health Foundation’s O’Night Divine Charity Ball on Saturday (Dec. 5).
Almost 1,500 business and community leaders joined together for the 22nd year of the signature fund-raising gala to raise money to fill a special need at the NWA hospital. This year, the $1.05 million raised will go to Mercy Cardiology for the addition of the special cooling therapy that cools body temperature after open heart surgery and improves chance of survival and brain function.
Steve Galen, BISSELL Home Care, Inc. director for Global Walmart and Mercy Foundation board member, said the ball is the main fundraiser event for Mercy, and is also a great time to share with the public what goes on in their local hospital, where their charitable donations go and how the hospital benefits all Northwest Arkansans.
Galen said in past years money raised has been used for such enhancements to area health care as Mercy’s mobile health unit, a breast cancer screening diagnostic machine and additional equipment in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to bring the care of infants to the highest level possible. Past donations have also funded 4D heart ultrasound, vein viewer, stereotactic breast biopsy and Sisters Health Boutique, according to the Mercy website.
‘DICKEY RAY CLUB’
The majority of the funds raised at the event over the years have come during the portion of the event, called “The Dickey Ray Club,” when Foundation board member Dick Trammel makes a special 10-minute appeal for guests to donate to the hospital, Galen said. Over each of the past ten years Trammel has raised $100,000 to $150,000 during his appeal, for a total of $870,000 before this year’s ball, said Clark Ellison, Mercy Health Foundation regional vice president. On Saturday night Trammell raised $165,000, putting him over a total of $1 million raised during his 10-year tenure of fundraising at the ball.
A live auction raised about $65,000 during the evening, organizers said, and included such items as a $15,000 artist’s proof package from Ed Cooley Gallery, a $5,000 room makeover by HOWSE with Design Services, a South Dakota pheasant hunt and a trip to New York City’s Fashion Week.
In addition to raising money, Ellison said stories shared during the Mercy Ball let guests know about the quality of the health care that Mercy provides.
“We share with almost 1,500 people what our caregivers do every day throughout the year. We get to tell the stories, we get to highlight some of those success stories,” Ellison said.
One of the success stories shared on Saturday was that of U.S. John Boozman, R-Ark., and his wife, Cathy. In a pre-recorded video, they told of their Mercy experience when Sen. Boozman had a “major cardiac incident” on April 21, 2014. The Boozmans were then unaware that Mercy had cardiac and thoracic surgeon Dr. Edgar Chauvin on staff. Dr. Chauvin successfully performed surgery on Boozman.
Ellison said the common theme with Boozman’s story and other success stories is that you don’t have to travel outside the area for quality care. It is available here in NWA. He said it is the staff at Mercy, like Dr. Chauvin, who make the difference in the care patients receive.
“We touch people from their very first breath, all the way through to their very last breath,” he said. “We really touch people’s lives and it’s our caregivers that do that.”
SCOTT FAMILY HONORED
During the evening, the Family of the Year, Organization of the Year and Volunteer of the Year were recognized.
The Lee and Linda Scott family, one of the presenting sponsors of the ball, was recognized as Family of the Year. Ellison said the Scott family was chosen because of their support of the hospital and the ball over the last 15 years, their major financial contributions to the building of the new hospital in 2008 and Linda Scott’s service on the hospital board.
“Now their children are even involved with our events and our activities. So, they were just a great choice to recognize them as Family of the Year,” Ellison said. (See a short video at the end of this story about the Scott family support of the foundation and hospital.)
The Endeavor Foundation in Springdale was presented with the Organization of the Year award. According to their website, Endeavor “puts generosity to work for Northwest Arkansas by making grants that impact the region’s health and wellbeing, education and community vitality.”
Volunteer of the Year went to Tom Hauge, a Mercy Health Foundation board member, who has helped connect Mercy with the corporate world, Ellison said.
“He has chaired our corporate council which invites in suppliers and the companies in NWA to learn more about Mercy. He’s led that for about a year and half now and has done a tremendous job,” Ellison said.
Tickets for the evening were $250 and sponsorships ranged from $1,000 to $50,000. Sponsors for the evening included Walmart, Sam’s Club, the Lee and Linda Scott Family, Pepsico, New Creature, Tyson, General Mills, Don and Jo Soderquist, Post, Kimberly-Clark, American Greetings, and Acosta, among many others.
The Filharmonic, a group featured on NBC’s hit musical competition, “The Sing-Off”, was the featured entertainment for the evening.
Mercy Health Foundation’s stated mission is “to secure financial support enabling Mercy to provide affordable, quality healthcare in a faith-based environment to every individual, regardless of financial means.”
Mercy Northwest Arkansas is part of the nation’s seventh largest Catholic health care organization in the U.S. and employs 1,800 people. Facilities in NWA include a 200-bed hospital in Rogers, Ambulatory Surgery Center in Bentonville, multispecialty facility in Bella Vista and 30 Mercy Clinic locations within the NWA region.