A crowd of 1,000, mostly young professionals, ‘partied with a purpose” at the American Heart Association’s 15th annual Paint the Town Red Heart Ball on Saturday (Jan. 23) at the Fayetteville Town Center.
Staci Clinkscales, director of communications for the AHA, said organizers expected to raise $300,000 which will support the AHA’s mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke, through research and education, in Northwest Arkansas and across the country. According to the AHA website, heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and stroke is the number five killer.
Clinkscales said the Paint the Town Red event appeals to young professionals because it has a “hip vibe,” gives them a chance to support a cause, and helps them become educated about their own health.
“Oftentimes this is their first opportunity to be involved with nonprofits. So, this is their opportunity to give back to the community,” Clinkscales said. “Then (they) also learn about heart disease and stroke, and start really thinking about their own numbers early, and know what those warning signs for heart disease and stroke are.”
As part of the education aspect of the evening, Roman and Casey Roark and their 6-year-old twin sons, Ryder and Rowe, shared their story of Ryder’s diagnosis of a congenital heart defect in the winter of 2014. He had emergency surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital to correct the condition and today is leading a normal life, like any other child his age. Serena Munns, corporate market director for AHA, said Ryder’s story emphasizes that heart disease can happen at any age.
“Ryder is six. He’s a kindergartner at Vandergriff. It happens to anybody. No matter your age, you need to know your numbers,” Munns said.
Megan Crozier, with Walmart, and Richard Appleton, with Freeosk, co-chaired the event for the second year and said they think it is important for young professionals to be involved.
“Everyone you know has been affected by heart disease or stroke,” Crozier said. “So anything we can do as a community to support others (is important). And, it’s fun to rally around that with people of different organizations all across NWA and have some fun at the same time.”
During the event, guests visited eight different “funky” lounge areas, sponsored by participating companies and offering seating for socializing as well as cocktails, photo opportunities or dancing. Lounges ranged from the Coors man cave to Dr. Pepper/Snapple’s disco theme. Johnson & Johnson’s lounge sponsored a photo app for the iphone where guests could download a photo and Johnson & Johnson would donate $1 per photo that went to sponsor the “Hands Only” CPR course for high school seniors.
During the evening, guests sampled a variety of food from 19 different restaurants including Azul Tequila, Colton’s Steakhouse, Copeland’s, Dickey’s Barbecue, Ella’s Restaurant, Marley’s Pizzeria, Houlihan’s, Rick’s Bakery, The Hive and Zoe’s Kitchen. Major sponsors for the evening were RB, Dr. Pepper/Snapple and Johnson & Johnson.
The evening also included music by “Almost Famous” and a silent auction.