As the American Heart Association gears up to celebrate a century of scientific discovery and innovation in 2024, the anticipation for the annual Heart Ball is palpable.
Set to take place on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Duke Energy Convention Center, this year’s Heart Ball will serve as a platform to honor those who have shown unwavering commitment and leadership in the fight against heart disease and stroke.
Alyson Poling, Executive Director, Greater Cincinnati American Heart Association, emphasizes the organization’s mission: to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. She acknowledges the invaluable contributions of innumerable individuals toward this cause.
This year’s Heart Ball chair, David Spaulding, President of Lithko Contracting, is one of these outstanding individuals. Spaulding has served on the Heart Ball Executive Leadership Team. He is very engaged in the Greater Cincinnati community and volunteers with many organizations in addition to the American Heart Association.
“For nearly a century, the American Heart Association has had a transformative impact on countless lives,” Spaulding says, reflecting on the organization’s history. “As we look forward to the next 100 years, we recognize that our collective and continued support of this phenomenal organization is of the highest importance to ensure healthier lives for all.”
The Heart Ball will honor Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO of Kroger, with the Heart of the City Award for his steadfast support of the American Heart Association at both the local and national levels. In 2018, McMullen was appointed to the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable, joining a leadership collaborative of the nation’s top CEOs committed to improving the health and well-being of their associates and communities.
“At Kroger, we believe access to affordable, fresh food is vital for thriving communities,” McMullen says. “So many preventable diseases, including those related to heart health, are linked directly to how we eat. By connecting customers with healthy food options and the resources to learn more about the ways their food choices impact their long-term health, we have an amazing opportunity to change the way America eats. Kroger is proud to collaborate with the American Heart Association, supporting its mission to save lives by improving heart health in Cincinnati and across the country. I am exceedingly honored to receive this recognition on behalf of our outstanding Kroger teams who counsel customers and patients every day.”
“We are thrilled to have two of our area’s most dedicated and passionate executives at the helm of the Heart Ball,” said Poling. “David’s leadership combined with Rodney’s support as a Heart Ball honoree will ensure this year’s event will be successful in saving and improving lives in our city.”
The Heart Ball will also honor DP Suresh, M.D., FAHA, FACC, FSCAI, Executive Medical Director, Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, with the Dr. Creighton B. Wright Leadership in Healthcare Award. The award is bestowed upon a medical/healthcare professional who has worked alongside the American Heart Association to improve heart and brain health. Dr. Suresh is a staunch advocate for reducing the impact of heart disease and stroke in the community and acknowledges the association’s role as a leading research organization for heart and vascular disease.
“It’s a huge honor to accept the award from Dr. Creighton B. Wright, who has been a heart health pioneer in our community for the past 30-plus years,” says Dr. Suresh.
He attributes his recognition to his work at St. Elizabeth and his efforts in reducing stroke and heart attack deaths. Dr. Suresh has been dedicated to expanding cardiac research ever since he received his first American Heart Association research grant as a University of Cincinnati fellow in 1998.
His extraordinary support of the American Heart Association extends beyond the borders of the United States, reaching as far as India where the association trained more than 4,500 CPR instructors and saturated an entire district with Hands-Only CPR. St. Elizabeth Edgewood, under his leadership, was accredited by the AHA in September 2018 as a Cardiovascular Center of Excellence — one of only a few in the nation.
“If the AHA’s first hundred years were what we call ‘from the bench to the bedside,’ the next hundred could be taking it ‘from the bedside to the community,’ not just nationally, but to the world at large,” Dr. Suresh says.
The Greater Cincinnati Heart Ball is sponsored by St. Elizabeth Healthcare. The annual event is a night to honor survivors, patrons and volunteers of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health.
In 2023, five determined nominees for the American Heart Association’s Leaders of Impact campaign embraced a seven-week challenge — from World Heart Day on Sept. 29 to Nov. 15 — to heighten heart health awareness and raise funds to support the life-saving work of the American Heart Association. They organized a series of events that helped them achieve their goals successfully.
The collective efforts of the following nominees and their respective teams resulted in raising over $157,000: Megs
Gelfgot, Activate Brain & Body; Terrence Mason, Johnson & Johnson; John Schenk, CBRE; Nick Thaxton, AtriCure; and Olivia Urlage, DNP, MBA, BSN, RN, St. Elizabeth Physicians, Heart & Vascular Institute.
Their dedication and tireless work catapulted the Greater Cincinnati campaign to the No. 2 spot in the country.
Schenk emerged as the winner of the local challenge, having raised an impressive $53,721. His team — comprising Hannah Staubach, Nicholas Arcuri, Tanner C. Dowdy, Skip Beckett, Andrew Seta, Leslee Schenk Trzcinski, Parker Gilmore, Rachel Weber, Sam Riber, Evan Pugh, Madison Levand, Cecilia Meadors, Chas Gregory and Katherine Kohnen — played a crucial role in this outstanding achievement.
“The American Heart Association’s tenacious effort is a leading factor in a healthier Cincinnati community,” said Schenk. “Supporting their life saving work was an easy choice and the impact from my team, fellow nominees and generous donors, will be immense for our community.”
Leaders of Impact is an annual event held as part of the Greater Cincinnati Heart Ball, where Schenk will be recognized on Feb. 17 at the Duke Energy Convention Center.
Would you like to help celebrate 30 years of the Greater Cincinnati American Heart Association? To learn more, email Tricia Sunders, Associate Vice President of Development, at Tricia.Sunders@heart.org or visit heart.org/cincyheartball.