We were honored to be among the 700 guests attending Austin’s annual Heart Ball on Saturday, May 13 at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin. The event, presented by St. David’s Healthcare, was the 20th annual fundraiser gala benefiting the American Heart Association, and through a combination of live and silent auctions it raised over one million dollars in one evening.
The tone for the evening was set by event emcee Shannon Wolfson, award-winning journalist and KXAN Co-Anchor. Shannon shared her own personal story of heart disease in her family, and asked the audience to “remember, it was the generosity of folks long before you who sat in these seats and funded the life-saving advances that we have today.”
During the evening’s program, we watched a compelling survivor story from David Mebane who struck a chord in everyone’s hearts as he began the short video feature saying, “I have a feeling that there are a lot of men and women in this room who think that they’re invincible… and that was true, up until the moment that it wasn’t.”
David went on to offer four pieces of advice to the audience, encouraging those watching to:
- Know your personal situation. Get to know your family’s medical history to see if heart disease might be in your genetics.
- Start getting your bloodwork done regularly, once a year — it could be your best birthday gift to yourself.
- Consider getting a CT scan, especially if your doctor agrees that it’s something worthwhile.
- Never forget the importance of doing something active and — in this city of natural springs, bike trails, and countless activities — make the time to get yourself out there.
After the emotional video feature concluded, David surprised the room by appearing on stage with his wife, Kelly, and two young children where he received a standing ovation for sharing his story. David thanked the attendees for their attention and generosity before turning over the mic to benefit auctioneer Gayle Stallings who facilitated the “Open Your Heart” auction raising over one million dollars to help fund life-saving research.
Nearly 30 percent of Austin area deaths each year are attributed to cardiovascular disease. Since 1924, the American Heart Association has been working to keep our community safe from heart disease and stroke through education, support, research, and advocacy.
Learn more: American Heart Association