Spirits soared at the 25th annual Pittsburgh Heart Ball: The Spectacle of the Heart, which welcomed 800 guests to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Saturday evening for a magical vintage circus-themed party to support the American Heart Association. Patrons' hearts were fluttering from the start as a man on stilts, a plate spinner and several aerialists from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts performed. Inside the ballroom, patrons perused the silent auction items, donned funny masks in the photo booth and took in the whimsical decor by Hens and Chicks of Shadyside, complete with centerpieces made of hula hoops, circus-themed animal crackers and popcorn. The excitement began with aerialist Nicole Burgio, who dazzled with her trapeze routine and killer arms. Once guests settled in for a gourmet dinner, awards were presented. The Pulse of Pittsburgh Award recipient, the late Dr. Henry Bahnson, performed Pennsylvania's first heart transplant and was chairman of the department of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Mary Scully Excellence in Nursing Award went to Amy Cashdollar, director of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC's Heart Institute.
The "warm-your-heart" moment of the night came when cardiac arrest survivor Susan Koeppen, who emceed the event with KDKA-TV colleague Bob Pompeani, auctioned off her daughter's rainbow loom bracelet. Bidding started at 50 cents and turned into a war, with two bracelets going for $1,500 each. The total raised for the evening was $1.2 million, bringing the total raised since 1989 to an incredible $48 million. After the auction, guests got their hearts racing by dancing to No Bad Ju Ju well into the night. Seen enjoying themselves were executive director Sherri Stitt, Dr. Donald Fischer and the honorable Nora Fischer, John Jr. and Holly Mascaro, Mark and Christine Sevco of UPMC, Doris Carson-Williams, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western PA, and Curtis and Kimberly Fleming, chairwoman and CEO of Hefren-Tillotson.
First Published February 24, 2014 9:14 PM