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Gut-Wrenching Heart Attack Survival Story Makes This $1.25 Million 40th Anniversary Gala Hit Home — Keeping the Beat Alive

Touching Moments and a High-Powered Bidding War

BY // 02.18.24

What: The American Heart Association Heart Ball

Where: Hilton Americas-Houston

PC Moment: It’s unusual for a ballroom of gala revelers to fall so silent that the proverbial pin could be heard dropping. That was the case when the video of energy exec Wallis Marsh‘s story of his heart attack played on screens across the vast space. He then shared a few words and praised his wife DeeDee for saving his life by quickly getting him to ER. The underlying message — do not miss the warning signs of an impending heart attack.

All in all, this 40th anniversary Heart Ball celebrating the American Heart Association’s 100th anniversary was a roaring success. With more than 500 celebrants, the evening raised $1.25 million for the association’s work fighting heart disease and stroke and its expanded role in addition to aiding public health and food security missions.

“The AHA in Houston wouldn’t be able to make such a difference in our local community without the generous support of this year’s Heart Ball sponsors and supporters, and we are so grateful for their support,” says Allison Sheeder, senior executive director of Greater Houston.

Kelly Hackett and Danielle Hammons photo by Daniel Ortiz (21)
Gala chair Kelly Hackett, Danielle Hammons at the 40th anniversary American Heart Association Heart Ball. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

“Our organization was also so excited to celebrate our community partners who are making such a difference through their contributions in the heart health and food security and nutrition spaces. These honorees embody exceptional care, warmth, and compassion, and the AHA was proud to recognize all of them on Saturday evening.”

Elizabeth Anthony

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Key players in the evening included emcee Khambrel Marshall, auctioneer Logan Thomas and more importantly gala chair Kelly Hackett.

Fun note: Hackett and Peter Fluor were engaged in a high-powered bidding war for a pair of earrings donated by Diamonds Direct. Ultimately Hackett was the high bidder and after receiving the earrings handed them over as a gift to Fluor.

Russ Laberasca, DJ Warner, Damien LaPar photo by Daniel Ortiz
Russ labeerasca, DJ Warner, Damien LaPar at the 40th anniversary American Heart Association Heart Ball. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

PC Seen: Beverly and Jim Postl, Kim Koehn, Bruce and Laura Miller, Judy and Russ Labrasca, Kelly and Damien LaPar, Kelli and John Weinzierl, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Suzie Kupiec and James Dyer, Lesha and Tom Elsenbrook, Cindy Cook, Krista and Ronnie Smith, Ann Fluor,  and Lacey and Matt Goossen.

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