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FLORIDA On Saturday night the American Heart Association held its annual Heart and Stroke Ball for 200 people—50 more than last year—at the Eden Roc hotel in Miami Beach. The organization surpassed its fund-raising goal before the event, despite having fewer corporate sponsors than in years past. The association’s south Florida marketing manager, Joanna Palmer, cited the economy and former donors’ lack of charitable budgets for the year as the reason for the decline in corporate sponsorships.
To combat the downturn, Palmer offered additional marketing and branding opportunities at other events for sponsors of the ball, in addition to placing sponsors’ names and logos on the invites, tables, and programs. “We’re making them visible in the community through other events we’re doing throughout the year to provide them more return on the investment,” said Palmer, noting the association achieved its goal of $250,000—$100,000 more than last year—before the event as a result of sponsorships, ticket sales, and table sales. “We saved ourselves by adding these extra options and making this event the cumulative celebration of a year’s worth of achievement in heart disease [research].”
Sponsorship packages for Piaget and patron sponsors Lady Monica Heftler, Bunny Bastian, and Pam Garrison allotted extra visibility through participation in the association’s Red Dress Fashion Show last October and additional name recognition on the collateral materials created for that event and the Heart Ball.
Following the cocktail hour, where association event manager Brooke Gonzalez displayed 34 silent auction items for bidding, event staffers drew back the navy draping separating the cocktail area from the ballroom to signify that guests should find their tables. Judge Karen Mills-Francis of TV show Judge Karen served as M.C. for the night. After waitstaff cleared the dinner plates, Judge David Young of the Emmy-nominated show of the same name led the live auction with assistance from association staffers.
The band and waitstaff reentered the ballroom about 40 minutes later for the presentation of the association’s inaugural Big Heart Humanitarian Awards. Singer Paulina Rubio, artist Romero Britto, Telemundo journalist Maria Celeste, Total Bank C.E.O. Bill Heffernan, and philanthropist Lady Monica Heftler received awards for their contributions to the fields of music, the arts, journalism, business, and goodwill, respectively.
The charity raised thousands of additional dollars through the event's auctions and private donations, though final numbers weren't available at press time.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect Judge David Young's participation in the live auction.