Sunday, October 13, 2013

Heart Ball Committee gets set for 50th Anniversary

“Celebrating the Golden Anniversary of a Vision…Championing the Cause of Children!”

Back row: Lottie Palumbo, Barbara Sawyer, Ingrid Sears, Olivia Porteous Soutter, Marilyn Cambridge, Alice Similien, Keniqua Whitehouse
Front Row: Maria Symonette, Claire Howorth, Rose Thompson, Linda Lafleur, Coretta Owen, Portia Nottage

A group of very excited ladies came together recently to make plans the best Ball that they could possibly host in Nassau town.  The Heart Ball Committee gathered with excitement to plan the 50th Heart Ball and events leading up to it. As they prepare for the “Golden Anniversary”, this team of dedicated volunteers, like their predecessors, embraces the world of entertainment in an effort to raise funds to repair the hearts of children, who can not ordinarily afford heart care in The Bahamas.

According to public relations officer Ingrid Sears, “We are very excited about the year 2014, and Heart Month (February 2014), as we will be hosting the 50th Annual Heart Ball. This year’s theme is “Celebrating the Golden Anniversary of a Vision…Championing the Cause of Children!”  We are delighted that we can carry on a work that started with a vision to help repair the hearts of others, who can not ordinarily afford heart care. This year’s Ball is expected to trumps all. There will be lots of gifts, prizes, surprises and fun. We are pulling out all the stops and rolling out the red carpet. We wish to encourage the public to start making preparations to attend next year’s Heart Ball. You won’t want to miss it! It will truly be exciting.”

In November of 1961, the late Lady Evelyn Sassoon established the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation, as a living tribute to her late husband, Sir Victor Sassoon. Sir Victor was a philanthropist who developed an interest in cardiology in his later years. As such, after his passing, his late wife encouraged persons to make donations to the local heart fund in his memory. Interestingly, the hospital contacted her a few weeks later. They informed her of the funds they received for the heart fund and indicated that there was no such charity. As such, with the vision of extending Sir Victor’s charitable activities, and as a living tribute to him, the Heart Foundation was established. Means were immediately set up, whereby all physicians in The Bahamas could refer patients with heart disease to The Heart Foundation, who could not afford heart care in part or fully. At that time, an expenditure of £1,000 per person afforded patients: heart surgery, nursing fees, travel for the patient and parent, return trip for post-operative care and other miscellaneous expenses. In an effort to increase access to care and reduce costs to The Foundation, in the spring of 1963, Dr. Francisco Hernandez hosted the first heart clinic in Nassau.

From 1961 to 1963 it was demonstrated that a Foundation for heart care was needed. Additionally, there was a need to meet the substantial demands on the trust assets in an effort to save lives. As such, The Foundation turned to the world of entertainment for support. The first major fundraiser was the presentation of “Straight Jacket”, in 1963, featuring Joan Crawford; she gave a special appearance. The following year the inaugural Heart Ball was held on April 2nd, 1965.  The event took place at the Governor’s Hall, Sheraton British Colonial Hotel. All expenses in connection with the inaugural Ball were underwritten by friends of the Foundation. Not one penny of the Foundation’s funds was used in that fund-raising exercise.

HBC Committee sits at table planning

Today, the Heart Ball Committee remains the fund raising arm of The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation. Over 4,000 persons have benefitted from the generosity of The Heart Foundation. As a non-profit organization, The Foundation relies heavily upon the generosity of others to meet demands. One surgery can cost over $50,000, which is a big jump from £1,000 or $1,600. So, The Heart Ball Committee remains busy trying to raise funds and encouraging sponsors to join the fight against heart disease.

Barbara Sawyer listens attentatively at meeting

The Heart Ball Committee host two major fundraisers annually and encourage sponsors to support their efforts. The major fund raisers are: The Annual Tea Party & Fashion Show and The Annual Heart Ball. The Annual Tea Party & Fashion Show is scheduled for November 17, 2013 at Government House.  The 50th Annual Heart Ball is scheduled for February 15, 2014, at Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort. The public is encouraged to make donations, join the Bahamas Heart Association and support other fund raising events that benefit The Heart Foundation.

For details on the 50th Heart Ball, The Annual Tea Party & Fashion Show, and Heart Month or for information, please call the Heart Foundation at 327-0806.