Boston Heart and Stroke Ball raises $1 million to confront health disparities

Residents of Back Bay in Boston live to nearly 90 years old, on average, while just a few miles away in Roxbury, life expectancy dips to just over 70.

This disparity is directly attributable to lack of equitable access to quality health care and nutritious food, among other factors. This year’s Boston Heart and Stroke Ball united 330 guests who collectively gave over $1 million to change the trajectory of health through initiatives focused on blood pressure control, nutrition security and bystander CPR training.

Billed as Heart of Boston, the annual gala, which was held at the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport on May 13, has a rich history of community impact.

Most recently, sponsorship from Sage Therapeutics enabled the local American Heart Association team and community health organizations to co-host community wellness lessons through the Association’s EmPOWERED to Serve platform. Participants learned essential skills like maintaining a healthy diet, monitoring and managing blood pressure, and integrating physical activity into their daily routines.

This work honors the legacy of American Heart Association founders, including cardiology pioneer Dr. Paul Dudley White. In his name, this year’s Paul Dudley White Award was presented during the gala to Dr. Lee Schwamm, a past national board member and current chairperson of the American Stroke Association Advisory Committee.

The award recognizes a Boston medical professional for extraordinary contributions to cardiovascular or stroke care. Notably, Dr. Schwamm accelerated the Association’s adoption of digital first strategies that prioritize health equity, especially in stroke and telehealth-enabled approaches to care. He co-developed the Get With The Guidelines hospital quality improvement program alongside Dr. Gregg Fonarow and Dr. Clyde Yancy.

The following video honoring Dr. Schwamm was shown at the ball.

The Heart and Stroke Ball also raised awareness of the importance of CPR education. Savennah Mendes-Rodrigues, a 19-year-old college student from Abington, Mass., shared her story of using her CPR training to save the life of a toddler who fell into a pool in August of 2022.

The event also featured a live auction that included items such as a getaway to Martha’s Vineyard, a trip to Naples, Fla., to dine with Sage Therapeutics CEO Barry Greene and his wife Natalie, and a signed Tom Brady Patriots jersey.

Sponsors of the 2023 Heart and Stroke Ball are Sage Therapeutics, Pfizer, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Encompass Health, Adelphi Group, Bain Capital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center. Cardurion Pharmaceuticals, CBRE, Choate, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mintz, Newton-Wellesley Hospital and scPharmaceuticals.