More than 350 guests attended the Wilmington, DE Heart Ball at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. The event was chaired by Secretary Claire DeMatteis, Esq., of the Delaware Department of Corrections. Special attendees included AHA National Board Chairman Bertram L. Scott, Delaware Governor John Carney and US Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester. Scott presented Gov. Carney with the “Gift of Time” award for his leadership in the passage of the T21 Bill to raise the purchasing age in Delaware to 21 for vaping and tobacco products.
During the event, Scott shared the personal reasons that drive his passion for our mission, “I lost my dad to heart disease and my first wife to stroke — both at age 52. That experience made me keenly aware of the disparate impact of hypertension and heart disease in people of color, rural communities and women. And it strengthened my resolve to address social determinants of health.”
Delaware Executive Director David Morris said, “It was wonderful to have National Board Chairman Bert Scott at our Wilmington Heart Ball. Bert brought an incredible passion and energy to the room that was a true game-changer for our campaign and the mission of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association here in Delaware.”
Dr. Ray Blackwell was presented with the prestigious Dr. James H. Gilliam Jr. award by James’s widow, Dr. Linda Gilliam. This award has been given in James honor since 2005 to a Delawarean who makes a significant impact in the community. Dr. Gilliam passed away from a Heart Attack and was a renowned philanthropist and community leader. Dr. Blackwell is the Chief Cardiovascular Surgeon at Christiana Care and is a member of the Delaware American Heart Association Board of Directors, and the American Heart Association – Eastern States Board of Directors.
The theme of survivorship for the event centered around congenital heart defects. Survivor Mike McCloskey – a professor who discovered he had a congenital heart defect while living a very healthy life at age 40 – was honored. McCloskey had valve replacement days after competing in a triathlon! Attendees also received an update on three child survivors who have taken part in the event over the last three years: Eric, who is now in Pre-K, Isaiah who is now 3 and thriving, and Carl Jr., who just turned 2 and is living a healthy life. All three were born with congenital heart defects and have been doing exceptionally well since they were featured at the last three heart balls (Eric in 2017, Isaiah in 2018 and Carl Jr. in 2019).
Morris said, “The event was a wonderful testament to our volunteers’ passion for and dedication to our mission, as well as a great opportunity to highlight our community impact. We’re thankful to everyone who made the evening possible.”
April Dawn Shinske is the American Heart Association – Eastern States Regional Director for Internal Communications.