Peter Connolly had been involved with the American Heart Association for a while, but saw firsthand the benefits of scientific advancement when he needed stents a year-and-a-half ago.
Paul McCullough is a longtime supporter of the Capital Region and Saratoga communities, and was moved when he heard his fellow Saratogian Dr. Joy Lucas’ dramatic story of surviving heart disease.
Connolly and McCullough are co-chairing the 2020 Capital Region Heart Ball, set for Saturday, Feb. 29, from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs. The Heart Ball is followed by an after-party at Vapor Night Club.
“I have a personal tie to both kidney and heart disease,” Connolly, general manager of The Mercedes Benz Center at Keeler Motor Car Company, said. “My mother died of congestive heart failure, and my father had heart disease. I had 100 percent blockage in a coronary artery, and after getting stents, people commented that I had regained color in my face.”
“My grandparents and other relatives had had heart disease, but nothing significant,” McCullough, who, with Tom Burke, owns 15 Church in Saratoga Springs, said. “But hearing all the trials and tribulations that Dr. Joy Lucas went through with her aortic aneurysm, and thinking so highly of Peter, I thought it would be a good time to get involved. We have donated to many causes, and it’s our turn to ask the community to give back.”
Dr. Joy Lucas of Saratoga Springs shared her story at the 2017 Heart Ball and was the chair of the 2020 Go Red for Women campaign.
Connolly has worked at Keeler for 24 years. The Wellesley, MA, native has a degree in business administration from Boston University. He has also worked at Orange Mazda, Cooley Motors, and in the optical business. He owned “It’s Your Move,” a Troy restaurant. He was a candidate for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Man/Woman of the Year, and remains on the executive committee of that event. He is also on the board of the Northeast Kidney Foundation. He and his wife Colleen Connolly have two daughters, Courtney Weisberg and Ashely McLeod, and four grandchildren.
Before McCullough and Tom Burke opened 15 Church six years ago, McCullough ran Maguire’s on State and Lark in Albany, was a partner at Creo in Stuyvesant Plaza, and owned Gastronomia in Sarasota, Florida. An Albany native, McCullough attended SUNY Brockport, then started his career in the restaurant business at the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta.
“I started as a busboy, was assistant waiter, captain and maître d’,” McCullough said. “I came back to the Capital Region in 2002 because my parents were getting older. Tom and I have been friends and worked together for 18 years, and he’s a great business partner. He took a condemned building and we’ve re-opened a nice restaurant at 15 Church, with great staff and a wonderful clientele.”
McCullough estimates that every year, he gives away between $15,000 and $20,000 in gift cards.
“When Peter asked me to co-chair the Heart Ball, I responded to the call,” McCullough said. “For the first time ever, I’ll be asking for donations. 15 Church has great clientele, and ours is a generous community. I know everyone will come together to support the fight against heart disease and stroke.”
“We are fortunate to have Peter and Paul chair this year’s Heart Ball,” said Theresa Petrone Butts, Leader of IT Vendor Management at MVP Health Care and chair of the Capital Region Advisory Board. “They are generous in their support of the community, and I know their work will help the American Heart Association continue to fund research that will save lives for years to come.”
Connolly also sees the Heart Ball as an investment in the future.
“You don’t always get second chances to stop and smell the roses,” he said. “We all recognize that there are horrible things every day that end people’s lives and you never know when they’ll happen. We need to remember to hug our grandchildren whenever we can.”
The 2020 Capital Region Heart Ball includes a live auction, dinner, and will honor the Cardiac Kids, children born with heart defects. Retired Pediatric Cardiologist Eric Spooner, M.D., will receive the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero Award. For information or to purchase tickets, visit CapitalRegionNYHeartBall.heart.org or contact [email protected], 518.626.8754.