I recently attended the 2014 Greater Washington Region Heart Ball, where there are chapters in many cities including, but not limited to: D.C, Atlanta, Philly, Houston and New York City. This year,  the DC Ball was held at the legendary Mandarin Oriental. 

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Bringing more than 600 of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia’s most prominent physicians, corporate, health care and community leaders for an inspirational evening of dinner, dancing, live entertainment and live and silent auctions. The Heart Ball is the premier social event that salutes the American Heart Association’s impact on the Greater Washington Community.


The event kicks off with the Fairfax Dance Troupe meet and greet during the cocktail reception portion. This year’s theme was integrated  with  elements from the Chinese New Year. Near the entrance I spotted a Chinese Calligrapher interacting with guests and shortly after the Tea Leaf reader. After taking photos and introducing myself to guests, we were then moved to the Grand Ballroom for dinner and the evening’s program. Matt Voorhees, Heart Ball Chairperson & Co-Founder/CEO of Anybill, Nancy Cordes (CBS) and Joe Beninati from CSN Washington all led the welcoming remarks.

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Afterwards, the guests were entertained during the first set of dancers: water fairies and the second set: lion dancers. Followed by the Heart Heroes presentation and the live auction. As I was taking photographs of the presentation, I met Dylan Coleman. A beautiful, vibrant baby boy who is  a success story and a survivor.

Dylan, at two days old, a newly mandated pulse oximetry test that measures the oxygen saturation in the blood, caught the multiple congenital heart defects Dylan was born with, which would have otherwise gone undetected. He needed immediate open heart surgery or he would die. At seven days old, the parents left Dylan with the anesthesia team.  Dylan’s strength is immeasurable; he had many post-op struggles, but fought incredibly hard and survived.  At his last check up in August, Dylan’s cardiologist told their parents  his heart is fully repaired.


Dylan would not be laughing and smiling today if not for the work of the American Heart Association (AHA) and their efforts to mandate the “pulse-ox” testing in newborns, and for the research that allowed Dylan’s surgeons to be successful.

After the program’s conclusion and ending remarks, we made our way back to the room where the reception took place. Dessert and tunes played by Mustang Band carried the crowd until after hours.


To learn more American Heart Association (AHA) and the Open Your Heart program, please visit here.

– Christine Shepherd

Images by Christine Shepherd