Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 1:28 am | Light Rain 59º


Supporters Open Their Hearts for American Heart Association Heart Ball

The 14th annual benefit event highlights the Healthy Futures program, implemented to fight youth obesity in Santa Barbara

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

The 14th annual Santa Barbara Heart Ball hosted by the American Heart Association, Central Coast Division at the elegant Bacara Resort & Spa asked attendees to open their hearts and make a firm commitment to treatment and care for cardiovascular disease.

This year’s theme, “Heart of the Matter,” extended the implementation of the Healthy Futures program to fight youth obesity in Santa Barbara in order to make big changes in the lives of hundreds of local kids.

Guests were encouraged to sport Santa Barbara chic — red or white with jeans — to recognize this important factor for heart disease and stroke.

The benefit offered attendees a firsthand account of the profound impact that AHA research and treatment programs have provided for Santa Barbara County residents since 1924.

“The American Heart Association has made massive strides over the past 10 years to combat heart disease, and we’re excited about the promise of progress ahead locally and nationally in the fight against youth obesity,” said co-chair Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust.

Empowering youth and their families to make healthier lifestyle choices is the goal of the Healthy Futures program, and in partnership with the local A-OK after-school programs and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County hands-on education about nutrition and the causes of heart disease are provided to encourage youth to take charge of their health and be more physically active.

Healthy Futures schools for 2013 include six local elementary schools: Cleveland, McKinley, Adams, Franklin, Harding and Adelante Charter.

The program launched in early April at Adams Elementary as an inspiration for Santa Barbara County, where currently only 51.5 percent of children ages 2 to 11 and 16.9 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 ate the recommended five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily. And, 64.8 percent of local children ate fast food one or more times per week, and 83.5 percent of teens ate it at least once per week.

“One of three American kids and teens are overweight or obese — nearly triple the rate in 1963,” AHA Executive Director Lisa Dosch said. “This startling statistic is one that needs to be addressed because if we do not educate our children and empower their parents to start living healthy lifestyles now, 90 percent of our population will be obese or overweight by the year 2030.”

The after-school program made of both student and parent portions consists of four hour-long interactive workshops and one parent session where students learn nutrition basics and parents are encouraged to support and encourage their children toward healthier lives.

“Our message is simple: If you are doing nothing, do something; if you are doing something, do more,” said event co-chair David Edelman, Fielding Graduate University vice president of advancement and development. “Your presence here tonight embodies those doing more.”

The two event chairs, Garufis and Edelman, are leaders behind the Healthy Futures Program intent to make an impact on the health and well-being of the youth in the community.

As the chic jeans clad guests initially made their way to the dining room many stopped to view an assemblage of pictures and testimonials from heart and stroke survivors that lined the walkway and surveyed an inviting array of items on display for the silent auction while the sounds of Area 51 kept the mood beating.

Some of the unique and inspiring items included a private behind-the-scenes zoo tour, a spa, a shopping spree, wine tasting, cooking classes and a yoga package, a trip to Wente Vineyards, and a local sports showcase with admission to sporting events, golf, outdoor activities and memorabilia. 

Garufis offered a welcome message as guests found their tables, and Dosch provided an overview of AHA as a delicious and healthy meal was served that started with Fairview Farms Boston Bibb lettuce, accented with Bartlett pears, pistachios, dried cranberries and Farmer cheese that was followed by grilled Pacific halibut and a choice of Goleta lemon pudding or lime meringue tart to top it off.

A video showcasing the Health Futures program was followed by a live auction with hosts Jake Parnell and Andrew Firestone, and during a break in the auction Parnell introduced the colorfully clad Fiesta dancers from Linda Vega studio who performed for the audience.

Parnell also encouraged the audience with a special appeal for Open Your Heart donation cards. Each card requested an amount and noted the specific benefit, such as $50 to provide water to 180 students for the Healthy Futures physical activity curriculum, and all the way up to $5,000 to fund the entire Healthy Futures five-week curriculum for one Santa Barbara County School for 30 students.

Board president Dr. Joseph Aragon outlined AHA’s goals, including that by 2020 the organization hopes to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans and reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent.

Aragon also introduced Open Your Heart speaker Rich Block, Santa Barbara Zoo president and CEO, who is a triple bypass survivor after a life-changing experience last October that started at work and included officiating a soccer game before ending in his journey to recovery with the support of AHA and Sansum Clinic.

“Knowing the warning signs and taking action even when you question yourself is a powerful message we can all take with us this evening,” Aragon said.

Block said he was eternally grateful for the support and flattered to get an opportunity to speak and publicly thank an important group of people.

“The best part of this invitation is the opportunity to thank some of those responsible for making tonight’s appearance possible especially the team of people at Sansum,” Block said. “And working quietly behind all this is the American Heart Association.”

Garufis strode back to the stage to share some details on the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians sponsored drawing contest, “How to Keep Your Heart Happy,” that encourages young people in the community to submit artwork.

Tony Arementa then joined Garufis onstage to present three winners with a gift certificate: Jacob Macias, first place; Chase Raisin, second place; and Emma Goglizer, third place.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians received the Outstanding Community Leadership Award presented by Montecito Bank & Trust, and Garufis introduced a Chumash video that showcased some of the contributions and achievements.

Garufis also presented the Lifestyle Change Award presented by Mentor Worldwide LLC to Alison Pinnela, “whose co-workers describe her as a change agent and someone who has actively taken on the role of as a hero of weight loss.”

To close out the evening, Dusty Jugs led a group of boisterous post-event dancers who gathered on the dance floor to celebrate the healthy contributions of the evening.

Contributions raised by the Santa Barbara Heart Ball will go toward AHA’s continued research, treatment and education wellness programs, such as Go Red For Women and CPR Anytime designed to educate the community and help save lives.

Another popular AHA event is the Santa Barbara Heart Walk coming Sept. 21 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort with festivities beginning at 9 a.m. Click here for more information

AHA-Central Coast graciously thanks the sponsors of the 14th Annual Heart Ball:

» Signature sponsor: Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

» Healthy Kids sponsor: Mentor Worldwide

» Healthy Futures sponsor: Montecito Bank & Trust

» Educator sponsors: Sansum Clinic, BMW Santa Barbara and MarBorg Industries

» Patron sponsors: Ron and Marlys Boehm, Business First Bank, Cox Communications, Cottage Health System, Fielding Graduate University, Medallion Mortgage, Neovia Integrated Insurance and Venoco Inc.

» In Kind sponsors: Bacara Resort & Spa, Cox Communications, Design Porch and Haagen Printing

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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