Heart Ball honors Dr. Victoria Vetter

From left, Dr. Edward S. Cooper, Dr. Victoria Vetter and Anthony Jennings. Vetter received the Dr. Edward S. Cooper Award. – PHOTO/ROBERT MENDELSOHN

More than 600 supporters attended the American Heart Association’s 2013 Heart Ball on Saturday. The organization’s major fundraiser honored Dr. Victoria L. Vetter, medical director of the Youth Heart Watch Program of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and Brian P. Tierney, , CEO of Brian Communications and Realtime Media. The black-tie cocktail reception, silent auction and awards dinner took place at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown.

Ryan Davis, 2013 Heart Ball chairman, extended a warm welcome to attendees and acknowledged past honorees and special guests.

Vetter was this year’s recipient of the Edward S. Cooper, MD Award. Cooper was the first African-American national president of the American Heart Association. Vetter’s distinguished career includes training in pediatric cardiology and electrophysiology at CHOP, where she is currently an attending staff physician in the hospital’s Division of Pediatric Cardiology. Her energy, dedication and passion for her work are commendable..

I asked Tierney, recipient of The Heart of Philadelphia Award, why he became involved with the American Heart Association. He explained that he was encouraged to support the organization by his friend Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross and last year’s Heart of Philadelphia honoree. Tierney said both of his parents, James and Claire Tierney, succumbed to heart disease very suddenly. Two of his four brothers also have heart disease.

“Receiving this recognition is a tremendous honor that touches me personally. It is ironic that the ball occurs so close to the anniversary of my dad’s death on Feb. 18. Although my dad died nearly 25 years ago and my mom nearly 13 years ago, I vividly remember the emotion of shock. I felt as though there was nothing I could do. Now I realize that I can do something by helping others through my involvement with this organization," Tierney said.

“It is especially fulfilling to know that for every $1 raised by The Heart Ball, $4 comes directly to the American Heart Association for distribution to local institutions.”

The AHA has been very successful in increasing awareness among people of color and women. Julie Taylor, AHA executive director/vice president Philadelphia, said, “Our Go Red For Women movement is celebrating 10 years this year … 10 years of saving the lives of all women. Since this movement began, GRFW has saved 627,000 lives across the country. Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, yet only one in five women recognizes heart disease as being her primary health threat. For that reason, it is the job of the American Heart Association to create programming that is inclusive of all women, but to also reach out to specific groups who feel the brunt of these health crises.”

Television personality and National American Heart Association advocate Star Jones will be featured at this year’s GRFW luncheon on May 10. For more information visit www.heart.org/phillygoesred.

“The American Heart and American Stroke Association is keenly aware that people of color are disproportionately affected by heart disease and stroke and because of that we have designed programs that focus on the needs of those specific audiences, ” Taylor added.

Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz, popular NBC10 chief meteorologist, did a terrific job as master of ceremonies. He shared his personal, very moving story about his survival of heart disease.

Congratulations and thank you to the American Heart Association sponsors, volunteers, board and staff.

Have a fantastic week “Out & About” everyone!

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