Southwest Florida Heart Ball raises $429,000

Heart ball goes 'around the world' to find support

Erik Kellar 
 David and Kerri Call, co-chairs of the southwest Florida American Heart Association's 2012 Heart Ball, address the event guests. This year's ball was themed "Hearts Around the World" and held on Saturday, April 14, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs.

Photo by Erik Kellar

Erik Kellar David and Kerri Call, co-chairs of the southwest Florida American Heart Association's 2012 Heart Ball, address the event guests. This year's ball was themed "Hearts Around the World" and held on Saturday, April 14, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs.

Erik Kellar 
 Joan Pascotto reacts with surprise to the announcement when she is honored as the 2012 Dr. Pascotto Golden Heart Award recipient at the southwest Florida American Heart Association's 2012 Heart Ball, held on Saturday, April 14, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. Sponsored by Florida Gulf Coast University, the award recognizes a medical professional who has made a lifelong contribution to improving heart health within the southwest Florida community. Erik Kellar

Photo by Erik Kellar

Erik Kellar Joan Pascotto reacts with surprise to the announcement when she is honored as the 2012 Dr. Pascotto Golden Heart Award recipient at the southwest Florida American Heart Association's 2012 Heart Ball, held on Saturday, April 14, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. Sponsored by Florida Gulf Coast University, the award recognizes a medical professional who has made a lifelong contribution to improving heart health within the southwest Florida community. Erik Kellar

Erik Kellar 
 Dr. Robert Pascotto responds to an African stilt walker at the southwest Florida American Heart Association's 2012 Heart Ball, held on Saturday, April 14, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. This year's Heart Ball was themed "Hearts Around the World," and highlighted cultural entertainment and cardiac research from around the globe.

Photo by Erik Kellar

Erik Kellar Dr. Robert Pascotto responds to an African stilt walker at the southwest Florida American Heart Association's 2012 Heart Ball, held on Saturday, April 14, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. This year's Heart Ball was themed "Hearts Around the World," and highlighted cultural entertainment and cardiac research from around the globe.

Some 525 big-hearted partygoers turned out for the 2012, internationally flavored southwest Florida Heart Ball at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs, raising $429,000 for research and education in the fight against heart disease and stroke.

Labeled "Hearts Around the World," the gala began with an opening reception staged in the ballroom lobby and adjacent rooms filled with live and silent auction displays that featured electronic bidding via BidPal. An attention grabber: a Saks Fifth Avenue "Sexy in the City" vignette promoting the NYC fashion week experience up for live auction.

Scattered, evocative ethnic elements added to the worldwide appeal as did a huge, flag-studded heart-shaped archway to the reception area.

Getting lots of looks was a red 2013 Lexus GS350 offered for a 3-year lease donated by southwest Florida Lexus. Raffle items from the Diamond District were displayed alongside, with blinking hearts pins given for each ticket purchased. A costumed Chinese musician plucked at a complex Gu-Zheng instrument beside a working calligraphist.

The Orlando-based Mosaic duo of fiddler Jonita Aadland and vocalist/accordionist Butch Kresovich kept to international selections during the reception while Latin tunes accompanied dinner. After-dinner dancing initiatives came from the Malones.

Waitstaff and bartenders fueled the inner selves with American buffalo carpaccio, American salmon ceviche and a French cheese station and beverages of choice including Italian Prosecco, fruit juice- based cocktails.

African Mocko Jumbie stilt dancers subsequently garbed as Caribbean characters strutted, startled and posed for photos throughout the event.

Ball co-chairs Kerri and David Call personally greeted all comers. " It's been such fun in the planning and here it's already time to pass the torch!" Kerri Call exclaimed. Her husband added how especially impressed he is with the community generosity.

Crowd standouts: Mary Bongiovanni in a scarlet, beruffled silk top, and Dr. Chris Papadopoulos, with matching red silk bow tie and cummerbund.

Judy Starnes who will co-chair the May 23"Go for Red" women's luncheon glittered from head to toes with red tinsel extensions that, "Feel like having fairy dust in my hair," she said.

Multi-cultural accents specific to various continents highlighted the three-course dinner. Planned Perfection designers of Fort Myers created centerpieces that incorporated not only floral elements but fruits. In several instances, banana- filled vases were topped with flowers and other natural materials.

Emcee Kellie Burns, NBC-2 news anchor, later joined by live auctioneer Scott Robertson, orchestrated the event program.

RNs Debbie Hupe-Cyr, Linda Patterson and Christine Beaver, all cardiac care specialists, were presented with nurse awards. Joan Pascotto received the Dr. Pascotto Golden Heart Award sponsored by FGCU. The wife of Dr. Pascotto, she has completed 26 mission trips to the Dominican Republic, having joined the cardiac surgery heart mission there in 2002,

The live auction of seven items included the "Heart Bowl," which brought in $30,000; the Hopeful Hearts Quilt package, created by "heart disease heroes," $116,000; and the From our Heart Challenge initiated by Wayne and Gayle Laufer, a $25,000 donation.

© 2012 gonaples.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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