The American Heart Association held its 24th annual Heart Ball at Mandalay Bay’s South Seas Ballroom April 4. The honoree was John O’Reilly, chairman and CEO of O’Reilly Group LLC. He received the Heart of the Community Award for making a difference in Las Vegas through his leadership and generosity.
“We are excited to honor John O’Reilly. He continues to make a difference in the fight against heart disease and stroke,” said Jerry Nadal, chairman of the 2014 Heart Ball and senior vice president of Cirque du Soleil’s resident shows division.
Proceeds from this year’s event will support the American Heart Association’s Teaching Garden Initiative, which teaches fourth- and fifth-grade students in Las Vegas Valley elementary schools how to plant gardens and eat healthful foods.
Teachers’ lessons are planned around the gardens, and students and their families will harvest the crops in May.
Attendees included board of directors members Dean Collins, George Scleparis, Sally Bedotto, Wendy Foster, Mary Krevosh, Linda Rittenburg, Chris Mowan and Mike Murphy.
Judges were William Kephart, Rob Bare, Cynthia Giuliani, Stefanie Miley, Susan Johnson and Sandra Pomerenze.
Executive Leadership Committee members in attendance were Russell Price, Lawrence Barnard, Keith Boman, Sally Dewhurst, Jordan Fiksenbaum, Shelly Gitomer, William Hornbuckle, Julie Murray, Gerd Peters and Julie Sloderbeck.
The American Heart Association aims to reduce the rates of childhood obesity, and in turn reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke.
The most touching speaker on the program was Dr. Civia McCaffrey, who explained how her son Maddox had two open heart surgeries and will need more. “He is not only surviving, but thriving, thanks to the Children’s Heart Center and help from the American Heart Association,” she said.
The ball guests were greeted by characters from Cirque du Soleil shows “Mystere” and “Michael Jackson One.”
Fashion designer Christopher Axelrod was the evening’s master of ceremonies.
The Champagne flowed with appetizers, including watermelon cubes with goat cheese. Dinner was served on small plates, with items such as short-rib arancini to teriyaki sea bass.
Some guests relaxed on white leather sofas or visited the candy station to pick up cotton candy, chocolate and gummy bears. Cirque du Soleil performers entertained onstage.
There were 70 items linked to a silent auction. The most popular bid was the one-week trip to Hawaii. There was also a chance to bid for a helicopter ride with KLAS-TV, Channel 8, reporter Ken Smith.
Other supporters on hand were: Shirley Foster, Jain and Renu Ranjit, Adele Zorn, Nenita Maningat, Angel Kelly, Don Snyder, John Espinoza, Danita Cohen, Phyllis James, Jesse Mancha, Linda and Vince Vuong, Feralene Orpilla, Joe Thornton, Cari McClish, Suzanne Bartlett and Linda Moody.
The American Heart Association raised nearly $300,000 at this event, double its goal.