The 22nd Annual Hamptons Heart Ball for the American Heart Association (AHA) took place on June 23, 2018 at The Southampton Arts Center with cocktails beginning at 6:00 PM. This event ushers in the busy Hamptons season with a gathering of over 350 native Hamptonites. While the evening was a bit chilly, the warm atmosphere of the crowd lightened the mercurial weather. The night’s honorees were Dr. Apostolos Tassiopoulos, Professor and Chief of Vascular Surgery at Stony Brook Hospital and Audrey and Martin Gruss-who were unfortunate no-shows. Co-Chair Jean Shafiroff, who joined Dr. Charles Simonton, has been working hard selling $600 tickets for the past couple of months to this pivotal event with many of her friends attending including: Margo and John Catsimatidis, Rebecca Seawright, Maria and Ken Fishel, Paola Bacchini and Arnie Rosenshein, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Randi Schatz, Joe Fichera, Anka Palitz, Florence Anthony and Southampton Mayor Mike Irving.
Shafiroff, wearing a dramatic pink and red Victor De Souza gown with a turquoise belt, greeted guests with enthusiasm and kindness. During the cocktail hour there was a silent auction where guests got to bid on some Hamptons goodies including VIP tickets to Polo in the Hamptons, and dinners from Hampton hotspots. Attendees were soon escorted into the tent where emcee and news anchor, Greg Kelly, regaled the crowd with his spot-on Trump imitation telling guests they were in for an “amazing and fantastic evening.” Kelly then stood blindfolded as he thanked the numerous sponsors-impressing the crowd with his keen memory. Kelly recounted his recent heart scare where he was warned by his doctor that he “was on his way to a heart attack.” Kelly followed the dietary guidelines of the AHA cutting out red meat and sugar and sticking to a plant and fish based diet and saw his numbers dramatically improve while losing 15 pounds in the process. Kelly introduced Chair Jean Shafiroff as an Instagram star and the most photographed woman on the planet and thanked her for her tireless philanthropic efforts. Jean recalled her father’s heart attack at the age of 51 and how organizations such as AHA helped her father survive until the age of 94.
As attendees enjoyed a meal of salmon and beef the heart wrenching story of 8-year-old Mederick Burckhard who was born with half a heart and has endured 8 grueling operations, was recounted on film. Mederick received a standing ovation as he and his parents stood on stage with steely faces acknowledging the help AHA provided while admitting they were anxiously anticipating future surgeries and difficulties. Mederick is a magnificent child and he danced beautifully to the tunes of the band “The Groove” with more enthusiasm and revelry than most healthy children his age. But there was a definite sadness permeating the visage of his parents as his father, Simon, described their enduring struggles. Simon, said that the AHA has provided invaluable support to his family and helped pass legislation making it necessary for kids to get tested for their pulse oximeter as Standard Operating Procedure-a test that was previously unavailable when Mederick was born. After a live auction was held, guests were treated to a dessert of apple pie or chocolate cake and then escorted to an after party where some heart healthy tunes were played by DJ Martial. Departing guests were given a goody bag which contained a beach bag and mat along with a book and some scented candles-a perfect gift to mark the beginning of the summer.