By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Lily Darragh | Hair & Makeup by Suzy Balkman with Bristle + Balm (‘99 Sweetheart) | Dress provided by Deborah Heard with Dillard’s Park Plaza | Jewelry provided by Roberson’s Fine Jewelry | Special thanks to Samuel Pettit with Arkansas Circus Arts
Tammy Quick has a flair for the impossible – her energy and enthusiasm seem endless. For nearly a decade, she’s presented the Heart Ball with precision + perfection, including the annual Sweetheart program. When we suggested fire and she didn’t hesitate, we took the opportunity to showcase her commitment to the Central Arkansas American Heart Association and IGNITE Possibilities!
This Pine Bluff native is proud of her heritage and the Southern hospitality that makes Arkansas unique. She’s quick to offer a glass of sweet tea, her favorite refreshment, and welcomes AHA volunteers like they are family. Despite her busy schedule, Tammy continues to participate in the church choir and can carry quite a tune – she shared a serenade with us under the February full moon with fire batons twirling in the twilight.
Tammy studied business and accounting at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and started her career at the Excelsior Hotel when it opened in 1982. She admits that it didn’t take long to realize “people are more fun than numbers” and gained invaluable event planning experience as director of catering and convention services. “Working at the hotel during the 1992 presidential election was a very exciting time – a time when everyone in the city worked together.”
Tammy initially turned to AHA with thoughtful devotion for her father – her hero. “I wanted my oldest daughter Perry to be a Sweetheart in honor of her grandfather, my father, who died from heart disease.” She contacted Executive Director Carol Dyer, whose recent promotion left the position open. She remembers that joining AHA as corporate development manager was a seamless transition for her. “The timing was perfect,” Tammy recounts. “I was ready for work that really mattered and made a difference – if I can help one grandfather make more memories, this is the work for me.”
Like too many Americans, her father’s cardiovascular disease was the result of smoking. “It’s one of the leading causes and is preventable,” Tammy notes. The American Heart Association serves as an advocacy platform for heart-healthy education and public awareness. “The American Heart Association is where you work, play and pray with programs teaching heart health and providing tools for positive lifestyle changes.”
Proceeds from the gala support the organization’s mission fulfillment work. “The two primary pillars of our focus are research and public health education,” Tammy explains. “The American Heart Association funds more research than any other U.S. organization, except the federal government, and provides resources to help Americans reduce the risk of heart disease.”
This year’s Heart Ball, Ignite Possibilities, reflects the organization’s continued commitment towards a brighter future for all Arkansans. “The heart of our mission is building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke,” notes Central Arkansas American Heart Association Executive Director Joyce Taylor. “Tammy brings that purpose to everything she does as Heart Ball director. From our volunteers to our Sweethearts, she’s truly committed to saving lives and the longevity of our organization in Central Arkansas.”
The highlight of the evening is the formal presentation of the Sweethearts. Established by Eileen and Dr. Ricardo Sotomora, the Central Arkansas Sweetheart program provides a unique opportunity for high school sophomores to participate in a comprehensive program designed to teach heart-healthy initiatives and cultivate civic responsibility.
As the Sweetheart program celebrates its 20th anniversary with tenured success, the gala recognizes three decades of continued patronage. Serving as Heart Ball chairman, Ricardo – along with Eileen – will graciously welcome guests and inspire the organization’s mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease. This finite focus isn’t possible without the support of countless civic leaders, healthcare professionals and volunteers – like the Sotomoras – who are invested and confident in the progress of AHA in Central Arkansas. “Honorees and Sweethearts as well as chairs and volunteers from previous years will join us. It’s going to be a party of appreciation, gratitude and accomplishments – the funds will ignite so many possibilities for the future and that’s an exciting thing.”