Photography by Sarah Oden | Hair and Makeup by Suzy Balkman with Bristle + Balm | Wardrobe from Barbara Jean | Jewelry from Sissy’s Log Cabin | Shot on location at Albert Pike Masonic Center
Like too many Americans, both Penny and John Burkhalter have lost a parent to cardiovascular disease. And, as a breast cancer survivor, Penny admits she didn’t realize the risk that it added to heart health. “I have been outspoken about my personal health journey with breast cancer, but I didn’t know how interwoven cancer and heart health can be. Cancer survivors have a risk of cardiovascular disease four times higher than the average person. The American Heart Association has funded more than four billion dollars in research, but there is so much to be done. Imagine what additional studies might discover and what treatments might result. We must bring these hidden opportunities to light and that’s why we want everyone to join us for the Heart Ball.”
Next month, Penny and John will welcome guests to the Heart Ball in celebration of the American Heart Association and its continued mission fulfillment work. This year’s Heart Ball Hidden Hearts reflects the organization’s unwavering commitment to research and education that is paramount to saving lives in communities across the state. “Someone’s health and quality of life shouldn’t be based on where they live. But for far too many, that’s often the case. Studies show that rural areas, like the Arkansas Delta, are experiencing higher instances of heart disease and stroke.” For nearly a century, AHA has been an advocate for prevention and detection of disease – dismissing the notion of imminent death. “The American Heart Association is working to increase access to healthy foods and quality health care as well as raise awareness about warning signs.” Central Arkansas American Heart Association Executive Director Joyce Taylor elaborates, “Education is a fundamental component in our vision for longer, healthier lives. The Burkhalters have experienced the impact of this awareness through our Sweetheart program; both daughters participated. Now, Penny and John are ardent advocates and are making meaningful contributions through our mission work.”
A highlight of the evening is the formal presentation of the 2020 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.
Proceeds from the evening support the organization’s advocacy platforms that improve the welfare of all Arkansans. “The Central Arkansas American Heart Association’s dedication to the community is remarkable. There’s the big stuff, but then it’s other – equally impactful – initiatives like CPR training for students and the hydration policies in schools. The organization is relentless in its pursuit of a world of longer healthier lives.”