When Nealy & Adam Wells welcomed their daughter Augusta into the world last year, even the global pandemic didn’t dim their optimistic perspective. “There are truly great people that are leaving an impact on our community. It inspires us to get out there and do more.” Ardent ambassadors for the most beloved organizations in Central Arkansas, Nealy realizes civic leadership evolves – like so many other priorities – during times of change and uncertainty. Yet, their family’s support of Central Arkansas American Heart Association remains steadfast as they welcome patrons to the reimagined, virtual Heart Ball later this month.
Nealy remembers moving from Stuttgart to Heber Spring and finally Little Rock to accommodate her family’s business, Lumber1. “I’ve always worked for Lumber1 and feel fortunate to live in such an active community. While everyone has a choice in what and how to invest their time, I feel a large portion of Central Arkansas gives back.” For Nealy, this translates into a tenure of service with Junior League of Little Rock as well as Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas. She admits a shared interest in the critical mission fulfillment work of the American Heart Association keeps them committed to the organization. “Adam and I both have family members who have succumbed to heart disease and stroke, so we are both passionate for the campaign to end heart disease and stroke.”
Each year, the Heart Ball generates support for advocacy platforms that improve the welfare of all Arkansans. “The American Heart Association is a large organization that, due to its size, is able to fund medical research that has helped make strides towards a cure that otherwise wouldn’t be possible” Educational initiatives include women’s health, nutrition security, blood pressure and reducing the use of tobacco + vaping. Nealy adds, “The American Heart Association CPR Kit program delivers CPR kits along with an informational seminar for students to various schools throughout the state. I believe that this is an invaluable asset, especially to rural schools across our state.”
A highlight of the Heart Ball is always the formal recognition 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 curriculum designed to teach heart-healthy initiatives and cultivate civic responsibility. With this year’s event modified, a result of special consideration to COVID-19 safety precautions, festivities have adjusted accordingly. Guests will enjoy a lively auction and celebrate the Sweethearts as well as a healthcare hero and cancer survivor stories – all from the comforts of home. “We’ve always enjoyed socializing with friends and family at fundraisers, although the pandemic has taught us to adjust to a home-based lifestyle; we have created our own backyard ‘oasis’ as a respite from the pressures and hardships brought on by long-term quarantine. We are looking forward to this year’s event, but will be so thrilled to attend an in-person, traditional Heart Ball in 2022.” Nealy’s enthusiasm is palpable. “Lookout, it will be a true celebration that is three committee years in the making! I am looking at this year’s events as the segway to an exciting new year of spreading awareness of heart disease and stroke across our great state.”