Hot Springs Heart Ball Chairmen Michelle and Brian Bell will celebrate the volunteers and patrons of the American Heart Association who are committed to building healthier lives for all Arkansans.
By Barrett Gay | Photography by Jeff Fuller-Freeman | Shot on location at National Park Medical Center
“It’s easy to support an organization that creates such positive outcomes with its research, community outreach and advocacy,” says National Park Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Brian Bell about the American Heart Association-Arkansas Chapter. “While there are so many worthwhile causes to support, there aren’t many that affect our entire population like the fight against heart disease and stroke. We all know someone who has been impacted directly by heart ailments.”
For years, through their careers and volunteer work, Brian and his wife Michelle have partnered with AHA-Arkansas Chapter in its mission to “build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.” As chairmen of this year’s Heart Ball, presented by National Park Medical Center, the couple looks forward to celebrating other mission-focused volunteers and patrons. “The theme for this year’s Heart Ball is Heart of Gold,” Brian explains. “It’s going to highlight the excellence of the many giving individuals we’re blessed with in our community, the countless hours and dedication of those who make this event happen, the tireless efforts of the American Heart Association and most of all, the hearts of gold who have fought, are fighting or are taking care of someone fighting heart disease.”
Brian has worked with National Park Medical Center for more than two decades. A leader in cardiac services, NPMC is the first heart hospital in the region to combine inpatient, outpatient and critical heart care with a full-service hospital. “I believe that compassion and knowledge truly support the miracles of healing,” Brian says, “and it is obvious to me that the team at National Park Medical Center has abiding faith in the value of both.” National Park Medical Center has served as a proud sponsor of the Heart Ball since its inception.
A heartwarming highlight of the gala is the formal presentation of the Sweethearts. The Sweethearts program – designed for Hot Springs area high school sophomores and juniors – creates awareness for cardiovascular disease prevention and heart-healthy lifestyle tips through education and volunteerism. The Sweethearts learn from LifeNet EMTs, volunteer at NPMC, complete infant + adult CPR certification and more. At the Heart Ball, the young ladies are celebrated for their service and achievements.
The Sweetheart program was established after great tragedy. In 2007, Paul and Kathryn Russell, friends of the Bells, lost their daughter Caroline to a suspected undetected heart condition. “The Russells managed to take the most difficult, painful loss and create a lasting legacy for Caroline through a program that makes a lifelong impact on each young woman it touches,” Brian notes. He and Michelle, a personal fitness trainer and co-owner of clothing company Bell & May, helped the Russells develop the Sweethearts program. Michelle has also integrated her skills and expertise as a fitness trainer into an educational component of the program that addresses heart-healthy eating habits and cardiovascular exercise.
Another bittersweet moment of the evening will be the Heart of Gold tribute, honoring the life of Andrea Hamby. Andrea, who passed after a lifelong battle with heart complications, can only be described as a blessing to her community. “She was always looking for ways to help kids and people in need, and a lot of times it was without anybody even knowing it,” Michelle says.
The Bells continue to advocate for the American Heart Association fiercely because they love the people of Hot Springs fiercely. As Michelle says, it’s “a community that cares.”
Favorite Heart-Healthy Activity
Michelle: teaching my classes
Brian: keeping up with my boys
Go-To Heart-Healthy Food?
Brian: kale salad
Philosophy To Live By?
Michelle: be a light
Brian: always have hustle + heart