The Central Arkansas office for the American Heart Association has named co-chairs for the Heart of Central Arkansas Campaign as Leslie Harmon and fiancée Dr. Rhys Branman. Harmon and Branman will focus on driving equitable health for the Little Rock area community. With the theme of this year’s Heart Ball being “The Gift of Time,” Harmon and Branman will center the campaign around giving people more time with loved ones, with the absence of heart disease and stroke.
In the United States, heart disease remains the No. 1 killer, despite more than 900,000 recent deaths due to COVID-19. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death in Arkansas. Those with high heart-health risks – including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease – are also at high risk for serious complications, or death from COVID-19. These preexisting conditions contribute to racial disparities in coronavirus death rates.
“This past year, in the midst of the pandemic, we saw a dangerous and disturbing trend as people across the country and right here in our community delayed their health care out of fear of COVID-19,” Branman says. “Here in Little Rock, our neighbors continue to delay care for serious heart attack symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath, which can ultimately be the difference between life and death.”
Harmon adds, “As a couple involved in the medical field, we understand the importance of good heart health. We attend medical conventions all over the world, and everywhere we go, we’re aware of the statistics on heart disease. We feel it is important for us to do our part in helping educate the public.”
The Heart Ball event unites the community by celebrating progress toward equitable health by honoring survivors of both heart disease and stroke.
Live and silent auctions will be held, as well as a celebration and presentation of the 2021-22 Sweethearts Class, entertainment by the 12 South Band and a chance for attendees to give in memory of a heart patient whose daughter also suffered heart issues.
Money raised by the Heart of Central Arkansas campaign will aid in funding the mission of the American Heart Association to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives while supporting priority issues in the Little Rock area.
“It’s more important than ever that we reach our community to share the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke, and to treat them as the emergency they are,” Branman says.
Harmon and Branman are working with a volunteer committee on the campaign, which aims to draw around 700 guests and raise $300,000.
This year’s Heart Ball will be held April 2 at the Statehouse Convention Center. For more information about the event, click here.
Photo courtesy American Heart Association.