Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Hamptons Heart Ball 2016 Kick Off of the Summer Social Season Was a Resounding Success

Lonnie Quinn, Jean Shafiroff & Kristine Johnson
All photos: Patrick McMullan

The American Heart Association (AHA) held its annual Hamptons Heart Ball on Saturday, June 25 celebrating its 20th anniversary for an "Evening Under the Stars." The AHA is a non-profit voluntary organization with a $900 million annual budget devoted to fostering appropriate cardiac care. The event took place at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton and began at 6 PM with passed hors d'oeuvres and libations.

Barbara Pollwater, Dr. Frank Spencer

As the throngs of Hamptonites, such as Jean Shafiroff, the Catsimatidis', Dottie Herman, Wendy and Bob Federman, entered the huge tent there were numerous photographers waiting on the red carpet snapping away feverishly. There was a palpable excitement, as this was the start of the Hamptons social season and people were getting reacquainted after a long winter. More than 500 guests arrived in the blue-hued tent for dinner, it was time for business, with hosts and Channel 2 News Anchors Lonny Quinn and Kristine Johnson, clad in a blush Alice and Olivia plunging gown, emceeing the dinner.

Meredith Cohen, Tracy Stern, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin,
 Nicole Noonan, Randi Schatz

The room's decor of blue and red stars was resplendent and it was difficult to keep the summer crowd quiet. Tonight's honorees were iconic cardiologist Dr. Frank Spencer and philanthropic powerhouse Jean Shafiroff accompanied by glamorous co-chairs Randi Schatz, Consuelo Vanderbilt, Tracy Stern and Nicole Noonan.  Jean looked resplendent in a red Oscar de la Renta gown and she handled herself with poise and grace as she asked the crowd for a moment of silence in honor of photographer Bill Cunningham.

Jean Shafiroff in Oscar de la Renta

Jean spoke movingly of her deceased father's battle with heart disease and highlighted the importance of The American Heart Association having herself contributed and raised over $100,000 for this great cause. We were then treated to a spellbinding videotape of the Burckhard's, a heroic family whose 5-year-old son endured numerous strokes and heart surgeries after being born with a congenital defect. Mederick, a magnificent young boy, had the crowd in tears as he danced on stage with the energy of an athlete. His parents acknowledged that he would not be alive if not for the lifesaving treatments developed by the American Heart Association.

After this moving tribute, emcees Quinn and Johnson tried to raise $150,000 to little avail - the crowd was not budging which they attributed to Brexit and a slowed economy. Star Jones, a heart disease survivor, got up to the podium exhorting the audience to contribute to a disease which kills 1 out of 3 women - she was even so bold as to comment, "I know the way you people spend money please open up your purses."

Eventually $600,000 was raised and a more comfortable part of the event, the entertainment chapter, which featured acrobats and stilt walkers, ensued to great audience enthusiasm. The live music of Alex Donner was impeccable as usual, and co-chair Consuelo Vanderbilt joined him in belting out some wonderful tunes. At the conclusion of the evening we were handed a goody bag with books, lotions and other treats with guests rushing home to continue engaging in what will hopefully be a summer full of similarly spectacular events.





- Lieba Nesis


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