Heart Rock Gala


Photo Credit: Matthew Matta

Long Island men and women from the medical and corporate community, wore their red hot gala attire for the The American Heart Association’s 55th Annual Heart & Stroke Ball at The Garden City Hotel. The Heart Rock Gala is an event that raises money for life-saving research and prevention for cardiovascular diseases and stroke in the community as well as across the country. Attendees got to enjoy a cocktail hour, dinner, live music, dancing and a silent auction where they could bid on special experiences and memorabilia, all benefitting the American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association slogan is Life if Why. Long Island Heart Ball Chair, Renee Pope, shared her reason why the Heart Rock Gala is meaningful to her. “I’m here in honor of my mom who struggled with heart disease for 7 years and it was a long road, she’s in a better place, but I’m here for her and my family,” said Pope. She also stressed the importance of  knowing the signs of a heart attack since women experience different symptoms than men. Women should not dismiss little symptoms because they can truly be signs of something more serious. “With heart disease being the number 1 killer of women, we have to take note of these signs, it’s very critical,” said Pope.

The Heart Rock Gala recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of individuals and companies in the area of cardiovascular science and leadership. This year Kimon Bekelis, MD, a neurosurgeon with subspecialty training in minimally invasive endovascular neurosurgery and Dr. Jorge L. Gardyn, M.D., F.A.C.P., a Board-Certified Internist specializing in Occupational and Adult Medicine were honored. “It’s the first time in 55 years that the American Heart Association and Stroke Ball honored someone in the neuroscience field,” said Kimon Bekelis, MD.

Bekelis started a program on Long Island for stroke and brain aneurysm patients at Good Samaritan Hospital and Catholic Health Services of Long Island. Catheters are being threaded through an artery in the groin up to the brain to remove blood clots up to 24 hours after a stroke. Prior to this the only option was to give TPA, a clot removing drug 3 to 4 and a half hours after a stroke. Another new innovative treatment is aneurysms can be treated without opening the skull. “These patients were suffering from horrible diseases and couldn’t get the care they needed up until 7 months ago. We are privileged to offer that here on Long Island,” said Bekelis.

The Emcee for the Heart Rock Gala was WBAB’s Classic Rock DJ Fingers. “This is a night of miracles, there are people here who survived two or three heart attacks, triple bypass surgery, to be around all that goodness is very inspiring,” said Fingers. When Fingers was asked to sum up the evening with one song, he said The Heart of Rock and Roll by Huey Lewis, “now the old boy may be barely breathing, but the heart of rock and roll, heart of rock and roll is still beating.”







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