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Ball raises $1 million to target heart disease

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When Matthew Voorhees thinks about heart disease, three numbers come to mind: 67, 57 and 1.

To Voorhees, chief executive of accounts payable software provider Anybill, they are not just numbers. They represent ages — the oldest living male in his family, the age when the disease took his grandfather’s life and the age it threatened the life of his niece.

So it was no question Voorhees would help plan the American Heart Association’s 14th annual Heart Ball, held recently.

“To the extent that we can raise money, purely selfishly, to help me live longer because I have a 9-month-old kid, I want to do that,” said Voorhees whose father also died of heart disease.

He was among more than 500 business people and philanthropists gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner in gowns and tuxedos to raise money for the association and honor the heart disease community.

With a giving campaign and auction items valued between $100 and $18,000, the nonprofit raised $1 million, just shy of the $1.2 million goal.

AHA officials said the funds will support programs in the Washington region targeting research, high school CPR training, nutrition labeling for restaurants and public health education.

“We have over 200 events just like this in communities throughout the country. I have to say here in Washington the community is so generous and supportive of the mission of the AHA,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association. “We spend more in the Greater Washington region than we raise in the Washington region because of all of the important research. ... The dollars are critical so that the AHA can make the Greater Washington area healthier tomorrow than it is today.”

WJLA (Channel 7) anchor Leon Harris and reporter Jennifer Donelan hosted the evening’s program as guests dined on arugula salad, beef filet with fried sweet potato garnish and a hazelnut crunch bar or apple tart for dessert.

Videos featured stories of “heart heroes” or people serving in the heart community, including Dr. Arthur J. Roberts, an ex-NFL quarterback and cardiac surgeon who has performed more than 4,000 open heart surgeries.

Items auctioned off included two private jet bookings, which went for $18,000 each; a 10-day trip to Italy, $17,000; a vacation package to Paris, $16,000; and a dinner party with chef Eric Ziebold of City Zen, $11,000.

Silent auction items included tickets to a New York City Broadway show, one night at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel, Container Store products, landscape consultation and an autographed Redskins football.

“The corporate community gets accused all the time of not having a heart but we all do. We are looking not just to raise money for a good cause but one that keeps us alive,” said Voorhees.

Sponsors included KPMG, Sidley Austin, Gibson Dunn, CGI, Anybill, CareFirst, Legacy, Medstar Health and SNR Denton.

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