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BENEFITS O.C.

A Music-Drenched Night Fit for Stars

Supporters of the American Heart Assn. get Hollywood hype--followed by a healthy dose of aerobic activity out on the dance floor.

May 18, 1999|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: With a Song in Our Hearts, the 18th annual Heart-to-Heart Gala to benefit the American Heart Assn. The black-tie dinner and song-and-dance tribute to Hollywood took place Saturday at Tinseltown Studios in Anaheim.

Starry night: About 580 guests got the star treatment, strolling into Tinseltown on a red carpet to the screams of adoring "fans"--part of the dinner-theater's cast. Between courses of gourmet top sirloin and salmon, partygoers enjoyed musical numbers paying homage to Hollywood, kicking things off with a "Men in Black" rap. The evening ended with everyone dancing--a longtime favorite activity of this heart-healthy, exercise-conscious crowd.

At past galas, New York-based dance troupe Le Masquerade got people on the dance floor, but this year event planners wanted to try something new: "We felt we needed a change, to get new life into this event," said Sandra Daley, planning committee chairwoman. "So we reinvented the Tinseltown show for the heart association."

Heart of the matter: The American Heart Assn. was founded in 1924 to reduce disability and death from heart disease and stroke through education and research. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the nation and in Orange County. In 1996, heart disease killed 6,594 area residents.

"Aunts, uncles, grandparents--every single person in my family has died of stroke," said Bobbie Gee, auction chairwoman. "Everyone needs to be educated a lot more about heart disease."

Quote: "We've had such an impact [on heart disease] due to reductions in smoking, lowering [patients'] blood pressure and angioplasties, but there's a lot more we can do," said Dr. Melvin Tonkon, president of the local heart association board.

"There's been a better-than-50% reduction in the death rate caused by heart disease and stroke. Our goal is to reduce that by 25% in the next nine years."

Faces: Tim Smith, corporate cabinet chairman; Ken Westbrook, senior vice president of Tenet Health System-Orange County region, who received the association's Legacy of Life Award; Dede Blackman; J. Steven Roush; Alyja Kalinich; John and Donna Crean; Judy Ellis; Terry Ascher; Dr. Yvette de Beixedon; Ken Plock; and Doreen Myers.

Bottom line: The gala netted about $165,000 for the association. Proceeds will go to research and local education programs such as CPR training, health fairs and AHA materials for schools.

How to help: For volunteer opportunities with the local American Heart Assn., call the Irvine office at (949) 856-3555.

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