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American Heart Association Goes Virtual For Annual Hamptons Heart Ball

Lee Fryd

Susan Lucci is making a special appearance. (Photo: Yolanda Perez)

Missing our Hamptons galas? The American Heart Association says, get dressed and go virtual, for a June 20 celebration, from 7 to 8 p.m. "Pour yourself some champagne. Wear the dress you want. Feel festive," 2020 Hamptons Heart Ball Chair Cristina Civetta says. "It's good for your heart." Although all are encouraged to give, tuning in is free. Get connected by posting photos and videos with #HamptonsHeartBall, tagging the American Heart Association at @AHANewYork on Facebook and Instagram, and @HeartLongIsland on Twitter.

Originally thought to affect the lungs primarily, "COVID-19 is attacking the heart in ways that are causing people to have long lasting heart disease, as well as causing strokes," Civetta said. "The American Heart Association has pledged 2.5 million dollars to COVID-19 already: for research, CPR training, programs for the underserved, blood pressure cuffs for people to self monitor in their homes, free oxygenation, ventilation courses to health care workers, and creating a data registry of COVID-19 patients. Suddenly, our mission is to not only deal with pre-COVID heart disease, but with this whole new set."

Besides getting connected on Zoom, the hour will include survivors' and honorees' stories, what the AHA is doing, and the auction. Heart survivor Actress Susan Lucci will be featured in a special video.

Civetta and Lucci came to the cause with two very different heart diseases. Yet they are linked by the desire to pay their luck forward.

Cristina was born with ventricle defects that required immediate surgery and two more operations in the next 19 months. "Altogether, I've had seven heart surgeries," the beautiful 36-year-old told us. "I'm doing great. But, I'm always going to be a heart patient with risk factors. In 2013, when I had a pacemaker put in and a double valve replacement, I promised myself, if I made it through, I would make a difference. Three weeks after that surgery, AHA asked me to be their Junior Heart Hero in the Hamptons. Since then, it's been my calling to work with the AHA."

2020 Hamptons Heart Ball Chair Cristina Civetta. (Photo: Lenny Stucker)

On the other hand, Susan Lucci had been healthy all her life, even passing a recent physical with flying colors, when a year-and-a-half ago, she couldn't ignore the tightness in her chest any longer. She was sidelined in a boutique, feeling like there was "an elephant pressing on my chest." Thanks to a manager who had a nursing degree, Susan's life was saved that night at St. Francis hospital. "I barely avoided the kind of heart attack they call the widow maker," she said. As that name indicates, heart disease research has been historically geared towards men.

Women often have different symptoms. So, when she was asked be the National Ambassador for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women movement, Lucci threw herself into the task. "Heart disease still will go on being the number one killer," she told us. "It kills more women a year than all cancers put together. That's extraordinary to me."

After a lifetime of throwing herself into the tasks at hand, taking this time off with her chef husband Helmut Huber cooking almost feels like a needed respite. "I've always felt like I'd been shot out of a cannon," she said. "There are a lot of good things that I feel will come out of this pause, an opportunity to reflect and appreciate. Maybe we'll have some new young scientists: new kids that will dream their dreams in that direction and share their talents."

American Heart Association sponsors include: Life is why sponsors: Bradley and Parker LLp, Mount Sinai South Nassau, Petro home services; Life is why we give: Ippolita, Shop Mamour; Heart Ball sponsors and donors: BNB bank, Jefferies Financial Group, The Scheetz Group, Ingrid Arneberg, Bert and Meredith Cohen, East End cardiology, Stony Brooke administrative services; Local media sponsors include: Hamptons Magazine and Hamptons.com.

The American Heart Association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, they fund research, advocate for the public health and share lifesaving resources.

For more information, and/or sponsorship opportunities please contact Leslie Bellissimo at Leslie.Bellissimo@heart.org or visit http: ahalongisland.org.

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