Hearts of Texas Gala Created To Save Lives
By: Jennifer Pucci Starr
Photography By: Greg Harrison
Texans had a heart for music at the 2nd annual Hearts of Texas: A Night of Texas Music to Save a Life benefitting AugustHeart, a San Antonio organization that provides free heart screenings to teens. Hosted at the Pearl Stable and catered by Don Strange, it was a must-attend sold out event. Emory Quinn opened the evening before introducing the legendary Joe Ely Reunion Band with a guest appearance by saxophonist Bobby Keys.
San Antonio developer Bart Koontz and his wife Doré founded AugustHeart to honor the life of their son, August an active and seemingly healthy young athlete who died as a result of a genetic heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in youth. Every year more than five Texas students die suddenly of undiagnosed genetic heart conditions. Sudden cardiac death can be prevented through simple screenings that can detect abnormalities of the heart. AugustHeart provides FREE heart screenings in San Antonio and surrounding counties.
The creation of the AugustHeart Program established a unique community-wide initiative involving the volunteer efforts of over 30 board-certified cardiologists, sonographers, technicians, high school athletic programs, an army of volunteers, as well as a passionate staff directed by Pam Velasco and Holly Farmer. “One of the most unique things about AugustHeart are the partnerships with many local health systems,” says Farmer. Baptist Health System, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System, Methodist Healthcare, University Health System and University of Texas Medicine San Antonio have all offered complimentary use of the facilities.
Thanks to generous donations and events such as this, by the end of 2012, AugustHeart will have coordinated 20 screening events. To date AugustHeart has screened almost over 1,300 students. The 2012 Hearts of Texas event will allow them to increase that reach and plans are in the works for an even bigger event next year.