Keep Your Heart in the Game

Heart Ball 2017 Ready to Play Ball



Cincinnatians tend to be a big-hearted lot. No one is quite sure what's in that Ohio River water that would lead to our generous philanthropy and volunteer spirit, but one hears all the time that people here give of their time and money in greater numbers than their counterparts in other cities of comparable size and charactor.

Alvin Roehr has experienced that spirit in the last year as co-chair, with his wife Joan, of the 2017 Greater Cincinnati Heart Ball that benefits the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“I am proud to be a Cincinnatian and never more so than what I’ve gone through the past year with the Heart Ball fundraising,” says Roehr, a native of the city and founder of one of the area’s leading insurance agencies. “You ask these people for a lot of money and they say, ‘Yes,’ with little reservation. I am continually floored by the response.”

The 24th annual Greater Cincinnati Heart Ball will be February 25th at the Duke Energy Convention Center. It will feature a night of glitz and glamour, with gourmet dining and dancing, interactive auctions and a Young Professionals After Party. 

The black-tie gala celebrates the American Heart Association’s lifesaving work for Cincinnati families, a mission that has impacted thousands of lives in the region. Contributions support cardiovascular research, professional and community education and advocacy groups. 

The Cincinnati Heart Ball has become the single biggest one-night fundraiser for any charity in the Tri-State. Last year it raised more than $1.4 million. Roehr believes they will achieve this year’s goal of $1.75 million. Nationally, the AHA Heart Ball campaigns have raised more than $71 million in 2016 and Cincinnati has been among the top 10, surpassing many significantly larger cities. 

One of the reasons for its success is the support and collaboration on the Heart Ball from two of the area’s large hospital systems. Major sponsors include TriHealth Heart Institute and the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Heart & Vascular Institute. 

“St. Elizabeth’s vision is to help Northern Kentucky become one of the healthiest communities in the country. To do that we need to partner with committed organizations like the American Heart Association, which is working to reduce the devastating impact of heart disease,” says Garren Colvin, CEO of St. Elizabeth. “Their work impacts our community on a local level with dollars invested in research and education right here in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. This directly benefits our patients and our neighbors.” 

“From research to programming, the American Heart Association actively involves healthcare providers and residents in its work,” says Mark Clement, CEO of TriHealth. “The Heart Ball is a great example of how the AHA brings supporters together to pursue our collective mission. Together, we are working to build a stronger, healthier community.” 

Roehr believes one reason the Heart Ball is supported so generously in the community is that donors can see results. Admittedly, it is sometimes hard for people to see the forest through the trees when making donations to a large charity. But Roehr says even lay people can marvel everyday at what heart research has meant to quality care. 

“Looking back just 20 years you see tremendous changes because of the great research the American Heart Association has funded,” says Roehr. “We hear so many amazing stories of how people are surviving heart attacks.” 

“We know more about heart health than ever before due to research funded, in part, by the AHA,” Clement says. “This translates to programs that teach people how to make heart-healthy choices. We also know a lot more about how to treat heart disease and this helps people in our community lead longer and more fulfilling lives. The AHA of Greater Cincinnati is currently funding more than 20 grants totaling over $5.5 million dollars. The Heart Ball celebrates this work and, most importantly, the lives saved and improved because of everyone’s efforts.”

Roehr himself was able to connect the dots with his own volunteer work and saving lives. He was involved with the effort to make CPR education part of a high school graduation requirement in Ohio. Roehr recently heard of a Cincinnati teenage girl whose father had a heart attack one morning.

“It was after she had been trained at her local high school,” he says. “She, and her mom, were able to keep his heart beating until the ambulance arrived and probably were the reason he survived.” 

Heart Ball Executive Leadership Team, pictured from left to right: (first row) Dr. Ted Waller, John Marrocco, Jennifer Mitchell, Tom Woebkenberg, Craig Todd, JB Buse, Alvin Roehr, Joan Roehr, Peggy Torbeck, Ted Torbeck, Phil Collins, Dr. Tom Morand, Kevin Riley, Roger David, Creighton Wright, Jr. (second row) Dr. DP Suresh, Pat Gunning, Tom Finn, Mark McDonald, Andy Wade, Jerin Dunham, Kevin Jones, Tim Fogarty, Dr. Richard Becker, Jim Gulick, Dr. Creighton Wright. (third row) Harrison Mullin, Jeff Hock, Len Berenfield, John Mongelluzzo, Caroline Wendling, Barrett Buse, Michelle Jones, Robin Sheakley, Dr. Dean Kereiakes, Garren Colvin. Not pictured: Steve Koesterman, Doug Miller, Greg Wheeler, Lisa Baker


Roehr’s personal story involves his 90-year-old father who passed away last year. He had suffered from a leaky valve, but thanks to new drug treatments, was able to have a long, quality life. 

“That is what’s great about raising money for the Heart Ball. You sometimes never feel you know where the money is going or whether you can have a meaningful impact on anybody. But almost everyone has a story about heart care and you realize you have been part of the solution in helping people.” 

While Roehr has come to realize how the contributions of one individual can make a real difference, he also has a new appreciation that charitable events are a true team effort. He notes the Heart Ball executive leadership team is what makes the event a success. 

“My executive leadership team has really stepped up. I think we are going to beat our goal. I am so impressed and so proud of what these people are doing. It’s not just one person. It’s the whole team. It’s a really impressive group.” 

Garren Colvin, CEO, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Dr. DP Suresh, Medical Director, Heart and Vascular Group, St. Elizabeth Healthcare are serving as co-chairs of the 2018 Heart Ball.

For tickets and information about the Heart Ball, visit 

The Greater Cincinnati affiliate of the American Heart Association is located at 5211 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45227. For more information contact Sia Ruppert at 513.842.8863 or by email at


Bring a Ball to the Ball

Heart Association Promotes Recess Reboot

People attending the 2017 Cincinnati Heart Ball are asked to bring a basketball to the event for Cincinnati Public Schools, especially underserved elementary schools. 

The initiative is dubbed “Recess Reboot,” part of the ongoing effort by the American Heart Association to preserve physical education time during the school day. 

The basketballs will be distributed in March to promote “March Madness for Heart Health.” 

The Cincinnati effort is being spearheaded by Dave Herche, chairman of Enerfab, Inc., who was last year’s Heart of the City honoree for his volunteer work with the AHA. 

“Studies show about two-thirds of kids don’t get enough physical activity. To complicate matters, shrinking school budgets mean recess and (physical education) equipment has been shortchanged,” Herche says. “Basketball is a great sport to encourage because it is both an indoor sport and is played outdoors at our area parks. It’s a fun way to promote inexpensive physical activity.” 

The basketball program nicely complements other efforts from the AHA to improve the health of children such as the Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart programs. 

In Cincinnati one of the more successful advocacy efforts for healthy kids has been the annual Recess in the Stadium, sponsored by the Cincinnati AHA in collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute and the Cincinnati Bengals. The free event for children ages 4-16 and their families lets kids play on the field of Paul Brown Stadium in June. The program has grown from a couple of hundred participants to 2,000 children with 1,600 parents and 200 volunteers at the seventh annual event last year.

Activities include a 40-yard dash, relay races and punt, pass and kick drills.

“We also have an educational program for parents and their children with nutrition information, hands-on CPR training and BMI (body mass index) screening,” says Mark McDonald, assistant vice president of the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “It’s a nice mix of getting active and knowing what it means to be heart healthy, how to be healthy inside and out. We want to keep children moving and eating healthy.”