Cover Stories

On a Mission

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in our country—and globally—accounting for approximately one in every four. And thousands more nonfatal cardiac events occur each year. Through groundbreaking medical research and community education on heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) is working to combat these dangerous statistics. The nonprofit is relentlessly dedicated to creating a world that promotes longer, healthier lives.

Every year, almost $200 million in grants and fellowship applications goes unfunded, meaning high-potential scientific projects and studies are never realized, many of which are related to heart health. The AHA’s annual St. Louis Heart Ball is one of its largest local fundraisers, and the money raised supports groundbreaking cardiovascular research. Pacemakers, CPR, bypass surgery—these are just some of the medical innovations the organization has helped fund in its mission to end heart disease. “The AHA invests a tremendous amount into research and initiatives that save lives,” says Donn Sorensen, chair of this year’s Heart Ball. 

Along with investing in local hospitals and research, the nonprofit has a multi-pronged approach to serving the St. Louis community. Its goal is to make the city a place where it is easy for everyone to be healthier. This includes initiatives on the state level, such as passing a policy to make hands-only CPR part of the high school curriculum in Missouri and Illinois and working to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales. Other community outreach programs include supporting more walking and biking routes, making healthier foods accessible in underserved neighborhoods and working with schools to offer students more opportunities for physical activity. “The AHA brings a culture of health into our neighborhoods and educates kids and adults alike,” Sorensen says. “The work and support they provide the community is invaluable.”

This year’s Heart Ball is Feb. 22 at St. Louis Union Station, and the presenting sponsor is Mercy. The event’s new location comes with exciting opportunities. Guests will get to tour the recently opened aquarium, where they will enjoy sweet treats by the shark tank and a silent dance party in front of the otter wall. “The Heart Ball is one of the most fun events in St. Louis,” Sorensen says. “It will be an awesome evening to support an organization that does a tremendous amount to save and improve lives.”

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. Tickets are available for its St. Louis Heart Ball Feb. 22 at Union Station. Pictured on the cover: Heart Ball chair Donn Sorensen of Mercy. For more information, call 314.692.5625 or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at top: Guests enjoy the 2019 Heart Ball.
Photo courtesy of American Heart Association