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Inaugural Grateful Hearts event raises $160,000 in support of Lee Health Heart Institute

The inaugural Grateful Hearts event hosted by Dorothy and Ron Fitzgerald and Pat and Bill Wiggenhorn, in partnership with Lee Health Foundation and American Heart Association, raised $160,000 and awareness for heart health care in Southwest Florida. The funds will be instrumental in supporting Lee Health Heart Institute’s mission to provide exceptional care and groundbreaking treatments to patients in our community.

“The Grateful Hearts event exemplifies the power of the community and collaboration in advancing heart health care,” said Dorothy Fitzgerald. “We are deeply grateful for the overwhelming support from attendees, partners and sponsors Cypress Cove and Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, all of whom share our commitment to improving cardiac care and saving lives.”

In addition, a $250,000 matching gift from the John E. and Aliese Price Foundation was announced at the event. Donations to the endowment will fund a research fellow at the Lee Health Heart Institute. Price Foundation President Dr. Ken Walker shared that he was inspired to make the gift when he learned that a longtime friend and retired physician, Dr. Allan Ball, had passed away suddenly as the result of a massive heart attack.

“It was then that I realized the importance of supporting the Lee Health Heart Institute since heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and we need to have top quality cardiac care available right here in Southwest Florida,” Walker said.

At the event at the St. Charles Yacht Club on Feb. 2, guests heard valuable insights from cardiologists Dr. Malissa Wood, Dr. Juan Lopez-Mattei and Dr. Katherine Lietz, along with cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Paul DiGiorgi. The experts shared compelling perspectives on the latest innovations driving quality heart health care in Southwest Florida, including artificial intelligence capabilities, advanced surgical techniques, non-invasive heart imaging and robotics.

“Through events like Grateful Hearts, we not only raise critical funds but also raise awareness about the importance of heart health and the groundbreaking work being done at Lee Health Heart Institute,” said Bill Wiggenhorn.

The event concluded with a renewed sense of hope and determination to continue the fight against heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. With ongoing support and dedication, Lee Health Heart Institute aims to pioneer new treatments, improve outcomes, and ultimately, save lives.

For more information about Lee Health Heart Institute or to donate to the Price Foundation matching gift, contact Lee Health Foundation Director of Development Lynnae Messina at Lynnae.Messina@LeeHealth.org or visit LeeHealthFoundation.org/GratefulHearts.

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