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Aerial performers set hearts racing at annual Heart Ball

Feb. 24

Black History Month Celebration — University of Pittsburgh

Alumni Hall

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The B*tches Ball — Animal Rescue League & Wildlife Center

Cruze Bar

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Unmasking Fear, Building Hope — Mt. Lebanon Junior Women's Club

Duquesne University, Power Center Ballroom

Be The Light Gala — Saint Alexis School

Omni William Penn

March 2

Lights! Glamour! Action! Pittsburgh Film Office Oscar Party

Heinz Field, East Club Lounge

Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, 6:04 p.m.

In a deliciously ironic twist of fate, the City of Brotherly Love was responsible for making the tickers stop for more than 800 attending the American Heart Association's Heart Ball.

“I hope it's like ‘Wow! This is going to be a really fun evening,' ” said event empress Shelly Tolo as she waited for the crowd to arrive.

Spectacle of the Heart, the vintage circus-themed extravaganza on Feb. 22, blew out conventional avenues of entertainment thanks to the heart-racing aerial performances from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. This, naturally, led to expletive-laced admiration from the crowd — followed by impromptu betting as, instantaneously, a chorus of “I could totally do that” could be heard from those on the ground.

As the evening progressed, KDKA's Bob Pompeani and Susan Koeppen did the honors as the emcees, welcoming event chairman Mike Williams to the stage.

“Pardon me, I just had a mental moment. I just realized that every night I go to bed with Bob and Susan,” he mused.

In between courses, Blay Bahnson, Dr. David Bahnson, and Barbara Bahnson accepted the Pulse of Pittsburgh award on behalf of their late father, Dr. Henry Bahnson, while Amy Cashdollar was lauded with the Mary Ann Scully Excellence in Nursing Award.

“I'm so pleased to represent Mary Ann Scully and her dedication to this cause,” Cashdollar said.

Among the swell at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center were Dr. George Magovern Jr. and his wife, Jamie, Dr. William and Susan Follansbee, Dr. Thomas Starzl, Dr. Srinivas Murali, Dr. Peter Ferson, Dr. Don Fischer and his wife, the Hon. Nora Fischer, board chairman Rick Shaw, and executive director Sherri Stitt.

Since 1989, the annual ball has raised a whopping $48 million for research funding. This year's soiree was expected to pull in $1.2 million.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at, 412-380-8515 or via Twitter: @KateBenzTRIB.




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