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Heart association gala set

Virginia Monaghan's husband Edward is a living testament to the power of heart disease research.

"Because of the advances in research, my husband is still alive today," said Monaghan, who retired last year as an English and public speaking teacher at Monessen High School.

Her husband, a retired teacher from the Albert-Gallatin School District, underwent a complicated heart valvular implant operation 22 years ago.

It wasn't long after that the Monessen couple decided to join the Washington County American Heart Association.

The Monaghans are on the association board, which is currently putting the final touches for the American Heart Association's 2005 Heart Gala.

Dubbed "Rhythm of My Heart," the black-tie ball is set for Feb. 19 at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Canonsburg.

Publicity chairperson Michelle Petrillo said highlights of the evening will include dinner and dancing to the music of Dreamscape.

There will be a live and silent auction featuring a framed, autographed jersey by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, a landscape and waterfall package for the home, an original Walt Disney picture created by official Disney artist Patrick Block and a private tasting for eight guests at the Market Place.

This year's affair - the second annual gala - also will honor Dr. Charles Tripoli, who has been a family practitioner in Washington County for over 40 years.

Tripoli will be recognized for his longstanding dedication to improving the health and welfare of the residents of Washington throughout his medical career, Petrillo said.

Proceeds from the 2005 Heart Gala will benefit the cardiovascular medical research and health-related programs of the American Heart Association.

Event chair, Lisa Mascara, of Washington has a personal connection to heart disease.

"Our daughter was born with a congenital heart defect - and is healthy today because of the advances in pediatric cardiology made possible through medical research," said Mascara, wife of Washington County Judge Mark Mascara.

"It is estimated that 250,000 children are living with congenital heart disease, so it is very important to continue to fund medical research"

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., taking the lives of approximately 930,000 Americans each year.

Other committee members include: sponsorship chairwoman Nancy Bedwell, auction chair woman Meryl Gabriel, Lisa Aprea, Barbara Armenti, Linda Angellili, Karen Bingaman, Carol DeRose, Kristen McGavitt, , Kelly Neal, Karen Stebbins and Darla Tripoli.

"The Washington and Mon Valley communities have shown tremendous support for the American Heart Association's 2005 Heart Gala," Bidwell said.

"They have been generous and enthusiastic about the event and furthering the work of the American Heart Association."

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