This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

There are things you don’t often think of in the same sentence. Cardiac disease and cruises, defibrillators and dance floors, support groups and silent auctions – all of those combinations probably qualify.

But those unlikely pairs will come together next weekend in an attempt to make cardiac disease less prevalent in Caldwell County.

The Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation will hold its 15th annual patrons ball, its largest fundraiser of the year, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Mulberry Recreation Center. This year’s theme is “Twilight to Midnight Cruise,” so guests will step immediately into a recreation center that’s decidedly more maritime than usual.Valets will meet guests at their cars and guide them up a “walkway” as if they are boarding a ship. Inside, they’ll find an atmosphere a little different from the recreation center’s usual sounds of shoes squeaking on a gym floor: A cruise ship-style grand foyer with strains of music floating up from the piano player inside.

The event features dinner, four entertainment acts (comedy, musical, dancing and a surprise) and a silent auction. And all attendees have a chance to upgrade their cruise experience to the real thing – a drawing will take place to give away a cruise for two.

All proceeds will support efforts to expand cardiac programs and services at Caldwell Memorial Hospital. Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death in North Carolina, and the hospital hopes to expand both treatment options and preventative measures.

“We are trying to do a more proactive approach to cardiac care, trying to prevent issues or stop them at an earlier stage rather than waiting for the patient to present to the emergency room in a full-blown heart attack,” Executive Director Virginia Hoyle said.

Many of the hospital’s outpatient clinics need electrocardiogram (EKG) machines and automated electrical defibrillators (AEDs). One EKG machine costs $3,500 and one AED costs $2,300.

The system also needs a $125,000 full-disclosure system, which allows 24-hour recordings of patients’ heart activity, funding for a home-monitor program to avoid re-admissions of cardiac patients, and two $3,500 motorized chairs for cardiac patients. The hospital also needs $175,000 for new manual defibrillators; many at the hospital are five to 12 years old.

There are also tentative plans to start support groups for cardiac-disease patients and their families, with the goal of heading off future problems for family members predisposed to heart disease, Hoyle said.


Tickets for the Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation’s patrons ball are $100 each and available through Sept. 26 at the foundation office at 407 Mulberry St. SW in Lenoir or online at