American Heart Association Sweetheart Program kicks off 10th year

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Sunday 39 young women from the Garland County area were welcomed into the 2015-2016 American Heart Association (AHA) Sweetheart program, presented by National Park Medical Center.

The AHA Sweethearts are a group of high school sophomores & juniors who commit to learning about cardiovascular diseases and lead healthy lifestyles by participating in heart healthy activities from October through February. The program culminates with the introduction of the Sweethearts at the 2016 AHA Heart Ball on Saturday, February 13, 2016, at Horner Hall. The Heart Ball is also sponsored by National Park Medical Center, and chaired by Dr. Jeffrey and Cyndi Tauth.

“This year is the 10th anniversary for the Hot Springs Sweethearts, and we are so proud to continue our work with Paul and Kathryn Russell to bring education and awareness to these young ladies against the number one killer among men and women – heart disease,” said Mandy Golleher, National Park Medical Center’s director of communication marketing. “We are so proud of the Sweethearts program and everything that it stands for. The Sweethearts play such a positive role in our community through the awareness created and the funds raised for the AHA’s education and research. We are so grateful to the Russell’s for their continued dedication to the program.”

The Hot Springs AHA Sweetheart program began in 2007 when Kathryn and Paul Russell sought a way to raise awareness about heart disease in young women after the sudden and tragic loss of their daughter, Caroline Grace, to a suspected undetected heart condition. The one Sweetheart who demonstrates the most dedication to the program and the most knowledge of cardiovascular disease will receive the title of “Sweetheart of the Ball” at the Heart Ball, and will receive the $2,000 Caroline Grace Russell Memorial Scholarship, which was established by the Russells to honor the memory of their daughter. She will also receive custom Sweetheart Jewelry designed by Lauray’s—The Diamond Center. The 2015 Sweetheart of the Ball was Miss Hannah Reeves. Additional awards are given for leadership, volunteering, fundraising and the very special Catie Cooper Spirit Award, created in memory of 2010 “forever sweetheart,” Catie Cooper who was tragically lost during her tenure as a sweetheart.

This is the Hot Springs Sweethearts Program Founder and Chair, Kathryn Russell’s tenth year with the program. “We are so proud of the young ladies who have made commitments to both their personal heart health and to become life-long ambassadors for the AHA. The skills and information that they learn during this program last a lifetime and contributes not only to their own health, but also to the health of their families and friends,” she adds.

Throughout the Sweetheart program, the young ladies participate in heart-healthy activities and educational opportunities which include fundraising for the American Heart Association, volunteering at National Park Medical Center, certification in infant and adult CPR provided by NPMC, a cardiovascular exercise day with Amy Johnson and Michelle Bell, a tour of the NPMC Cardiac Cath Labs, a LifeNet-sponsored ambulance dispatch ride-along and Father-Daughter Bar-b-que sponsored by Smokin’ In Style. In November, the Sweethearts will attend a Mother/Daughter soiree sponsored by Lauray’s the Diamond Center, where Mark and Patti Fleischner will present each sweetheart with a special gift and Lauren English will be a guest speaker. Sweethearts are also required to write an essay about cardiovascular disease which is graded by an NPMC Cardiology Specialist. The official Sweetheart’s photographer, Viva Rose Photography, will provide portraits of each of the Sweethearts. At the end of the 4-month program the Sweethearts are presented by their fathers, with whom they perform a specially choreographed dance by Jessica Allen at the Heart Ball.

Every year, a Junior Sweetheart is also selected by the Russell family to be mentored by the Sweethearts, and this year’s Junior Sweetheart is Miss Chloe Porter. Chloe is the daughter of Jay and Amy Porter, and attends Lakeside schools.


sweethearts with hearts

The 2016 American Heart Association Sweethearts are Camryn Nichole Toland, Macie Ann Hendrix, Thea Hale Rice, Katherine Joy Alford, Cameron Joy Witt, Kayleigh Elizabeth Corjay, Sophie Laura Fleischner, Kathryn Elizabeth Grace Webb, Madelyn Ann Porter, Hannah Love Whorton, Caroline Virginia Dean, Carly Michelle Ihrie, Jacey Michelle Scott, Madeline Paige West, Morgan Anna Hitt, Chloe Rae Hortman, Kajal Bharany, Katelyn Corey Lance, Scarlett Victoria Gooch, Micayla Elisabeth Renee Landry, Kaitlyn Grace Burroughs, Gracen McKinley Blount, Madeline Grace Sweetin, Haylea Madison Reynolds, Darby Grace Dunn, Anna Elizabeth Richardson, Lindsey Mae Eshenbaugh, Gaylynn Diane Green, Kodi Blair Brown, Camryn Alivia Ware, Emily Louise Peterman, Eryn Renae Kennerly, Elizabeth Shane Solleder, Kristen Denise Henson, Carson Nicole McCord, Courtney Ann Decker, Calynn Horner and Lauren Jean Terry.

For more information about the Sweethearts, contact Kathryn Russell at

By | 2017-04-24T23:30:15+00:00 October 12th, 2015|News|Comments Off on American Heart Association Sweetheart Program kicks off 10th year