(Hot Springs, AR) On Sunday, October 14, 47 young women from the Garland County area were welcomed into the 2018-2019 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 January.  The program culminates with the introduction of the Sweethearts at the 2019 AHA Heart Ball on Saturday, February 9, 2019, at Horner Hall. The Heart Ball is also sponsored by National Park Medical Center, and chaired by Dr. Hunter and Brittney Carrington.

“We are proud to have been a part of the Sweethearts program since it began 13 years ago, said Heather Buckley, National Park Medical Center’s marketing and volunteer manager.  “Every year these young ladies dedicate so much time and effort into learning more about heart disease and carrying out a heart-healthy lifestyle. We have also seen many young women leave this program with a passion for healthcare. It is also our pleasure to continue our work with the Hot Springs Sweetheart founders, Paul and Kathryn Russell, who pour their heart and soul into the Sweethearts program every year to bring education and awareness to these young ladies against the number one killer among men and women – heart disease.” The Russells began the Sweethearts program 13 years ago in memory of their daughter, Caroline, who died at the age of 2 of a possible undetected heart condition.

“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,” said Kathryn.  “It is exciting to see how the program grows each year through community partnerships with businesses and organizations like National Park Medical Center and LifeNet,”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 at FBC Fitness, 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.  Sweethearts are also required to write an essay about cardiovascular disease which is graded by an NPMC Cardiology Specialist.  The official Sweetheart’s photographer, 25mockingbird, will provide portraits of each of the Sweethearts.  At the end of the 5-month program the Sweethearts perform a specially choreographed dance by Jessica Allen at the Heart Ball.

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 2018 Sweetheart of the Ball was Miss Jessica Jennings.  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. 

The 2019 American Heart Association Sweethearts are Abbie Dickson, Abby Ballard, Abby Lea Huett, Abby Poole, Abigail Webb, Amberly Goslee, Anna Wuensch, Annabelle Simmons, Annelise Walston, Ava Monte, Camila Holden, Carly Orr, Chloe Miller, Ella Caroline Arnold, Ella Pace, Emillyana Kejser, Emoree Martin, Evelyn (Gracie) Gann, Hadleigh Riley, Haley Fauber, Isabel Butler, Jordan Spradley, Katelyn Hartsell, Katie Ballard, Kiley Hermosillo , Landry Cate, Lilly Marie Crabtree, Lilly Moritz, Lilly “Izzy” Saettele, Lillian McDonough, Macy Landry , Madison Elliott , Madison Muldoon , Madison Trusty, Madison Wolf, Mallory Bratton, McKenna Kline, Natalie Jennings, Olivia Bowen, Olivia Dodd, Paige Jennings, Savanah Godwin, Taylor Bledsoe, Taylor Ramirez, Wesley Divers, Zoe Helton and Zoe Zoll.

For more information about the Hot Springs Sweethearts, email Kathryn Russell at russells_5@yahoo.com.