Close To Our Hearts: On A Personal Mission

2019 Heart Ball chairs Steve and Sami Lockton are passionate about promoting education on ways to prevent heart disease.

DLM-American-Heart-Association

Photography by Jeff Nelson

Steve Lockton, executive vice president of Lockton Companies, and his wife, Sami, have supported Denver’s Heart Ball for many years, but it wasn’t until they lost a close friend to a heart attack that they realized attending the event wasn’t enough—they wanted to organize it. “It motivated us to be even more passionate about the preventative aspects of heart health,” Sami says. “We need to get the word out so people are more aware of the facts, and think about them before it’s too late.” She and Steve see the Heart Ball as an invaluable vehicle for promoting education and furthering research that saves lives.

How did you get involved with the Heart Ball?
STEVE: Sami and I have been big supporters of the AHA and the Heart Ball for several years. It was two and a half years ago that our friend Mark died of a heart attack at the age of 54. He was on a fishing trip in Canada with his two boys, and it was completely unexpected. It was unbelievably shocking to the whole Denver business community and obviously our circle of friends. We went to the Heart Ball that year, and it all hit home. It wasn’t just another night of charitable giving. It was very personal and painful. On top of that, Sami and I have also been touched by family members who have gone through this. My grandfather died of a heart attack when I was in high school. All of this motivated us to get more involved. We decided to jump in and make this the best Heart Ball we’ve ever had.

How can people protect themselves against heart disease?
STEVE: I think it all starts with education. Heart disease, heart attacks, stroke—one of these issues is going to affect somebody, young or old, among your friends or family at some point. Therefore, it’s vitally important to learn about warning signs, prevention methods, proper diet, proper screening, family risk factors, and things like that.
SAMI: Also, the research is important— making sure that research is funded and finding ways to help the science move forward.
STEVE: It’s important to note, too, that the obesity rate in this country is climbing dramatically. One in five youth today is considered obese, and it’s trending the wrong way. That’s very scary for the future of what heart disease outcomes look like. We’ve got to get people thinking about making healthy choices, getting up to exercise, getting away from the cell phone, the TV, the laptop.

Is there a theme for this year’s Heart Ball?
SAMI: Our theme revolves around the idea that a healthier, longer life begins at birth. After what happened to Mark, it became clear to us that everyone needs to take a proactive approach to learning their markers and watching their heart health before issues arise. That includes women. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t just a man’s problem. Heart disease is actually the No. 1 killer of women. A woman dies of heart disease approximately every 80 seconds.

What are your goals for the Ball?
SAMI: We set a big stretch goal to raise $1.5 million, and to accomplish that we want to create a lot of buzz and excitement around the event. It’s going to be really fun this year. We have great entertainment, tremendous prizes, and auction items—it’s going to be a lot of energy with a lot of great people.