You may remember back in February — AKA Heart Month — I teamed up with the American Heart Association (AHA) to bring you some Heart Healthy Yoga Poses. You’ve been practicing them since, right? <<insert tongue out silly emoji face>> Well, it’s my pleasure to join the AHA team again — this time to help support and spread the word about their 23rd annual Cleveland Heart & Stroke Ball — to benefit the AHA Cleveland Chapter.
The 23rd annual event will take place Saturday, June 10th at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown and will feature a cocktail hour, dinner, and live and silent auctions, an Overtime After Party starting at 9:30pm… plus plenty of surprises around this year’s theme, Hoops & Dreams.
In advance of the 2017 event, I had the opportunity to interview a fellow Cleveland event professional, Gail L. Palmer, CSEP.
Gail is the CEO (Chief Event Organizer) of Palmer Event Solutions LLC. She has more than 15 years of experience designing, planning, implementing, and fixing nonprofit, corporate, and private events. Her creative and organizational skills were refined while living and working in Anchorage, Alaska. Gail now calls Cleveland home. In Ohio, her company supports many organizations, with staffs both small and large, as they plan live events ranging from annual galas with a $500 ticketed admission to endurance events where it’s free (or cheap) to participate.
Gail, how did you become an event professional?
I think I was always meant to be an event producer. When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I held my first talent show in our backyard… paying kids 10 cents to show off their skills, and charging their parents a quarter to watch them. Later, in college at NCSU, I found myself spending as much time inside Thompson Theatre learning to be a stage manager and theatrical designer (sound, lights, sets, props) as I did in my marketing, advertising, and business classes. After college, it was a natural fit to them take all those skills and start applying them to events.
What about the Heart and Stroke Ball made you interested to work on it this year?
This is my second year, and third event, working with the American Heart Association. They are a great example of what a non-profit organization can accomplish when they focus first on donor development and guest experience — and trust the event professionals they hire to do what we (collectively) do best.
How do you work with the American Heart Association staff to bring this event together?
I work closely with their Senior Heart Ball Director and supporting staff to design and plan an event that accomplish goals which extends beyond simple sponsorship fulfillment into true relationship building with key donors and supporters. This often means attending brainstorming meetings with staff to better understand the needs of each event moment, then bringing ideas to the table that can address those needs. I’m being a bit vague, but each event I work on is a living breathing entity and I never want to over-share a client’s internal plans.
Without giving away any surprises, can you share any aspects of the event that might intrigue people to attend?
What if I promise you that, while wearing a tuxedo or ballgown, every guest could easily find themselves laughing with friends while shooting some hoops at the same time they’re supporting a great cause?
This annual gala is an important fundraiser for the Cleveland office of the AHA. In additional to buying tickets, what other ways will guests be able to support the cause night of / at the event?