Capital Region Heart Ball honors retired pediatric cardiologist

Contributed photoOn Feb. 29, retired pediatric cardiologist Dr. Eric Spooner, left, celebrated with former patient Eliana Clem, second from right, and her parents, Leah and Chad Clem, at the Capital Region Heart Ball. Dr. Spooner received the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero Award at the gala, which raised money for the American Heart Association.

ALBANY — Aidan and Colton are both 8. They both also were born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left sides of their hearts aren’t formed correctly. Or, as Aidan’s mother Jennifer said, “My child essentially lives with half a heart.”

But advances in science and technology mean both boys live full and happy lives. They ski, golf, and are good in school.

On Feb. 29, at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs, they were two of the 16 “Cardiac Kids” who helped raise funds at the Capital Region Heart Ball to benefit the American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association has committed to funding $22.5 million in research about congenital heart defects by 2021, in conjunction with the Children’s Heart Foundation. That’s in addition to the $58.7 million the Heart Association has invested in research about children’s hearts since 2009.

Dr. Eric Spooner, a retired pediatric cardiologist who lives in Delmar, received the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero Award at the Heart Ball. He practiced for 40 years and saw some 20,000 children.

“It’s an honor to receive this award,” Dr. Spooner said. “But I’m not the hero. The children and their families are the heroes. The best part of the Heart Ball was seeing some of my patients and being with the families of the Cardiac Kids. We’re all working to build better futures for them.”

Peter Connolly, general manager of The Mercedes Benz Center at Keeler Motor Car Company, co-chaired the Heart Ball along with Paul McCullough, co-owner of 15 Church in Saratoga Springs.

“I was lucky to work alongside some great volunteers to help make this Heart Ball a wonderful evening,” Connolly said. “I’m also a heart-disease survivor, and the procedure I had a few years ago wasn’t available a few decades ago. Seeing the children born with heart defects is both sobering and inspiring. It’s critical that we keep funding the research of the American Heart Association, so we can all lead longer, healthier lives.”

“The Capital Region Heart Ball is an inspiring and elegant evening,” said Theresa Petrone Butts, Leader IT Vendor Management at MVP Health Care and chair of the board of directors of the American Heart Association.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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