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"If I only had a heart," wishes Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz." In "Damn Yankees," the song tells us "Ya gotta have heart" by the mile.

The Western New York Council of the American Heart Association combines these sentiments with some serious messages at its gala HeartBall 2001 on Feb. 17 in the Adam's Mark Hotel.

Diane C. Marcucci-Morris and Debbie Kilgore are chairwomen of the formal fund-raiser, which will begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception and silent auction of more than 40 packages.

Diners will savor salad of mesclun greens and roasted red peppers before the entree of filet mignon combined with Chicken Napa, red-skinned potatoes and grilled winter vegetables. Fruit will top the chocolate cheesecake dessert.

A "Heroes of the Heart" award will be presented to Wilson Greatbatch for his invention of the implantable cardiac pacemaker.

Kilgore and the Church Mice, children's choir of St. Bernadette Catholic Church, will sing "Hero," popularized by Mariah Carey.

Cash Cunningham will be auctioneer for the live auction to include a one-week golf vacation at Hilton Head Island, S.C., and a golf outing with former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and Ed Kilgore, WGRZ-TV Channel 2 sports director, who will be the evening's master of ceremonies.

There also will be a trip to New York City for a Yankees game, tour of NBC studios and a Broadway show, and round-trip airfare to Las Vegas, featuring golf and tickets to a Riviera Hotel Mardi Gras show.

A Ducati Supersport motorcycle tops the list of grand prize drawings. Eclipse will play music for dancing.

And why all the glitz and glam? To reach this year's goal of $300,000 for research and education programs on heart disease and stroke.

Peter Klein, president of the Western New York council's board of directors, explains, "HeartBall 2001 will help fund critical research programs, like those that have advanced life-saving technologies, implementation of CPR, life-extending drugs, bypass surgery and pacemakers.

"It supports advocacy and educational strategies to reduce tobacco use, increase physical activity, control high blood pressure and promote a heart-healthy diet."

The American Heart Association, he notes, has developed two new grassroots health initiatives -- Operation Heartbeat and Operation Stroke -- that are being implemented in partnership with emergency medical and hospital systems. The objective is to teach people the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest and stroke and encourage them to act. The American Heart Association trains about 5 million Americans annually in emergency procedures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Scheduling of "HeartBall 2001" is significant, notes Kathleen M. Flynn, the region's executive director, because it "allows us to draw attention to February as American Heart Month."

Susan E. Convissar is HeartBall 2001 treasurer. JoAnne M. Alaimo and Michele M. Bjorkman are corporate chairwomen. Karen E. Penfold is ad journal chairwoman. Kathleen M. Burke is in charge of decorations, provided by the Floristry.

Invitations and publicity are the responsibility of Dina S. Slawson and Joanne Branner. Maura Galante is chairwoman of reservations, being taken at the American Heart Association office, 564-1100.

Wilson Greatbatch Technologies Inc. is this year's diamond sponsor at $15,000. Other table sponsorships are at the platinum level, $8,500; gold, $6,500; silver, $4,500 and bronze, $2,500. Tables at the "tribute" level are $2,000; individual tickets are $175.

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