Sept. 14, 2018

Libin Cardiovascular Institute has million-dollar weekend

Fundraisers garner more than $1M for cardiovascular research, care and training

Author

Dawn Smith, Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta

Steven Page performs at the fifth annual The Beat Goes On Gala, held at the Palomino Room at Calgary’s Stampede Park on Sept. 8, which raised $900,000 for cardiovascular research in southern Alberta.

Steven Page performs at the fifth annual The Beat Goes On Gala.

Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary

The Libin Cardiovascular Institute had a successful fundraising weekend, raising more than $1 million for cardiovascular research, care and training in southern Alberta. 

The institute raised $900,000 at its fifth annual The Beat Goes On Gala, held Sept. 8 in the BMO Centre’s Palomino Room, which was glamorously decorated for the event. The event was sold out with more than 500 attendees, who enjoyed a multi-course meal and danced the night away to the tunes of Steven Page and Odds.

Dr. Todd Anderson, MD, a cardiologist and the director of the Libin Institute, was pleased with the event and grateful for the support of donors, guests and partners.

“Our goal is to decrease the burden of suffering due to cardiovascular disease through excellence in training, research and clinical care, and we rely on the support of individuals and organizations within our community to reach that goal,” says Anderson, head of the Department of Cardiac Sciences at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). “We are so very grateful for all of the support.”

The following day, Libin representatives were on the edge of their seats as 12 riders successfully cleared their rounds at the Canadian Pacific International, held at Spruce Meadows. The event resulted in a $120,000 donation from Canadian Pacific (CP), as part of the company’s CP Has Heart community investment program. CP donated another $7,760, $20 for each person who participated in the Super Heroes for Heart Challenge, a set of family-friendly activities designed to teach participants about simple steps to improve heart health.

The Libin Institute received $127,000 from Canadian Pacific after the Canadian Pacific International, held at Spruce Meadows Sept. 9.

The Libin Institute received $127,000 from Canadian Pacific after the Canadian Pacific International

Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary

The bulk of the money raised over the weekend is earmarked for the Libin’s new Women’s Cardiovascular Health Research Initiative, a collaboration of researchers focused on the unique issues women face in the area of cardiovascular health, which can begin in pregnancy and continue to menopause and beyond. 

Anderson explains research in this area is important because although heart disease is the number one killer globally for both men and women, with up to 30 per cent of women dying from heart disease or stroke, women tend to under-represent their symptoms and seek help later than their male counterparts. Worse yet, research supporting women’s cardiovascular health has lagged.

But that is changing, says Anderson, noting, “Calgary has an incredibly strong group of investigators and clinicians with an interest in women’s cardiovascular health.”

One of those researchers is Dr. Kara Nerenberg, MD, a clinician-scientist who specializes in high blood pressure conditions during and after pregnancy, which range in severity but can be fatal to both mom and baby.

Nerenberg — who was recently awarded the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s (HSF) Women’s Heart and Brain Health Mid-Career Chair, a joint initiative of the HSF and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research that comes with up to $750,000 in funding over five years — explains the threat to moms can continue after delivery.

That’s because high blood pressure disorders, such as preeclampsia, may increase the mother’s risk of developing heart problems — such as arrhythmia, heart attacks and stroke and diabetes — later in life by at least two to three times. The problems can start with some women as young as 30. Worse, some women and health-care providers are unaware of the risk.

Gala co-chairs Tony Dilawri, a partner of the Dilawri Group of Companies, far left, and Ken King of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, far right, stand with Alvin Libin, OC, founding donor of the Libin Institute and Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Institute at the fifth annual Beat Goes on Gala.

Tony Dilawri, far left, and Ken King, far right, stand with Alvin Libin, OC and Todd Anderson.

Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary

Nerenberg’s goal is to change that, and she is excited to embark on a collaborative project with scientists and clinicians across the country.

“The Libin Institute has the infrastructure and expertise,” says the assistant professor in the departments of medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, and community health sciences at the CSM. “Through this chair funding, the institute will help lead this important work nationally.”

Anderson says Nerenberg’s program is a significant example of the institute’s ongoing work in women’s cardiovascular health.

“These important initiatives will create better outcomes in the short and long term,” he says.

The Beat Goes on Gala has been co-chaired for five years by Tony Dilawri, partner of the Dilawri Group of Companies, pictured above, far left, and Ken King of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, far right, standing with Alvin Libin, OC, founding donor of the Libin Institute and Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Institute.

The gala is organized in conjunction with the Libin Institute’s implementation partners, the Calgary Health Trust and the University of Calgary. It has raised more than $4.5 million over the past five years.

Nerenberg is a member of both the Libin Institute and O’Brien Institute for Public Health.

The Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta is an entity of the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services with a dedicated team of more than 175 clinician and research members, and 1,500 health professionals who serve patients from across Southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and eastern British Columbia.  Learn more at www.LibinInstitute.org or follow us on Twitter at @LibinInstitute or on Facebook at @LibinInstituteAB. Find out more about The Beat Goes On Gala at libinbeat.ca.