The 2020 Belle of the Phoenix Heart Ball opted for loungewear instead of a designer gown. She graced social media platforms instead of a dance floor and admired a shining computer screen instead of blooming ornaments of red roses.
Jennifer Moser was chosen to be the ball’s chairwoman last year. But when the fundraising efforts began in February 2020, it became clear that the year’s event would be unlike any other.
“Because of COVID, we were unable to meet and do much of the fundraising we would normally be doing in the spring. As the pandemic carried on much longer than anyone anticipated, I decided an online auction would be a way to raise additional funds, plus an area we have never used to raise funds in the past,” Moser said. “Being unable to have these meetings, homeschooling our kids, the stress or hardship on a lot of us and just the uncertainty for everyone, I didn’t feel comfortable asking or pushing for donations at that time.”
2020 was the first time in 60 years that the Phoenix Heart Ball was canceled.
“Heart Ball has a lot of significant traditions, and we wanted to keep it the same time of the year instead of just pushing back to the following spring,” Moser said.
"We do not have our final numbers yet as we are in the process of doing an end-of-year push, but I can say the auction raised over $100,000."
According to Moser, the ball has generated millions of dollars for the American Heart Association throughout its existence. The annual event usually sells out.
“Even though we couldn’t have a ball, the AHA still needed our funds, so it was time to get creative. Not only did we have our first ever auction, but we partnered with Steak 44 on a round-up campaign this past November and did several other creative things to encourage donations,” Moser said.
The silent auction was live for one week, from November 15-21.
Some of the items up for auction were golfing with Larry Fitzgerald, dinner with Seth Joyner and in-home culinary experiences with chefs Jorge Gomez, Danny Grant and Markus Ford. The usual suspects, like autographed memorabilia, resort stays, jewelry, spa treatments and fine dining packages were available, too.
“We do not have our final numbers yet as we are in the process of doing an end-of-year push, but I can say the auction raised over $100,000,” Moser said. “I was very pleased with the results. Raising that much money exceeded my expectations.”
Moser explained that there had been so much going on this year in everyone’s lives that it was hard to predict how people would still donate to charities without their events.
“I know there were a lot of virtual auctions and donation requests out there because all charities are hurting. I’m thankful and grateful to those who not only bid on items but the generous individuals, restaurants and companies that were willing to donate items to help make the auction a success,” she said.
Moser already has the 2021 Phoenix Heart Ball in mind. She’ll return as the ball chairwoman, which will be the first time anyone has held that position for multiple years.