For Louise and Jeff Dinsmore, fundraising for their non-profit organization comes from the heart.
When their 2-year-old daughter Gabrielle passed away March 31, 2010 as a result of complications from heart disease, they wanted to do something not only to cope with their loss, but also help other children dealing with heart issues.
Since founding the Gabrielle Dinsmore Heart & Hope Fund in 2011, they've raised about $500,000. The Fund is a resource that provides emotional, recreational, educational and financial support to children and their families living in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts impacted by heart disease, congenital heart defects and severe feeding issues.
According to the Children’s Heart Foundation, congenital heart defects are the leading cause of birth defects around the world, and the top cause of birth defect-related deaths in America. Nearly one of every 100 infants is born with a heart defect, or 40,000 newborns each year.
To help, Louise and Jeff have planned the fourth annual Heart and Soul Ball for Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. So far, they’ve sold 450 tickets, and raised nearly $90,000 in sponsorships.
“We have 90 sponsors, ranging from $7,500 to $300,” Louise said. “We expect to sell out at 500 people. It’s a meaningful evening where we’ll talk about our mission and educate people about our non-profit. It’s our signature fundraiser of the year.”
The black tie optional event will include a video, which highlights a family from North Providence. Their 1-year-old daughter endured a heart transplant last year.
“She’s doing really well,” said Louise. “The family is coming to the ball.”
Additionally, a number of other children who have heart disease and heart defects will be in attendance.
“People can meet the children and their families, hear a little bit about their stories and know that their charitable gift is going back into the community,” Louise said.
Louise said hundreds of children have benefited from the organization. The money they raise goes toward funding programs they host throughout the year, such as financial assistance grants and the Gabrielle Dinsmore Heart Camp.
The Dinsmores, along with Dr. Lloyd Feit, the director of the Pediatric Heart Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, co-founded the camp, an annual event that aims to provide a safe environment where children with heart disease and congenital heart defects can have fun while learning educational skills that will help them deal with the challenges they face.
“We just finished our third heart camp,” Louise said. “Within three years, we’ve had 138 kids that have come through.”
Louise and Jeff, who live in Coventry, just moved their office from their home to 845 Oaklawn Avenue in Cranston. They said the organization is a way to help others, as well as honor Gabrielle.
“Her life had a very, very meaningful purpose,” Louise said. “Everything that we do for the kids and families in our community is all a part of her legacy. Even though her life was very short, she’s having an enormous impact on kids and families throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. That is really gratifying for me as her mom. I know that her spirit lives on.”
Louise and Jeff will be thinking of Gabrielle at the event, as she is always on their minds. To celebrate her life, they plan to show heart children, their families and other guests a good time for a good cause.
Aside from the video, the event will feature a silent and live auction, dancing and dinner. It kicks of with a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m., with the speaking portion to start at 7.
Dinner includes four choices, such as chicken piccata, prime rib, baked scrod or a vegetarian option.
Louise is grateful for the event’s sponsors, including “Platinum Sponsor” ChemArts, a Lincoln-based company that designs handmade ornaments, keepsakes, souvenirs, and more. They are well known for annually crafting White House Christmas ornaments that feature past U.S. presidents.
“They work with non-profits all over the country making ornaments,” Louise said. “We just started talking to them about designing an ornament for next year. They are very supportive of our efforts.”
While she’s busy taking care of finishing touches for the event, she’s also getting excited.
“It’s our night to shine,” she said.
To purchase tickets, which are $100 each, call 270-9850. Sponsorships are also available.
To learn more or to view a full list of auction items, visit HeartAndHopeFund.com.
The Crowne Plaza is located at 801 Greenwich Avenue.