Methodist Hospitals Foundation Annual Mardi Gras Event Raises Awareness for Heart Disease

Methodist Hospitals Foundation Annual Mardi Gras Event Raises Awareness for Heart Disease
By: Dan Petreikis Last Updated: February 17, 2019

Inviting the spirit and joie de vivre of New Orleans’ most famous celebration, Mardi Gras, the Methodist Hospitals Foundation once more invited the area residents to a fantastic night of fun, food and entertainment, and all to benefit a good cause.

“The purpose of tonight’s event is to raise funds for Methodist Hospitals Heart Rhythm Center,” said Judy Lindsey, Executive Director for Methodist Hospitals Foundation. “This is the center where cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Kamran Aslam, assesses the electrical functionality of the hearts of our patients.”

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In the last year alone, more than 200 patients have undergone life-changing procedures in the Heart Rhythm Center. More than half of those patients did not have adequate insurance, or had no insurance at all, yet all received the care they needed.

Lindsey says that people often overlook or don’t fully understand that there are many things that can cause cardiac compromise and lead to serious health problems.

“When most people think of heart problems, they think in terms of blockages of the arteries, but there are also many patients who have problems with electrical functionality. Many times, they will have irregular heart rhythms that go overlooked or may even be ignored,” Lindsey said.

These irregular rhythms may simply feel like a “fluttering” in the chest, sort of like butterflies, but they are much more serious. They may be skipped beats. Many people are unaware that there is a problem at all, and it may only be detected with highly specialized diagnostic and interventional procedures.

Serving as a very special guest of honor at this year’s Mardi Gras was Donald Levinson, a native of Gary and attorney who says he had “no symptoms at all,” when he was diagnosed with “the Widowmaker,” a 99% blockage in one of the arteries in his heart, during a routine annual check-up. Levinson was placed under the care of Dr. Vijay Dave, a cardiologist on staff at Methodist Hospitals.

“Dr. Dave stented the blockage,” said Levinson. “How he got through the blockage, I’ll never know, but he did.”

“They saved my life, not once, but twice,” said Levinson, who was diagnosed last year with persistent atrial fibrillation and was referred to Dr. Aslam.

“I felt a flutter in my chest... I thought it was cute. Dr. Aslam didn’t agree. But for the actions of these two doctors, I would not have enjoyed the companionship of my lovely wife Rosalie these last two decades. I would not have seen my daughters grow, would not have danced at their weddings.”

“My life was saved,” said Levinson. “Again. Thanks to Methodist Hospitals.”

This year’s event was particularly timely, as it took place during American Heart Month. It was hoped that the event would not only raise money to support new equipment for the Heart Rhythm Center, but that it may also raise awareness and elevate attention to the fact that heart disease remains the number one leading cause of death in America.

“It’s a fun night,” said Heather McCarthy, President of Methodist Hospitals Foundation Board of Directors. “We’re hoping to beat our record from last year when we raised roughly $170,000. We rely a lot on our sponsors, as well.”

Bringing something new and different to this year’s event was the addition of live music, courtesy of a band from across the state line, The Chicago 6, headlined by some performers whose names may ring a certain bell: Dan Hampton, Otis Wilson and Steve McMichael, of the 1985 Superbowl winning Chicago Bears, who rocked the crowd with favorites such as “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” originals such as “The Baddest Team Around,” and even dedicated a very special version of “Stand By Me” in memory of Walter"Sweetness" Payton, who passed away in 1999.

Tickets to the Mardi Gras included an open bar, New Orleans Food Court, Cafe Du Monde Sweet Station, face painting, caricature artists, a silent auction, and more.

This year’s event was made possible by the generous support of numerous sponsors, including Platinum Sponsor, Gary SouthShore Railcats/Patrick and Lindy Salvi. Gold Sponsors included AMS Mechanical Systems, Denise and Major Dillard, inHealth INtegrated Care, Ronald F. McColly, Gary and Shar Miller, Chicago Tribune Media Group/Post Tribune Division and SodexoMAGIC.

Other sponsors include: Larry Alt & Associates, Crothall Healthcare, Raymond and Mary Grady, Hodges & Davis, P.C., Horizon Financial Management, MacLennan & Bain Insurance, Scott and Kimberly May, NW Indiana Radiology Services, P.C., Optimus Hospitals & Pediatric Subspecialists, Ltd, Powers & Sons, Construction Company, Inc., Carolyn Ribordy, Scott and Nadine Ribordy, Times Media Company, West Point Financial Group - Matt Dilts & Jack Hettiger, Centier Bank, Lakeside Wealth Financial

For more information about Methodist Hospitals Foundation, visit them online at