Health First Ball Sponsor Party Spotlights Hospice Services

By  //  March 24, 2013


Dr. Steven and Valerie Karas, pictured above with Health First President & CEO Steve Johnson, left, hosted the Health First Ball Sponsor Party at their stunning Indialantic waterfront home.

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BREVARD COUNTY • INDIALANTIC, FLORIDA – The Health First’s 31st Annual Benefit Ball festivities kicked off with a special sponsor party held March 21 at the stunning Indialantic waterfront home of Dr. Steven and Valerie Karas.

More than 150 of the area’s most generous and philanthropic people were in attendance, and enjoyed a beautiful Florida sunset as they heard compelling stories and updates from executives, physicians and Ball volunteers about the need for hospice services in the community.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Steve Bice, executive director of Health First Hospice; Pat Pruitt, Health First Hospice Board; Valerie Kenworthy; and Ruddy Ruiz, MD.

Proceeds from this year’s Black-tie gala event will benefit Hospice of Health First, the only Joint Commission-accredited Hospice in Brevard County.

“Hospice is not about the dying process,” said Steve Bice, executive director of Health First Hospice, who leads the only Joint Commission–accredited hospice in the county. “It’s about the living process. There are opportunities for us to provide palliative care to improve the patient’s quality of life during their last six months to a year.”

Health First President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Johnson stressed that health care is a sacred mission, and nowhere is that more true than hospice.

“We want to increase the awareness of what hospice can offer the patient,” said Dr. Ruiz. “We have a broad capability as an organization and can provide care for heart patients, pulmonary patients, and cancer patients, for example.”

Hospice services are covered by Medicaid, Medicare, most private insurance plans, and other managed–care systems. Hospice of Health First admits roughly 1,000 patients a year, with the care provided in a variety of settings around Brevard including homes, nursing homes, and assisted–living facilities.

“Hospice is the only area of medicine where you have a comprehensive team of this kind providing care and support, and reviewing everything that affects not only the patient but also the family,” said Dr. Ruddy Ruiz, the medical director for Hospice of Health First.

“We want to increase the awareness of what hospice can offer the patient,” said Dr. Ruiz. “We have a broad capability as an organization and can provide care for heart patients, pulmonary patients, and cancer patients, for example.”

THE 2013 HEALTH FIRST BALL COMMITTEE: Seated left to right – Polly Molnar, Valerie Karas, Dipty Desai, Committee Chair Susan Vallette (with Leo on her lap), Elizabeth Scheinbart, Jerri Figueroa and June Sims. Standing left to right – Sheri Tremmel, Lisa Troner, Jeanne Farmer, Linda Gettings, Christine Lance, Pat Picornell and Laura Pitten. (Not pictured: Cathy Johnson, Cynthia Ruiz)


Health First’s 31st Annual Benefit Ball will take place on Saturday, April 13, from 6:30 p.m. to 12:00 Midnight at Florida Institute of Technology’s Clemente Center in Melbourne.

Once again, Link Johnsten of Eau Gallie Florist in Melbourne is in charge of the decorations and the floral arrangements for the Ball.

Health First Ball Chair Susan Vallette with her husband, Dr. Julio Vallette.

The theme of the black–tie gala is ‘Come Away…Bali Ha’i,’” said Susan Vallette, the chairwoman for the Ball committee.

Vallette, and a committee of 15 volunteers are planning the gala fundraising event.

“The theme is Polynesian — ‘mystical and enchanting,’” said Vallette. “It’s going to be an elegant affair, which it has been for years and years. My personal goal this year as the committee chairperson is to add an injection of fun. So we are going to have some surprises for those who have been attending the Ball for many years. The committee is putting a lot of energy into this event. We’re thrilled it’s benefiting
hospice services.”

Vallette’s husband is Dr. Julio Vallette, the medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Health First Holmes Regional in Melbourne.

THE 2013 HEALTH FIRST BALL UNDERWRITING COMMITTEE: Seated left to right – Donna Witek, Meridith Kaplan, Underwriting Committee Chair Rob Perers, Anna Palermo and Erik Eavenson. Standing left to right – Paul Miller, Glad Kurian, Brenda Radke, Kitty Fletcher Young, Maggie Peppler, Jose Hixon, Pat Pruitt and Neal Johnson. (Not pictured: Judy Kraftchick, Stephen Lacey)


Robert “Rob” Perers, president and chief executive officer of American Business Interiors in Melbourne, heads the Ball’s underwriting committee.

Ball Underwritting Chair Rob Perers, left, and Nancy Taylor, Health First Foundation Board Chair.

“We have an outstanding underwriting team,” Perers said. “We are eager and excited about the opportunities as we reach out to the community and ask for support of this great cause. A new sponsorship we have created is the $2,500 Monarch level. We think a lot of people will want to be involved at this level.”

The Monarch sponsorship provides an opportunity to create a lasting commemoration of someone special in your life. Monarch–level sponsors, and above, will be the first to have a “laser–etched paver” in the Butterfly Garden at the Health First William Childs Hospice House.

This sponsorship also includes two Ball reservations, recognition in the program book and an invitation to the Butterfly Garden dedication.

“Hospice of Health First is a not–for–profit organization,” said Sandy Grutta, Health First Foundation coordinator. “We encourage people to become sponsors. We need community support for this event.”

Tickets for this year’s Health First Ball are $250 per person.

For sponsorship or ticket information call the Health First Foundation at 321-434-7353 or log on to

RELATED STORY: Hospice of Health First Announces Associate Medical Directors