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Hopeful Hearts Set Sail on Maiden Voyage in the Name of Heart Disease

The maiden voyage Hopeful Hearts River Cruise set sail Saturday, August 14, for a memorable evening aboard the Gateway Clipper Duchess vessel with Pittsburgh’s skyline as the backdrop. 100 guests enjoyed a delicious meal, drinks, entertainment, and silent auction while sailing the Three Rivers. The benefit was to help raise money for the Pittsburgh patients being served the last 3 years by the Joe Beretta Foundation through UPMC and plans to expand to Allegheny General Hospital soon. Board President Lillian Beretta was born and raised in Pittsburgh and still has family in the area. This was the second fundraiser for the Pittsburgh location. 

When Joe Beretta, the family's patriarch, experienced sudden advanced heart failure in Spring 2016, his family was introduced to the LVAD, or Left Ventricle Assist Device. With the dream of providing hope and resources for VAD patients, Lillian and her family created The Joe Beretta Foundation.   One of the largest burdens not covered by insurance is housing; the goal is to build a home in Nashville, "Papa Joe's House,” where several families can stay during the most trying times of their VAD journey.

With only three percent of hospitals currently providing treatment for 6.5 million adults in the United States suffering from advanced heart failure, the foundation can provide lifesaving treatments. They offer emergency housing, holiday outreach, hospital visitation, and short-term financial assistance for 750 individuals in four hospitals. They have provided over 2,100 nights of stay and have prevented 90 families from facing the impossible choice between medical homelessness and hospice. 

Executive Director Davey Shepherd stated, “We are proud of the fact that our foundation has the ability to pay the bills back home for people while they are staying in the hospital. We pay for transportation costs for patients that must drive to the closest neighboring cities in Cleveland and Philadelphia for treatment. And offer nice places for people to stay during their time in Pittsburgh.”

During the fundraiser, Lillian Beretta auctioned off wine from her Mt. Juliet vineyard, in addition to 100% of the proceeds from her children’s book “The Tale of the Beretta Vineyard,” going towards the foundation. The book tells the true story about family, loss, hope, and the secrets of their family vineyard. They also auctioned off Penguins tickets, Steeler’s memorabilia, massage passes, lottery tickets, and more, ultimately raising $7,932 from the onboard silent auction and $1,900 from the online auction. 

According to Director Gloria Andreozzi of the Pittsburgh Chapter,” This year was the inaugural event, and we would love to have more in the coming years.” 

For more information on how to make a donation or to volunteer, visit their website at