Sunderland's Red Sky Ball raises more than £100,000 for heart charity
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The Red Sky Foundation was established by husband and wife Sergio and Emma Petrucci after their daughter Luna underwent life-saving surgery when she was just a toddler.
Sergio and Emma began fundraising for the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle’s Hospital and the foundation has also supported Sunderland Royal Hospital and Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital.
More recently, the charity has begun to donate community defibrillators, which can be used to help anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest.
The foundation’s annual fund-raising Red Sky Ball was held at the Beacon of Light on Friday, March 11, and Sergio has been overwhelmed by the result.
He said: “We have raised nearly £113,000 once the costs of staging the event are taken into consideration.
"The auction alone raised almost £40,000 – David Beckham showed his support by sending a personal letter and a shirt.
“It means we will be able to buy machines for the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman, and for Sunderland neo-natal unit and we will be able to provide equipment for some of the surgeons from the Freeman to be able to go to war-torn countries and perform surgery on children and babies that is urgently needed.”
Entertainment came from soprano Emily Haig.
“She started the evening with the national anthem, then did three more arias, ending with Nessun Dorma, which left the whole room giving her a standing ovation,” said Sergio.
There were also performances from dance group Pocket Rockets and the Sunderland Symphony Orchestra.
Attendees included both cardiac patients and cardiac life-savers, NHS workers and MPs, as well as the Mayor of Sunderland Coun Harry Trueman and guests from as far afield as Texas and Las Vegas.
But there was one person Sergio was particularly glad to see.
“The highlight of the banquet was introducing Kenneth Morris,” he added.
"He had a successful heart transplant using equipment bought by the foundation in 2018 and was here to say thank you.
"He says he owes his life to Red Sky.”
Sergio is delighted with the evening’s results.
“It is just sensational,” he said.
"Thank you to everyone for their support.”