Sunderland landmarks to be lit up as city family's Red Sky Ball raises money for Children's Heart Unit

A family of Sunderland fund-raisers will paint the town red to support the hospital unit which saved their daughter's life.

By Kevin Clark
Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 4:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 4:12 pm
Keel Square
Keel Square

Five-year-old Luna Petrucci, who was born with two congenital heart defects, underwent a life-saving procedure shortly before her second birthday at the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital (CHUF).

In gratitude for the care and support they received from surgeons and nurses in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Luna’s parents Sergio and Emma have raised more than £250,000 for CHUF since 2016.

Luna Petrucci

With the money raised, life-saving machinery has been installed into hospitals across the North East, one of which is a ground-breaking transplant machine used in the Freeman Hospital,. The Organ Care System can keep a heart alive for up to 12 hours, saving lives of children and adults with cardio issues.

The centrepiece of the family's fund-raising is the Red Sky Ball, held annually to celebrate the anniversary of Luna’s life-saving operation.

This year, the Beacon of Light will play host to the event on March 8, with 800 tickets already sold.

Key landmarks across the city will be lit up red on the night, including the Northern Spire Bridge, Penshaw Monument, Keel Square, High Street West, Market Square, Fulwell Mill and Sunderland Lighthouse.

Northern Spire

Sergio said: "CHUF cared for us during Luna’s treatment and they care for children and families from all over the UK and beyond who are suffering or have suffered with heart conditions.

"The team at the Freeman Hospital and CHUF do amazing life-saving work on a daily basis, but to our family we are forever in debt to everyone there.

"The Red Sky Ball event is something I organise outside of my full-time work and family commitments and I am extremely grateful for all the support from third parties involved.

"Without this help, we wouldn’t have raised over a quarter of a million pounds for CHUF."

Sergio with the Organ Care System equipment

The family aim to make this year’s fundraiser the biggest yet. Sponsors include AR Controls Ltd, Emirates, Everyone Active, Siglion, Smart, Specsavers, Mercedes-Benz, Barclays, Richard Reed, Elopa, Ramside Hall, Disruptieve and Poetic License.

For further information, or to find out more about corporate sponsorship, visit or email [email protected]

Sergio and Emma Petrucci with Luna and son Enzo