Hearts Entwined: Igniting the Spark for Change
By Jane Kendall
Photography by Christian Lee
Eileen Hutton is a true pioneer. Influenced by her dad and a self-taught reader from the age of 3, she devoured everything she could get her hands on and she continues to do so to this day. Her chosen career path of librarian was a perfect fit. When her mother became ill in 1989, she and her husband Bob decided to pull up stakes and move to Grand Haven, Mich. to be with her. Since there were no jobs for librarians in that area, Eileen combed newspaper ads for other possibilities. She soon found and accepted a job as an assistant to the publisher of a “books -on-tape” startup company. At that time, there were no other similar companies in existence. From there, her career skyrocketed. She was an incredible asset to this new organization, as her voracious reading appetite made her familiar with many genres and authors. She knew who was on the New York Times best-sellers list, negotiated contracts for their books to be put on tape, and became personal friends with many authors. The first romance novel on tape, Montana Sky by Nora Roberts is credited to Eileen. She eventually took over the company and grew Brilliance Audio to become the second largest audio publishing company in the industry. A few of Eileen’s many accolades include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Audio Publishers Association and recognition by the Romance Writers of America for her contribution to the industry. She has served as a consultant to the Library of Congress regarding the digitization of books and has been influential in setting standards for playback devices.
In 2007, Eileen sold her prospering business to Amazon. She and Bob moved to Moss Creek two years later. With time on their hands, and a huge desire to make a difference in their new community, they quickly became involved in the local chapter of the American Heart Association (AHA). Their passion for the AHA emerged from their personal and family experiences with heart disease. Eileen’s parents suffered debilitating strokes. Bob’s parents died from heart disease at early ages and his three siblings have heart disease. Bob himself was spared from crippling heart damage with the timely placement of a stent. Bob and Eileen attend American Heart Association events nationwide to provide assistance and fundraising support. They also travel toWashington, D.C. to lobby on Capitol Hill for research funding.
Countless Americans owe their lives to AHA-funded research breakthroughs and the AHA’s guidelines, training, advocacy and programs according to www.heart.org, The website states the organization has funded more than $2.9 billion in cardiovascular and stroke research since 1949. Hospitals in Clemson and Charleston have received AHA research funding. Bob recently benefitted from an AHA funded clinical trial at MUSC for a surgical intervention to treat resistant hypertension. This research, along with Bob’s willingness to participate, is paving the way for new treatment modalities for the general public.
Bob and Eileen have been selected as chairpersons of the 2015 Heart Ball. This premier philanthropic event, a celebration of the community’s support of lifesaving missions of the American Heart Association, will be held at the Westin Resort and Spa on Hilton Head Island on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015. It will feature a heart healthy dinner, entertainment by Flashback, the acclaimed variety band from Charlotte, and a special performance by the Hilton Head Dance Company. There will be live auction items, including an opportunity to be named as a character in New York Times best-selling author Lee Child’s next book, a ride in the Goodyear blimp, international vacation destinations and a NASCAR experience, to name a few. There will also be an extensive silent auction and an opportunity to meet the Open Your Heart honoree, 15-year-old Abby, the inspiration for CJ Lyons’ acclaimed young adult medical thriller, Broken. Abby has a rare heart disease and carries her defibrillator, “Phil,” wherever she goes. She lives a full and happy life with her family and pets and never lets anything hold her back. You are cordially invited to make a difference in your community. Join your friends and neighbors in supporting the annual celebration and fundraiser.
Happily Married: Bob and Eileen have been happily married for 51 years. They support each other in everything they do. They have two accomplished children and two grandchildren.
Eileen: “Everyone is given gifts in this world. With those gifts, everyone has the responsibility to give back.”
Bob: “Hearts keep people alive. Our goal, through our involvement with the American Heart Association, is to help people stay alive and healthy longer. We are on the cusp of so many breakthroughs and cures.”
Tickets for the Heart Ball 2015 can be purchased online at: www.hiltonheadscheartball.ahaevents.org