Like the “City That Never Sleeps” from which she hails, native New Yorker Carolyn Jackson goes through each day at a whirlwind pace with seemingly boundless energy, often articulating her thoughts to others with passion and at breakneck speed to keep up with the ideas zipping around her sharply tuned brain at all hours of the day and night. “Sleep isn’t a driving force in my life,” she admits. “When I wake up, the first thing I think about in the morning is this campaign.”
The campaign to which she refers is “Driven Hearts,” Carolyn’s platform for the year she is serving as chairman of the 2018 Phoenix Heart Ball, one of the largest and most successful Heart Balls in the nation, now in its 59th year.
Each year’s Heart Ball has a different theme, determined by the presiding chairman. “I searched for an adjective I thought described everyone who is involved with the Heart Ball,” says Carolyn. “I think everyone I work with is driven, whether it’s in their personal or professional life. There’s no one on the committee who is accepting of mediocrity; they push to be above and beyond.”
Driven Hearts also dovetailed well with the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Company, the business to which she and her husband, CEO Craig Jackson, are so dedicated, and which draws nearly half a million international visitors who attend the four auctions across the United States each year. As Carolyn began to strategize on ways to engage Barrett-Jackson and other businesses with the efforts to help the American Heart Association, the sudden passing of one of the company’s beloved customers, Dave Ressler, due to heart issues at the end of 2017 made the mission clear.
“That loss really hit Craig and me hard,” Carolyn recalls. “We wanted to pay tribute to Dave in some way, and I realized Barrett-Jackson had a platform that would allow us to raise tremendous awareness.”
Back in 2006, at the 35th anniversary of Barrett-Jackson’s flagship Scottsdale Auction, Ressler gifted a 1988 35th Anniversary Edition Corvette to Craig Jackson and his mother Nellie on the auction block. To honor their friend, Craig and Carolyn decided to donate that very car to be sold at the 2018 Scottsdale Auction, with 100 percent of the sale price benefitting the AHA. Little did they know what impact that decision would have.
Conceptualized and spearheaded by Carolyn, who serves as Vice President of Brand Strategy for Barrett-Jackson, Driven Hearts is the company’s first-ever yearlong charity initiative.
Conceptualized and spearheaded by Carolyn, who serves as Vice President of Brand Strategy for Barrett-Jackson, Driven Hearts is the company’s first-ever yearlong charity initiative. The Driven Hearts Corvette, as it came to be known, was one of many elements in the important campaign to raise both funds and awareness for the AHA.
Carolyn’s degrees in finance and marketing—along with her innate ability to think outside the box—served her well as plans progressed for the launch of the campaign at the 2018 Scottsdale Auction. Prominent on-site messaging, cash donation locations, a text-to-give drive, and a #DrivenHearts logo on all the Barrett-Jackson drivers’ shirts were planned. Each vehicle crossing the block at the company’s auctions has sported special collectible #DrivenHearts plates that are also for sale to the public, with the proceeds going to the AHA. In addition, the first state-issued Barrett-Jackson themed license plate was debuted in January through the Arizona Department of Transportation, with $17 from each $25 plate sold going to the important cause. Through a partnership with Hotels For Hope, even those booking hotels for Barrett-Jackson events through the company’s website are helping, with a portion of every room night going to the AHA.
Craig Jackson’s 2008 Bugatti Veyron, wrapped in a stunning red and silver #DrivenHearts livery, has been a focal point at Barrett-Jackson events this year. Social media has been abuzz with photos of visitors posing in front of the exotic supercar, which is staged with a giant “FAST” sign—the AHA’s acronym for Facial drooping, Arm tingling, Speech impairment, Time to call 9-1-1.
“Social media is a very powerful tool when it comes to fundraising,” points out Carolyn. “Just getting your campaign out there and having people be aware of what it is; people have asked via direct messages how they can help. We have been using #DrivenHearts to great effect.”
The Arizona Driven Hearts effort was thrust onto the national stage when Carolyn got word that Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, was going to travel to the 2018 Scottsdale Auction for the sale of the Corvette. “It was an incredible honor to have her there,” says Carolyn, who had invited Brown through the local AHA office. “In life, if you don’t ask, you don’t get—you have to swing for the fences.”
With Brown on the auction block, the Corvette drove onto the stage for the big moment and raised $350,000 in the span of six minutes. The initial winning bidder, Michelle Mauzy—whose husband Greg had passed away from heart issues in 2015—immediately donated the car back to be auctioned again, something her late husband was known for doing at the auctions. The poignant moment brought many—including Craig and Carolyn Jackson—to tears. The second winning bidder also gave the car back for a future sale, and another generous onlooker stepped up with a $50,000 donation.
As the emotional sale played out on live television around the world, Darrell and Charmaigne Pullen were watching. Coincidentally, the Pullens, too, owned an identical white 35th Anniversary Corvette, and their family had been affected by heart disease and stroke. In an incredible gesture of goodwill, they got on a plane for Arizona, where they walked into the Barrett-Jackson headquarters and handed over the title to their car to an incredulous Craig and Carolyn to bring in still more funds for heart health. Charmaigne Pullen humbly said, “Good attracts good.”
Car clubs and car rallies across the country are stepping up to donate the proceeds from their events to Driven Hearts.
As Barrett-Jackson’s Driven Hearts campaign continued across the country, Carolyn and her team looked for more ways to bring other businesses along for the important ride. Shell, Pennzoil, Dodge and Lyft are just some of the well-known names offering their support. Car clubs and car rallies across the country are stepping up to donate the proceeds from their events to Driven Hearts. The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships will also be supporting the fundraising efforts.
Raising funds, however, is almost secondary to her more-important goal. “At the end of this year,” Carolyn says, “I want for our Heart Ball committee to take great pride in the fact that yes, we raised money, but we also raised important awareness, bringing this cause to light for not just a national, but an international audience. If I have one metric on which to be measured, that’s the one I would select: awareness. That drives me.”
Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, the Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke—the two leading causes of death in the world. Through campaigns such as “Life is Why” and “Go Red for Women,” the organization is committed to education and promoting lifestyle changes, which may prevent 80 percent of cardiac events. Some 4.5 million volunteers plan and conduct thousands of fundraising events like Jump Rope for Heart, Hoops for Heart, Heart Walk, and Heart Balls across the country each year—the proceeds of which help the AHA fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide critical tools and information to save and improve lives. The AHA’s goal is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent—all by the year 2020. The organization’s messaging continually drives home the fact that cardiovascular diseases and stroke are largely preventable, with risks that can be lowered by adhering to not smoking, being physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, and eating a healthy diet, as well as by controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. To assess your cardiovascular health, visit MyLifeCheck.org and just answer a few questions!