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Tennessee Charity Auctioneer Tom Riles Fundraises for American Heart Association’s San Antonio ‘Heart Ball’

By Tom Riles on May 12, 2024 0 Comments • Tags: #americanheart #americanheartassociation #auctioneer #benefitauctioneer #comedy #entertaining #entertainment #fundaneed #fundraising #heartball #liveauction #nashvilleauctioneer #nonprofit #paddleraise #tennesseeauctioneer #tomriles

Two years in a row I’ve been lucky to serve as the auctioneer and emcee for one of my favorite events, The San Antonio Heart Ball! I get to share the story of my daughter’s open-heart surgery AND I get conduct a fun live auction and Open Your Heart giving moment.

A big bonus for traveling from Nashville down to Texas is that I also get to share a few days with my parents who are now living down that way.

Check out this awesome article that was written about me in the weekly American Heart Association Newsletter from the desk of CEO Nancy Brown:

From TV hype man to Heart Ball auctioneer, Tom Riles has found his happy place
For 17 years, Tom Riles was the warm-up act for The Ellen DeGeneres Show — energizing the crowd with comedy, dancing and audience interaction. But five years into his tenure, Tom’s sunny exterior hid his journey through the darkest days of his life. He and his wife, Lucy, learned their unborn baby girl had a severe congenital heart defect (CHD), coarctation of the aorta with a bicuspid aortic valve. At only 3 days old, baby Barbara had open heart surgery.

“Seeing her wheeled away was scary, but a couple hours later, the surgeon came out and said, ‘The surgery went well, we’re going to let her grow up now.’ And grow up, she has; she’s 14 and amazing,” Tom said. “One reason she’s here is because the American Heart Association led the charge in making sure there were CHD screenings for pregnant moms.”

That’s why Tom said it was easy to say yes when the AHA asked him to emcee a few Heart Balls after he and Lucy shared their story publicly when Barbara was 3 months old. As he volunteered for more AHA events, his role morphed from hosting to leading live auctions and the Open Your Heart fundraiser moment. By the time The Ellen DeGeneres Show ended in 2022, he had found a new career as a benefit auctioneer and a new passion for the AHA mission.

Over the years, he has served as the auctioneer at Heart Balls in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Middle Tennessee, Birmingham and more — helping to break in-room fundraising records in most of those markets.

“To see the AHA’s impact, not just on my family, but on the lives of others … it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.

Most recently, Tom was the auctioneer for the 2024 San Antonio Heart Ball, which raised $422,900 and rising to advance nutrition security, CPR education and blood pressure control.

“It’s fulfilling to know I have a small part in inspiring people to support the AHA’s lifesaving mission,” he said.

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