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Heart family turns the city sky red

A Sunderland couple will be painting the city red, as they hold an annual fundraising evening that has secured more than £150,000 for a lifesaving North East hospital unit.  

Ashbrooke couple Sergio and Emma Petrucci, who have worked tirelessly for two years to raise money for The Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital which delivered lifesaving care to their daughter Luna, will once again host their sell-out Red Sky Ball on March 9. 

And this year, the city’s sky will be glowing red, after Sunderland City Council and the Sunderland Empire both agreed to turn the lights on some of the city’s buildings and landmarks red on the evening of the fundraising dinner.  Other buildings like the Sunderland Minster and the Beacon of Light will also be changing colour for the occasion.     

To date, the couple have raised to just shy of £160,000. 

Sergio and Emma began their fundraising after Luna was born with a heart condition that meant she required lifesaving surgery.  They hope to continue with a range of events and activities that will help buy further equipment saving the lives of many other children from across the North East and UK. 

Sergio, who also has a son, Enzo, said:

“We are thrilled that the council and Empire are supporting us, with a gesture that will get the whole city talking about the Red Sky Ball. 

“We have been so fortunate to receive so much support in our quest to raise money for equipment, which is a charity that not only repaired our daughter’s heart, but saved our whole family from an absolutely heart-breaking situation.  

“No amount of money can repay the medical team for what they did for our family, but to be able to raise so much cash and know that it may save another family and their little one, as it did for us, is just an overwhelming feeling.”

The money raised from the Red Sky Ball will be enough to buy an Organ Care System which will allow donated organs - particularly for heart transplants - to remain viable for up to 24 hours.  Current machines can only keep a heart healthy for two to four hours. 

Sergio added:

“The better equipment available to the healthcare professionals, the greater the chance of survival for young people with heart problems.  To have so much support to do our bit as a family is incredible.” 

St Anthony’s Girls' Catholic Academy will also see its students sporting red attire on the day and holding a vintage sale, to raise awareness and money.