How three local defense industry leaders are impacting the future of heart health in Huntsville
When Hank Isenberg and Bill Roark signed on to serve as chairmen for Huntsville Hospital Foundation’s 2023 Huntsville Classic, the CEOs weren’t just motivated to receive the iconic green chairmen’s jacket. Both men were driven to give back to a cause that saved their lives. That drive resulted in a record-breaking event for the city of Huntsville and North Alabama, raising $1.7 million to fully fund a new cardiac CT scanner for Huntsville Hospital Heart Center. That equipment will improve access and outcomes, cutting diagnostic wait times from months to weeks.
“This CT scanner will save lives because people will know they have a problem,” Roark said. “Weeks make a difference.”
Roark knows this firsthand. In 2010, he suffered a heart attack while in his office at Torch Technologies in Huntsville, and later underwent a quadruple bypass. Now, more than a decade later, he can joke that “if Huntsville Hospital weren’t here, I might be plant food.” Instead, he is using his time and resources to ensure others have access to the cardiac care they need.
Isenberg, president and CEO of IronMountain Solutions, has also been passionate about transforming heart health since his triple bypass in 2014. It was a perfect storm when the two leaders and philanthropists joined together for Huntsville Classic and started scheming how to make it the biggest event in Huntsville history.
Their first call was to Mike Wicks.
“Thirty-five years ago, my mom suffered a massive heart attack and underwent a successful emergency open-heart surgery with five bypasses at Huntsville Hospital Heart Center,” shared Wicks, Wicks Family Foundation and retired founder of i3. “Thankfully, she made a full recovery and has had no further heart issues. As my dad says, ‘That’s some good plumbing work.’”
Wicks’ gratitude for that care meant he and his wife, Christine, didn’t hesitate to join Isenberg and Roark at the top of the Classic sponsor board. Together, IronMountain Solutions, Torch Technologies and the Wicks Family Foundation contributed at unprecedented levels toward the event, and rallied other area businesses and defense contractors to join the cause.
“We made a real push to bring new companies and individuals to the table from our industry,” Roark said. “I never made a call where someone wasn’t happy to hear what we needed.”
Roark attributes that to the essential role health care plays in caring for and recruiting employees.
“Huntsville’s system of hospitals not only benefit our companies and employees, but our whole community,” Isenberg agrees. “Continually maintaining and updating capabilities at the hospitals enables the residents of Huntsville to have top-notch care without having to travel several hours to another hospital. Huntsville Hospital takes care of us, so we should take care of them.”
According to Wicks, that “takes a village.” And a village is what they got. More than 120 companies signed on to contribute to the Heart Center’s needs. This collaborative effort resulted in a record-smashing event, raising enough to fully fund the $1.7 million piece of diagnostic equipment.
“As the defense industry continues to grow and bring new residents to the community, the regional hospitals must continue to grow and adapt to serve them,” Isenberg says. “There are many individuals and corporations that were involved in the Classic for the first time this year. It’s great to be able to broaden the impact of what it's all about – helping Huntsville Hospital Foundation make lifesaving investments.”
That investment was possible – and lives will be saved – thanks to Isenberg, Roark, Wicks and other leaders. Now that’s a gift from the heart.
By: Katie Coppens
Article originally published in August 2023 Huntsville/Madison County Chamber Initiatives Magazine