America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk hopes to raise $1,114,690

Published Nov 13, 2017 at 4:00pm

NEW HARTFORD — In celebration of America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk 2018, volunteers, board members, High 5 Club members, team captains, heart disease and stroke survivors, and corporate donors came together to kick-off the event with the annual Kick-off and News Conference at Yahnundasis Golf Club.

America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Weekend 2018 is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3.

Heart Weekend will be under new volunteer leadership this year. After serving as the logistics chairman of America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk for 17 years, Jim Stasaitis will step down from the role. Steve Gassner, former American Heart Association advisory board president and former Heart Telethon chairman, will take over.

“I am excited about taking on my new role as the logistics chairman,” Gassner said. “I am looking forward to carrying on the tradition and excitement that Jim has so successfully built in the past.”

As logistics chairman, Gassner will be responsible for ensuring participants have a safe and enjoyable experience during Heart Weekend. Stasaitis said while he is stepping down, he is not stepping away. He plans to be a participant at Heart Weekend this year.

The fundraising goal for the upcoming America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Weekend is $1,114,690. Fundraising efforts will be led by Chairman Brian Sciortino, vice-president of Global Claims and Field Claims Services with MetLife. 

Other highlights for the event at Utica College’s Harold T. Clark Athletic Center include: 

  • The Kids Heart Challenge, sponsored by AmeriCU Credit Union, will return to Heart Weekend. For its second year, the challenge will be held Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at Valley Gymnastics. The event is a half-mile obstacle course for children ages 5-12. Registration will be available online and starting at 6:30 p.m. at Valley Gymnastics.
  • The Healthy For Good Expo will be held on Friday, March 3 at Utica College. The Expo will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Health & Wellness Assessment Screenings, sponsored by Mohawk Valley Health System, will take place throughout the Expo. Areas covered will include health-related material, free screenings and wellness information.
  • WIBX Heart Radiothon is sponsored by Slocum-Dickson Medical Group, P.L.L.C. and will be broadcasted on WIBX of Townsquare Media. The Heart Radiothon will be broadcast on Friday, March 2 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 3 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., and streamed online at
  • WKTV Heart Telethon is sponsored by UFCW Local One and will be broadcast live by WKTV NewsChannel 2 and streamed online at The Telethon will be broadcast live on Friday, March 2 from 7-8 p.m. on CBS Utica and Saturday, March 3 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WKTV NewsChannel 2.  

The Association also announced this year’s Red Cap survivor ambassadors. Red Cap ambassadors strive to educate and inform people of various cardiovascular diseases through their own personal and inspiring experiences.

They ask participants to instill their passion as they raise money that will be used for training, advocacy, research and education. In addition to information about America’s Greatest Run & Walk, stories from the heart were shared by this year’s Red Cap survivor ambassadors.

The Benham Family – congenital heart defect survivor Grace and heart attack survivor Ron, from Rome

Paul Grube – aortic valve replacement survivor from Clark Mills

Sammy Paquette - a congenital heart defect survivor from Rome

Those interested in forming a fund-raising team or volunteering for the event on Saturday, March 3 should contact the American Heart Association at 315-580-3964. Participants can register for the event at