America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk making a comeback
WHITESBORO — The annual America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk fundraiser for the American Heart Association will return in-person on Saturday, May 7, at a new location – Accelerate Sports, 5241 Judd Road, Whitesboro.
Christine Kisiel, executive director of the American Heart Association of the Mohawk Valley, said everyone’s excited to be back in person. “When we started planning a year ago, we didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “But the health of the community is always at the forefront and a top priority.”
The five-mile run will start at 8 a.m., and the three-mile walk will step off at 9 a.m. immediately after the opening ceremony. The closing ceremony will take place at noon.
Steve Gassner, logistics chair of America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, said people are allowed to stagger for the walk if they wish, starting anytime between 9 and 11 a.m. to avoid the crowd.
There is also a remote run and walk running in tandem, letting people and businesses participate this year. Gassner said there also is a remote option available to people who don’t feel entirely comfortable participating in a mass gathering. “We’re hoping this gives people flexibility if they can’t make it that day or would rather walk inside,” he added.
This year’s goal is $750,000, and at the time of writing, $252,594 has already been raised, and more than 1,000 people have signed up to walk or run.
Parking will be at MetLife on Second Street in Oriskany, with no parking available at Accelerate Sports. Birnie Bus will shuttle participants between the MetLife lot to Accelerate Sports between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Pre-registration will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, outside of Pinz in the parking lot at Sangertown Square in New Hartford, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 6 at Accelerate Sports. People also can register for the event on the day of the walk and run.
“I’m hopeful and confident that next year, we can bring back some of the old traditions that many people are used to,” Kisiel said. When the planning process started after the 2021 Heart Walk and Run, Kisiel said there was no way to know what the pandemic would look like and planned accordingly.
To that end, the expo will be running on the same day as the Heart Run and Walk, between 8 a.m. and noon at Accelerate Sports. Instead of full health screenings, the American Heart Association will be offering blood pressure checks.
Kisiel said there would be masks available for those who want one, adding that they will encourage social distancing and offer hand sanitizer if needed.
Overall, there’s a feeling of excitement among those volunteering with the American Heart Association who are looking forward to the event.
“It’s a new venue, a new location, and a new date. And we’re hoping this is going to set us in a direction the community can enjoy,” Gassner said. “I always say America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk is a Central New York holiday. It’s a homegrown holiday for us, and we’re all really excited.”
Those who wish to donate or register for the America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk, visit: UticaHeartRunWalk.org
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