Pair aim to promote health, wellness

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Believing that the well-being of community — those with healthy bodies, minds and spirits — is key to a happy community, Maryann Mazzaferro has joined forces with her husband, former Common Council President and Mayor John J. Mazzaferro, to host the city’s first CNY Health and Wellness Fair Saturday, April 8.

Sponsored by Grand Healthcare and the Hinman Foundation, the free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kennedy Arena, 500 W. Embargo St. The arena is handicap accessible. To honor what will be the first of an annual event, County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. will also declare April 8 Oneida County Health and Wellness Day.

She may be known locally as the “Cookie Lady,” but for years, Maryann Mazzaferro has believed in living a healthy lifestyle, often seen by local residents out walking her neighborhood or other parts of the city. She has used her physical fitness to also promote and support other health initiatives such as beginning the annual Avon Foundation Walk for Breast Cancer, which is now held each May during Mothers’ Day weekend. Each year Mazzaferro takes the funds raised from her walk, as well as other local fund-raisers for breast cancer research held throughout the year, down to New York City in October, and donates monies for the 26-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer held downstate. Each year Mazzaferro walks with her husband John and daughter Lora.

Based on the principles of promoting a healthy community while finding a way to give back, Mazzaferro said she came up with the idea of a city-wide health fair months ago and began working on the project back in August. Over the years, Mazzaferro said she has realized how walking has improved and benefited her life, and she wishes to pass on those ideals to her neighbors.

“I’ve done much of the planning for this while John and I were out walking,” she said. “It’s very therapeutic. I’ve always wanted to do a health fair for the city and the community — back when John was in local politics — and it’s very exciting to see it happening. Back during the short time while John was mayor, we held a small health fair out on the City Hall lawn, and that was really well received.”

After posting an announcement on social media, Mazzaferro said interest and participation began to soar for the fair. What started out as a handful of participants quickly grew to more than 50. They range from doctors’ offices and clinics to nursing homes, nutrition education, holistic medicine, awareness organizations, physical therapy and end-of-life care. The health care organizations are from the Rome area, as well as throughout Oneida County and as far as Syracuse, Cooperstown and Buffalo.

Mazzaferro started to reach out to the community in her announcement, asking local residents what they would like more information on — whether it be something considering their own personal health or that of a loved one.

“We wanted Rome to help put this together,” Mazzaferro said. “A lot of people encounter a health issue and think there’s nothing else they can do. They may not even seek a second opinion because they may think there is no one locally who can serve their needs. Hopefully the fair will help show the community that there are ways to get help right in their own back yard. It’s important for the people of Rome to realize there are different options for health care and different places, locally, where they can get their questions answered.”

Participants include: The Grand Healthcare, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation, Walgreen’s Pharmacy, Donate Life/Hospice, Vitality Fitness & Wellness, Shoppers Service, the Healthy Neighborhood Program, Acacia Village/Acacia Homecare, Chiropractic Services, Canton Dental Students, Food Bank of CNY/United Way, CNY Gynecology Associates, Alzheimer’s Association of CNY, Southern Tier Dermatology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Perez-Cheron MV Endrocrinology, Dr. Camille Dillard Holistic Medicine, Mohawk Valley Health Systems Cardiac Rehab, Rome Police and Fire departments, Oneida Healthcare, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Rome Laser & Med Spa.

Also among the participants will be representatives of Team Danti’s Hugs for Jugs, a major contributor to Rome’s annual Avon Foundation Walk for Breast Cancer. While at the event, captain Rose Crowley said the team will hold its second annual Let’s Kick Cancer’s Butt Basket Raffle. Besides the basket raffle, which will feature a variety of items from designer purses to theme park tickets, wine tastings and food, there will also be a silent auction.

“My team, Team Danti’s Hugs for Jugs, is raising money for research and to find a cure for breast cancer. I am involved first because my friend, or as I call her my sister, Michelle Danti (who our team is named for), is a three-year survivor of breast cancer, but she is also an inspiration to not only myself, but many others out there who are fighting this horrible disease,” Crowley said. “I am also doing this because a lot of my friends are survivors and I recently had my own breast care scare within the last year. It’s important for everyone to get their mammograms done.”

Besides the basket raffle and silent auction for two round-trip flight tickets for any destination, with non-stop or connecting JetBlue operated service, Team Danti is also hosting a craft and direct sales vendor fair with about 40 vendors. Items will range from homemade chocolates, hand-painted wine glasses and wood signs to lighted garland, breast cancer awareness items, Thirty One and Scentsy gifts, just to name a few, Crowley said.

“We will also have food trucks, a face painter, the Big Guys Photo Booth, Scotty’s DJ Service and a medium/tarot card reader,” she added. “We are hoping to raise $5,000-plus, with proceeds to benefit the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.”

Mazzaferro said she hopes the health fair will also serve as a venue where different health organizations can come form partnerships and find ways to work together with others in the area to better serve patients throughout Oneida County and beyond.

“We have to start thinking outside the box when it comes to our health and providing the best care,” she said. “A healthy community is a happy one, and I’m hoping this fair brings people together for a good reason — to get people better educated about their health and to form new friendships.”

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