One of the great things about Utica College is that, for the past seven years, we have played host to America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. The event put on by the American Heart Association raises awareness for heart related illnesses, as well as money for research in the fight against heart disease and strokes. This year, the event certainly lived up to its name as “America’s Greatest” by raising a grand total of $1,092,129. Over the event’s 40-year history, Central New York has raised upwards of $21 million for the American Heart Association.
I have been participating in the festivities since I started at Utica College three years ago, but I’ve played witness to the event for most of my life; and this year did not disappoint. The weekend was kicked off on Friday by the Heart Expo held in Utica College’s Clark Athletic Center. The Heart Expo hosts dozens of local vendors, mostly related to heart health but all in support of the American Heart Association. In addition, health professionals are on-hand for a number of free health screenings. This year featured booths for Saranac, NYCM Insurance, and the Center for Donation and Transplant, among others.
The big day was Saturday when nearly 6,443 participants gathered to walk and run in support of heart health. The day consisted of several events including a 30k, a 10-mile, and a 5-mile run, as well as 3 and 5-mile walks. Although the events start from different locations, they all end up at the finish line at Utica College.
Another common factor is Heartbreak Hill, otherwise know as Elm St. in New York Mills. This steep hill is part of the final stretch for each of the events. Luckily, there is always a party on the way up with local DJs, radio stations, and news stations providing music and media coverage during your ascent. Here are a few highlights from my experience walking on Saturday:
It was pretty cold.
Dunkin’ Donuts had their mascots out in full force.
This was relatively close to the front, there was probably twice this amount behind me.
Audie the Mascot for the Utica Comets was on hand for pictures, along with his squad of Comettes.
I made a special effort to find these two after I had seen them last year.
I found a few stragglers from one of the runs dressed as some beloved cereal mascots.
A view from the bottom of Heart Break Hill.
Does anyone want a hug from the First Source Federal Credit Union Big Hug?
Or maybe you’d like a picture with these sweet frogs?
America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk is by far one of my favorite fundraisers. With most of the money going towards life saving research you can’t go wrong. What is your favorite fundraiser or local event?