Community Impact Grant recipients announced at America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Kickoff

To celebrate the 45th America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, the American Heart Association announced five local organizations receiving Community Impact Grants during the Heart Run & Walk Kickoff Tuesday night.

The Community Impact Grant program allows the American Heart Association to help fund local groups that are working, or would like to work, on projects that can help improve the cardiovascular health of our children, families and the community at large.

From 2011 through this year’s grants, the local American Heart Association has been able to award $290,000 with 72 grants to 43 deserving organizations who are working to improve the health of the Mohawk Valley.

AHA advisory board president Dr. Jonathan Henderson with Pete Blanchfield, The Root Farm Executive Director; Leila Bjornland, The House of the Good Shepherd Director of Development and Communications, Dr. Frank Dubeck, Boy Scouts of America board member; Shelly Nunno-Evans, STEPS Program Coordinator; Kelly Walter, Center for Family Life and Recovery board president

This year’s Community Impact Grant recipients are:

  • Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc – The Give It A Whirl program serves women in early recovery from substance abuse who are in need of rebuilding healthy, productive lives
  • Parkway Center – The STEPS program pairs senior participants with physical therapy students to help seniors get active with safe and effective cardiac monitoring
  • Boy Scouts of America – The Community Impact Grant will allow Boy Scouts of America to replace automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at camp locations
  • The House of the Good Shepherd – The Community Impact Grant will allow The House of the Good Shepherd to replace automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
  • The Root Farm – The Root Farm will install ten activity stations along The Root Farm Adventures Fitness Trail

In addition to announcing the grant recipients, the evening also kicked off the fundraising efforts for America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. The fundraising goal for the upcoming event is $1,100,000. Fundraising efforts for the 45th anniversary Heart Run & Walk will be led by chairman Jeremy Robinson, Senior Vice President of Customer Relations Management at NYCM Insurance.

“The American Heart Association has achieved incredible things over 45 years, but heart disease and stroke are still our number one and number five killers,” Robinson said. “We still face unhealthy lifestyles and social determinants, like poverty and healthy food access, that make it difficult for some to get and stay healthy. Events like America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk can help make our community healthier. NYCM Insurance is proud to be a part of these transformational efforts.”

Other highlights for America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk include the following:

  • The Healthy for Good Expo, sponsored by Carbone Athletics at the Fitness Mill, will be held on Friday, March 1st at Utica College. The Expo will be held from 9a.m. – 7p.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, sponsored by Slocum-Dickson Medical Group, P.L.L.C., will be broadcast on WIBX of Townsquare Media. The Heart Radiothon will be broadcast on Friday, March 1st from 6a.m. – 7p.m. and Saturday, March 2nd from 6a.m. – 1p.m. and streamed online at
  • WKTV Heart Telethon will be broadcast live by WKTV NewsChannel 2 and streamed online at The Telethon will be broadcast live on Friday, March 1st from 7p.m. – 8p.m. on CBS Utica. Volunteers will be taking calls beginning at noon. The telethon will air on Saturday, March 2nd from 8a.m. – 1p.m. on WKTV NewsChannel 2.
  • The popular Kids Heart Challenge, sponsored by AmeriCU Credit Union, will be held after Heart Weekend. For its third year, the challenge will be held Friday, April 26th at 7pm at Valley Gymnastics. The event is an obstacle course for kids ages 5-12. Registration will be available online and starting at 6:30pm at Valley Gymnastics.

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

Pat, Riley, Cindy, and Jaxon Hayes

Jaxon Hayes – Jaxon is a five-year-old congenital heart defect and stroke survivor from Rome. You can watch Jaxon’s story here.

Angel Woolheater

Angel Woolheater – Angel, from Utica, is a stroke survivor who is also awaiting a heart transplant. Angel currently has an LVAD pumping her heart for her. Learn more about Angel’s story here.

If you are interested in forming a fundraising team or volunteering for the event on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019, please contact the American Heart Association at 315.580.3964. You can register for the event at


America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk 2019 is locally sponsored by signature sponsor NYCM Insurance; local sponsors Scalzo, Zogby and Wittig, Inc. Insurance; AmeriCU Credit Union, and Carbone Athletics at The Fitness Mill. A minimum amount of $30 in pledges for participants 16 years and older is required at registration to participate in the Heart Run & Walk.  For more information on America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk 2019, please contact the American Heart Association at 315.580.3964 or visit


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