American Heart Association/American Stroke Association pays tribute to dedicated volunteers

The Greater Utica Division of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association honored 20 individuals and organizations at its annual Leadership Volunteer Awards Ceremony Friday morning. All of the award recipients have played a crucial role in helping the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association improve the health of the Greater Utica area community. These volunteers, companies, and local leaders help emphasize that “life is why” we do our important work.

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Some of the top awards include the Distinguished Service Award, given to Tom Luley, and the Distinguished Leadership Award, given to Steve Gassner. Luley was honored for his work as the Course Director for walk events, including America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, the Rome Run & Walk, the Kids Walk, and the Fitness Mill Walk. Gassner was recognized for his service as chairman of the Greater Utica Area Advisory Board of Directors.

Christine Myers

The Heart Survivor and Stroke Survivor of the Year were also honored during the ceremony. Christine Myers started volunteering after she received a pacemaker. She offered her services as a volunteer to make a difference in other people’s lives. Myers handles many different volunteer jobs, including taking blood pressure readings, making phone calls, and helping with office work.

Lisa Reichard

Stroke survivor Lisa Reichard was an inspiration to many at this year’s America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. She was determined to finish the three-mile course, but knew she would need extra time to finish. She contacted the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to see if she could start early just to make sure she could finish. Reichard crossed the finish line with her daughter and husband supporting her.

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The AHA/ASA is also proud to honor Volunteer of the Year Albert Pylinski. Pylinski has filled various volunteer roles over the years with several committees, and will serve as the America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Chairman next year. This year he helped set a new fundraising record as the Chairman of the Executive Challenge for America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. He was also the top individual fundraiser.

“Without our volunteers, the work the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association does in our community would not be possible,” said Executive Director Jennifer Balog. “We want to sincerely thank all of our volunteers for the hard work they do all year round.”

Friend of Heart First Source Federal Credit Union
Excellence in Improving Cardiovascular & Stroke Health Care Delivery Mission: Lifeline Executive Committee
Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare
Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Honor Roll Bassett Hospital
Outstanding Performance in Youth Market Riley DutcherCarissa BennettAlain Shantel

PE Teachers Sue Osbourne and Kariane Busch

Volunteer Youth Involvement Award Kaitlyn Amarasinghe
Volunteer In Office Christina Poplaski
Excellence in Cardiovascular & Stroke Information Hands-Only CPR Committee
Excellence in Diversity Mary Jane Tottey
Excellence in Advocacy Dr. Frank Dubeck
Excellence in Resource Generation Suzanne Hughes
Distinguished Service Award Tom Luley
Distinguished Leadership Award Steve Gassner
Heart Survivor of the Year Christine Myers
Stroke Survivor of the Year Lisa Reichard
Volunteer of the Year of the Greater Utica Area Albert Pylinski

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