People support the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for many different reasons and in many different ways. For the Shining Stars in Herkimer, the decision to be part of America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk was an easy one.
The Shining Stars group is part of the Self-Advocacy Association of NYS and is based out of Herkimer County. “The group helps members develop leadership skills and encourages them to advocate for themselves,” says Wendy Ramsey, the communications director of the CNY Developmental Services Office. “They meet every month to discuss different activities and fundraisers for the community.”
Earlier this year, the Shining Stars members decided on an activity that can help both themselves and their community. “I’m all about getting people to move and exercise,” said Ramsey, “so I thought, ‘we can do a Heart Walk!’” Group members arranged their own versions of America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk at Herkimer College and the YMCA in Little Falls. Members went to either location (sometimes both!) a few times a week for six weeks. Those six weeks started in February, so they took advantage of the indoor track at both locations. Participants walked however they could. Some walked on their own, some used walkers, and some used wheelchairs. The winner, Maria Tabaka, walked a total of 17 miles!
Around 30 members of the Shining Stars took part in their own Heart Walk. Each participant donated $5 to the American Heart Association. In August, members traveled to the Utica office of the American Heart Association to donate $160. Money donated to the American Heart Association goes towards lifesaving research, advocacy, and education that is used right here in the Greater Utica region in schools, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and more. Because of you, and people like the Shining Stars, the American Heart Association is making a difference in our community’s health.