Have A Heart: UC Gears Up For America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk

Nicholas Souza, News/Online Editor

The American Heart Association has hosted its America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk on Utica College’s campus for the last 19 years. This event returns to the campus on March 4 and 5 for another weekend of raising awareness and funds for heart disease.

While the expo and the Run and Walk are not for a few more weeks, the American Heart Association and UC have been planning this event since September. This planning, spearheaded by the Office of Corporate and Professional Programs involves many months of work to coordinate and prepare the campus to accommodate the anticipated 10,000 people who will attend the Heart Run and Walk. Debra McQueary, Coordinator for Conference and Meeting Services, is the liaison between UC and the American Heart Association and is responsible for making this the college’s largest community service event.

Corporate and professional programs and McQueary work with the Heart Association to work out the logistics of the event, providing maintenance, food service, planning what the expo will look like, IT equipment, and other logistical needs.

Over the years, the event has become increasingly easier to pull off.

“As years have been going, now that we have it under our belt for so many years, we basically know what their [American Heart Association] needing for support but each year there’s always a little bit of a twist that they might change something on,” McQueary said. “It’s no different of a challenge than any other event to run any logistical event so it’s just that there’s that many more people. We end up having a good 7,000, 8,000, between walkers and runners come on that Saturday but they come in at 7 a.m., then by 2 o’clock after the event is done, you wouldn’t even know all those people were here.”

Fundraising for the event official kicked off on Feb. 17. Students can participate in a number of events and pick up Heart Run and Walk gear outside of the Dinning Commons in Strebel. The goal for this year’s event is to raise $1,000,000. As of Feb. 17, the UC Team has already raised more than $406,000 in donations.

The event kicks off on March 4 with the expo that will familiarize visitors with what heart disease is and educate them on prevention. The next day on March 5 at 8 a.m. is the Run and Walk event, which offers participants the opportunity to walk or run in a variety of events. These events are the 30K run, the 10-mile run, the 5-mile run, the 3-mile run, and the 3-mile walk. Also, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer at many stations located along the route.

President Todd Hutton has been named honorary team captain of Team UC. Hutton’s presidency began the year after UC first hosted the Heart Run and Walk, making this event near and dear to his heart.

“It’s overwhelming, it’s quite an honor. I’ve supported the Heart Run and Walk ever since I arrived here almost 18 years ago,” Dr. Hutton said. “It has a special meaning for me in that regard. It also has a very personal meaning because I’ve had family members that have survived heart disease.”

It has been made clear by many people participating in this event that America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk is one of UC’s most important events because heart disease touches the lives of so many people on campus.

“Heart disease touches every family and I think that students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to support a really terrific cause,” Dr. Hutton said. “The American Heart Association does such important research into healthy lifestyles, as well as medical research on how to overcome and defeat heart disease. I think it’s a good opportunity to support a good cause.”