UTICA, N.Y. -- The date for America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk is changing, but the mission of the event remains the same. The American Heart Association announced its plans for America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk in a digital kickoff on Tuesday night.
America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk will take place on May 15, 2021, from 9 a.m. to noon. There are currently three options for the event:
• If the American Heart Association, state and federal guidelines permit, the event will be in person at Accelerate Sports in Whitesboro.
• If in-person gatherings are not permitted, the event will be all-digital.
• If guidelines allow, the event will be a hybrid event, with some in-person and some digital events.
Participants can register to be part of America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk at UticaHeartRunWalk.org.
For now, the American Heart Association and volunteers are planning for a digital event. A Facebook event page has been set up where events leading up to and on May 15 will take place. The page will contain information from sponsors, and on May 15, will host the Health Expo and feature opening ceremonies. During the morning of May 15, people will have time to run or walk wherever they are and are encouraged to post their pictures on the Facebook event page.
“I am really looking forward to Americas Greatest Heart Run and Walk 2021,” said Steve Gassner, administrative officer at Mohawk Valley Water Authority and logistics chair of America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk. He is also the chair of the Mohawk Valley Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. “We may have a new venue and things may look a little different, but it is this community that makes this event such a great success every year.”
The Radiothon and Telethon will still be part of America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk, although they will remain earlier in the year. The date for the WKTV Telethon is still to be set.
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the WIBX Radiothon, when five people ran from Van’s Tavern to the station to drop off their donations to the radiothon set up in honor of Ralph Allinger. This year’s Radiothon will take place on March 5.
America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk will continue to honor survivors of heart disease and stroke. Nominations are currently being sought for this year’s Red Cap Ambassadors. The nomination form is available at UticaHeartRunWalk.org, or here.
Albert Pylinski is a longtime supporter of America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk, and a survivor, who spoke during the launch.
“I’m a five-time heart disease survivor,” Pylinski, secretary of NYCM Insurance, said. “The American Heart Association’s science and research saved my life – and the lives of my siblings. We can be proud in the Mohawk Valley that we raise the money that saves lives nationwide. America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk will be different in 2021, but I hope everyone still joins in our important mission. I know I’ll be there.”
America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk lost a longtime volunteer when Deb O’Neill passed away in June of 2020. Her daughter, Kathryn O’Neill, honored her mother during the event.
“This one’s for Deb,” O’Neill said. “Although my mother didn’t pass from cardiac complications, she put all her heart into the American Heart Association, the Heart Run and Walk, and our Team O’Neill. We’ll dedicate this year’s walk in her memory, and we call on all past and present Team O’Neill members to raise funds and walk or run in her honor, and to ‘Do it for Deb.’”
“COVID has changed everything, but I know the Utica community will continue to work to reach our $1 million goal at America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk,” Gassner said. “Heart disease and stroke aren’t on pause, and I urge everyone to register at UticaHeartRunWalk.org for our May event.”