Rome, N.Y. - The track inside Rome Free Academy was fill with runners and walkers Saturday morning and their goal was to not only get healthy, but to help keep others healthy.
The 17th annual Rome Run & Indoor Walk was once again put on by the American Heart Association and this year more than $17,000 was raised.
Many feel this event here in February is a warm up to its bigger counterpart, America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk in Utica, which takes place the first Saturday in March.
America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk Director Steve Gassner says the goal of both events is to raise money to fight heart disease and stroke and he was very glad to see Saturday morning's windy cold and snowy conditions didn't stop people from participating, "It's kind of the precursor to the event on March 2nd, but the nice thing about this is it's an indoor event so yes the weather is not a factor, we encourage people to come out and have a great time."
Each year the American Heart Association designates a number of Red Cap Ambassadors for the Rome Run & Indoor Walk. They are local survivors of heart disease and or stroke. One of this year's ambassadors was 5-year-old Jaxon Hayes of Rome who had open heart surgery when he was just two days old and is a stroke survivor.
Jaxon took part in Saturday's walk and so did his mom, Cindy Hayes. Cindy says it's all thanks to events like this one here in Rome that she still has her son, "It's amazing. I think if it wasn't for events like this and raising awareness then we wouldn't be where we are today. He is cleared to go, a healthy boy, he won't need any more surgeries in the future so he's doing very well."
So as we here in the Mohawk Valley strive once again to raise around $1 million for the cause, all eyes move from today in Rome, to Utica, three weeks from today.
The 45th annual America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk is set for Saturday, March 2nd.