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Thousands Rally In Southern Tier Heart Walk

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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -

A dust of April snow did not stop more than 2,000 people from participating in the 29th annual Southern Tier Heart Walk this Sunday. Volunteers walked 1.5 miles around SUNY Broome's campus to raise $265,000 for life-saving research, education, advocacy, and training.

Dr. Joseph Scopelliti, Chairman for the Southern Tier Heart Walk, said the event is critical to bringing awareness of heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular health. 

“The idea of a heart walk is two-fold, to raise awareness, so it’s a reason to talk about heart disease and get people out and get some simple exercise and the 20 or 30 minutes you get today is enough to prevent heart disease." - Dr. Joseph Scopelliti, Chairman for the Southern Tier Heart Walk

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, yet it is 80% preventable. Regional Director for the American Heart Association Gina Chapman, became involved because several members of her family struggled with heart disease.

“These are not the times that we wanna be number one. We actually would love to be able to drop those rates and let people survive heart attacks, let people survive strokes. Let people understand the warning signs, the risk factors, get themselves to a hospital, and actually be able to celebrate with us every year.” - Gina Chapman, Regional Director for the American Heart Association

SUNY Broome's Ice Center was transformed to accommodate health organizations and professionals who provided nutritious lunches and explained the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Michael Taylor, Deputy Director for Maine EMS taught dozens of people CPR. He said knowing the technique is often the difference between life and death. 

“Our goal is to get as many people trained, at least hands only and that could double or triple the chance of survival if they just do that to help us, at least until we get there." - Michael Taylor, Deputy Director of Maine EMS

The event featured a flash mob and other musical celebration. Armed with new knowledge, participants gained strength to fight a national epidemic. 

“It’s something that makes it very personal. Whether you work here, whether you volunteer here, or whether you’re walking, we are all making a difference.” - Gina Chapman, Regional Director for the American Heart Association