By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
---- — Participation in the 10th annual Otsego County American Heart Association in Oneonta on Saturday was the highest in recent years, an organizer said Sunday.
Coordinator Kelly Tavarone said about 300 people turned out for the event in Neahwa Park in the city. She attributed the higher turnout to holding the event outside, instead of inside at the Alumni Field House at the State University College at Oneonta.
Also, when the walk was at SUNY Oneonta, some people mistakenly considered it a campus event, Tavarone said; by holding it in the city, the focus clearly was on the community, she explained.
“I thank the community for coming out,’’ Tavarone said.
The American Heart Association office in Utica issued a media release reporting that 193 runners and walkers participated in the Oneonta event Saturday, raising $9,315. The release cited Bassett Healthcare Network as a local sponsor.
Tavarone, who coordinated the event for a fourth year, said her estimate on participation Saturday was higher because online registration doesn’t clearly distinguish between the Utica and Oneonta events.
Information on how many people had participated previously was not available Sunday night.
The America Heart Association is a health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 3 killers in the United States, the media release said.
Tavarone said she became an advocate for the association because her son was born with a congenital heart defect and she previously participated in the organization’s run/walk event in Albany. Connor, now 16, plays on the Oneonta High School varsity baseball team.
“My heart is with Connor and baseball,’’ she said, adding that attending the team’s games are a priority.
Tavarone said she therefore has special thanks for Joe Hughes, OHS athletic director, who this year changed the opening day of the baseball season from Saturday so that players could participate in the local Heart Association event.
Fifty players and coaches from Oneonta’s modified, junior varsity and varsity baseball teams signed up for Saturday’s event, adding to its “fabulous’’ outcome, she said.
Other communities nationwide have held similar fundraising events this year.