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Heart to Heart Relay strengthens Buffalo Marathon's ties to the community

When Greg Weber took over leadership of the Buffalo Marathon, he didn’t want to just put on a great race. Nor did he only want to donate proceeds of the race to nonprofit organizations.

Weber had bigger ideas.

He wanted the marathon to become a community event, intertwined with the fabric of Buffalo and Western New York.

The next step toward that goal happens this year as the marathon has revamped its relay and partnered with the Kaleida Health Foundation.

This year, the relay will be called the Heart to Heart Relay. Teams of up to four people will tackle the marathon course while fundraising for cardiac research and care at Buffalo General Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute.

“The longstanding vision of the Buffalo Marathon is to improve the well-being of our community,” Weber said. “A big part of that is promoting a healthy lifestyle. Partnering with Kaleida Health to create the Heart to Heart Relay to bring awareness to treating and curing heart disease is a perfect partnership to achieve that goal.”

And it’s a perfect fit for Kaleida Health as well.

“At the foundation, it’s our job to raise both awareness about the health of a community and the health services we provide and also to raise the funding to support those services,” said Carol Horton, vice president of the Kaledia Health Foundation. “At Gates Vascular Institute, they’re doing so many groundbreaking and world-renowned procedures that people in Western New York aren’t even aware of. We are training surgeons from all over the world every week. There’s really no reason to go to the Cleveland Clinic anymore or New York City or Boston. Gates Vascular has some of the leading world technology for treating cardiovascular disease.”

While the relay is an opportunity to tell more people in Western New York about the cardiac technology and skill that resides in Buffalo, it’s also an opportunity to talk about heart health and the ways in which people can take control of their own story.

“Heart disease, unfortunately, is the leading cause of death in the United States and it’s even proportionately higher here in Western New York,” Horton said. “And while a lot of it is genetics, a lot of it is also very preventable.

“What better way to keep your heart healthy than through cardiovascular exercise. More people can run six or seven miles as opposed to a whole marathon, but you still get the whole marathon experience.”

For the Heart to Heart Marathon Relay, each team must have between two and four people. Team registration is $100 and collectively the team must raise $1,000 by May 25. Online fundraising tools are available for runners after they register.

The relay will be on May 26 with exchange points at the 10K, 20K, and 30K marks. The first three legs will be 6.2 miles and the final leg will be 7.6 miles. All finishers will receive a custom medal with additional awards for those who reach team fundraising levels of $2,500, $5,000, and $10,000 along with an award for the top fundraising team.

Registration and more details are available at

Race Calendar

Sunday, Feb. 10

  • Checkers A.C. Come In From The Cold Indoor Track meet, 3 p.m., Buffalo State College Sports Arena

Monday, Feb. 11

  • Jackrabbit Snowshoe Series No. 4, 2 mile and 1 mile cross country, 6:30 pm., Kissing Bridge

Saturday, Feb. 16

  • Beast of Burden, 100 miles, 50 miles, 25 miles, 10 a.m., Widewaters Marina, 718 Market St., Lockport

Sunday, Feb. 24

  • Polar Bear 5K, 10 a.m., Olcott Fire Company, 1691 Lockport-Olcott Road, Olcott

Saturday, March 2

  • Shamrock Run, 5K, Noon, Old First Ward Community Center, 62 Republic St.

Saturday, March 16

  • St. Patrick's Dash, 3 miles, 9:15 a.m., Northwest Arena, 319 W. Third St., Jamestown

Sunday, March 17

  • St. Patrick's Day Rock'n 5K, noon, Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co., 625 Third St., Youngstown

Saturday, March 23

  • The Mustache March, 5K, 10 a.m., Mang Park, Mang Avenue, Kenmore

Sunday, March 24

  • Canisius Chilly Challenge, 5K, 10 a.m., Canisius High School, 1180 Delaware Ave.

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