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Jeanne Sager | Democrat

BRIANNA VANGORDON OF Monticello, left, and Catie Lucas, 9, of Smallwood were enthusiastic volunteers at Saturday’s Heart-a-thon. Catie rang the bell whenever a big pledge was announced.

Giving From the Heart Raises $100K Over the Weekend

By Jeanne Sager
HARRIS — FEbruary 20, 2007 — All day long, volunteers were pumping their friends for money – got to get those donations flowing.
And they did it.
By late Saturday afternoon, the 29th annual Heart-a-thon had hit the mark.
A small drive started on the airwaves of FM station WSUL almost three decades ago raised than $100,198 for the cardiopulmonary department of Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC).
This year, the Heart-a-thon was simulcast on all three Watermark Communications stations, WSUL FM, WVOS FM and 1240 AM while dozens of volunteers sat at the ready in the CRMC cafeteria, waiting for the phones to ring.
And if they weren’t waiting, they were calling, stumping for pledges from friends and colleagues across the county.
A mix of old and new faces paced the floor, waiting for the numbers to climb.
Old staffers like former WSUL Sales Manager Al Etkin and WVOS DJ Redneck Decker (who’s back on the airwaves) commandeered the microphones, beseeching the public to have a heart, make a pledge.
Helena Manzione, now general manager of WSUL/WVOS, has pledged 20 years of service to the Heart-a-thon.
The beauty of the drive is the volunteer spirit, she said.
None of the staffers who attended Saturday were getting paid – and they didn’t get paid for six months of planning.
The dozens of faces in the crowd were all there because they believe in a cause.
That crowd included local politicians like Liberty Supervisor Frank DeMayo, Legislator Jodi Goodman and Sheriff Mike Schiff; health professionals and county residents who dropped by to have their blood pressure checked by BOCES nursing students and slip a check to Manzione.
It also included a little girl Manzione dubbed an “incredible little fund-raiser,” Monticello third grader Catie Lucas, who pounded the pavement and organized other student volunteers, raising more than $1,000 for the cause.
One school district over, teacher Jamie Lipman helped Fallsburg students double their sales of cardboard heart memorials for the cause, and up the road the Liberty Middle schoolers held a dance that benefited the Heart-a-thon.
“I really enjoy the way this community comes together, from one end of the county to the other,” Manzione said. “Look at these kids… they’re learning community pride and giving back at a young age.
“I think it’s so admirable that the parents step up to the plate too.”
In a room full of people from one end of the county to the other, people from different walks of life, not a negative word was spoken.
“That one day of the year, that one event, it’s become such a county-wide event,” Manzione noted. “It’s such an outpouring … there’s no bickering, no fighting about other things.”
There was just a drive to bring more than $100,000 for heart health.
Now it’s time to collect, and Manzione said that’s the easy part.
“When people make these pledges, they really do pay them,” she said.
The money will be turned over the hospital as soon as it’s collected. CRMC has yet to pin down how it will be spent, but Manzione expects $100,000 will go a long way toward a pricey piece of equipment.

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