Cardiovascular diseases impact many across the country. But events like America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk in Utica are thriving to change that.

Wednesday night officially kicked off the heart run and walk season in the Mohawk Valley.

"We get all our team captains, walkers, runners, volunteers all together to kind of help them enhance their experience and get their fundraising off on a good start,” said Logistics Chairman Steve Gassner.

The annual run and walk helps raise money for the American Heart Association. Funds raised go towards research and improving technologies that can save lives. That research has impacted several in the Mohawk Valley.

"I had minimally invasive surgery, that's all developed through the research here,” said Robert Miller, a Red Cap ambassador. “The pacemaker I have, that was developed through the money that funded the research."

Miller, along with two other survivor ambassadors, was recognized during Wednesday’s event.

Organizers are hoping to help similar research continue by setting a fundraising goal of $1 million for the upcoming event.

If you’re interested in joining America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, you can register online with the American Heart Association.