Bulletin News

Campus Plans HeartChase Event April 18


SUNY Cortland students will participate in games and activities and compete for prizes to raise awareness about their heart health during the College’s first “HeartChase” event on Saturday, April 18.

The new American Heart Association (AHA) event that is geared to the collegiate crowd runs from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on the campus lawn in front of Brockway Hall.

“HeartChase is a brand-new initiative for the northeast,” said Lauren Zuber ’10, the AHA’s northeast director for HeartChase since January 2014.

The hour-and-a-half long event organized by SUNY Cortland students mixes a ‘Minute to Win It’ type question-and-answers with the scavenger hunt type activities that have become popular on reality television.

“It’s an easy way to get people to understand what we’re trying to do,” said Zuber, a former communication studies major who is based in Wallingford, Conn., and now lives in Hartford, Conn. “It’s like a race.”

Participants paid a $10 fee and for more than a month have been attempting to raise an additional $100, recruit four more people for their team and plan their unique team t-shirts, said Zuber.

People can register to participate in the event by visiting www.heartchasecortland.org.

Zuber explained that the AHA is trying to connect with college students in a different way, having previously successfully reached elementary to high school students with its “Jump Rope for Heart” initiative and on the community level with its biggest initiative, the “Heart Walk.”

“It’s a short event: they will show up, we will give them an application code and we have a Google Map pop up that kind of guides them through the game,” Zuber said. “For participants, we make it super easy.”

After registering for HeartChase, participants are encouraged to recruit players for their team and make sure they are registered. They will then download the HeartChase app on their smart phone and start their team’s fundraising efforts to earn Game Advantages.

On game day, they are urged to wear their best team costume.

Once the game starts, the teams try to get as many points as possible by completing checkpoint challenges and finding hidden donations before the clock runs out. The HeartChase app tracks their team’s points.

The Game Advantages will make winning easier by allowing the lucky team to do things like skip to the front of a checkpoint line or completely skip a checkpoint and still get the points.

“Each college is different and it’s up to the community to figure out which checkpoint is most fun for the audience,” Zuber said. “We could offer healthy food and eating, heart trivia, lots of relay races, and a hands-only CPR station.”

The top prize will be given to the team that has the most points. Awards will be presented to the top fundraiser, the best costumed team and the team with the most creative name.

Gregory family
The Gregory family, boasting both SUNY Cortland alumni and current students as members, is committed to helping with the upcoming HeartChase event. Here they model their creative costumes.

“Unlike other events, this one is primarily created by volunteers, staffing the 10 different checkpoints,” Zuber said. “I’m there to help and support them, that’s my job.”

One campus HeartChase committee volunteer is her own brother, Brett Zuber ’14 of Smithtown, N.Y., a former sport management major who returned to his alma mater to pursue a graduate degree in international sport management. Working with another student, Melanie Sjoblom, a health education major from Waverly, N.Y., Brett Zuber is helping recruit volunteers and sign up participants from across the campus and community.

The HeartChase committee received recognition as an official Student Government Association-approved club, Zuber said. She had explored starting the new group, the AHA club, with the College’s health educator, Catherine Smith, who in turn helped Sjoblom get the club in place as a means to sponsor annual heart healthy events. Sjoblom is serving as the first AHA Club president and Brett Zuber is a club member.

The event became community-wide after Zuber spoke to Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin ’94, who also coaches the College’s swimming and diving team. Community members have the same signup fee and process.

Zuber also has worked closely Alumni Engagement at SUNY Cortland to involve alumni in the outreach. In November, she helped out the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association with a soft-launch, HeartChase pre-Cortaca event.

 Cortland is one of the early institutions of higher education to give HeartChase a trial run this spring, Zuber said. Prior university participants include the University of Connecticut and Providence College.

“I think at the end of the day it’s a win-win situation for the College and the American Heart Association,” Zuber said. “I just think that it’s a good cause. I’m all about healthy living and heart disease is a preventable illness.”