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RACING IN THEIR HEARTS — More than 200 area residents ran or walked in the Biasi-Shuma Memorial 5K Run Walk, an Independence Day weekend tradition in Toronto, while raising funds for the Ohio Valley American Heart Association and the United Way of Jefferson County. — Warren Scott

TORONTO — The Biasi-Shuma Memorial 5K Run Walk, an Independence Day weekend tradition in the Gem City, drew more than 200 residents from throughout the Ohio Valley on Saturday, raising funds for the Ohio Valley American Heart Association and the United Way of Jefferson County.

Organizer Mike Biasi hadn’t determined the full amount raised for the two causes, taking into account both contributions from many local businesses and other groups and the race’s many participants, many of whom registered that morning.

A goal of $17,000 had been set this year for the event, which raised about $19,000 in 2019.

It is held in memory of the late Gino Biasi and Mike Shuma.

Biasi, who died in 2016 at the age of 85, was owner of Valley Converting, a local paper recycling company now overseen by his son, Mike.

An Italian immigrant, Gino served in the Army during the Korean War and attended Syracuse University on the G.I. Bill. He went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Xavier University.

Biasi was named the Toronto Chamber of Commerce’s Co-Businessman of the Year and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce’s Industrialist of the Year.

Local radio listeners may remember hearing Shuma’s gravely but enthusiastic voice on the Ohio Valley Game Night program, where he shared his knowledge and love of local high school football.

An employee of TIMET Metals Corp., he also worked for a time at the Weirton Millsop Community Center and was a member of the Toronto Rod and Gun Club. He died at the age of 42 following a heart attack.

The families of the two men are among the run’s many supporters.

Mike Biasi said in addition to his family, many volunteers have worked to make it happen each year.

Among them were members of the Tri-County Emergency Radio Association led by Paul Brandt.

The amateur radio operators take positions along the race’s route to watch for any sign of medical or other emergency among the participants.

Staff with the TEMS Joint Ambulance District also were on hand, while the Toronto Police Department provided traffic control.

As they arrived at the parking lot outside Toronto High School’s Red Knights Stadium, participants were greeted with light rain but the sprinkles helped to cool the air and did nothing to dampen their spirits.

“I’ve run this most years. It’s a nice flat race,” said Blake Headon of Beech Bottom, an avid race participant who has traded running for walking because of a knee injury.

Headon planned to participate also in a run in Cameron, W.Va. on Saturday, Wellsburg’s Independence Day 5K Run-Walk on Sunday morning and another in Greensburg, Pa. on Monday.

“That’s how I spend my holidays- racing,” he said.

But Headon won’t beat the number logged by Carl Kondrach of Barnesville, Ohio and Sarah Donley of Bethesda, Ohio, who last year participated in six in one day, including the Biasi-Shuma Run.

While less ambitious this year, the two had plans to participate in five this weekend.

“We do about 100 races a year,” said Kondrach, while Donley added they enjoy meeting new people at the many events.

It was the sixth Biasi-Shuma Run for fiancees Matt Hennings and Tiffany Franckhauser, both of Steubenville, who didn’t meet at a race but have shared their love for them.

Franckhauser said she enjoys them because “They are good exercise and support good causes.”

Lauren Thomas, development director for the Ohio Valley American Heart Association, said it’s nice that the Biasi-Shuma Run includes a category for casual walkers so those who have recovered from heart disease and other health problems may participate, pending their doctors’ recommendations.

“We’re very happy to be a part of this and that they (the race’s organizers) are sharing in a cause so important to them,” said Thomas, who participated in the race with her husband, who had competed in track in high school.

She noted the organization will be holding the Ohio Valley Heart Walk, an event that isn’t a race but is aimed at raising awareness and funds for the battle against heart disease, on Sept. 29 at Wheeling Park.

Thomas noted the event is returning following a two-year hiatus imposed by the pandemic.

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