Last updated: February 16. 2013 3:35PM - 252 Views

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HAZLE TWP. – Health and wellness and family fun were brought together on a community-wide scale at the Third Annual Alliance Family Fun and Health Day Saturday in Hazle Township.

The event was sponsored by the Greater Hazleton Health Alliance at its Health and Wellness Center campus, where adults and children of all ages gathered to take part in activities ranging from medication management to moon bouncing.

About 100 people roamed the grounds at the center just after noon under a sunny summer sky. With the smell of hot dogs cooking on a grill and youngsters laughing as they scurried about with painted faces, it seemed like more of a community picnic than a health fair, but according to Barbara Biacco, director of marketing and business development for the alliance, the day was all about bringing a sense of both to attendees.

"We feel strongly that we are a health care community between Alliance Medical Group, the Health and Wellness Center and Hazleton General Hospital (all of which comprise the Greater Hazleton Health Alliance), and that we as a family have to take care of the health of the community," Biacco said as she stood under a food tent, where about a half dozen people waited to be served a sizzling hot dog or cold beverage.

She said the event has grown over the years, beginning with a turnout of 600 people the first year to approximately 1,000 last year. The hope this year, Biacco said, was that attendance would be the same or greater.

"We're off to a good start. Within the first 15 minutes of today's event, we hit 100 giveaway bags," she said, explaining the goodie bags were stocked with a water bottle, lunch bag, a directory of all Alliance physicians, as well as educational info on upcoming programs, including one set for Aug. 30 on wound care and another on Sept. 6 entitled ‘Cycle of Life- OBGYN.'

Biacco was happy to see so many folks taking advantage of all the offerings on hand, saying that the program is a good way to raise awareness of the Alliance's place in the local area.

"As our group's specialty grows, we'll be able to host other events as well. Most of all, we want people to know that we're here, not just in case they don't feel well, but also because we want them to stay healthy," she said.

Tables set up around the premises were proof as staffers from the center manned stations assisting in osteoporosis heel scans, grip strength testing, body fat composition and more. Megan Caputo with LSS Systems Support was on hand at the neurological conditions info table, talking to folks about the addition of a new pediatric neurologist, while next to her, medical assistant Reuben Jackson chatted to a few curious people about sports injuries.

Such an array of information impressed Shirley Singer, 71, of West Hazleton. Singer said that although the event ran from 11 to 3, she got there early to start enjoying the benefits of the sprawling health fair.

"I beat the crowd and got here at 10. I'm still active and I intend to keep doing what I'm doing," she said. "I'll never quit." Having just completed screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar, breast cancer and a bone scan, Singer said she was glad the Alliance offered so many outlets for senior citizens to keep on track, as did husband and wife Stan and Regina Brozyna of Conyngham. Stan, 75, had just completed a blood pressure screening of his own and waited with his daughter Ann while Regina, 76, prepared to finish one herself. The couple said they have been to Family Fun and Health Day before and feel it's a good thing for all.

So did Mason Smith, 2 ½, who was getting a balloon from Rainbow the Clown and was waiting to find the inflatable Moon Bounce house with his grandmother, Rita Deeb of Hazleton. Nearby, Drums youngsters Mark Ferdinand, 5, and Jenna Chulock, 2, finished an exciting walk with their moms through the scavenger hunt activity. Jenna proudly boasted a giant balloon hat done in the image of popular Sesame Street character Elmo, while Mark featured a long black balloon snake. Each little one said they'd had a lot of fun trekking through the hunt, happy they'd found such treasures as square and circle shapes, juice pouches, candy and pencils.

In addition to the screenings and activities, other highlights included a visit from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins mascot Tux, a fire safety house, ambulance tour and car safety check.

For more information on the alliance and happenings at all health alliance campuses, call 450-4357.

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