2013 Laurel Run Starts Next Week
The Resource Center’s 17th annual tribute to individuals with disabilities takes place next week with the 2013 installment of Laurel Run.
The event was created in 1997 by Wayne and Elaine Hotelling of Silver Creek. Working together that year, the Hotellings covered more than 400 miles on foot and bicycle, going from the southwestern corner of Chautauqua County at the Pennsylvania line to the Massachusetts border in Columbia County. They created Laurel Run in honor of their oldest daughter, who was born with Down syndrome. When Laurel was an infant, her doctor suggested to Wayne and Elaine that they send Laurel to live in an institution. Instead, the Hotellings chose to raise Laurel themselves and to give her the opportunity to enjoy the same experiences as her siblings.
As a result, Laurel – who celebrated her 50th birthday in February – has led a full life, and it’s a life that continues to change. For almost 30 years, she has been employed at The Resource Center’s Dunkirk Work Center. And after living with her parents her entire live, two years ago Laurel moved into a TRC home in Fredonia. While she still spends weekends and vacations with her folks, living in the group home has given Laurel an opportunity to become more independent.
The Hotellings’ main purpose in creating Laurel Run 16 years ago was to celebrate the achievements of people with disabilities and to demonstrate that, if given the opportunity, people with disabilities can accomplish a lot. Wayne said an example of this occurred this past weekend, when Laurel played the prelude during the service at the church the Hotellings attend.
“I was looking around, and you could see by their faces that people couldn’t believe that Laurel could play,” said Wayne. Noting that he can’t play piano, Wayne cited this as an example that everyone has his or her own unique talents, and that people with disabilities should be regarded as valued members of the community, with something to contribute. He added that Elaine sometimes wears a button that sums up the issue: “Attitudes are the REAL Disabilities.”
From that initial cross-state trek 16 years ago, Laurel Run has evolved into an annual two-day event. On Friday, July 19, the traditional Jamestown-to-Dunkirk relay run will take place, with staff from The Resource Center, representatives of area schools, and community volunteers working together to transport the Laurel Run flag to Washington Park, where the City of Dunkirk will host a victory celebration from noon to 2:00.
The following morning, Laurel Run continues in Silver Creek with a number of events, including an 8-kilometer run; a 5k walk; a 1k fun walk; children’s runs; and “Laurel’s Lap,” in which people with disabilities rake a lap around the track at the ballfield downtown. There also will be a party in the Village Square featuring live music, free refreshments, prize drawings and other fun activities. At noon, the annual Laurel Run motorcycle dice run begins.
The cost to participate in the 8k run, the 5k walk or the 1k walk is $15 until July 15, and $20 after that day. The children’s runs are $3 per child, or $5 for a family with two or more children. There is no charge to participate in Laurel’s Lap. The dice run is $20 for a driver, or $30 for a driver with a passenger.
People can register online at www.laurel-run.com until Monday. If you would like a paper registration form, phone 483-2344.
Money raised through Laurel Run goes to Filling the Gap, Inc., a Jamestown-based not-for-profit organization that works with The Resource Center to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout Chautauqua County.
Please plan to attend the Laurel Run events on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20. If you’re not a runner, a walker or a motorcycle rider, come on down anyway to show support for people.