Board Room named in honor of Hotellings
Wayne, Elaine and Laurel Hotelling have done much over the years to support The Resource Center and individuals with disabilities. To show its appreciation to the Hotellings for all that they’ve done, TRC has named its Board Room in honor of the family.
A ceremony was held April 14 to formally dedicate the Board Room at The Resource Center’s Administrative Offices at 2oo Dunham Avenue (the former Celoron school). The room is now known as the Hotelling Board Room.
(Click here to read a wonderful column about the Hotellings, written by John D’Agostino, the Publisher of the Observer newspaper in Dunkirk, NY.)
The Hotelling family has been involved with The Resource Center for almost 50 years, since Laurel was 3 years old and Wayne and Elaine were trying to find services for her. This began a long and wonderful relationship between TRC and the Hotelling family.
Wayne and Elaine met in college, beginning a loving partnership that has lasted almost 60 years. The strength of that partnership was shown when they learned that their first child, Laurel, had Down syndrome. Their doctor at the time suggested to Elaine and Wayne that the best thing they could be would be to send Laurel to live in an institution and to carry on their lives without her. Husband and wife were united in their response – they were determined to raise Laurel in their home and to give her all of the same opportunities that other children enjoyed – dance lessons, Girl Scouts, piano lessons.
After Laurel graduated from high school, she began working at TRC’s Dunkirk Work Center, where she continues to be employed to this day. Laurel enjoys her job and truly values her pay check.
Wayne began serving on The Resource Center’s Board of Directors in 1985, and during his long tenure he spent three years as the Board President. Elaine served on TRC committees as well as on the Boards of some of the corporations that partner with TRC to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
Wayne and Elaine not only advocated for their own daughter, but for others with developmental disabilities as well. On those occasions when a municipality was considering opening a new home for individuals with disabilities, the Hotellings would attend public hearings to speak out in favor of individuals having the right to live in the community.
Of course, the Hotellings are best known for creating Laurel Run. After retiring from his job as a teacher in 1995, Wayne set about making plans to have a long-held dream come true. He began training as a distance runner, and in August 1997 he began the inaugural Laurel Run. Wayne intended to jog more than 400 miles across New York State, with Elaine serving as his support system along the way. But a leg injury less than a week into his trek derailed those plans. After taking time to recuperate, Wayne borrowed a bicycle and picked up where he left off. On some of the steeper inclines along the route, Wayne would put the bicycle in the family van and drive up the hill, with Elaine walking those sections to officially log the miles.
Laurel Run has since become an annual event, and the Hotellings continue to be the lead organizers. In 1999, NYSARC chose Laurel Run to be the signature event of its 50th anniversary celebration, and plans were made to have Laurel Run pass through every county in New York State. As the State-wide run was being planned, Wayne, Elaine and Laurel happily made themselves available to travel to any county to meet with planners. Those doubting their county’s ability to pull together their portion of the Laurel Run relay were put at ease by the Hotellings’ confidence and enthusiasm.
Wayne retired from The Resource Center’s Board last year after 29 years. At that time, it was decided that an appropriate way to recognize the contributions that Wayne, Elaine and Laurel have made to TRC would be to name our Board Room in their honor.
More than 60 people turned out for the celebration to name the Board Room in honor of the Hotellings. Several speakers shared their thoughts on the Hotellings and their impacts over the years:
- Denise Jones, TRC’s Chief Executive Officer
- Jacqueline Chiarot, representing Congressman Tom Reed (who presented the Hotellings with a Congressional proclamation)
- State Senator Cathy Young (who presented two New York State Senate proclamations – one for Wayne and Elaine, and one for Laurel)
- Assemblyman Andy Goodell
- Silver Creek Mayor Nick Piccolo, who has been a neighbor of the Hotellings for more than 40 years
- Nickey Riczker, TRC’s Director of Human Resources, who grew up with Laurel and her siblings
- Brian Samuelson, a TRC service recipient who serves on the Laurel Run Planning Committee
When it was his turn to speak, Wayne paid tribute to Terry Fox, the person who was the inspiration for Laurel Run. Unfolding a large paper cutout of Terry, Wayne shared how, while driving through Canada on a family vacation in 1980, the Hotellings came upon Terry as he was jogging along the highway. Terry stood out because he had one prosthetic leg. The Hotellings learned that Terry had lost a leg to cancer, and in response he had decided to raise money for cancer research by running across the entire nation of Canada. He intended to do this by completing a marathon – 26.2 miles – every day. Unfortunately, the cancer that claimed Terry’s leg returned in the midst of his “Marathon of Hope”, and he had to abandon his quest. Several months later, Terry died of cancer.
After that chance encounter with Terry in the summer of 1980, Wayne decided he wanted to someday do something similar to raise public awareness about people with disabilities. This was the inspiration for the inaugural Laurel Run, he said.
Following Wayne’s speech he, Elaine and Laurel were asked to unveil a plaque that will be hung in the Board Room. The plaque includes an etched photo of the Hotellings and some information about all that they have contributed to The Resource Center.
Click here to make a donation in honor of the Hotellings.