Checking in with the Hotellings
By Mark Stevens
Shortly after the 22nd Laurel Memorial Run/Walk in 2018, Wayne and Elaine Hotelling hit the ground running to visit Elaine’s family in North Dakota. There, they held a committal service for their daughter Laurel, who had passed away in November 2017 at the age of 54. Those attending the service included family and friends from nine states and Great Britain.
North Dakota was just one of many places the Hotellings have visited over the last year. Other locales included South Dakota, Illinois, Mississippi, Connecticut, North Carolina and across the pond to England to visit their grandson.
“Laurel was always a good traveler,” said Elaine, “so we were constantly reminded of events that took place involving her.”
The Hotellings also attended a celebration of life in Buffalo, where Laurel and 74 others were recognized by the Upper New York Transplant System. Two nurses who had cared for Laurel also attended.
This past February was filled with many emotions for Wayne and Elaine as they celebrated the arrival of their great-grandchild. He was born around the time Laurel would have celebrated her 56th birthday.
During that same time, thoughts of the upcoming Laurel Memorial Run/Walk came into play.
“Laurel Run began as a labor of love and it continues to be, even though some of the fun is gone since the star isn’t here,” said Elaine.
The Hotellings said although they created the Laurel Run with an emphasis on Laurel’s life and achievements, it has become an important event for other people with disabilities, many of whom realize the event is about – and for – them. Many of them look forward to the event, whether it’s running, walking, participating in Laurel’s Legacy Lap, presenting medals, handing out water, selling raffle tickets, or just smiling.
“With the 23rd Laurel Run this year, we continue to emphasize that the purpose of the Laurel Memorial Run has always been to bring more awareness about people with disabilities to the forefront so society will more readily accept people who have physical and mental disabilities,” said Wayne. “All of us need to realize that our attitude, and how we look at people, is our only disability.”There are a few new additions to this year’s event, including the naming of a grand marshal. That honor had always gone to Laurel, yet this year the Hotellings have selected Brian Samuelson as the honorary grand marshal. Samuelson is in his 80s and has received supports from The Resource Center for many years.
“He is probably one of our most enthusiastic volunteers and members of the planning committee,” said Elaine. “Every year he builds two flower boxes for our Chinese auction. He paints them and then adds a bag of potting soil and a package of flower seeds or herbs.”
In addition, instructors with the Pound exercise class in Silver Creek will hold a free stretching and warmup session prior to the 5-kilometer walk for anyone who wishes to join. It will be held between the First United Presbyterian Church and the gazebo at about 7:30.