CELORON – Everyone is invited to celebrate the achievements of people with disabilities when the 20th annual Laurel Run takes place July 15 and 16.
The event was created by Silver Creek residents Wayne and Elaine Hotelling in honor of their oldest daughter, who has Down syndrome. Laurel Run is an opportunity for the community to come together to demonstrate its support for people with disabilities.
Laurel Run begins Friday, July 15, with the traditional flag relay. Following a free kickoff breakfast at The Resource Center’s facility at 75 Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown, teams of runners will take turns transporting Laurel Run flags to Dunkirk.
Most of the relay teams are composed students, teachers and coaches from area school districts. The relay, which will begin at about 8:30 a.m., will wrap up at around 1 p.m. when the last set of runners – led again this year by employees of the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility – arrives at Washington Park, where the city will host a victory celebration.
For the fourth straight year, a few hardy souls will be taking on the Laurel-thon by running the entire 30-mile relay route themselves. Several other people are planning to ride bicycles from Jamestown to Dunkirk that day in support of Laurel Run. Anyone interested in running part of the relay run, tackling the Laurel-thon or pedaling along to Dunkirk on the bike ride may phone 661-4735 for information.
8K RUN, 5K FITNESS WALK, 1K FUN WALK ON JULY 16
The following day, the action shifts to Silver Creek. A 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) fitness walk and a 1-kilometer fun walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. At 9:00, an 8K run takes place.
The 8K run offers cash prizes ($100, $75, $50) to the first three male and female finishers. Medals will be given to the first three male and female finishers in each age group in the 5K walk and the 8K run. And everyone who crosses the finish line will receive a commemorative medal made by people with disabilities.
Fun runs for children age 7 and younger will take place at about 10:20, followed by the signature event – Laurel’s Lap, in which people with disabilities take a lap around the track at the ball field in downtown Silver Creek.
All morning long there will be a party in the village square featuring music, food and adult and children’s activities.
This year’s Laurel Run carries on a long tradition. The first Laurel Run took place in the summer of 1997 when Wayne Hotelling jogged and bicycled more than 400 miles across New York State to raise public awareness about the potential that exists within people who have developmental disabilities. His journey was so well received that he decided to make Laurel Run an annual event.
“Here we are, 20 years later, and the successes we have seen would not have been possible without the loyal support of all of you over the years,” Wayne said. “Laurel and her friends have grown through their participation in the planning and operation of Laurel Run. Thank you for helping us make this possible for them.”
The registration fee for the 8K run, the 5K walk and the 1K walk is $20 until July 5 and $25 after that day. The children’s runs cost $3 per child or $5 for a family with two or more children. All paid participants will receive a 2016 Laurel Run T-shirt and a goody bag. Laurel Run organizers encourage people to raise money from family, friends and co-workers in support of their participation in Laurel Run. People who raise $50 will receive free entry into the Laurel Run event of their choice, and they can earn gift cards by raising more money.
For those who are unable to participate in the actual Laurel Run events, organizers have created a Virtual Laurel Run in which people can tackle one of the Laurel Run distances at their own convenience, wherever they want. Participation in the Virtual Laurel Run is free, but those who agree to raise at least $50 can receive a shirt and a finisher’s medal. Visit www.crowdrise.com/trcfoundationinc for information.
Major sponsors of this year’s Laurel Run include Brown & Brown of New York, Independent Health Self-Funded Services, Kwik Fill/Red Apple Food Mart, the Observer, Premier Consulting Associates, Saxton Kocur and Associates, Support Enterprises, Inc., and the Winifred Crawford Dibert Foundation.
Money raised through Laurel Run goes to Filling the Gap, Inc., which works with The Resource Center and TRC Foundation to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families in Chautauqua County.
For more information or to register, visit www.laurel-run.com or phone the Hotellings (934-3952) or The Resource Center (483-2344).
Area residents can also show their support for people with disabilities by buying a paper sneaker at Kwik Fill. From July 1 through July 17, United Refining Company’s Kwik Fill and Red Apple Food Mart locations will be selling paper sneakers to raise money for the 20th annual Laurel Run.