21st Annual Laurel Run Takes Place July 14 and 15

Runners set off at the start of last year’s 8-kilometer race.

Article Contributed by
The Resource Center

Hundreds of people will come together next week in support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities when the 21st annual Laurel Run takes place.

Laurel Run was created by Wayne and Elaine Hotelling of Silver Creek in honor of their oldest daughter, Laurel, who has Down syndrome. The event is a two-day celebration of the potential that exists within people who have disabilities. Laurel Run features several running and walking events, and the community is encouraged to take part.

The action begins Friday, July 14, with the traditional Laurel Run flag relay. A kickoff ceremony will be held at 8:00 a.m. in The Resource Center’s facility at 75 Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown. Then, teams of volunteer runners will take turns transporting Laurel Run flags to Dunkirk. Representatives from a number of area schools, as well as the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Brocton, will run the various legs of the relay.

The relay concludes at Washington Park, where the city of Dunkirk will host a victory celebration from noon to 2:00. The community is invited to come out and cheer on the last relay runners as they make their way along Central Avenue to the finish.

For the fifth straight year, several people will attempt to run the entire 30-mile relay route. That event is called the Laurel-thon. Anyone wishing to run a portion of the flag relay, or to take on the Laurel-thon, is invited to do so. Phone 661-4735 for information.

Friday’s events are a warm-up for the main Laurel Run activities, which take place the following day in Silver Creek. Check-in and late registration begin at 7:00 a.m. in the village square. At 8:30, a 5-kilometer fitness walk and a 1-kilometer fun walk will begin, followed at 9:00 by an 8-kilometer running race.

Laurel Hotelling (front center) poses with members of Maple Grove’s cross-country team before the start of last year’s flag relay.

For the 5k walk and the 8k run, medals will be given to the top three male and female finishers in each age group. Commemorative medals will be given to everyone who crosses the finish line. The age-group medals and the commemorative medals were made by people with disabilities at The Resource Center.

Cash awards ($100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third) will be given to the top three male and female finishers in the 8k run.

Besides the individual competition, there will be a corporate challenge competition. Awards will be given to the three fastest teams in both the 5k walk and the 8k run, with a team’s time determined by the combined times of its first four finishers.

The registration fee for the 8k run, the 5k walk and the 1k walk is $20 until July 11, when the fee rises to $25. All paid registrants will receive a T-shirt (choice of a cotton/polyester blend or a moisture-wicking shirt) as well as a goody bag made by production workers at The Resource Center. People can earn free entry into Laurel Run by collecting pledges.

Children jockey for position at the start of one of the fun runs.

Saturday’s events also will include fun runs for children age 7 and younger, followed by Laurel’s Lap, which is for anyone with a disability. The cost to enter the fun runs in $3 per child or a total of $5 for families with two or more children. There is no fee to enter Laurel’s Lap.

Throughout the morning, there will be a party in the village square featuring free food; music; a raffle and an auction; face painting; massages; and other activities.

Money raised through Laurel Run goes to Filling the Gap, Inc., which works with The Resource Center to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families in Chautauqua County.

For more information, visit www.laurel-run.com.