23rd annual Laurel Memorial Run & Walk set for July 19 &20

Representative from Maple Grove High School and The Resource Center set off at the start of last year’s 30-mile flag relay.

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The Resource Center

Area residents are invited to join the hundreds of people who will come together to celebrate people with disabilities at the 23rd annual Laurel Memorial Run & Walk.

The event was created by Wayne and Elaine Hotelling of Silver Creek in honor of their oldest daughter, Laurel, who had special needs. Though she faced many challenges, Laurel lived a full and productive life thanks to the support she received from her family, her community and The Resource Center. The Laurel Memorial Run & Walk is a two-day celebration of the potential that exists within people who have disabilities. The event seeks to raise public awareness about people with disabilities while providing an opportunity for people with disabling conditions, and those without, to come together at a fun, family-friendly event.

Laurel Hotelling

The action begins Friday, July 19, with the traditional 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 seventh 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/Walk 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.

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 male and female finishers in the 8k run. The race is part of the UPMC Chautauqua Runner of the Year Series.

Besides the individual competition, there will be a corporate challenge. 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 fees for the 8k run, the 5k walk and the 1k walk are $15 for children 17 and younger, and $20 for people 18 and older. Those entry fees increase $5 after July 16. All paid registrants will receive a 2019 Laurel Memorial Run/Walk T-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.

Kim Vona and Ray Graf each has won the 8-kilometer race the past 3 years.

Saturday’s events also will include fun runs for children age 7 and younger starting at 10:00, followed by Laurel’s Legacy Lap, which is for anyone with a disability. The cost to enter the fun runs is $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, prize drawings, face painting, massages, and other activities.

Money raised through the Laurel Run/Walk 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. Laurel Run/Walk proceeds are used to promote disability awareness initiatives and to enhance employment and work training opportunities for people with disabilities.

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