Going strong for Laurel

Special edition paper sales top 2017

OBSERVER Photo by Mary Heyl Resource Center employees Karen Silze (left) and Jane Young flank Abby Adam (seated), who served as the “cashier” for the special edition paper sales at the Tim Horton’s Vineyard Drive location. Young said, “Her smile is what’s selling all these papers!”

“We’re doing this for Laurel!”

Tommy Proper captured the essence of the 22nd Annual Laurel Run, which Tuesday’s special edition OBSERVER sales benefited. Proper spent Tuesday morning selling papers near Brooks Memorial Hospital in honor of his best friend and the namesake for the run, Laurel Hotelling. He was one of many volunteers who sold papers in Forestville, Gowanda and Irving, plus five different locations in Dunkirk and Fredonia.

This year’s 22nd Annual Laurel Memorial Run on July 20 and July 21 is perhaps more meaningful than ever, as it is the first year that Hotelling, who passed away on Nov. 13, 2017, will not be a part of it.

“We miss her so much,” said Laurie Strong, with tears in her eyes. “But she’s here with us in spirit.”

Strong, who works at The Resource Center and serves on the Laurel run planning committee, is one of the many individuals who participates in the annual run, and is one of few who rode her bicycle from Jamestown to Dunkirk when the run included a bike relay.

OBSERVER Photo by Mary Heyl Laurie Strong and Tommy Proper sold a special edition copy of the OBSERVER to a C.A.R.T.S. bus driver on the corner of Central Avenue and Fifth Street in Dunkirk.

Steve Waterson, community relations director at The Resource Center, sold papers at the Route 60 Tim Hortons location. “It was definitely busy, but it went in waves, I think, depending on when people’s shifts started. But people waiting in the drive-thru are easy targets,” he laughed.

The run was started by Wayne and Elaine Hotelling of Silver Creek, whose daughter, Laurel, was their inspiration. Laurel was born with Down syndrome and worked at Dunkirk’s Resource Center for over 30 years. She proved that a happy and productive life is possible, regardless of intellectual or physical impairments, and her parents made it their mission to promote this truth through an annual run.

The run includes a 30-mile relay from Jamestown to Dunkirk on July 20. “People can do different legs of the relay,” Waterson explained. “There’s also a small group that does the whole 30 miles called the ‘Laurel-thon’ and that takes a good six hours to do.”

The whole family can take part in Silver Creek on July 21. The day includes 1K and 5K walks, an 8K run and children’s ‘fun runs’ for ages seven and younger. One of the most meaningful moments of the event is the Laurel Lap, according to Waterson. “This year will be a lot more emotional, especially for Laurel’s family,” he explained. “She was the grand marshall of the run and led the lap, which anyone with any kind of disability can take part in.”

This is the 17th year of the OBSERVER’s special edition sale, and it was even more successful than last year. This year, more than $2,200 was raised, about $400 more than 2017.

“That’s a tremendous amount of support in one day for such a special event,” said John D’Agostino, OBSERVER publisher. “We are honored at this community newspaper to be able to team with The Resource Center, the volunteer sellers and the Laurel Memorial Run effort.”

Most groups of volunteers received three bundles of 50 papers each to sell, and Nate Shuart, who manned the corner of Main and Temple in Fredonia, sold out very quickly. Just after 8 a.m., Shuart said. “Right now, I’ve sold almost all of my papers. I’ve only got one left!”

According to Waterson, funds raised by the paper sales support the run, which raises money for Filling the Gap, Inc. This non-profit organization works with The Resource Center to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Chautauqua County by enhancing employment and training opportunities.

Waterson, who has many fond memories of Laurel, reiterated the importance of the employment opportunities The Resource Center provides. “Earning that paycheck was very important to Laurel…You know, whenever you meet someone new, the first thing they ask you is ‘What do you do?’ People take pride in their work, and it’s no different with people with disabilities. Working at The Resource Center gives them that sense of pride.”

To learn more about the run, visit www.laurel-run.com or contact the Resource Center at 661-4735.

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