SILVER CREEK - Forty-five years ago, Roger and Kathleen Elwell of Silver Creek started a new life together.
The couple renewed their vows Sunday at First United Presbyterian Church in Silver Creek during their 45th anniversary. Family, who came as far as Wisconsin and New Jersey, and friends gathered to celebrate the couple's life.
On top of that, the family has come to remember a loved one while taking part in a special weekend event in the Laurel Run.
OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
Roger and Kathy Elwell of Silver Creek celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary with friends and family Sunday afternoon.
Roger exited Silver Creek as a Class of 1968 graduate en route to California. It was there that he met Kathy of Compton at a 7-Eleven in Fullerton. From there, they married and have lived in New York. Kathy explained that she lived in Compton for 32 years and New York for the same amount of time.
"We came back to New York because he lived his whole life here since he was two years old," Kathy Elwell said.
The Elwells had six children, with their firstborn Jeanette Elwell-Cossin in 1970.
Roger retired from the Ford Stamping Plant in Buffalo while Kathy, a wife, mother and homemaker, was the smiling face that worked at the Anderson-Lee Library in Silver Creek for 19 years. Roger and Kathy are a team; they have managed a grape homestead for 35 years and contract with Welch's. They are proud grandparents of 19 grandchildren, one great-grandson, Noah, and one more on the way for 2015.
What makes the weekend even more special for the Elwells is the fact that the family has also come to together to remember the life of a loved one that suffered a disability.
Jamiette (Elwell) Heckathorn was involved in a car accident in 2002, changing the families' lives forever. She suffered brain damage and passed away on Oct. 12, 2008 at 33 years of age. Born in Fullerton, she graduated from Silver Creek High School in 1993 and attended SUNY Fredonia. It was there where she met her husband, Bob Heckathorn.
The event changed the family's perspective on community awareness for families in need from traumas, humility of how fragile life is, and coping with disabilities.
Since the Laurel Run promotes awareness to those with disabilities, they joined the event to remember Jamiette. This is important to the Elwells because walking or running for some and celebrating go hand-in-hand just like Roger and Kathy did on July 19, 1969 in Fullerton, California.
"It's an exciting time to reflect on cherishing life and life memories and living with a cause to care and reach out to others," Elwell-Cossin said.
Family members participated in the Laurel Run by running the 8K to support those with disabilities, along with remembering Jamiette. They made a team name in honor of Jamiette, helping people walk for life with love.
What makes the Laurel Run so special to the family is the fact that Jamiette passed away from brain damage, and the family spent years struggling with her disabilities.
"Now we've come together to support a great cause while celebrating 45 years my parents have been together," Elwell-Cossin said.
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