24th Laurel Run was one to remember


On behalf of everyone at The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, Inc., we want to thank those who made our 24th annual Laurel Memorial Run & Walk a success.

This year’s event was like no other, as we made a number of changes due to the pandemic.

The biggest change was the cancellation of our Silver Creek events, which had been held the third Saturday in July every year since 2001. Instead, we created a “virtual” event in which people could sign up to do a run or walk anywhere they wanted, on their own time. We didn’t know what to expect in terms of the number of people who would take part, and we were heartened that more than 120 people showed their support for those with special needs by signing up to do a virtual Laurel Run or Walk.

Not wanting to completely discard tradition, we did conduct our Laurel Memorial Relay Run from Jamestown to Dunkirk. Volunteers from The Resource Center, the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility and several school districts took part. For safety purposes, we directed groups to reduce the number of people participating in the relay and asked them to socially distance. During a year in which so much has had to change, it was comforting to maintain a sense of normalcy by conducting the relay.

We also want to salute the following:

¯ The OBSERVER and other area media, for providing coverage of this year’s events.

¯ The four hardy souls – Rose Carr, Lisa Glasier, Keith Gregoire, and Lydia Samuelson – who again accomplished the Laurel-thon, each of them covering 30 miles the day of the relay.

¯ Sisters Janelle and Jaylah Cossin, who again ran and cycled the 30-mile relay route, raising more than $1,000 in support of their efforts.

¯ The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police and the police departments from the City of Dunkirk, the Town of Ellicott, the Village of Fredonia, and the City of Jamestown for escorting the runners during the relay. Having patrol units accompany the runners helps ensure their safety while also drawing attention to the relay.

¯ Mayor Willie Rosas and his assistant, Carol Oliveira, for hosting a victory celebration at Washington Park following the relay’s conclusion.

¯ People with disabilities and their support staff from The Resource Center, who positioned themselves at various points along the relay route to cheer on the runners.

¯ All of the people who donated money.

And of course, everyone else who took part in the 24th annual Laurel Memorial Run/Walk.

Wayne and Elaine Hotelling of Silver Creek created the Laurel Run/Walk in honor of their oldest daughter. Doctors had not given Laurel Hotelling much chance of having a meaningful life when she was born with Down syndrome in 1963. But with the love of her family, support from her community and her own determination, Laurel enjoyed a great life, which included having a job at The Resource Center’s Dunkirk manufacturing facility for 30 years, as well as becoming a local celebrity through her role as the grand marshal of the Laurel Run/Walk. Using Laurel and her friends at The Resource Center as examples, Wayne and Elaine created the Laurel Run/Walk as a celebration of the potential that exists within every person who has a disability. Money raised through the event supports employment and work training opportunities for people with disabilities.

As happy as we were that we could have the Laurel Run/Walk in some fashion this year, we look forward to things being back to normal for our 25th annual event July 16 and 17, 2021. We hope everyone can join us!




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