18th annual Laurel Run fast approaching

The 18th annual Laurel Run takes place Friday and Saturday, and there are lots of opportunities for area residents to become involved.

Laurel Run was created in 1997 by Wayne and Elaine Hotelling of Silver Creek. Working together that year, the Hotellings covered more than 400 miles on foot and bicycle, going from the southwestern corner of Chautauqua County at the Pennsylvania line to the Massachusetts border. They created Laurel Run in honor of their oldest daughter, who was born with Down syndrome. The event is designed to celebrate the achievements of people with disabilities and to show that, if given a chance, people with disabilities can accomplish great things.

From the initial cross-state trek 17 years ago, Laurel Run has evolved into an annual two-day event. On Friday, the traditional Jamestown-to-Dunkirk relay run will take place, with staff from The Resource Center, representatives of area schools, and community volunteers working together to transport the Laurel Run flag to Washington Park, where the City of Dunkirk will host a victory celebration from noon to 2:00. Three individuals plan to run the entire 30 miles.

The following morning, Laurel Run continues in Silver Creek with a number of events, including an 8-kilometer run; a 5k walk; a 1k fun walk; children’s runs; and “Laurel’s Lap,” in which people with disabilities take a lap around the track at the ball field downtown. There also will be a party in the Village Square featuring live music, free refreshments, prize drawings and other fun activities. At noon, the annual Laurel Run motorcycle dice run begins.

The cost to participate in the 8k run, the 5k walk or the 1k walk is $15 until July 15, and $20 after that day. The children’s runs are $3 per child, or a total $5 for a family with two or more children. There is no charge to participate in Laurel’s Lap. The dice run is $20 for a driver, or $30 for a driver with a passenger.

Commemorative medals made by people with disabilities will be given to Laurel Run participants. Other medals will be given to the first three male and female finishers in five-tear age groups in the 8K run and the 5K walk. Team awards (based on the combined times of a team’s first four finishers) will be given in the 8K and 5K events. The names of team members must be submitted by 1 p.m. Friday.

If you would like a paper registration form, phone 483-2344.

Money raised through Laurel Run goes to Filling the Gap Inc., a Jamestown-based not-for-profit organization that works with The Resource Center to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout Chautauqua County.