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Laurel Run in Chautauqua County puts annual focus on achievements of people with disabilities

SILVER CREEK – The 19th annual Laurel Run, an event created to celebrate the achievements of people with disabilities, will be held Friday and Saturday.

The run offers something for the entire family while emphasizing the fact that people with disabilities, if given the opportunity, can accomplish great things. It was founded by Laurel’s parents, Wayne and Elaine Hotelling of Silver Creek, in recognition of their daughter’s achievements. Laurel Hotelling was born in 1963 with Down syndrome.

This year, Laurel Hotelling and her parents were recipients of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation’s Footprints Award, which honors people who have made a significant contribution to the area.

The Laurel Run begins Friday with the traditional Jamestown-to-Dunkirk relay run. Starting from the Resource Center’s facility at 75 Jones and Gifford Ave., teams of volunteers take turns transporting Laurel Run flags to Washington Park in Dunkirk

Representatives from a number of area schools, as well as the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, will run the various legs of the relay. The community is invited to be part of the festivities surrounding the relay.

A kickoff ceremony will be held at 8 a.m. in Jamestown to officially start the relay, and the City of Dunkirk will host a victory celebration from noon to 2 p.m. in Washington Park to greet the last runners as they arrive.

For the third 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 take on the Laurel-thon, may call 661-4735 for information.

Friday’s events are a warm-up for the main Laurel Run activities, which take place in Silver Creek. Check-in and late registration begin at 7 a.m. at Village Square. At 8:30 a.m., a 5-kilometer fitness walk and a 1-kilometer fun walk will begin, followed at 9 a.m. 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.

Cash awards of $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third will be given to the top three male and female finishers in the 8K run. There are age group medals, as well as commemorative awards, for everyone who crosses the finish line. The age-group medals and the commemorative awards were made by people with disabilities at the Resource Center.

The registration fee is $20. People also can earn free entry into the Laurel Run by collecting pledges. For information, visit firstgiving.com/trcfoundation.

Saturday’s events also will include fun runs for children 7 and younger, followed by Laurel’s Lap, which is for anyone with a disability.

Throughout the morning, there will be a party at Village Square featuring free food; a raffle and an auction; face-painting and other activities.