"It's pleasurable to give back to such a good cause. We're thrilled to be doing it. The venue is excellent; there is a beautiful breeze and it's a beautiful day," said Mayor Richard Frey as he brought bottles of water for the victory celebration for the Laurel Run Relay and set them on a table set up in Washington Park.
Frey declared Friday and Saturday as "Laurel Run Weekend in our community, urging all citizens to become more enlightened about individuals with disabilities and to support The Resource Center in its ongoing efforts to reduce the occurrence of disabilities in Chautauqua County."
The mayor's wife Pat joined him a little later, and began circulating and speaking to members of the crowd who were awaiting arrival of the runners completing the final leg of the relay. She and the mayor worked together with Carol Olivera, the mayor's secretary, and Kory Ahlstrom, Dunkirk's director of development, to serve pizza, watermelon, cookies, and water to the group. WDOE broadcast live from the scene. A tent with picnic tables offered a shady space with ample room.
Friday morning a group of runners set off from Jamestown heading toward Dunkirk. Along the way volunteers took up the run. The last leg of race was lead by employees of the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Facility who ran in cadence.
There was no need to ask how long the Laurel Run has been in existence. The T-shirts worn by staff and consumers from the Resource Center alerted everyone that this was the 15th year.
Victoria Bardo, the Resource Center's special events and special projects coordinator said, "There are consumers here from Jamestown and from Dunkirk. The City of Dunkirk has done a great job with this for years. This is the second year we have been at Washington Park and it's beautiful here."
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Those participating in the last leg of the relay run, led by a police escort car, run down Washington Avenue.
Some of Resource Center's consumers were happy to pose for pictures and talk. Jamie M. Valentine spoke to Pat Frey.
A cheer went up when the siren from the police escort vehicle signaled the arrival of the runners.
Ray Graf, one of the runners in the last leg explained that he was "happy to come out and support Wayne (Hotelling)."
Graf has taught social studies to seventh graders at Silver Creek Central for seven years. While he never taught with Hotelling, a long-time social studies teacher at Silver Creek, he, like Hotelling, coaches track and cross country.
"Wayne is the winningest track coach in Silver Creek. I have a friendly rivalry with him, but I haven't beat his record yet."
Today the Laurel Run switches to Silver Creek. According to Steve Waterson, the community relations director for The Resource Center, the schedule of events for Saturday will begin with check-in at 7 a.m. At 8:30, the 5k and 1k walks begin. The 8k run begins at 9. The children's runs (for those age 7 and younger) begin at 10:15. Laurel's Lap, in which anyone with a disability is invited to take a lap around the ball field in downtown Silver Creek, begins at 10:25 a.m. Laurel's Lap is the signature event of Laurel Run, as onlookers cheer the individuals with disabilities as they make their way to the finish line.
Registration for the dice run begins at 10 a.m., with the bikers heading out at noon on a journey that will include stops at the Cassadaga Legion, the Ellery Center VFW, the War Vets Club near Jamestown, and the Westfield Legion before returning to Silver Creek. At each stop, participants will be given a roll of the dice. Re-rolls cost $1, and people may re-roll as often as they like. Prizes will be given to the high-rolling driver; the low-rolling driver; the high-rolling rider; and the low-rolling rider.
There will be a party in the Village Square in Silver Creek all day with music and refreshments.
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