By MARK BELCHER
OBSERVER Staff Writer
A collaboration between volunteers, businesses and town officials came to fruition Saturday, as Laurel Run closing festivities took place in Silver Creek.
Laurel Run - Silver Creek
The fundraiser, spearheaded by The Resource Center (TRC), will make profits around $20,000 but grosses around double that. All the proceeds go to disability services within the county in honor of the event's namesake, Laurel Hotelling.
The event was started 15 years ago by Wayne and Elaine Hotelling, after Wayne was inspired by a disabled man running across Canada. While the man never made it all the way across Canada, Wayne said, it inspired him to keep the event going strong.
And it still is - the event brought 152 finishing runners, 130 walkers, about 50 motorcyclists and numerous more patrons.
OBSERVER photo by Mark Belcher
Laurel Hotelling prepares to lead ‘Laurel’s Lap’ during the 15th annual Laurel Run in Silver Creek.
According to TRC Special Events Coordinator Victoria Bardo, the event changes each year. In addition to the runs and walks, she said they had raffles and a massage therapist this year.
The eight kilometer run brought in a record number of people, according to TRC Community Relations Director Steve Waterson. Kim Vona came in first place for the women, with a time of 31 minutes and 48 seconds. Eddie Novara came in first place for the men with a record breaking time of 25 minutes and 54 seconds. First place winners won a trophy, along with a $100 cash prize, but both donated the money back to the event.
The favorite event, however, is Laurel's Lap, according to Waterson. The lap takes place in Silver Creek's park, where Laurel, who has down syndrome, leads a group of people with disabilities around the track.
"It gives them their deserved moment in the spotlight," he said.
But Waterson said the event would be nowhere without its help from volunteers. He said 40 volunteers helped man the event, along with help from Silver Creek's police and fire departments, the Department of Public Works and a medical squad.
Silver Creek Mayor Kurt Lindstrom spoke on Silver Creek's participation in the event.
"It's tremendous. We're proud to represent Laurel Run," he said. "It means a lot that we're able to do this."
TRC Executive Director Paul Cesana said the event is all about the people and the community, and he was happy to see such a turnout.
"It's a privilege to have the responsibility to lead an organization that helps so many people," he said.
Cesana said he is grateful to be able to see how his organization helps people up close, as he attended the event.
"If you have a disability, you want all the same things we all want; a house, a family and to belong," he said. "That's where the community comes in."