Laurel House 5K raises estimated $10,000

Proceeds from the 5k walk/run hosted by the Laurel House Board of Directors will go a long way toward helping the comfort care home to become a reality.

Board Vice President Henry Hann said the event was a huge success. Last year the walk/run drew about 80 participants, but this year, some 220 runners signed up to help raise money for Laurel House Comfort Care.

“A lot of that had to do with Dave and Murphy Strong,” Hann said. “It was an emotional moment when he crossed the finish line. I don’t think there was a dry eye around.”

Newark native Dave Murphy was told four years ago after a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed, that he’d never walk again. At the June 10th event, Murphy walked the entire 5K, that’s about three miles, in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 35 seconds.

His walk down the homestretch on Main Street in Newark brought cheers and applause from several supporters who were waiting for the monumental moment Murphy would cross the finish line. Handing off his canes, Murphy took the hands of his wife, Tracy, and trainer, Lee Powers, walking unaided across the finish line.

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought,” Murphy said after the race. “I was scared, but it wasn’t that bad.”

Wife Tracy thanked the community for all their support through this difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible, journey.

“Hometown support makes all the difference,” she said. “That’s the key to healing.”

Would he do it again? Murphy said, “No.” Now, he has a mountain to climb – his next goal he will be working toward.

When he announced he would take part in the 5K, race participation began to climb. Runners received pledges from donors with all proceeds going to Laurel House’s renovation.

Hann said the counting isn’t quite finished, but he estimates the event raised a total of about $10,000.

For his part, Murphy was honored with a framed certificate of appreciation for outstanding fundraising from the Laurel House board. He was also presented a medal that hung around his neck for the next week as a daily reminder for Murphy of his tremendous accomplishment at beating the odds.

Murphy wasn’t the only support Laurel House has garnered. Hann said Newark School District’s Wellness Committee pushed the event as part of their healthy living initiative. More than 50 school district staff members took part in the 5K raising funds for Laurel House.

“It was just overwhelming, the support,” Hann said, noting the aid they received from the village and police department to keep the route safe.

Laurel House is a not-for-profit comfort care home where Wayne County residents may “spend their final days, at no cost to them or others, in a highly supportive, warm and compassionate environment, surrounded by loved ones and kind-hearted staff and volunteers who attend to their needs.”

Formed in 2014 and incorporated just six months later, it is overseen by a board of directors. The idea originated some 10 years ago with Jean Cass, a nurse who watched a dear friend succumb to breast cancer. Ultimately, the home’s name “Laurel” honors that friend’s memory, Hann said.

Supporters kept the idea alive, working with hospital officials auxiliary, until the not-for-profit was formed.

When a property on Fair Street in the village of Newark was donated to the Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, they all knew they had found what they were looking for and Laurel House was born.

Its support has grown to 130 members.

Today, the house has been gutted to remove asbestos and the main floor is under major renovation, Hann said. The walls have been framed, the electric is done and the HVAC has been much improved. A crew will be hired to start hanging drywall. Much of the work so far has been done by volunteers to help keep costs down, Hann said. The hope is that they will be able to also build a deck large enough to hold a hospital bed, he added.

“Being bedridden for many months, patients often want to get some fresh air,” Hann said. “We feel it’s important residents be able to go outdoors.”

Laurel House’s next fundraising event will be a gala on September 30th. Still a work in progress, like Laurel House on Facebook for updates.

To donate, visit their website at laurelhousecomfortcare.org or go to gofundme.com.

Tammy Whitacre is a reporter for FL1 News covering Seneca and Wayne counties. Send news tips to [email protected] and follow @FL1_TWhitacre for the latest.

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