Early Thursday morning just under 2,000 people from eight different counties gathered at the Scioto County Fairgrounds for the 17th Annual Senior Olympics sponsored by Pleasant Hill Manor. The games started out as a small gathering that took place in the parking lot of the care center, but has grown exceptionally in size over the past 17 years.
The events began in the traditional Olympic fashion with words of welcome and the lighting of the torch.
“You are here because we all love you, everybody wants you to feel that love. You can let the strength of the world go, because you’re an Olympian today,” announced Volunteer Coordinator Linda Sloan.
Sloan, who was inspired to establish the Senior Olympics in 2000 while working as an assistant administrator at Pleasant Hill Manor, has since left her position there but continues working side by side with the care center to make the Olympics possible.
“I coordinate it, they sponsor it and we come together to make it all happen”.
Other former employees of the care center, who have been involved with the games in previous years, often make their way back to lend a helping hand and reconnect with former residents.
“Everyone coming together, it’s a true Olympic movement. We are not here in competition. We are here in unison, to show all the seniors in all the different counties, to show them we care, we love them and we respect what they have done for our community and for us, said Sloan.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the backing of all these communities”.
Russell Dulaney, who was specially selected to light the torch at the 2017 opening ceremony was very happy to be chosen for the job. “It makes me feel good”, said Dulaney. “I participate in bowling, basketball, corn hole, penny pinching. I won a prize for corn hole today!” said Dulaney while holding his prize, a Halloween pumpkin decoration.
On the day of the events, the Olympians dressed up in wacky costumes according to various themes chosen by each facility and participated in competitive, and non-competitive, games like basketball, bowling, corn hole, penny pinching, horseshoes, checkers, bingo and dominos.
Betty Whitaker from the Brown Memorial Home in Circleville, Ohio shared her excitement for being able to attend the Senior Olympics again this year along with some new friends.
“I’ve been here the last two years, I’ve told some of the others what it’s like to be here but just explaining it without seeing it doesn’t do it justice,” said Whitaker.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Anita Dory, also of Brown Memorial “It’s nice so far, I think I’m going to enjoy it”.
The residents socialized with one another, competed in games, danced and enjoyed food before the final ceremony where the big winners of the games were given their prizes, ranging from radios to televisions. Each participant took home a trophy to commemorate their day as an Olympian.
“Some people don’t really get true picture of what nursing home care is like. Every day is about life, not a day where we are laying there sick, a day that we celebrate. We’re all about living”, said Sloan.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932