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Pope Kicks off 26th Annual Mid Carolina Senior Games

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cammie Quinn
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
More than 540 senior citizens signed up to participate in the 2010 Annual Mid-Carolina Senior Games, which kicked off April 14 at the Pope Fitness Center.
The Senior Games is a wellness and prevention program to keep the body, mind and spirit fit while in the company of friends, family, spectators and volunteers. The Mid-Carolina Games are open to participants from Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson Counties.

The Senior Games are a staple in Pope's history, as the base has hosted the games for 26 years. The annual games are held in the spring and are a part of 53 local games that provide statewide health promotion and wellness programs for adults 55 years and older. Individuals compete for awards in their own gender and age category within five year increments, beginning with a 55 through 59; 60 through 64; and continuing up to a 100+ age bracket.

"The Games are a good source of morale for senior citizens and lets them know they have community support," said Tech. Sgt. Rabenna Washington, 43rd Force Support Squadron. "They are a lot of fun to work with, because they become very competitive-- they know the rules backwards and forwards, sometimes even better than the officiators." Sergeant Washington has been coordinating the event for 43rd FSS for more than nine years.

Tracy Davis, local coordinator for the Mid Carolina Senior Games, has been with the program for 10 years and said she appreciates seeing the participants staying active.
"I love the Senior Games," said Ms. Davis. "This is a milestone year, we've had more participants this year than we ever had, so we've got to be doing something right! I love to see the seniors working with their age to age gracefully."

The games kicked off with at torch ceremony during which, Mr. Reece Cain, 80, ignited the flame of the torch. Mr. Cain has overcome several health conditions and continues to participate in the games. He has been very active in the games, has accumulated 80 medals in a variety of events since he began participating.

Seniors participated in several events following the opening ceremonies. The Pope Fitness Center hosted 1-mile race walk, shotput throw, croquet, football throw and spin casting competitions, among others. Those who qualify at the 2010 Mid- Carolina Senior Games are invited to attend state finals in the fall. The state finals are a qualifying event for the 2011 National Senior Games in Houston.

Hannah Martin, Fayetteville resident, 77, participated in the 5-kilometer walk, 1500-K walk, shuffle board and the baseball, basketball and football throw. She met what she called some of her best friends at the Games and looks forward to every time they're able to meet back up.

"I enjoy the Senior Games," Mrs. Martin said. "I like the fellowship, participating in the events and meeting new friends."

For one woman, the games are more than just a chance to compete. This year's Games were a first for Ms. Karen Winfield, Fayetteville Resident, 56, who suffered a heart attack in 2009. She is using the event as motivation to stay fit, healthy and social. As she completed the first lap around the track, she said she is looking forward to meeting people her own age and can't wait to start a new, healthy lifestyle.

The event has become a tradition for some seniors. Mr. Russell Jones, 79, has been participating in the Games for 17 years and attributed exercise as the reason he keeps coming back. "It's the best medicine," he added.

Several volunteers from across Team Pope came together to ensure the success of the event. Score keepers, referees and ticket counters scattered across the Pope Track at the various events. By the end of the day, the volunteers walked away with more than they expected and were motivated by the seniors' dedication to hard work and discipline.

Airmen 1st Class Edith Carvalho, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron recalled an 84-year-old woman who signed up to compete in the 1500- kilometer Race Walk. "When she completed her first mile, she said she wasn't done yet and wanted to complete a mile and a half. It was an incredible feeling to watch as she took those extra laps," the Airmen said.