Fort Bragg hosts annual Mid-Carolina Senior Games
David Gray, a Harnett County participant in the Mid-Carolina Senior Games, holds the torch March 30, at Pope Fitness Center to signal the start of the games.

FORT BRAGG,N.C. - Nearly 200 seniors did not let a little rain dampen their spirits as they participated in the Mid-Carolina Senior Games, March 30, at Pope Fitness Center. The games, in its 25th year, are held each spring to promote wellness for adults age 55 and older.

This year's games are taking place March 30 to April 19, at Pope Fitness Center, Pope Fitness Field, Campbell University, Westover Recreation Center, Kings Grant Golf and Country Club and other venues.

Some of the games seniors participated in included basketball, spin casting, football throw, softball throw, discus, shot put, bowling, tennis, swimming, billiards, bocce and track events.
Intermittent rainfall and winds gusting up to nine miles per hour did not sway the participants committed to this year's games on Wednesday at Pope Fitness Center. After the torch lighting ceremony, participants took to the track for a one-mile fun walk.

Richard Cutler is a retired command sergeant major of the 82nd Airborne Division. Cutler said he has participated in the Mid-Carolina Senior Games for the past 10 years. At 72, Cutler, said participating in the fun walk, bowling, swimming and basketball events, keeps him young at heart. Despite the rain, he seemed determined to enjoy the games.

"It never rains in the military," said Cutler. "It rains on the military."

For Michael Hook, 66, the games offer a chance to socialize with and compete against other seniors, he said.

"I come out because I enjoy the day. I just enjoy being with other active adults," said Hook, who participated in the basketball shoot at Pope Fitness Center. "I don't just want to hang in the house and let my brain veg. I like hanging out with the younger crowd."

Hook began a quest for fitness after recovering from four bypass surgeries and two heart attacks in the late 90s, he said, and has enjoyed walking five times a week, from Monday through Friday ever since.

"I just enjoy doing it (exercising). I ain't get no younger, so I try to work out all I can," said the Vietnam War Marine veteran.

Hook was one of several seniors who were part of the Sampson County contingency. Other participants arrived from parks and recreation departments at Spring Lake, Lillington, Clinton and Fayetteville-Cumberland counties. Adults from senior centers in Coats, Garland and Hope Mills also participated.

Sharing in the games is one reason that Danny Spell, 61, has returned for six years.
"It's the chance to compete; it gives me the chance to play," said Spell, a Dunn resident who has medaled in track and the football throw in previous years. "I get more exercise and I also meet new people."

Not only was physical fitness on display at the games, but also the opportunity to test physical wellbeing. Diabetic testing was a service offered at Pope Fitness Center, as well.

Virginia Royal underwent a diabetes test, which was conducted by Karen Ferguson, a patient representative with Tarheel Diabetic and Medical Supply, Inc., in St. Pauls, N.C.
Ferguson encouraged Royal to eat whole grain pasta rather than white pasta. She also encouraged her to perform seated exercises to improve overall health and flexibility while watching television.

Royal seemed to appreciate the advice and getting her blood sugar levels checked.
"It's good because I'm not diabetic, but I want to make sure," she said.

North Carolina Senior Games began in 1983 as a wellness program to keep seniors' body, mind and spirit fit. There are more than 60,000 participants statewide in 54 local games that serve all 100 counties across the state.

The games could not be coordinated and facilitated without the help of volunteers, said Tracy Davis, Mid-Carolina Council of Governments coordinator. MCCG sponsors the games.

"Volunteers are very important part of the games," Davis said. "We need them to assist with scoring, timing and sometimes officiating events. The seniors really love the interaction with the young Soldiers. We had many compliments on the ladies and men's volleyball teams and the BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) that volunteered this year," she said.

Sgt. Madison Chambers, BOSS vice president, and about 20 other BOSS volunteers filled the need for assistance.

"In the BOSS program, one of our pillars is community service," said Chambers. "We're all giving back to our post and our community."

Seniors who medal at the Mid-Carolina Senior Games qualify for the North Carolina Senior Games state finals, held each fall in Raleigh, N.C., and for the Senior Olympics, held every two years.
Hook said he participated, not for the medals, but for more important stakes.

"If I don't stay active, I won't be here," Hook said. "If you ever stop, you turn off the lights because the party is over."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16