Never too old to compete

Summer Olympics at local retirement community helps residents ‘feel like a kid again’

There was an air of friendly competition at the Carlisle in Naples last week as residents participated in the retirement community’s annual Summer Olympics. The event included both physical and mental challenges that tested the abilities of the teams involved.

“During Olympics week we get people to participate in things that they usually wouldn’t,” said Amanda Stith, activities director. “The purpose is to get everyone involved, get them out of their clicks and talking with their team members.”

The week kicked off with opening ceremonies on July 18 and continued with events through Friday, with closing ceremonies and awards on Saturday, July 23.

“Golf, bridge and bingo are the top signups,” Stith said. “Half of the events are mental and half are physical.”

Mental events included things like Jeopardy, Mah Jongg and a spelling bee. Physical events included baseball pitch, horseshoes, Wii bowling, foul shooting, golf, billiards and more.

On Friday morning, three teams were in a heated horseshoe game in the courtyard. Participants had all different levels of physical abilities, but each was cheered on by fellow residents, no matter which team they were on. Many ringers sounded through the courtyard.

Team captain Jim Stopford was serious about his game, but like everyone else he cheered for every player, no matter what team they were on.

“It’s a great thing because they get participation from people in wheelchairs and carts, holding up a walker with one hand and with the other hand playing,” Stopford said. “It keeps them active and Amanda needs a big pat on the back, she does an outstanding job.”

Stopford co-captained his team, the Jokers, with resident Dottie Miles. Stopford took the physical activities and Miles took the mental activities. They were each responsible for building their team and making sure that there were team members participating in each event.

“One fellow in a wheelchair, he wanted to change out of the basketball free throw and do the bowling with plastic pins,” Stopford said. “He did good, and in the bean bag throw he had more points than anyone else. It’s that type of participation that makes it for the people here.”

When Stopford moved to the Carlisle with his wife in 2010, he was too late to sign up for the Olympics. But he signed up to be a sub. He ended up playing in more events than he would have signed up for because of people dropping out. As a team captain in 2011 he listened to his team members, and worked through their issues.

“One of the fellows, he played pool, but he can’t remember anything,” Stopford said. “I gave him a note, put it in his shirt and reminded him three times. I got him to show up, but I was afraid he would never show up.”

On Friday, Stopford and Miles were glancing at the points board from the week and tallying numbers in their heads. Their competitive spirits were strong as the final events of the week were playing out. But more than anything, they said they were having fun and getting to know other residents.

“I remember my mother as she got older stayed in her house and looked at the walls,” Stopford said. “I didn’t want that; I have had a great life. I enjoy the people here and the companionship. I came here at 82 and feel like a kid again.”

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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