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Senior Games promote active, fun living

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Members of Mr. D’s Aerobic Line Dancing group performed Friday at the opening ceremonies of the Greenville-Pitt County Senior Olympics.

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The Daily Reflector

Monday, April 15, 2019

A celebration of fitness, fellowship and fun continues around Greenville this week as hundreds of people from five counties compete in the annual Greenville-Pitt County Senior Games — an event that marked its 36th year with art, music, dance and a lot of happiness on Friday.

Aldine Parker of Farmville could not contain her surprise and even cried a few tears of joy during the games’ opening ceremonies, held in the middle of the two-week festival, when she was honored with the Pioneer Spirit Award for her longtime support and participation.

“I never thought I’d win something like this,” said Parker, a 20-year participant in the games who serves on the steering committee that helps organize them each year.

The 85-year-old told more than a hundred people gathered at the Alice Keene Center that she participates because she loves to compete and that anyone better watch out if they come up against her.

In an interview later she rattled off the sports that she usually medals in: “I do bowling, horseshoes, shuffleboard, corn hole ... um what else? ... softball, football, basketball ... I usually do nine events.”

In addition to playing, she likes the fellowship.

“You get to know so many people,” she said. “And the love that we show each other ... we go bowling on Thursday and everybody has their arms out to hug you and say hello to you, so if you had a bad day last night you will be happy on Thursday.” 

Pitt County Community Schools and Recreation coordinates the games with the support of Greenville Recreation and Parks, East Carolina University’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Department and the College of Health and Human Performance, with major support from the Mid-East Commission Area Agency on Aging.

Athletes age 50 and over from Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin and Pitt counties are competing in more than 40 events, including individual sports like swimming, cycling and table tennis and team sports like softball and 3-on-3 basketball. The events started April 5 and conclude on Thursday.

The local games are among 52 sanctioned by the nonprofit North Carolina Senior Games. Participants have year-round opportunities for practice sessions, clinics and competition. First-, second-, and third-place winners on the local level qualify to compete in the N.C. Senior Games State Finals this fall and the national games in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

During Friday’s opening ceremonies, judges also awarded medals in the games’ SilverArts competition, which included entries in the visual, literary, performing and heritage categories. 

Mr. D’s Aerobic Line Dancing group, belly dancer Annette Brooks and dramatic performer/story-teller Jill Miller entertained the crowd, and Orlanda Reed of Winton won best of show for her rendition of “God Bless America.”

In addition to Parker, Pioneer Spirit Awards were given to Yolanda Davis of the 10th Street Arby’s and Bobby Burns of The Daily Reflector for support of the games.

Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly and Pit County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Beth Ward both welcomed and addressed the gathering, and state Sen. Don Davis and Rep. Kandie Smith represented the N.C. General Assembly.

Senior Games Ambassadors Deborah Herring and Jeanette “J.R.” Roth led the lighting of the Senior Games torch. Roth challenged to the group to encourage others to participate in the games and always stay active themselves.

“Whether you choose to play music, whether you play chess, whether you write plays, play basketball or badminton, act in a play or play with your grandchildren, my challenge to you all is to play it forward, play beyond Senior Games, invite and challenge others to play with you. After all, we all know the saying, we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old if we stop playing.”

To learn more about the games and participate in future events, contact Pitt County Community Schools and Recreation at 902-1975.

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