Golden 1There’s nothing like a little competition to stir up some fun.  It may also be the impetus for creative ingenuity which bolsters self-esteem which the disabled and elderly too often feel a loss.

It may explain why a wheelchair tennis champion like David Wagner, left a paraplegic at age 21 after an accident in the California surf, would pursue his lifelong dream to be an Olympic tennis player and go on to become the world’s leading wheelchair tennis player.

This same spirit prevails at the Golden Olympics, sponsored by the Southern Tier Activity Association (STAA), in which the champions at Linwood Center placed this year.

Realizing the great benefit healthy competition provides, a group of nursing home activity directors organized the association’s Golden Olympics 31 years ago.  The Linwood Center and other adult day programs including Total Senior Care all compete vigorously in the annual event.

Recently, 15 people from the Linwood Center were among 84 others from area senior day centers or nursing homes competing in this year’s Golden Olympics held at Good Times.

“We placed second in Division 3,” Nancy Ogden, Linwood Center Supervisor, said, proudly.

Golden 2They competed in bowling, trivia, spin the wheel, basketball, ladder ball, shuffleboard, corn hole (which is bean bag toss.)

“They love this and they’re very competitive. They get very excited about it and plan for it for months,” Nancy said.

“They’re already asking about it for next year.  It’s such a great time.”

“It’s an exciting time for them,” Nancy said, adding  Olean’s Mayor William J. Aiello, who is committed to the Golden Olympics,  always speaks at opening ceremonies and remains to talk with the participants.

Participating facilities and divisions included, in Division 1, The Pines of Machias, Allegany Absolut, and Cuba Memorial.  In Division 2 were The Pines of Olean, Houghton Absolut and Salamanca Absolut.  Division 3 included The Linwood Center, Total Senior Care, and Allegany MotherHouse. The welcome was given by Kathy Bower, president of STAA.  Music was provided by David Battistoni

While these are high energy activities, exercised very much in the moment, bring so much joy and camaraderie to the seniors, perhaps it may include a bit of wistful self-interest.

“Some of them have friends in the nursing home, and some will later enter the nursing homes themselves,” Nancy said sensitively, aware of their declining abilities over time.