DOBSON — In honor of their late sister, Joan King and Ruamie Tilton lit a flame to symbolize the beginning of this year’s Senior Games events.
Friday morning hundreds showed up to the gymnasium at Surry Community College to kick off the Yadkin Valley Senior Games. Friday’s festivities were the beginning to a calendar packed with events through June 9.
According to Surry County Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White, there are 71 activities available in which senior citizens, 55-years-old and older, may participate.
“We work really hard to promote the health and well-being of our seniors,” said White. “This is an amazing program with lots of opportunities.”
Opportunities are numerous. Seniors, who are grouped into age brackets, may participate in athletically challenging events such as track and field, swimming and cycling. Other events such as bocce and bowling are less physically demanding. The games also include art contests and dancing.
Julia Schafer, a Senior Games participant, won gold in Tai Chi last year. She performed Friday as part of the opening ceremony’s festivities.
Brad Allen, who serves as president of the North Carolina Senior Games, told the crowd the state is host to the largest Senior Games in the country.
“We only have three full-time members of our staff,” said Allen. “Without the thousands of volunteers, there would be no Senior Games.”
After Juanita Gillespie sang God Bless America and candles were lit for Ted Akers, who died recently, and Christine Greene, who could not make it to this year’s games due to her battle with cancer, seniors paraded around the college’s campus.
At the end of the “fun walk,” King and Tilton lit this year’s Senior Games torch in honor of their late sister, Linda Hill.
The sisters said Hill, “just loved these games.” Friday marked the one-year anniversary of her death.
A cornhole tournament, in which about 60 seniors participated, rounded out the day for those participants who attended Friday’s opening ceremony.
Next week’s Senior Games events include basketball shoot and football throw at the Armfield Civic Center at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Bowling at Mount Airy Lanes at noon on Wednesday and croquet, spin-casting and a pickleball expo at Fisher River Park’s soccer field on Thursday at 9 a.m.
Local Senior Games coordinator Bradley Key said this year’s games drew nearly 200 participants.
“These events are all about promoting fun, fitness and fellowship for our seniors,” said Key. “I’m looking forward to another year of the games.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.