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Never too old for fun and fitness

Lanier Village Estates seniors get competitive for first Olympic Day event

POSTED: June 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Participants in the balloon toss catch their respective balloons as part of the First Annual Olympic Day for senior citizens at Lanier Village Estates Friday.

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Dorrie Pyne has played competitive tennis for 67 years, and she is not stopping any time soon.

But the 77-year old took a break from her champion tennis streak to speed through the grass in the egg-and-spoon relay Friday during Lanier Village Estates' Olympic Day.

"What's my secret?" she asked. "Keep at it."

The retirement community's inaugural event, which coincided with National Physical Fitness Month and National Older Americans Month, featured a variety of fun competitions that showcased the seniors' prowess at different physical and mental challenges.

Resident services director Holli Howard coordinated the event along with Adult Retirement Communities fitness instructor Kim Lauer.

Howard said the event was created in response to the timely combination of holidays and input by the resident community. In the past, the event had consisted of a month of such activities.

"It's really something the residents have requested to do ... a special program that is geared toward physical activity," Howard said. "The reason we chose to do it this one day is because in the past participation had dwindled down as the month went by."

Participation in this year's event, however, was not a problem. Residents showed their support by not only competing, but coordinating some of the activities.

"We have residents in charge of the bocce tournament and the tennis tournament because they are regular players, so they stepped up and volunteered for that role," Howard said.

Some 50 seniors vied for the gold in such events as a swimming race, putting, a tennis tournament, a bocce ball tournament, a triathlon, a spelling bee, a walking relay, an egg-and-spoon relay and a water balloon toss.

Others cheered and laughed from the sidelines as competitors got doused with water from bursting water balloons or as they crossed the finish line.

Residents proved that age was only a number by competing in several physical challenges.

Bob Stoffer, 80, competed in the triathlon, which consisted of races on three of four possible workout machines. He then went on to win the walking relay with team partner Tory Elliott, 73, and compete in the water balloon toss.

"The triathlon was tiring," he said. "I didn't do the elliptical because it's the hardest machine down there."

But Stoffer said he enjoyed the event because of the "fellowship."

Adult Retirement Communities Public Relations Director Colleen Wilson said the Olympic Day showed time doesn't stop these seniors from giving it their best shot. "Once a competitive spirit, always a competitive spirit," she said.

Lanier Village Estates is located at 4000 Village View Drive in Gainesville.



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