- Written by Megan Joyce Megan Joyce
Although her years of involvement with the Lancaster Senior Games are nearing three decades, the expressions of gratitude Pat Fellenbaum receives from the players still leave an impression on her.
“I think of all the 29 years that I have been part of the Lancaster Senior Games, this has been the one that I have had more people come to me and say thank you for all of the work our committee has done to organize the games,” Fellenbaum said.
“Of course, there is always room for improvement, and we relish constructive criticism. We do listen and try to make events better every year.”
Fellenbaum is the chairperson for the Senior Games Committee, which organizes the annual games along with the Lancaster County Office of Aging. Derek Bendetti, senior health promotion/activity coordinator at the office of aging, agreed the rewards for his work come in the athletes’ smiles and sincere appreciation.
“You can see the joy and excitement in the participants’ faces as they interact and participate in the events,” Bendetti said. “One of my favorite things to hear from participants is that they look forward to the games every year.”
Total participation for the 2017 Lancaster Senior Games, held May 1-5 at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, exceeded 830.
The games’ dozens of events—which range from swimming and fencing to golf and tai chi—are open to county residents over age 55. This year’s competition included a 100-year-old shuffleboard competitor and more than 20 athletes over age 90.
“We had a 95-year-old participant compete in the 65-69 age division for shuffleboard because of his partner being that (younger) age,” Bendetti said. “Age wasn’t an excuse for this participant, as he and his partner finished in first place in the 65-69 category!”
Perennial favorites like bocce, darts, Frisbee throw, foul shooting, and shuffleboard took place alongside two new events for 2017: nine-pin no-tap bowling and a “dead lift” category in weightlifting.
The outdoor sports—horseshoes, track and field events, pitch ’n’ putt, putting contest, and longest drive—went off under cooperative skies, but the nine-hole and 18-hole golf tournaments were derailed by that Friday’s downpours.
Participants for both canceled events received a voucher or gift card from the hosting golf course, Bendetti said.
More than 200 volunteers donated their time to the Senior Games this year. This cadre of generous helpers is essential to the games’ smooth operation, according to Fellenbaum.
“Working along with the Spooky Nook staff and our great volunteers, the event was probably the easiest in all my 29 years of involvement,” she said. With its 40 area sponsors and hundreds of volunteers, Bendetti sees the Senior Games as a true community effort.
“Since May is nationally recognized as Older Americans Month, the Lancaster Senior Games gives people and local businesses the opportunity to connect and celebrate the citizens that are 55 and older,” he said.
Fellenbaum recalled the excitement of a young volunteer who observed an 87-year-old woman competing—and competing well—in a weightlifting event.
“This volunteer couldn’t believe that (the weightlifter) was capable of doing this activity at her advanced age,” she said. “To me, it just proves the point that continuing activity does help maintain a healthy body and that we should all strive to be as active as possible as we age.”
For a complete list of 2017 results, visit www.lancseniorgames.org/results.