- Written by Megan Joyce Megan Joyce
It was a year for exceptional numbers at the 2018 Lancaster Senior Games, held May 7-11 at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim.
The week marked the milestone 30th anniversary for the games, which boasted the participation of a total of 922 county adults over age 55 — exceeding last year’s attendance by more than 100, according to Derek Bendetti, senior health promotion/activity coordinator at the Lancaster County Office of Aging.
The Office of Aging organizes the annual games, along with the Senior Games Planning Committee.
“[The games] are important for numerous reasons, but I think the most important is to connect and celebrate the older adults in Lancaster County. With over 40 sponsors and 300 volunteers, it truly takes the community to make the games possible,” Bendetti said.
After weeks of local weather that seemed to be struggling to shake off winter, Bendetti was happy to report the season finally kicked into springtime gear for the week of the Senior Games. All outdoor events were able to take place, with only a few rain showers temporarily delaying the putting contest.
After sitting in on several preparatory meetings essential to the herculean organizational effort pulls off each year’s games, Heide Moebius, honorary chairperson for the 2018 games, was full of admiration.
“I was truly impressed, not only by the enormity of the necessary objectives that had to be recognized and completed, but by the approach that the (largely volunteer) committee demonstrated,” Moebius said.
“They were admirably organized and prepared and always in a low-pressure, friendly relationship with each other.”
The games’ variety of events — which ranged from swimming and fencing to golf and tai chi — are chosen to cover as many skill levels, interests, and ages as possible. This year’s oldest competitor was 98.
New additions to the event roster included cornhole, which became one of the most popular events, Bendetti said, with 252 registered participants. Noncompetitive additions were Geri-Fit exercise, chair yoga, and educational sessions of fitness technology and advanced planning, which was helmed by Groff Funeral and Cremation Services.
Meobius is a familiar face at the Lancaster Senior Games. An accomplished tennis player, downhill skier, and horseback rider, at age 55 Moebius took up running and has spent the last 20 years competing internationally in nearly 700 races.
“I was honored and pleased to have been requested to act as honorary chair of the event,” Moebius said. “In return, I tried to be a good, active chair, visiting as many of the individual sports competitions as time allowed and participating myself in all the running competitions.”
Moebius won gold medals in all three of those running events, adding to her impressive lifetime tally: 19 (now 22) gold medals in the Lancaster Senior Games, more than 30 medals at the state games, and 19 at the National Senior Olympics.
She noted the local Senior Games benefit all levels of athletes, from casual, once-a-year participants to those who make fitness a year-round endeavor, including those bound for the Pennsylvania Senior Games to be held in late July in Luzerne County.
“The games serve as practice events for some of the advanced, state-games-bound competitors and for all the others, to have a good time with old acquaintances, remember past successes, or maybe even supplement their home exercises.”
Both Moebius and Bendetti said they appreciate the feedback they receive from the games’ hundreds of athletes.
“[Their remarks were] very positive,” Bendetti said. “Countless participants show their gratitude by thanking Senior Games committee members and volunteers.”
It’s during those personal interactions that Bendetti sees most clearly the fruits of his and his colleagues’ organizational labors — when he spots “the smiles on the participants’ faces. It’s great to see everyone having a good time competing and socializing with one another.”
For a complete list of 2018 results, visit www.lancseniorgames.org/results.