Friday, 15 March 2019 17:56

Richmond County Senior Games officially kick off

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Susan Sellers, coordinator of the Richmond County Silver Arts, passes out information packets during Thursday's Senior Games kick-off. Susan Sellers, coordinator of the Richmond County Silver Arts, passes out information packets during Thursday's Senior Games kick-off. Matt Harrelson - Richmond Observer


HAMLET — The Hamlet Senior Center was jam-packed Thursday afternoon as the 29th annual Richmond County Senior Games were set to begin with the kick-off event from 2 to 4 p.m.

Every table was full of adults age 50 and up as they listened intently to senior games coordinators Terry Mercer and Pete Wheeler as they described the packets of information being handed out by Susan Sellers that included a calendar, registration form and liability waiver.

"We want everybody to participate," said Wheeler. "We want everybody to stay healthy. Make sure you that read. You've filled it out for years, but make sure you read and sign it."

Important information, such as what to do for participants who find themselves with overlapping events or what to fill out if someone is part of the performing arts portion of the Silver Arts, was shared with the overall group.

The Senior Games and Silver Arts of Richmond County will take place from April 29 to May 13 with registration beginning Thursday and running to April 4 with a fee of $11. Forms that were handed out are to be mailed to the Hamlet Senior Center at P.O. Box 244, Hamlet, NC 28345 or dropped off at the center before time runs out.

According to Mercer, the Senior Games is a network of 53 local games held in every county or region in North Carolina. It consists of two divisions of competition — Silver Arts for the creative person and official sports for those more athletically inclined.

Any resident how has lived in the state for a minimum of three consecutive months of the year can participate and must be 50 years of age or older. Some of the official sports include archery, billiards, bowling, corn hole, cycling, golf, horseshoes, shuffleboard, swimming and pickleball, among many others.

Medals will be presented to first-, second- and third-place winners at the conclusion of each athletic event. First-, second-, and third-place ribbons will be awarded for literary, visual and heritage arts entries in each sub-category. A "Best of Show" traveling trophy will be awarded only for performing arts, according to the information packet.

Broken down into individual sports, tournament sports and those not offered at the state finals, participants are able to check off whichever events they'd like to compete in.

An entry form for the Silver Arts was also included with blanks left for participants to choose which arts they'd prefer and any additional information such as group names, length of acts, and title of music if applicable.

Sellers, who is in charge of Silver Arts, founded person the Senior Games in Richmond County 29 years ago.

"I retired in 2013, and now I'm back working part-time at the senior center, and I took over the Silver Arts as of last year," Sellers said Thursday at the kick-off. 

In regards to what her motivation was to get involved almost three decades ago, she said, "The participants wanted it. It's that simple."

Sellers also spoke about the philosophy of Silver Arts and how it's a celebration of creative expression for seniors in North Carolina.

"It's a philosophy that strives to keep seniors healthy, active and involved," said Sellars. "Silver Arts unites the athlete and artist in a program that recognizes the similarities of both endeavors: discipline, dedication and pride in one's accomplishments."

Silver Arts is broken down into four categories of heritage arts, literary arts, performing arts and visual arts. Heritage includes things such as basket weaving, needlework, knitting, pottery and quilting. The literary arts has sub-categories of essays, life experience writings, poems and short stories. Performing arts are comedy and drama performances, dance, instrumental and vocal while visual arts is drawing, mixed media, photography and sculptures.

Sarah Locklear, who has been director of the Hamlet Senior Center for three weeks, said Thursday that the Senior Games and Silver Arts are extremely important for a healthy life.

"We need to make sure people are participating, that we get entries, make sure that they're having fun and they have a support system to come together and do these types of things," she said. "The more people are involved, the more active they are within the senior center and beyond such as the Senior Games and the healthier of life they will have and quality of life they will have."

Mercer said earlier in the week that the last two years have seen the participation number jump above 200, and this year they'd like to go as high as 250 people get involved. The determination of the athletes and performers is second to none, and Locklear has already seen it first hand in a short amount of time.

"We have people here in their 80s and 90s who do circles around me. They're so involved in so many things," she said. "One of my employees, Doris, she is 80 years old, and she can get up in the morning, exercise with the exercise group here, come to work and then go off and do whatever else she has to do the rest of the day. It amazes me."

Anyone interested in participating in the Senior Games and Sliver Arts or looking for more information can call the Hamlet Senior Center at 910-582-7985 or go to the senior center's website online.