The swoosh of basketballs going through the net, the clank of golf balls landing in the cup and the sound of laughter filled the air during the first annual Senior Health Care Olympics held in Winter Park held July 10. The community event brought together about 150 area seniors from local health care facilities, their friends and family, volunteers and health care professionals representing nearly 20 health care providers.
Hosted by Westchester of Winter Park Assisted Living Facility, the “Olympics” featured resident teams from Westchester, Orlando Health and Rehab Center, OLT-Windsor Place, Chambrel at Island Lake, Renaissance Retirement Living Community, Longwood Healthcare, Eastbrooke Gardens, Serenades by Sonata, Grand Villa of Altamonte Springs and Regents Park of Winter Park.
“I thought this was a great idea,” said Bobbie Craig, a resident of Westchester of Winter Park Assisted Living Facility who took part in the basketball and stationary cycling events. “I’m looking forward to taking part in it again next year,” added Craig, who used to be an avid swimmer and tennis player, and regularly watches sporting events such as Wimbledon.
In addition to basketball and stationary cycling, the “Olympic athletes” also took part in low-impact volleyball, archery, shot put and golf. The events were designed to be fun and allow participants of all skill levels and mobility to participate. For instance, volleyball matches were played with a large, soft and slow moving beach ball, and the archery event featured a user-friendly bow with suction cup-tipped arrows. Shot put participants were encouraged to throw a softball-sized ball for distance in any manner they chose.
“We wanted to create an event that brought together health care facility residents, and health care providers, in a day of good fun, camaraderie and celebration,” said Michael Acevedo, administrator at Westchester of Winter Park Assisted Living Facility. “The upcoming Summer Olympics in London provided a perfect theme to base our event on.”
A number of volunteers were on hand throughout the day to assist the athletes as needed. In addition to the events, athletes were also treated to opening and closing ceremonies and lunch. Event organizers said that a major focus of the Olympics and the various events and activities was to create opportunities for socialization among the athletes and all those in attendance.
“Seeing the smiles and listening to the laughter as the athletes took part in the games and socialized made it all worth it,” said Christa Roman, who was volunteering at the event on behalf of Samaritan Care Hospice of Florida. “It was an outstanding experience and an event we were glad to support.”
In addition to Samaritan Care Hospice of Florida, other organizations that sponsored the event included Comfort Keepers of Altamonte Springs, Towers Home Care & Rehabilitation Services, A+ Home-Aid, Daniels Professional Care Management Services, Colonial Medical Supplies, Vitas Innovative Hospice Care, Regents Park of Winter Park and Firehouse Subs.
Ken Zeszutko was a volunteer at the Senior Health Care Olympics.