Cool breezes accompanied the 2019 Four-County Senior Games Friday at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, but no complaints were heard from participants who were grateful that the rain held off, and the sun prevailed.
The event, which drew in approximately 246 participants comprising seniors, staff, event committee members, volunteers and ATA drivers, included a variety of indoor and outdoor games, with lunch and snacks served in the Frame-Westerberg Commons building at Pitt-Bradford. Participants hailed from nursing facilities and senior centers in Cameron, Elk, McKean and Potter counties. Competition was held in events that included wheelchair races, basketball free throw, Bocce, Wii bowling, darts, frisbee, putting, softball throw and table pool.
Bill Orzechowski, executive director of the Office of Human Services, had stated the purpose of the local senior games, held since the 1970s, was for participants to have a good time and socialize.
Some of the seniors who commented on the event apparently agreed with this assessment.
“I think it’s great, I come every year and I win the ribbons” for the competitions, said Dorothy Niver of Bradford. “I enjoy the exercise.”
Her friend, Barbara Daniels of Bradford, added, “It’s a fun day to get out with friends” from the Bradford Area Senior Center.
Another participant, Lelia Bauer, said she enjoys the activity every year, despite her limitations.
“Even though I’m having trouble walking … I like getting out and doing the games,” Bauer said, noting she played softball in her youth. “I think this is fun.”
Jean Martin, who attended the event from the Coudersport Senior Center with her husband, George, said they have participated in the senior games for several years.
“I got up at 6 o’clock because we have to come from Roulette” for the event, Martin said, noting she and her husband drive each year to the event. “We love it.”
Volunteers at the event included John Fidurko and Erick Wells, employees at the Bradford Ecumenical Home.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Fidurko said of the senior games.
Both said another plus of the event is connecting with other staff from area nursing facilities who also volunteer at the games.
Brenda Szuba, activities director at Sena Kean Manor in Smethport and a volunteer at the games, said she always enjoys the event.
“This is so much fun and it’s nice to see each other and do a little reminiscing” with staff from other facilities, Szuba remarked. “And (the seniors) enjoy this, they love it.”
Kelli Anderson, registered dietician from Bradford Ecumenical Home, said the seniors appear to enjoy getting out in the fresh air and showing off their abilities.
“They really seem to enjoy it and getting ribbons at the end,” Anderson added.
Robert Torres, secretary of the Department of Aging in Harrisburg, made his first-ever visit to the event and region.
“The drive up was a little rough because we were in and out of a few storms last night,” Torres said, noting he was invited to the event. “I’m happy to be here … I try to get around and I like to support activities like this and promote senior well-being.
“It’s an opportunity to come up to different parts of Pennsylvania and meet with the area agencies on aging and senior centers,” he continued. “It helps educate me on local and regional issues.”
Torres said another important aspect of the event is that it promotes physical, mental and social interaction between seniors.
“It’s healthy all-around,” Torres concluded.