It’s that time of year again — seniors throughout the county are packing their bags for the North Carolina Senior Games State Finals in Cary and Raleigh.
The State Finals are held over a period of 16 days and showcase more than 3,400 registered participants in over 70 sports and arts activities. Since their origin in 1985, these events have provided individuals, from participants to volunteers, an opportunity to showcase their talents, enjoy being active, renew old skills and learn new ones.
Seniors from Rockingham, Hamlet, Ellerbe and East Rockingham are planning to attend the State Finals this year, according to Millie Wright, assistant coordinator and past volunteer.
“The (State Finals) are held every year,” Wright said. “When they go to state, they have a chance to qualify to go to nationals.”
Seniors are divided into age divisions and compete in sports like archery, bowling, shot put and tennis, as well as SilverArts such as visual, literary and performing arts.
“They have just about everything that we do here,” Wright said. “Bocce, shuffleboard, tennis, swimming … They also do basketball, which we don’t have anyone playing, and they do things like baseball and croquet.”
Pete Wheeler, Senior Games coordinator and participant, said more than 30 seniors are planning to attend this year, with two already participating in the bowling tournament.
“The rest of us are headed up on Thursday for the opening ceremony,” Wheeler said.
Thursday night will also kick off the cheerleading competition, in which eleven of the Hamlet Senior Shakers will compete.
Wheeler, who attended the State Finals last year, said she plans to compete again this year in the cheerleading competition.
“There are thousands of people up there,” she said. “I did shuffleboard last year and it was all day long. There are competitors anywhere from 55 to 92 in age. There is even someone that’s competing this year that is 100 years old. We have a good time. It’s good fellowship and it’s good for our health, too.”
A recent grant from Pee Dee Electric has also provided the members of Senior Games of Richmond County with new equipment and storage.
“We needed a storage building to put our things and some new athletic equipment,” Wheeler said. “They presented us a check for $4,500. It took about a year and a half to get all the equipment purchased and in place, and we just completed all of that. Pee Dee Electric was just awesome to work with.”
The State Finals began on Monday and will continue through Oct. 11, Wheeler said. Those who qualify will get the chance to advance to National Games held in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 21 to Aug. 1 of 2013.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.