By Ciera Heimbigner, Public Affairs Intern
Honolulu is renowned for its luxury hotels and appealing vistas. This year it was popularized as the venue for the National VA Golden Age Games. During May 26-31, 826 Golden Age Veterans, from 55 to 100 years young, participated in what Recreational Therapist, Amanda Kelly from the Washington DC VA Medical Center (DCVAMC) calls, “their own senior Olympics.”
DCVAMC is proud to announce that eleven of our Veterans participated in the 2011 National Golden Age Games. Recreation Therapists Amanda Kelly and Nicki Rubin attended, as well as Andrew White, Chief, Medical Media and Michelle Spivak, Director of Public Affairs.
The National Golden Age Games has the largest turnout of the 6 major special events sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs. These include the popular National Wheelchair Games and the National Creative Arts Games, among others. Recreational therapists love this event for it gives Veterans the chance to play a sport or game that they enjoy at a competitive level with competitors that have similar strengths. The Golden Age Games also offers wheelchair and visually impaired categories. “Just because these participants are fifty-five years or older does not necessarily mean the sports are going to be easy". All skill levels are present at the Games creating a competitive and challenging atmosphere.
The Games are an outstanding therapy tool and an opportunity for fellowship. Veterans can participate in fun sports, engage in their competitive natures, and build camaraderie. Some Veterans have been participating for years and have made lasting friendships that are celebrated each year at these events. Family members are able to join and support their beloved Veterans as well, creating an even more personal atmosphere for participants.
DCVAMC participants and their awards achieved are as follows:
Sunday Abraham (silver for both distances—cycling 1/2 &1/4 Mile; Gold—checkers)
Ardrena Bailey (Gold—shot put; Gold—discus; Silver—Bowling)
Charles Butler; Pete Delonga (Gold—discus; Silver—shot put)
Julius Fleischman (who went skydiving while in Honolulu)
Anthony Floyd (Silver—table tennis)
Robert Laughlin (Bronze—table tennis; Silver—swimming back stroke)
James Milyko (Gold—bowling)
(Documented in alphabetical order).
This year celebrates the 25th anniversary of Golden Age Games and the participation of 826 Veterans was a milestone – representing the largest event ever. Veterans of any skill level can participate. The only requirements for entrance are that the participant must be age fifty-five or older and enrolled for care at a VA Medical Center. Therapists encourage all participants to get out and practice their preferred sports before they actually perform.