Fern Price “Mr. Senior Olympics”

Fern Price has been participating in the Blair County Senior Olympics, hosted by Blair Senior Services, Inc., since 2001. An avid lover of sports his entire life, Fern decided the Senior Olympics was the perfect opportunity for him.

After a few years of participating, Fern decided to become a volunteer and chair several events for the Senior Olympics. “I’ve chaired multiple events in my time with the Senior Olympics, but most recently I’ve chaired the Homerun Derby, Archery, Shuffleboard, and the Bean Bag Toss,” shared Fern.

Fern’s main responsibility as a Chairperson is to monitor the safety of the individuals participating, the weather, and keeping score of the events. To Fern, the most important part of the games are the people. “I come back to the games each year because of the people,” said Fern. “It’s not about the medals you win… it’s the people that you meet. There are so many nice people in the Senior Olympics.”

Fern also shared that being a chairperson has allowed him to see many people’s success. “It’s so much fun to see somebody come in as a newcomer, and then you see how happy they are to still hit a ball at their age… it just makes your day!” Fern explained.

“My advice to anyone who is curious about the Senior Olympics is to go for it! You’re not going to be disappointed with the things that you do or the wonderful people you will meet,” Fern shared.

For more information on the 2020 Blair County Senior Olympics, please visit www.blairsenior.org or call Chelsey Rhodes at (814) 946-1235.

Chelsey Rhodes

Chelsey Rhodes has worked with Blair Senior Services, Inc. for seven years. Currently, Chelsey’s title is Home Delivered Meals Program Supervisor, but she also oversees many other programs and services.

“I oversee the production kitchen that makes the meals for the Home Delivered Meals Program as well as the congregate meals served at all the senior centers,” Chelsey explained. “I also oversee the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, Farmer’s Market voucher distribution, as well as the Senior Olympics.”

Chelsey enjoys all of the programs she supervises, as it gives her the opportunity to get out into the community she loves. “I think the position I’m in now, with all of the different programs I supervise, it allows me to constantly be in the community interacting with seniors and their families,” shared Chelsey.

Among all of the programs that Chelsey oversees, she has been able to meet many different people who have each impacted her life. “Blair Senior Services, Inc. hires staff and volunteers who are so passionate and are a good fit for our agency. That’s what keeps me coming back, a great work environment with great staff and volunteers,” said Chelsey. “However, finding volunteers can be a challenge, especially for the Home Delivered Meals Program. We’re so lucky to have our great group of dedicated volunteers, but there is always a need for more as our region continues to age.” For more information on how you can become a Home Delivered Meals Program volunteer, please contact Chelsey Rhodes at (814) 946-1235 or visit www.blairsenior.org.

Go For The Gold

Blair Senior Services, Inc. Welcomes the 2020 Blair County Senior Olympics

Have you been daydreaming of those warmer, summer days? Enhance the beginning of your summer by participating in Blair County’s 2020 Senior Olympics, hosted by Blair Senior Services, Inc.! For almost 20 years, Blair Senior Services, Inc. has helped Blair County’s older adults, age 50 and older, play the games they’ve grown up with: tennis, bowling, horseshoes, football, basketball, golf, and more. Even those who don’t possess the same mobility as before can participate in Wii Sports, such as Wii Bowling, or play an intellectual game, like crossword puzzles, trivia, word searches, Sudoku, and more. There’s truly something for everyone at the Senior Olympics!

“We really try to have a great variety of activities for all interests and ability levels,” shared Chelsey Rhodes, Home Delivered Meals Program Supervisor who oversees the Senior Olympics. “It’s really nice to see everyone being able to participate and have a great time.”

Photo courtesy of Chelsey Rhodes, Home Delivered Meals Program Supervisor at Blair Senior Services, Inc. | Participants from the 2019 Blair County Senior Olympics participate competitively in the games.

Last year, around 220 athletes competed in the 2019 Senior Olympics, with more than 20 different chairpersons. This competition held 31 sport, leisure and field events in June 2019, with some of the most popular events being bowling, intellectual games, and track and field. Over the past 20 years, thousands of older adult athletes have participated in the Blair County Senior Olympics. Jim Edwards, who has participated in the Senior Olympics for the past 15 years and is featured on the cover of this magazine, has enjoyed the many benefits of the games. “I exercise all year long to get my muscles loosened up and conditioned for the games, then when it comes time, I say ‘okay body, I’ve trained you, let’s show them what we got!’” shared Jim, who will be 91 years old when the 2020 Senior Olympics take place.

“I love the Senior Olympics because it drives me to stay healthy throughout the year. I exercise every week, Monday through Saturday. I love to stay active,” Jim explained. He also has a very technical way to keep track of his progress in the games and how his body is responding. “Each year, I keep track of my times, statistics and results so I can see how my body is performing. Overall, the Senior Olympics isn’t about the medals or winning for me… the icing on the cake is staying active and seeing how much older I have not grown!”

Participants of the Blair County Senior Olympics can also go on to compete in the Pennsylvania State Games. “The Pennsylvania State Games is statewide, anyone can participate and is eligible,” Chelsey explained. “Initially, we started by mimicking the Pennsylvania Senior Games, then as the years progressed, we added more games that may not be included at the state level, but interests some of the local participants to get them even more engaged. Since the Pennsylvania State Games are typically held in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, it can be a far drive for some. So we like to bring part of their games to Blair County to give our participants the same experience.”

The Blair County Senior Olympics would not be the same without the dedicated staff and volunteers. The Blair County Senior Olympics’ Committee, along with staff from Blair Senior Services, Inc., fill leadership roles and organize the entire three to four-week event. The Committee is comprised of members who are chairpersons for an assigned event, or in some cases, several events. “Most events will have one chairperson unless there are males and females participating. Some events will have assistants that will help the chairperson, if needed,” explained Chelsey. The chairperson is often selected for their experience and expertise with their events and is very involved in the planning process. Volunteering for the Senior Olympics doesn’t have to be chairing an event. You can find Senior Olympics volunteers assisting in an array of different ways: keeping time, recording scores, assisting with equipment, and much more.

“Our volunteers are so special,” Chelsey shared. “They help us so much. If we have someone who would like to volunteer, we find them a great position that fits well with their abilities and interests. You can help keep time or score at your favorite event, welcome participants into the event by manning tables, and much more. We want them to have fun while still being involved and participating.”

Bert Lear, a participant and Chairperson for regular golf and miniature golf, has attended and participated in the Senior Olympics since 2012. She has had much personal success since starting the Senior Olympics while also enjoying her volunteering experience. “Since I started, I’ve probably gotten 40-50 different medals, but I mostly enjoy assisting with the different events and just the people,” she explained. “You meet so many nice people! You’re always cheering for them, and they’re always cheering for you, and the first thing you know is that you’ve made so many great new friends.” Bert, who is in the 86-90 age group, says she really enjoys how the Senior Olympic games are molded to different age groups. “There’s something for everyone. If you like to sit down and do puzzles, we have that. If you like to throw a basketball, we have that. If you want to run, we have that too. Whatever you like to do, there’s something here for you!”

The Senior Olympics have helped Bert in more ways than one. “The Senior Olympics has really helped me year-round, even if they only happen one time a year. I try to stay in shape all year so I can keep doing these kinds of activities and do as many as I can. It’s something to look forward to every year which is great.” She also began attending one of the Senior Centers through Blair Senior Services, Inc. after attending the Senior Olympics. “I wanted to continue exercising and staying active, as well as getting the socialization, and the Senior Olympics really opened my mind to going to the Senior Center.” Bert also now serves on a few councils for Blair Senior Services, Inc. “I don’t think I would’ve gotten so involved with all of these different activities if it weren’t for the Senior Olympics.”

Along with all of the volunteers, the Blair County Senior Olympics wouldn’t be the same without the support of the Blair County community, including businesses, organizations, and individuals who help to make the Senior Olympics happen year after year.

“We have different levels of sponsorship that we request. Local agencies are welcome to sponsor, even partnerships with local gyms and activity centers where we can host some of our events. We’re looking for everything, from monetary donations to gifts, trinkets, door prizes, and more,” said Chelsey. “It’s partnerships and sponsorships that make the games so special and it’s always a great help.”

For more information on the Blair County Senior Olympics, or how you can be a sponsor or volunteer, please contact Chelsey Rhodes at (814) 946-1235 or by email at crhodes@blairsenior.org.