Nine months after its inaugural event, the Twin County Senior Olympics is back and better than ever.
The first edition of the Twin County Senior Olympics was a huge hit with participants last September. But organizers have listened to seniors who took part in that event and used their suggestions to better the 2013 edition, which will be held May 31 and June 1.
“We did a survey and people indicated their preference of time of year would be in early- to mid-spring. We’re just trying to meet the needs of the surveys from the participants from last year,” said Amanda Bourne, Assistant Director of Tourism for Carroll County.
Bourne said the surveys showed an overwhelmingly positive response from last year’s participants. Sam McClendon, Director of Parks, Recreation & Tourism in Carroll County, said seniors seemed to enjoy getting together and socializing, something that is often lacking in this area.
Based on participation levels and assessment figures, some events were modified for the 2013 Twin County Senior Olympics. Most notably, the 5K race and swimming events were removed this year.
“And when we put it out we haven’t had anybody complain about that,” McLendon said. “I think we have kind of evolved. I think this is a little more what they were looking for this year.”
The overall format of the Senior Olympics has been modified as well. In 2012, most events were scheduled to take place at a certain time, limiting participation for some seniors in certain events. This year, Bourne said events will be floating to allow seniors to take part in more events at their own pace.
“Events will be open all day long and you can go anytime during the day up until 3:30 and be scored. They can go and practice with their friends early on and then can just tell the volunteer, ‘I want to be scored this time,’” Bourne said. “And that way we kind of hope it will fill in some of the time gaps of folks that were waiting for events last year. And then also some events had an overwhelmingly number of people signed up so it was hard to get them all done in an hour. So we are trying to logistically place that to where they can have more fun all day long.”
The food will also be less formal than last year. Times for lunch and dinner were set at certain times at the 2012 event. This year, sponsor Twin County Funerals will have a food tent with healthy items such as granola bars, yogurt, fruit, and bagels that will be available at any time.
“I think having the events floating will make a difference with it this year. It is going to be more fun,” McLendon said. “We will also have game areas with checkers, chess, cards, ring-tosses, just little games like that so in between they can go and get them something to eat and sit there and get in another game of checkers with a friend or something like that. That was a request we had last year.”
If those types of games are popular enough, McLendon said the committee would look at possibly making them medal or tournament events in the future.
All events will be held at Carroll County High School this year with the exception of golf, bowling and the bicycle race, which will be held at the same venues as last year. Golf will be held at Galax Municipal Course, with the City of Galax donating the course, bowling at Blue Ridge Lanes (with the only charge being $6 for shoes to participants) and the bicycle race at the New River Trail in Fries.
A hard deadline has also been set for May 17 at 5 p.m. this year. Unlike last year, when deadlines were extended to allow for more participation, Bourne said the deadline would be strictly enforced this go around.
“It very difficult to make sure that the score sheets had everybody that was participating on them so it could get to the stations. So that has kind of forced us into making a hard deadline,” Bourne said. “We have tried to encourage people if they don’t know what something is or they don’t know if they want to participate, sign up for everything. We can have you on the score sheet and it’s a whole lot easier for us to scratch you off then it is to add you. So if they want to register for everything, there isn’t an additional charge for any of those events.”
Downloadable forms can be found online at www.CarrollCountyVA.org/recreation or at www.VisittheBlueRidge.com, and can be mailed in to the recreation department along with the $15 registration fee made payable to Carroll County Recreation Dept., P.O. Box 511, Hillsville, Va., 24343.
Volunteers are needed to help man each event and with scoring, McLendon said. A volunteer meeting will be held prior to the two-day event, and the Hillsville Rotary Club has been vital in helping with volunteers, he said.
“The main thing is anybody can come and have fun. You don’t have to be from the Twin County Area. In fact, we had a guy from Roanoke last year that came, and he has already signed up again this year and he is bringing friends,” McLendon said. “The competition isn’t cut throat. It is more fun than anything. Last year they just laughed and had a good time. One lady said it was the most fun she had in her whole life, and another gentleman was 93 and he just had a great time.”
Participants are also encouraged to bring their kids and grandkids to Senior Olympics. A game area will be set up for kids.
Anyone age 50 and older is eligible to participate in the Twin County Senior Olympics. Events will begin May 31 with golf at 11 a.m. at Galax Municipal Golf Course, the bike race at 2 p.m. at New River Trail State Park (Fries entrance) and bowling at 4 p.m. at Blue Ridge Lanes.
All events June 1 will be held at Carroll County High School. Registration for those entered will be held from 7-11 a.m., with Opening Ceremonies beginning at 8:15 a.m., and a Fun Run/Walk at 9 a.m. Floating events held throughout the day will include corn hole, ladder golf, horseshoes, basketball shoot-out, softball pitch, 50-yard dash, football toss, and frisbee throw. Closing Ceremonies will be held at 4:30 p.m.
Age category is determined by participant’s age as of Dec. 31, 2013. Standard competition level by age categories for both men and women will be: 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, 95+.