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January 23, 2013

Michigan Senior Olympics returns for Winter Games

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — Although registration for people wishing to compete in the 2013 Michigan Senior Olympics Winter Games has closed, organizers say there’s still a variety of ways the public can be a part of the action.

The Michigan Senior Olympics is currently searching for volunteers of all ages to assist before and during this year’s events. Volunteering is a great way to get involved, according to Michigan Senior Olympics spokesperson Becky Ridky.

“For the winter games, we need about 50 volunteers,” she said. “They do everything from check in and registration to scorekeeping for badminton or hockey.”

The Michigan Senior Olympics also relies strongly upon sponsors, Ridky added. This year’s major sponsors are the Older Persons’ Commission, Cherrywood Nursing & Living Center, Boulevard Health Center, Simasko Law, Sleep Solutions, Priority Health, Divinity Home Care and Goss Chiropractic Clinics, but she said there are lots of different sponsorship opportunities still available. The Michigan Senior Olympics is also partially supported by a Brooksie Way Minigrant.

The Winter Games — which include badminton, pickleball, racquetball, power lifting, hockey, bocce ball and dance sport — will take place on various days Feb. 1-6 throughout Oakland County.

“This year is when nationals are going to be held. The participants qualified during our last games, in the summer, so the Winter Games are going to be a good practice for the national senior games, which are going to be held in Cleveland this summer, in July,” Ridkey said.

Ridkey expects approximately 400 participants ages 50 and older to compete in the Winter Games this year.

“This is going to be the first year that pickleball is recognized as a national sport, so our numbers in pickleball have increased greatly. We have 90 participants just in the pickleball tournament. That is our largest sport,” she said.

All of the games, with the exception of dance sport, are free for spectators to watch, Ridkey said.

“It’s always inspiring to see senior athletes participating. They are so great at the sports that they participate in — they are in great shape, they are very athletic, and it’s just a lot of fun to see,” she added.

Terry Hasty, 59, of Sterling Heights, is one of the many seniors who will compete in the dance sport competition, which will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Royal Park Hotel. Tickets are $45 for dinner and the performances, or $20 for just the performances.

Hasty, who teaches at Argentine Tango Detroit in Utica, has been a dance teacher since 1972. This will be his seventh consecutive year competing in the Michigan Senior Olympics, and he said it’s always a fun, elegant evening.

“Due to the popularity of the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ television show, the event gives the general public an opportunity to see very good ballroom dancing done by regular people with regular lives. It’s a great opportunity to see how much fun the average person who takes dancing lessons has,” he said.

Another event that Ridkey said is sure to be a hit with the public is the championship hockey game, which begins at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Troy Sports Center.

The Michigan Senior Olympics is a nonprofit organization that aims to enhance the quality of life for those older than 50 by providing and developing programs in physical fitness and nutrition, while enhancing mental strength and sports skills during summer and winter games.

For more information, to volunteer, or to become a sponsor, call the Michigan Senior Olympics Office at (248) 608-0252 or visit www.michiganseniorolympics.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.