FRANKLIN, Tennessee, June 27, 2016 – The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) visited the 36th Tennessee Senior Olympics State Finals to present a Personal Best Award to 80-year-old Eleanor Pendergraft of Johnson City at the annual athlete dinner attended by more than 400.
Since 2013, NSGA's Personal Best program has profiled athletes with wide-ranging stories that will inspire and motivate people to pursue healthy, active lifestyles. Pendergraft, the first Tennessee athlete to be recognized, decided to get into a fitness routine 20 years after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She gradually worked her way from needing a walker to being able to run and compete in the Tennessee Senior Olympics and in the National Senior Games, where she has earned a bronze medal.
“People might say this is a miracle, but Eleanor’s accomplishments came from making the decision to work her way past her affliction,” NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker said. “At every step, every setback, she continued to make the decision to pursue her goals and keep MS at bay. This shows that we all can make a decision to improve our level of fitness and enjoy a higher quality of life.”
An in-depth interview feature about Eleanor and other athletes can be found on the Personal Best page at NSGA.com. "This recognition program is intended to send a message out to aging adults to 'get in the game' and get the most out of their lives," said Riker. "All senior athletes demonstrate that everyone can be their own personal best."
More than 1,900 participated in the 2016 Tennessee Senior Olympics State Finals, which were held at venues in Franklin, Brentwood and other facilities around Williamson County. Top finishers in five-year age divisions in each event can advance to compete in the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana, to be held in Birmingham, Alabama next June 2-15. Pendergraft qualified for several track and field events and for the 5K road race at the Tennessee games.
“I am humbled to receive this recognition,” Pendergraft said. “If I can I can influence one person to get out and do something it will all be worth it.”
NSGA is a nonprofit member of the United States Olympic Committee that promotes health and wellness for adults 50 and over through education, fitness and sport. NSGA governs the biennial National Senior Games and sanctions 52 member organizations across the country and Canada that host Senior Games or Senior Olympics to provide seniors with quality sports activity.
PHOTO: NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker (right) honored Personal Best athlete Eleanor Pendergraft (holding certificate) along with (l to r) Tennessee Senior Olympics Board Chair Lisa Wright, Executive Director Christine Dewbre and triathlete Barbara Bogart, who first encouraged her to get into the games.