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The Long Run - July 2016

Association News
2019 Games Will Be in...Albuquerque! 
We are excited to officially announce that The 2019 National Senior Games will head Southwest to be hosted in Albuquerque, New Mexico!
 
CEO Marc T. Riker and several NSGA staffers attended the press conference on July 12, held on the plaza outside of the Albuquerque Convention Center. Mayor Richard J. Berry and members of the host bid team expressed their pride and confidence with the sport venues, amenities and the unique athlete experience that will be found in the Land of Enchantment.
 
"Sports tourism is an incredible opportunity for Albuquerque, Berry said. "This is why we have been intentional in the investments we have made to make Albuquerque a perfect destination for this prestigious event.  Our city is very excited to open our doors to the athletes, their families, and friends as we host the National Senior Games in the summer of 2019."
 
The mayor's comments were amplified by representatives from the city's Department of Senior Affairs, Parks and Recreation Department, Visit Albuquerque, the New Mexico Aging and Long Term Services Department, New Mexico Senior Olympics, the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Police Department, and others.
 
Riker credited a spirit of unity as a compelling quality of the city's bid effort. "When we made our site visit to Albuquerque, the biggest thing that impressed us was that everyone shared a passion for seniors and providing services for their elder citizens," Riker said. "Mayor Berry uses the motto 'One City, One Team' and it's clear that they are a team. NSGA is confident Albuquerque will do whatever it takes to welcome our athletes and visitors, and to help produce outstanding games at great venues in 2019."
 
Many New Mexico senior athletes were also present to help celebrate the selection, including ladies' basketball team members from the Big Dogs, Canyon Nets, and League of Their Own, and from the Albuquerque Silver Gloves softball team. Following the gathering, NSGA staff members traveled to Roswell to share the news at the New Mexico Senior Olympics opening ceremony the next day. 
 
Triumph over MS Highlights Personal Best Tennessee Presentation 
NSGA's latest 2016 Personal Best athlete is 80-year-old Eleanor Pendergraft of Johnson City, Tennessee, who has a truly remarkable and inspiring story of overcoming two debilitating decades with multiple sclerosis through fitness, and then keeping it at bay for the past eight years through competition in road race and track events.
 
NSGA's Marc T. Riker shared her story at the Tennessee Senior Olympics dinner on June 27 that was attended by over 400 high-spirited athletes and supporters. Do not pass up reading the "Standing Up To MS" feature, and check out the tour blog for details and photos from our visit to Williamson County on thePersonal Best page at NSGA.com
 

Game On!
2017 Venue Snapshot: Softball at Liberty Park     
The Liberty Park Sports Complex will host softball competition for 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Birmingham. Built in 1995, it is located just 25 minutes from downtown in scenic Vestavia Hills. With its convenient hub design and amenities, Liberty Park has become a popular softball tournament destination.
 
There are lighted fields, ample parking and spectator seating, paved sidewalks, covered dugouts, plus permanent concession facilities and bathrooms. Some fields have smaller outfields that will be used for older age divisions.  In addition, there are two storm shelters that can hold 1,025 people.
 
Culture for Free
Perhaps the best free sightseer deal for athletes and visitors will be found at The Birmingham Museum of Art, which is in walking distance from the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center,the hub of activity for The Games.
 
The Birmingham Museum of Art covers 3.9 acres in the heart of downtown's cultural district. It is one of the finest regional museums in the United States, housing a diverse collection of more than 26,000 paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and decorative arts dating from ancient to modern times.
 
The collection presents a rich panorama of cultures, featuring the Museum's extensive holdings of Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art. While occasional special exhibits require purchasing a ticket, admission is free to the massive permanent collection.
Qualifying Games A-Plenty Coming Up
We always encourage you to qualify in your own state games, but many like to train in a competitive atmosphere of more games, or have a conflict with game dates near them. Good thing we have 52 choices during this 2016 qualifying year!
 
Games starting in August are Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Other states with continuing events spread over multiple dates include Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire and Vermont. 
 
Check the specifics for the sport event(s) you are interested in by following the link below to find each state's web and contact information. 
 

HUMANA Heroes: Athlete of the Month
Museum Quality
Photo Credit:  Rebekah A. Romero
Many recall the epic battle of centenarians last summer at the 2015 National Senior Games presented by Humana. The matches between Fred Winter and John Zilverberg in men's 100-104 discus, javelin and shot put were hotly contested and caught the attention of many media outlets, including Sports Illustrated and NBC's TODAY Show. ESPN also selected a video clip as a Top Play of the Day.  A commonly-heard phrase on the field that day was, "I want to be like them when I grow up."
 
Who came out on top? "I got him, won all three," said Fred Winter, who also earned gold in the 50 and 100 meter dashes. "I kinda feel sorry for him because he tried so hard. I suppose if he's well, he'll be back though."
 
Fred has taken all the media attention and "attaboys" from athletes and others in stride. "Before I was 100, nobody noticed me," he chuckled. "I've been to all National Senior Games but one, the first one in St. Louis. I got bronzes in the '80s, silvers in the '90s, and now golds after 2000. As I get older, I have less and less competition. I guess I outlasted some people."
Recently, Fred earned an honor beyond anything he could have imagined. Chicago's highly regarded Museum of Science and Industry has included his photo and an auditory message as part of an exhibit focusing on centenarians from across the United States. The exhibit is planned to remain on display for at least 7 years. He, his wife Darlene of 65 years and several family members have already made the trip from Michigan to see it. "Never expected that," he said, "but I think it's great."
 
Fred hasn't always been so athletic, and the turning point came when he was 70 and surveyed other men his age. "I wanted to see how I stacked up," he told People Magazine.  "And let's just say, it wasn't good." That's when he jumped into Senior Games, and he hasn't looked back.
 
The elder athlete now follows a healthy diet, regular exercise and abstains from alcohol. Part of his regimen is to do 100 pushups daily. "I did 130 today," he told us. "What's the record for pushups for my age?"
 
Fred is grateful for his longevity and keeps his vision looking forward. "I survived the Battle of Okinawa and two typhoons," the Navy veteran and former teacher mused. "I never thought then I'd make it to here.  But I'm staying strong, and I'll come to Birmingham for Nationals if the Lord permits me, and I don't have a setback. I'll see how I'm feeling then."
 
Thanks Fred. You are a treasure to behold on the field...and now, in the museum. 
 

Good Luck in Rio!
 

Senior Health and Wellness
The Benefits of Exercise for Brain Health
Senior athletes know that participating in sports provides motivation to keep exercising. Now, research has confirmed that regular activity stimulates brain growth and, in many cases, help stave off or lessen degenerative mental disorders.
 
In a recent blog, Sushma Webber cites research that links exercise and brain health, stating several benefits that regular aerobic exercise provides at any age:  
  • Exercise provides an immediate treatment for the physical and emotional symptoms, because with chronic stress, new neuron production is slowed or grinds to a halt.
  • Exercise increases the levels of the specific neurotransmitters that promote anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
  • Increases Serotonin levels reducing depression and anxiety
  • Exercise also raises the stress threshold of neurons.
  • Exercise can lower inflammatory chemicals. This can occur at all ages. Even just thinking about exercise activates the same neuronal systems in your brain.
  • Physical exercise, especially if it takes place in a new and stimulating environment where learning occurs, is an effective way to promote neurogenesis.
  • Exercise makes new stem cells and learning prolongs their survival.
  • Stem cells can divide into neurons or glial cells through a process enhanced by exercise.
  • The best exercise therefore combines a cardiovascular boost and learning a new skill.
Webber offered a link to a nine-minute video produced by the Beckmann Institute of the University of Illinois that shares how recent research has confirmed the connection between fitness and brain health:
 

 
Help Us Celebrate Our 30th Anniversary!
NSGA wants to share your fondest memories and fitness "secrets." Selected entries will be included on a 30th Anniversary web page and newsletter in 2017, plus in special displays and activities in Birmingham. Follow the links to convenient online forms below.
 
What's Your Favorite Memory of The Games?
It can be any special moment from funny to inspirational. The easy to complete form offers several ideas for the type of brief messages we would love to share with others. You can even attach a photo to go with your story. 
"30 Health and Fitness Secrets of Senior Athletes"
The top 30 athlete "secrets" will be shared with national media in 2017. Tell us yours! It can be an inspiration, a favorite or your own original expression, or advice you have gathered from others. It can be about exercise, nutrition, keeping mentally active, or staying motivated.
 

NSGA Online Merchandise Store
Beep Beep! Senior Athlete Coming Through!
There's nothing better for a senior athlete than to have others see you working out and training and admiring your fitness level. Let them know about your goal for national competition in Birmingham next summer with gear featuring the 2017 National Senior Games logo!
 
Wearables with the 2017 logo and other motivational images are available on our online store.  When you view the link below, simply click on either NSGA or 2017 images to see the various apparel types. Then click "Personalize" to position and add the artwork you want onto your selection. Get started today!
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