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Clearwater, Florida

The 2015 Florida Senior Games began with an awards ceremony to honor their 2014 Games Athletes of the Year, Walt Deal and Danuta Kubelik. Both are past National Senior Games competitors. Also at the ceremony was State Representative Kathleen Peters, second from right and City of Clearwater Government Mayor, George Cretekos. It was the first time in the event’s 24 year history that the state games had been hosted in Clearwater, which is celebrating its centennial this year.

The program, held outside of the Long Center that was the venue for swimming and other events, was the perfect opportunity for an NSGA Personal Best presentation. More than 100 athletes and others heard NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker honor 90-year-old swimmer and runner Ryan Beighley. In the photo here, Ryan displays his Personal Best certificate with his wife Marty by his side, with Riker (left) and Florida Sports Foundation Senior Vice President (and current NSGA Board Chair) Stephen Rodriguez congratulating him.

Ryan immediately cracked up the audience with his Irish wit in his brief remarks. “Isn’t it customary that an award recipient gets a hug of congratulations?” he wondered, turning to look back at Rep. Peters. She gladly complied with a laugh and a hug.

Later the same day, NSGA and the Florida Senior Games hosted a bowling clinic for non-ambulatory veterans from the Bay Pines Veterans facility at Seminole Lanes, the bowling venue for the state games.

US Dept. of Veterans Affairs Recreation Therapist Lin Hales recruited several vets from the facility and the clinic was facilitated by Cory Krause, Seminole Lane’s general manager. One of the veterans, 65-year-old John Starr (in chair on left) had not bowled in over 20 years and smiled from ear to ear as he scored two strikes and a finishing score of 141.

NSGA’s Marc T. Riker, Becky Sewell and Del Moon were on hand to help and congratulate the vets. “We hope to work with our states to have many more clinics like this around the country next year to stimulate more participation,” Riker said, noting that the 2017 Games in Birmingham will again offer non-ambulatory bowling, horseshoes and shuffleboard divisions.

The 2015 Florida Senior Games enjoyed robust athlete participation with more than 2,000 athletes in 24 sports over nine days of competition. We ran into many National Senior Games athletes, including two cycling gold medalists, Kathy Petrillo and Cheryl Cherry shown below. Cherry shattered the Florida games 5K time trial record. Moon also caught up with one of his 2015 Personal Best feature subjects, 94-year-old John C. Taylor from Atlanta, who was the eldest participant. And at archery, Sewell (left, below) and Riker presented the gold to Jack Cason, who also snagged the gold in men’s 80-83 compound release in Minnesota.

Our thanks to FSG event manager Sarah Kirchberg and the rest of the staff and volunteers for their hospitality and for running well-organized games!

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