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Portland, Maine

Pictured to the left Becky Dube (left) with Martin's Point Health Care congratulates Maine Senior Games Coordinator Jo Dill as recipient of their inaugural Medallion Award, while Jerry LeVassaseur displays his Personal Best Award presented by NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker.

An enthusiastic throng of Mainers joined to honor 76 year old senior athlete Jerry Levasseur of Brunswick with our "Personal Best Award" during the Maine Senior Games kickoff luncheon.

Jerry LeVasseur deserves his own line under "survivor" in the dictionary. As recounted in his Personal Best profile and in our presentation, 70 years ago he suffered life-threatening injuries in a circus tent fire in Hartford, CT. 168 people perished, including his mother. Jerry spent six months in the hospital with severe upper body burns. The presentation recounted how he has overcome every challenge and made the most of his life, including a remarkable career as a senior athlete who has won over 1,000 races in his age classes in state, national and international meets.

During the program many examples were given for how the retired accountant helps others, including serving as a board member of both the Maine Senior Games and the NSGA national board. For the past decade he has been a volunteer coach with the track and cross country teams at Bowdoin College in Brunswick where he lives, and among those paying tribute were Bowdoin College Head Track Coach Peter Slovenski and two former students who were coached by Levasseur. "He never quits," Slovenski said. "Nothing we ask him to do is below him to do. He has an incredible work ethic as a coach and a teacher and has an amazing competitive enthusiasm and is a great role model to our kids to continue running after college."

“We all know about his athletic achievements, but that’s not why we chose to honor Jerry. That stuff speaks for itself," NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker told the gathering. “It’s more about what a difference he has made in other people’s lives, and he has done it over and over and over."

The most emotional moment was a show-stealing presentation of a new Medallion Award to Jo Dill by Martin's Point Health Care, a major sponsor of Maine Senior Games. Dill, who knows everything going on with their games, was led to believe another volunteer would be the recipient, and was surprised to see her face and name come up on the screen as it was announced. NSGA knows how hard Jo works to put on well organized and hospitable games and we congratulate her as most deserving to be the first to receive this new service award.

The following day we participated in the opening ceremony and torch run and witnessed the 5K road race, the first of many qualifying events for the 2015 National Senior Games Presented by Humana to be held in Minnesota. Riker was invited to carry the torch for a segment, and Levasseur assisted with lighting the cauldron to cap off a beautiful Maine spring day. And yes, the lobsters were delicious too!

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