The Long Run - September 2017
The NSGA hopes and prays that the many people who suffered from the aftermath of the recent hurricanes will have a speedy recovery. We encourage you to do what you feel is appropriate to help communities recover.
The individual who gathers and presents the news usually is in the background. Del Moon, NSGA Media and Communications, manages the monthly e-newsletter with informative and inspiring stories. This month we turn the tables and acknowledge Del for his community caring story.
Del's act of caring for community is shared through the article below that Jeremy Krail of WBRZ reported on September 13th. WBRZ News 2 is an ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge.
LSU alumnus comes to rescue of Florida sanctuary that housed Mike VII
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - An LSU alumnus is going the extra mile (or 300 miles rather) to lend a helping hand to the wildlife sanctuary that gave his alma mater its newest mascot.
The Wild at Heart Wildlife Center, based out of Okeechobee, Florida, was once home to the school's living tiger mascot, Mike VII. Over the the summer, the sanctuary worked out a deal with LSU to send the tiger, previously named Harvey, to Baton Rouge.
However, since that transaction, the center has run into some trouble in the form of Hurricane Irma. On Wednesday, Wild at Heart announced that it was completely without power and had no generators, putting its animals in a very dire situation. Luckily for the center, a good Samaritan and LSU alumnus named Del Moon got in touch and let them know he would deliver a generator to them by Thursday afternoon. Moon, who lives in Safety Harbor, Florida, told the center that he was making the 300-mile round trip with his wife, Jackie.
Moon tells WBRZ that he had bought the generator in preparation for Hurricane Irma. But once the storm passed, he was looking for someone who was in more desperate need of one. That's when he came upon Wild at Heart's Facebook post and decided to do something.
"You guys personify tiger nation. Thank you can never be enough for this. Mr. Moon said happy birthday to Mike and Haley. I say these people are LSU superstars," the center said on Facebook.
NSGA Shares Personal Best Success at Florida Council on Aging Conference
NSGA had the opportunity to participate in the Florida Council on Aging annual conference which was recently held in Orlando. Since many of the senior service and program managers attending are always looking for ways to better communicate and reach their audiences through media, we decided to share our "Personal Best" practice that has generated a great deal of coverage since the health and wellness initiative began in 2013. Health and Wellness Manager Andrew Walker introduced Communications and Media Director Del Moon, who shared a narrative of how our concept developed and gave several story examples that have attracted considerable media attention to NSGA. Walker and Nick Gandy of the Florida Sports Foundation/Florida Senior Games then provided their perspectives, followed by audience interaction and idea sharing for how local councils can use effective storytelling to raise awareness. In 2014, NSGA also made a well-received Personal Best presentation at the New Mexico Conference on Aging. We hope to share our positive message at many more of these professional opportunities!
Top Ten NSGA Records Updated; Results Book Coming Soon
As reported in June, the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana generated 142 new records in specific sport and age categories. That does not count many more great finishes that added names to the list of Top Ten Performances in National Senior Games history for these sports. NSGA has completed its verification and the website page is now updated to reflect all of these new entries. On a related note, the Official Results Book is now in production with an expected October delivery date. All registered athletes for the 2017 Games will receive a copy. Congratulations to everyone. You've set the bar higher for 2019!
Remaining State Games Opportunities for 2017
Keep tuned up at a competitive level as you prepare to qualify in 2018! Registration is still open for some or all events at 2017 Member Games yet to be held this year. Besides, it's a great excuse to go on a road trip! 2017 Games still open to enter include Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Vermont. Visit the individual games' websites to see schedules, sports offered and registration information.
HUMANA Heroes: Athlete of the Month
Daughter Inspires Mom to Get Back in the Saddle
Six years ago, Candace Kennedy-Hess thought her cycling days were long over. The challenges of a single mom raising kids, earning a master's degree at NYU, and pursuing a successful sales and marketing career had relegated her custom bike to be a garage wall hanger for 16 years.
"I grew up on the Jersey Shore and rode bikes a lot," she recalls. "I loved to surf, and used cycling to help keep me in shape. The cycling took over in my 20s and 30s." Candace competed semi-pro in several disciplines, including mountain biking, downhill and cross-country, and she earned her share of podium positions. But at 38, life responsibilities prompted her to hang it up, thinking she was done for good.
Then, in 2011, a family crisis literally started the wheels back in motion. Her daughter Caitlin was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her battle also became Candace's. "In 2012, I was inspired to pull the bike down and entered a Livestrong charity race to help raise money to fight cancer," she says. "It was 75 miles of rolling hills, and I was out of shape and had to walk the bike up the hills. But I finished."
Candace was welcomed by several cyclists she had competed with in the past. "A little switch went off, and I started training again and got back into it." She joined the Sturdy Girls cycling club in Philadelphia, and has since traveled around the country to compete in more than two dozen races each year. "I lost a good bit of weight, and I don't have any problems getting up the hills anymore," she adds.
Racing with mostly younger people, Candace yearned to have more women her age to compete against. "I didn't know about Senior Games until a couple of girls mentioned they had been in them. I thought, maybe I'll go give it a try." She found she could still perform at a high level in the National Senior Games, earning two gold medals in road races and two bronze medals in time trials in 2015. In the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana, she added a silver in the women's 60-64 20K race and finished fifth in the 40K.
"It's exciting to be racing against so many people my own age," she says. "I've made friendships and the camaraderie is terrific."
Caitlin's cancer fight, which has unfortunately seen further complications, continues to fuel Candace. "I will never ever quit a race because I think about my daughter," she says, adding an example from her Birmingham experience. "I dropped my chain when there was about 5K to go. By the time I got it back together, the whole field was two blocks ahead. I was about to quit. Then I thought about Caitlin and all she's been through. I put my head down and caught up, and I ended up on the podium."
In her other races, Candace has found herself to be an inspiration to others. "I constantly race with younger girls, and it gives me a little pleasure to dish out some punishment now and then," she quips. "So many of these elite women who could be my grandchildren come up and tell me I'm an inspiration, and it's humbling. I've never looked at myself as a hero, and that inspires me to do even better."
"If I can set a good example that they can be doing this for their entire life, that's what is most important to me."
We're always looking for great athlete stories! Submit yours, or nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you. Click here for the submission form.
Senior Health and Wellness
Falls Prevention Awareness Day is September 22
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten older adults' safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
NSGA endorses NCOA's 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which is observed on the first day of fall. We are sharing social media tips and information to help spread the word, and several Member Games around the country are also reaching out in their areas, with some participating in local events.
For example, Florida Senior Games is part of a coalition hosting activities at the Sun Coast YMCA in Clearwater, Arizona Senior Olympics is co-hosting an event in Phoenix, and Oklahoma Senior Games is conducting a senior fitness test, including agility and dynamic balance assessments. (See links to FL and AZ flyers above if you live near them.) Also, as reported last month, NSGA Foundation Trustee Dr. Regina Benjamin's Bayou Clinic is hosting a "Matter of Balance" class and a falls screening in cooperation with the University of South Alabama to promote falls awareness. You can help share awareness with the people around you about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. For more information, visit the National Falls Prevention Awareness Day page hosted by the National Council on Aging.
NSGA Online Merchandise Store
You can't have too much if you like letting people know about Senior Games and the benefits you enjoy from your active, healthy lifestyle. The online NSGA Store is where you can order a wide array of wearables imprinted with the NSGA and National Senior Games logos and themes. You can select your own style and colors and can custom imprint to your heart's content.
There's still 2017 logo apparel available at The Official NSGA Store at NSGA.com. But don't wait too long as we will be discontinuing availability in coming months. Get yours now!