“Joyful” best described our gathering in Phoenix, and when you read Elli Edgar’s Personal Best profile you will understand why. Elli has put cancer and other setbacks in the rear view mirror and finds joy in every day and every person she encounters. The event at Phoenix City Hall was set up to be a news conference but ended up as a celebration. More than 20 other Arizona Senior Olympians going to the National Senior Games Presented by Humana in July were in attendance, and an equal number of people from Elli’s salon, family and friends turned out to reflect her enthusiasm…and joy. Two TV stations and KTAR talk radio helped share our message too.
Our emcee was Dr. Art Mollen, a popular selling author, local television contributor and fitness advocate who has run in the Boston Marathon and continues with distance runs and triathlons when his busy practice allows. Councilman Daniel Valenzuela recognized the importance of
the senior games movement in Arizona and spoke about the city’s new FitPHX program which he co- chairs. “Our goal is to create the healthiest city in the country, and we are honored to have the National Senior Games Association select Phoenix for one of their ten stops partly due to our commitment to this new initiative,” he said. “The whole idea is to get people active and driving to achieve their personal best just like those of you here today.”
As is her manner, when she was brought up for the award Elli thanked everyone else in her
life, praised the Arizona Senior Olympics and recognized Dr. Mollen for his longtime advocacy before recounting the renewed athletic ambitions with her badminton partner and lifelong friend Kathy Miller. “It really started again when we both turned 65. I was overweight and pre- diabetic, but I’ve lost 35 pounds and no longer have that problem,” she said. She also revealed that the team has sustained another setback with Kathy injuring her Achilles tendon a week earlier. “That won’t stop us. We’re excited to be finally going to the national games even if I have to carry her on my back. We will do what we can and enjoy every minute of it. If we get eliminated early we’ll volunteer to help. The journey should be joyful!”
NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker emphasized every senior athlete practices the personal best attitude and asked those attending to stand and be recognized. “Share your stories, be ambassadors to go out and get more people involved. By 2020 there will be three times as many seniors as today. People are living longer, but living longer in a productive quality life is what is important.”
After warm words from Arizona Senior Olympics Executive Director Irene Stillwell, the gathering enjoyed comments from Mike Franks, west coast president for senior products with Humana, who sponsors the state games as well as our nationals. Himself a triathlete preparing for his first Iron Man competition, the fit Franks immediately bonded with the audience and Elli. “Just seeing your energy and spirit here today Elli it’s clear – cancer doesn’t have a shot with you.” THANKS Arizona. Our next stop on June 19th will rock Chicago – literally! Check back soon as we get ready for the National Senior Games with the “Eye of the Tiger.”