Founders of Games in Maryland and Georgia Recognized for Contributions to Growth of Games
ST. PAUL, Minn. (July 10, 2015) – The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) only gives out two service awards, and bestows them only once every two years in conjunction with the National Senior Games, the largest multi-sport event in the world for people age 50 and over. In 2015, pioneers of the Senior Games Movement from Maryland and Georgia were given due recognition.
During the Celebration of Athletes sponsored by AstraZeneca Diabetes, held this evening at CHS Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota, Dr. Robert Ziegler of Baltimore, Maryland was honored onstage with the prestigious Warren Blaney Lifetime Achievement Award for state and national service. The other 2015 NSGA honor was The Harris Frank Distinguished Service Award, which was presented to Vicki Pilgram, the founder of Georgia Golden Olympics.
The Celebration of Athletes, which features a Parade of Athletes and state flags, is held in the middle of the biennial National Senior Games, which were hosted this year by Bloomington, Minneapolis and St. Paul. More than 4,000 athletes and spectators were in attendance to witness the award presentation.
“The Warren Blaney Lifetime Achievement Award is presented for innovation in Senior Games programming and promotion,” said NSGA Board Chair Stephen Rodriguez. “Dr. Robert Ziegler has been at the forefront of our movement on both the state and national level and we owe him a great debt of gratitude.”
In 1980, Zeigler, a Professor of Physical Education at Towson University and Vice Chairman of the Baltimore County Physical Fitness Commission, joined with the Maryland Department of Aging to create the Maryland Senior Olympics. Over the years he has been an athlete participant, state games coordinator, commission and honor awards committee chair. He was also involved with the formation of the National Senior Olympics Organization and served on the NSGA Board from 1987 through 1990 then again from 1991 through 2000.
Last year, Zeigler retired after 35 years of service to the Maryland Senior Olympics. “I probably couldn’t imagine back on October 4, 1980 (my 49th birthday) that what we started would still be going strong,” he stated in his resignation letter. “It has been a labor of love, to be sure, and one of my most gratifying experiences of my professional life and career.”
Also at the ceremony, the Harris Frank Distinguished Service Award was given to Vicki Pilgram of Winder, Georgia for her “outstanding leadership in the Senior Games movement.”
Pilgram lead the effort that resulted in the first Georgia Golden Olympics in 1983. At the time, she represented the Georgia Department of Public Health and forged a partnership among six organizations that also included Georgia State Parks and Warner Robbins Air Force Base. The Georgia Golden Olympics is now the NSGA sanctioned state event for athletes from the Peach State to qualify the National Senior Games, which have been held in various host cities around the United States every two years since 1987.
Although retired since 2007, Pilgram continues to lead the Georgia Golden Olympics as the Executive Director of the not-for-profit organization. She served on the NSGA Board of Directors for several years in the late 1990s and was elected this year to serve as the Southeast Regional Coordinator on the NSGA Board. Pilgram has also been honored with induction into the Georgia Recreation and Parks Hall of Fame and was awarded the Key to the City of Warner Robbins.
In the presentation to Pilgram, Rodriguez said “Vicki had a vision and determination to form quality senior games for the state of Georgia, and has consistently shown a true passion for our mission since the early 1980s.”
The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) is a nonprofit member of the United States Olympic Committee that promotes health and wellness for adults 50 and over through education, fitness and sport. NSGA governs the 2015 National Senior Games presented by Humana, the largest qualified multi-sport event in the world for seniors. NSGA sanctions member state organizations across the country that host Senior Games or Senior Olympics to provide seniors with quality sports activity. For more information, please visit www.NSGA.com
PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Gallagher
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