PRIMETIME: Senior Olympics

Published 3:50 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

LUCASVILLE — Donna Holbrook, of Ironton, played some bingo, a game of bowling or two and spent some time with Elvis.

She walked away at the end of the day with a trophy and a few stuffed animals.

Holbrook and 12 other Bryant Health Center residents were among several hundred seniors who took part in the ninth annual Senior Olympics Sept. 18, at the Scioto County Fairgrounds in Lucasville.

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The event brought nursing home and personal care residents from as far away as Columbus and Lewis County, Ky., for a day of togetherness, fun and a little friendly competition. Bryant and Sunset Health Care in Coal Grove were the two Lawrence County entities to take part. The participants get to try their hand at everything from checkers to horseshoes to penny pitching. All the entrants took home a trophy and those who won an event got stuffed animals and other prizes.

Debbie Osborne, activities director for Bryant, said those who take part look forward to going and are not at a loss for enthusiasm during the day-long event.

“Our seniors, you get them there and they start acting like kids,” she mused.

Linda Harper, another Bryant resident, won a doll for her cornhole prowess. It was the first time she had attended the Senior Olympics.

It was the first time for Patricia Colburn, too.

“It was interesting how many people were there,” she noted. They came from all over.”

Several area businesses and agencies donated time or products. Life Ambulance organized a hot dog and hamburger lunch while Patriot Ambulance donated free T-shirts to Ironton area competitors.

And there was entertainment, too. An Elvis impersonator made an appearance.

“I got hugs and kisses from him,” Holbrook said with a smile.

The event included a visit from former Pittsburgh Pirate Al “Scoops” Oliver and a performance by a clogging group and a local high school band.

“The band was really good,” Colburn said.

Some Scioto high school students spent the day as helpers. By the end of the day, the competitors and their younger companions had become friends.

“One little blond-headed boy hugged me when he left,” Harper said. “The girl who was with me hugged me, too.”

Thursday’s event was also the first time for Betty Koukos, who excelled enough at bingo to take home prizes as well as fond memories.

Her trip to Lucasville was a success in more ways than one. She made friends, had fun and found something to look forward to next year.

“I’ll go every year,” she said, “if I can.”