The Franklin County Silver Games is turning 25 years old.
And organizers would love to see an increase in participation this year as a way to celebrate the milestone.
This year’s Franklin County Silver Games will be held from Sept. 6-11 at various locations throughout the county. The event promotes the health and wellness of men and women 50 years of age and older by providing them with opportunities to compete in numerous Olympic-style events.
Marvin Westhoelter, president of the Franklin County Silver Games, said he hopes to see a huge turnout this year.
“This is our 25th anniversary,” Westhoelter said. “It’s a very popular event. We’ve been right around 460-470 people participating every year. We’d really like to get over 500 this year. That’s our goal.”
Registration is now under way and the deadline is Aug. 4. To register, call 636-231-4081 or 636-584-4172. Forms are also available online at www.franklincosilvergames.com, at The Homestead at Hickory View and at local senior centers. The registration fee is $15. There are additional fees for bowling, golf, power volleyball, sporting clays and the picnic. Medals are awarded to top finishers, and all who sign up will receive a T-shirt. Food and refreshments are also provided.
Events take place all over the county, with Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and Sullivan hosting events this year. The Four Rivers Family YMCA and N-Sports Rec Center are locations in Washington, while Oasis Lanes and City Park in Union also host events. The St. Clair Knights of Columbus and the Sullivan Golf Course are other locations. A picnic finishes off the event, and there will be attendance prizes, raffles and refreshments.
The Silver Games started in 1989 in the area, with Linda Metcalf and Penny Seaton playing a big role in getting things started locally. Westhoelter has been involved with the games since 1998.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s good physical exercise and you meet new people. There are social, physical and mental benefits of participating.”
Les Gardner is the current vice president of the Silver Games. He first participated in 1996 and has been involved ever since.
“I’ve enjoyed it tremendously,” he said. “I enjoy the picnic, I enjoy the camaraderie and I like the social atmosphere.”
Gardner admitted he also enjoys the competitive side of things, too.
“It’s testing the body to see if it can still do what I want it to do,” Gardner said. “Sometimes when you try something you don’t think you’d enjoy it turns out to be a rewarding experience. That’s what we’d like people to do. Give it a try.”
Barb Hellmann is the marketing director for the games. Hellmann, The Homestead at Hickory View’s Director of Community Relations, said she encourages seniors who have never participated in the event to sign up and give it a try this year.
“There is something for everyone,” Hellmann said. “There’s so much out there. Plus, they can meet new people, have a meal, enjoy the camaraderie and just participate in life.”
Hellmann said seniors who have some physical limitations can still find something to participate in with the Silver Games. Simply put, you don’t have to be a track and field star to compete.
“Even someone who uses a walker, that shouldn’t stop them from participating,” Hellmann said. “There are things they can do, too. And they’ll feel good about themselves when they do it.”
Added Gardner: “Someone who may have some physical problems may not get to socialize with people too much. This is an opportunity for them to get out and participate.”
Shuffleboard, card games, billiards, washers, and table tennis are just a few of the events offered that don’t require a lot of strenuous activity.
“Why not challenge your brain, too?” Hellmann asked.
Hellmann said the community has shown great support for the event. She added more volunteers, sponsorships or even donations are needed.
“It’s a great opportunity to participate,” Hellmann said. “We really want to break 500 entries this year.”
While there are no new events this year, recent additions like bocce ball and sporting clays will return to the schedule of events.
“We’re always looking for new events that people want to enjoy,” Gardner said. “That’s the whole purpose of the games, to get people involved in something they enjoy.”
The event will begin on Saturday, Sept. 6, with tennis at Phoenix Park in Washington and water volleyball at the Four Rivers Family YMCA, also in Washington.
Events scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 7, include cycling on the riverfront trail, power volleyball and swimming. Golf, miniature golf, shuffleboard, canasta, bridge and bocce ball are scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8. Target shooting, billiards, darts, bowling, horseshoes and sporting clay competitions are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 9, at locations to be determined. The bowling and billiards will be at Oasis Lanes in Union. Track and field events will be held Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Pacific High School. Other events on Wednesday are pickle ball, washers and dominoes.
Events scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 11, are pinochle, table tennis, a dance contest and then the picnic.
A full schedule will be printed at a later date.