Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Kids' Join the Elders in Senior Games

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Kids' Join the Elders in Senior Games

Article excerpt

At age 50, without so much as a gulp, Marty Oberman signed up as a "senior" to play basketball at the 17th annual St. Louis Senior Olympics.

Oberman, lean, tan and with only a few gray hairs in his sideburns, stood outside the Jewish Community Centers Association in west St. Louis County Sunday waiting for the games to begin.

"I've volunteered for 17 years," said Oberman of Creve Coeur, a former St. Louis Senior Olympic chairman, "and this is going to be a lot more fun."

The St. Louis Senior Olympics lowered the entry age this year to 50 from 55, and 142 people, born during or immediately after World War II, signed up for such events as track, golf, ballroom dancing and tennis at the JCCA and other sites through Wednesday.

"The 50-year-olds just wish they were us," said Nadine Helfrich, 71, of South County as she passed out sodas, water and citrus drinks. "We're retired. We lead the good life. We only do what we want."

Punch pouring was Helfrich's only "athletic" event. Still, she volunteers at the event nearly every year and proudly wears her bright red St. Louis Senior Olympic T-shirt.

Nearly every Senior Olympics participant, volunteer and judge gets a free souvenir T-shirt. Volunteers, who clock and measure events held in the sun, such as softball throws and shuffle board, take home baseball hats.

Many people leave with a medal or a ribbon. About 1,580 will participate this year. Officials will award more than 2,000 medals and ribbons because some competitors win more than one event. In some events, six people win or place. Sometimes, really fit competitors end up as decorated as a combat-seasoned general. Whole families and retirement village apartment complexes turn up to cheer.

"Pushy" is the term Gus Gowseiow, 80, a veteran volunteer and participant, jokingly applied to the "kids," those folks 55 and under who challenge, with their sheer numbers, every standard they encounter. …

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