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Carrying the Torch- Stevenson Oaks elder is a proud Athlete in the National Senior Games

Carrying the Torch- Stevenson Oaks elder is a proud Athlete in the National Senior Games

In 1985, seven individuals in St. Louis, Missouri, cast a vision to launch a national competition for senior athletes. The effort was led by co-founders Harris Frank and Kenneth A. Marshall, originally called the National Senior Olympics Organization. Set up as a nonprofit, the Board of Directors was elected in 1987. Years later the group would adopt a new name, The National Senior Games. The first games were hosted in St. Louis in 1987, hosting over 2,500 competitors and more than 100,000 spectators. Now, 37 years later the event draws approximately 12,000 athletes competing in 21 different sports, up from fifteen categories the first year. This year the group will offer 26 sport events for competitors.

The competition is biennial and requires athletes be fifty years old or better. To participate in most sports, athletes must qualify at a State Senior Games in the preceding year. These qualifying competitions are held throughout the country. The games are complete with an opening ceremony with the carrying of the torch, mirroring the tradition observed in the national Olympics.

Ed Roberts of Stevenson Oaks found his passion for the organization when he first volunteered in 1994 at the Texas State Senior Games. Then, he got involved at the national level as a member of the Qualification and Results Entry Quality Team.

He even served on the Board from 2010 until 2016, receiving the Harris Frank Distinguished Service Award in 2013. At the state level, he also served on the Board for more than ten years, even taking on the role of President for some time. During that time, he was awarded The Texas Senior Games Association Hall of Fame Peter Laverty Award in 2010.

The greatest honor in his volunteerism which spanned multiple decades might be the year he was honored to carry the torch in the opening ceremony of the games which kicks off the 10-to-15-day competition.

Roberts says, “One of the purposes of the games is to get people to live a healthy lifestyle. If you are eighty something years old, you probably can’t run a hundred-meter dash if you aren’t at least doing it regularly.” He went on to explain that the competition inspires these seniors to stay active in preparation for the games, often leading these athletes to train year-round.

The next National Senior Games will be held July 24th - August 4th, 2025, in Des Moines, Iowa. For those who wish to compete, the first step is to get involved with the Texas Senior Games to qualify.

Learn more at www.txseniorgames.org or www.NSGA.com.


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