Senior Voice -

By Mackenzie Stewart
Senior Voice 

Get ready for competition with a smile at Kenai Peninsula Senior Games

 

Courtesy Kenai Senior Center

Players pause for the camera during a game of Mexican Train dominoes at last year's Kenai Peninsula Senior Olympic Games.

The 14th Annual Kenai Peninsula Senior Olympic Games will take place Feb. 21to 25 and will feature 12 events ranging from pinochle to ping pong and basketball toss to 8-ball pool, to name a few. The only requirement for participation is that you be 55 years of age or older and sign up with the nearest Kenai Peninsula senior center, says chairwoman, Bonnie Cain.

"You do not have to already be part of a senior center to participate," Cain added. "You just need to register with your area's senior center. Sometimes people get confused."

The deadline to register for the games is typically Feb. 1, but has been extended until Feb. 15 for this year. Sign up sheets will be posted in senior centers around the Peninsula starting January 6.

Although the games are typically held in more centrally-located Soldotna, said Cain, this year a majority of the events will be held at the Kenai Visitors Center.

"This year the Visitors Center Mall in Soldotna was booked up, so we are only able to host the walk-a-thon there, but otherwise the rest of the events will be held in Kenai."

Although this is only her second year as chairwoman, Cain has big ideas for the Games.

"This year there will be suggestion questionnaires at every sign-in station on the days of the actual games," Cain said. "Every participant is encouraged to think about a potential event and mail it to me afterward. We figured this would be an easy way to get more new suggestions because last year people didn't offer up many suggestions when we addressed the whole group. This way the seniors have time to think about it."

In addition to the suggestions cards, Cain hopes to encourage more seniors south of Soldotna to participate.

"We hardly get anyone south of Soldotna, and we're not really sure how to generate interest there," Cain said. "We only have the senior olympics in the winter, but maybe we should have a summer games to make it easier for more of the southern Peninsula to participate? However, that's just a thought for now."

Cain is also hoping to set up a reliable bussing system to drive seniors from other communities to and from the games in Soldotna.

"It's been hard to get in contact with CARTS (Central Area Rural Transit System)," said Cain, "but we are hoping that each of the senior centers that come from farther away could come up with a way to use their buses or vans to ensure seniors have reliable transportation to and from the games."

"The games originated from the idea of wanting to unite all the senior centers on the Peninsula and are a great socialization tool. It's only my second year, but we're trying to make it easier for everyone to participate," Cain said. "We appreciate all of the participation and comments, and the energy that the participating seniors generate is awesome. They are so happy to see other people and greet them like they are old friends."

To send in suggestions for the Kenai Peninsula Senior Olympic Games, email Bonnie Cain at kenaipeninsulaseniorolympics@gmail.com.

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