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Senior Games keep Coal Center man on the go

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CHRIS BUCKLEY I Trib Total Media
Rick Meneski of Coal Center is competing in his fourth Senior Games.

Games time

In addition to the competitions, there will be ongoing stage entertainment in the air conditioned school auditorium, craft and food booths, Super Bingo and a PrimeTime Health Fair, where vendors will offer free health screenings, gifts, prize drawings and information on programs and services available to older adults.

The event, which is open to the public at no charge, attracts approximately 700 participants and spectators. Although admission is free, there is a $1 registration fee per athletic event to compete.

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded at the Senior Games.

Pre-registration is requested; however, individuals may register on Senior Games day for most of the competitions. Go online to www.swpa-aaa.org to download registration forms and rules or pick up registration forms and information at participating senior centers and at Area Agency on Aging offices in Washington, Charleroi, Uniontown and Waynesburg.

SPHS Aging Services joins Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency in sponsoring the 2013 Senior Games to help promote health and wellness among mature adults. Corporate sponsors include Highmark BlueCross Blue Shield, Range Resources, Charleroi Federal Savings Bank, Consol Energy, Coventry Health Care/HealthAmerica Advantra, Monongahela Valley Hospital, SeniorLIFE and The Valley Independent. Additional event sponsors, to date, are Advanced Surgical Hospital, Highway Appliance, Information Age Technologies, Inc., Keystone Bakery and Lee Supply.

For more information or to register for an event, please contact your local senior center, the Southwestern PA Area Agency on Aging, Inc., at 724-489-8080, or toll free 888-300-2704, Ext. 4430, or download a registration form from the Internet website www.swpa-aaa.org.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Rick Meneski was caught up in the running craze of the late 1970s, while still in his late 20s.

“Running is very good for you physically and emotionally,” said the Coal Center man.

“When you are 50 years of age and can run five or six miles a day, not many people can do that. When you go to these events, whether the Senior Games of a 5K race — maybe one in every 100 people is going to do something like that.

“Emotionally it's very good for you.”

The 27th annual Senior Games will be held Wednesday at the Charleroi Area High School, 100 Fecsen Drive, in Fallowfield Township.

The parade of athletes and opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. in the amphitheater. Immediately after the parade, the public is encouraged to join in the opening when the vintage version of the song “Great Balls of Fire” begins to play and a one-minute spontaneous Senior Flash Dance (mob) erupts.

This year's theme is “energy” and the slogan, “Spark Your Energy,” was chosen to draw attention to the parallel between the influence of the energy industry in southwestern Pennsylvania and the quick-to-be-ignited energy of the Senior Games and its participants.

Individual competitions, which include the one-mile walk, 50-yard dash, basketball toss, bocce, casting, football throw, horseshoes, putting, shuffleboard, softball throw and stationary bike, will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until approximately 3 p.m.

“It's encouraging to see so many people at the senior games who understand that while they are not as physically fit as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago, they are willing to get out there and do what they can,” Meneski said.

Meneski, 62, competes with the United Mine Workers Health and Retirement Fund team.

He worked 33 years in mines, including 27 years at Dillworth Mine in Rices Landing, and when that facility closed, for five years at Loveridge in Fairview, W.Va.

Meneski is participating in his fourth Senior Games. He takes part in such events as the 50-yard dash, one-mile walk, stationary bicycle, basketball shooting and football and softball throws.

“The people who participate have varying levels of abilities,” Meneski said. “A lot do so for social reasons, but some try to be as competitive as they can and that's what I do.

“I've won my share of medals.”

Meneski still runs competitively, occasionally running 5K races.

He has run the Little Great Race in Charleroi, held in early September, for close to 20 years and has completed the Brentwood Firecracker on July 4 five times.

“I still try to do as much as I can to stay in shape,” Meneski said. “I do a lot of speed walking. It's a good exercise and good on the joints.”

Asked if he can foresee competing well into his 80s, Meneski said, “Why not?”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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