Age is just a number, and N.C. Senior Games State Finals participants Sabina Gamas and Charles Powell can attest to that.
The Sampson Board of Commissioners recently recognized the achievements of the two Sampson County senior athletes in a variety of events that allowed them the opportunity, well into their golden years, to showcase their physical skills.
Gamas, at 91 years old, has been participating in the Mid-Carolina Senior Games for the better part of three decades, Garland Senior Center director Marie Faircloth said. This April, the Garland resident was the oldest participant at the Fayetteville games, taking home gold in four of her five events.
“She can 10 or 12 push-ups like it’s nothing,” said Faircloth.
Powell, at 83 years old, has also been a longtime participant in the Mid-Carolina Senior Games and medaled in several events this year. Both were to represent Sampson County at the N.C. Senior Games State Finals held in the Triangle area, participating in events such as basketball shooting, football and softball throw, shotput/discus and shuffleboard.
“I am so happy to introduce them tonight,” said Faircloth. “The theme for our senior center this year is ‘Engage At Any Age.’ You can look at these two people and see that they are engaged at their age, so you can engage as well.”
Faircloth said, as long as the two have been competing, this is the first time they made it to the state finals.
“I do the work at the house and then I do something at the senior center every day. They tell me to play, so I play. They tell me to do a push-up, I’ll do a push-up,” Gamas said to laughter from the crowd. “I can still do everything I want. I usually take care of the cows — we have 17 cows at the house. I can do that because I am strong.”
Powell thanked the county board for the recognition.
“I love the games because you get exercise and meet different people,” said Powell. “It’s a fun experience. I’ve been doing it about 14 or 15 years. And I would like to thank a special lady that you can’t say ‘no’ to — Marie Faircloth. She asks you to do something, you might as well say yes.”
The Mid-Carolina Senior Games, held annually each spring, are a network of 53 local games that provide health promotion and wellness programs for citizens over the age of 50.
“The local games provide seniors of Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson County the opportunity to participate in wellness workshops and health fairs, exercise classes and special social events throughout the year,” said Department of Aging director Lorie Sutton.
There are more than 25 sporting events, as well as categories in various arts as part of the local games. Medal winners are invited to participate at the state level.
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.