Rio had the international Olympics and the Paralympics, but let’s not forget Lynn’s Olympians. Twenty-six Lynn residents all over 55 years of age fulfilled their Olympic dreams at the 5th Annual Element Care PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) Olympics on Thursday, September 15th, 10am – 1:30 pm at Danvers Indoor Sports.
The Lynn Olympians included 13 over age 70, 3 over age 80 and a 93 year old world war two veteran as well as members of the Khmer, Laotian and Latino communities. They competed on one of seven teams (three from Lynn) representing Element Care PACE centers on the North Shore and Merrimack Valley. This year’s PACE Olympics consisted of four games: Bocce, Bean Bag Toss, Fast Ball Relay and a new event, A Healthy State of Mind, a three-part relay race consisting of a two-person puzzle competition, a cup and plate stacking challenge and a ping-pong sinker race. “We offer a wide variety of events so people of all ages and abilities can compete,” said Bruce Jankowitz, Element Care’s Director of Marketing.
Cheering on the Olympic athletes were Lynn residents, 71 year old Alisetta “Tootsie” Smith and 93 year old Kenneth Kosch (photo attached) who were cheerleaders. Kenneth is a world war two navy veteran who served on the battleship Nevada. “I’ve been at PACE at Element Care for over 10 years and love the program and the Olympics,” noted Kosch. “You meet different people at the PACE Center and the team does a great job of providing healthcare and keeping you happy.” Alisetta and Kenneth met at PACE four years ago and have been together ever since.
“The goal of Element Care’s PACE Olympics is to promote wellness and a healthy, active lifestyle for older adults so they can live in their homes and communities for as long as they can,” said Bob Wakefield, Executive Director at Element Care.
The Lynn-based Element Care teams had a strong showing at the 2016 PACE Olympics with the School Street team winning rounds in Bocce Ball and Fast Ball Relay, the Friend Street team winning rounds of the Bean Bag Toss and Fast Ball Relay, and the Market Street team winning a Bocce round as well. Three Lynn residents, Thomas Inthasomsack from Laos, Sambath Nhek from Cambodia and Chester Stentiford from Lynn, participated both as PACE Olympians and cheerleaders for their Lynn teams.
The games are extremely competitive with participants practicing at least 2-3 times a week, some even daily leading up to the event. Each team was supported by cheerleaders decked out in their team colors with noisemakers, necklaces and pom poms. “Just like the international Olympics games, the PACE Olympics offer a variety of games, multiple rounds of competition, intense training and athletes who come together to compete for the gold or in this case the PACE Olympic Trophy,” said Wakefield who presented the 2016 Olympic trophy to Element Care’s Emerson PACE Center team in Gloucester. The PACE Center at Buffum Street in Lynn won the trophy last year.