Nursing home athletes go for the gold

(WMC-TV)- With this being the year of the summer Olympics, some Mid-South nursing home residents are competing for their own gold medals.  Nursing homes from all over the city came together Friday for a chance to compete and raise awareness for elder abuse.

June 15 is considered "World Elder Abuse Awareness Day" by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.

This event started off in true Olympic fashion with an opening ceremony featuring a parade, Navy band, and Marine Honor Guard.

Nineteen nursing homes from the Memphis area gathered at Bellevue Baptist Church to be a part of the "Nursing Home Olympics".  Residents participated in games such as basketball, horseshoe, and a bean bag toss.  At least 10 athletes made up each team.

Tonya Wales, chair person of the THCA Nursing Home Olympics said, "We focus on the abilities rather than the disabilities."

This year's event was all about TV. The theme was "Don't Touch That Dial" and each team represented their favorite TV show. Some of the contestants' favorite shows were The Addams Family, Let's Make a Deal, and The Price Is Right.

Anita Whelch, who was dressed as Morticia from the Addams Family, said while this is a great way to get the residents out of their daily routine, she wants her team to win it all.

Whelch said she looks forward to this even all year, "This is the one event out of the year that brings everybody together."

"This is the neatest thing I do all year long.  Our nursing home residents are a very underserved population. So if we can get them out of their four wall facility and bring them here I get joy," said Whelch.

According to the Administration on Aging, the mission of the Nursing Home Olympics is to provide an opportunity for communities by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic methods affecting elder abuse and neglect.

The Nursing Home Olympics was emceed by Action News 5's very own Jarvis Greer.

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