As 80-year-old Hubert Peele stood on his head to entertain the crowd, seniors clapped and cheered him on, and smiles could be seen on the faces of every individual on the sports complex at Pope Field, April 9.

“I am thankful for the gifts of health and wellness that are mine. I am love and support that touches people of all ages.”

This part entitled Spirit of the Senior Games was read aloud to participants and volunteers to kick off the 27th Annual Mid-Carolina Senior Games.

Seniors showed the Fort Bragg community that age is just a number, competing in a multitude of sporting events, such as basketball, softball and football toss, discus throw, standing and running long jump, spin casting, shot put, and racquetball to name a few. Participants also competed in visual, literary, heritage, and performing arts.

“The Senior Games provide an outlet for people who’ve been competitive all their lives, and it helps them extend that competitiveness in a group. No matter what age and condition you’re in, there’s something for everyone,” said Wilbert Stitt, 80, retired Army and a 10-year veteran of the Senior Games.

Seniors as young as 55 years old, to the better age of 101, participated in this year’s local Senior Games, with more than 440 seniors competing.

North Carolina has the largest Senior Games program in the nation, with 53 local programs serving all 100 counties.

“I’ve been competing in the Senior Games since 1995, and I love the camaraderie and friends I make. I like to encourage other seniors to get involved because if you just go home and eat, you’ll have so many health problems,” said Dorothy Fielder, 77, ambassador and torch bearer, at this years Senior Games. “Fitness is important because life is precious,” she said.

“Last night I was trying to do my 5k run and my time is not very good. I’m inspired by the fact that I know there’s a 101-year-old gentlemen in Greenville, who today, will run a mile in about 15 minutes,” said Brad Allen, president and executive director, North Carolina Senior Games. “We need to remember to be active and maintain our wellness if we want to get to 101 years,” Allen said.

“These men and women are the spirit and pride of our communities. They have accomplished personal goals and reached new horizons,” said Kimberly Hargrove, register of deeds, Harnett County. “They have achieved far more than the medals they may win here today. They are models of fitness and wellness,” Hargrove said.

“Senior games are about fun, it’s about fitness, it’s about fellowship, it’s about friends, and it’s about Family,” said Allen. “I hope you have a great 27th Annual Mid-Carolina Senior Games, and we’ll see you in Raleigh at state finals.”