Third Age: Healthy aging at its best - Tucson Local Media: News

Third Age: Healthy aging at its best

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Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 4:00 am

Age of Champions is an award-winning documentary that the Washington post calls “infectiously inspiring.” It’s about five aging athletes - one of them 100 years old - who compete in the National Senior Olympics.  The film has been shown in a thousand communities around the country and on July 9 will make its debut on PBS. Don’t miss it. It will light up your heart.

Christopher Rufo, the 28-year-old director of the film, showed up at Splendido in Oro Valley a month ago to show us his work and delight the crowd. 

He and his partner, Keith Ochwat, asked the 10-thousand participants in the Senior Olympics to send them their stories. They brought the stories to life and proved there is, indeed, no age limit on your dreams.

We saw a hard charging team of grandmothers, who with 6 Gold Medals, are the Ladies Senior Olympic Basketball Champions with 165 wins and 3 losses. 

John and Brad Tatum - 88 and 90-years-old respectively - are the swimmers and their sweet story will make you want to stand and cheer.

The battle between Earl and Adolph, the pole vaulter, will strike a chord about the difference between competition and winning.

And there’s Roger, a 100-year old tennis player, who is my star of the show.

I’ve been writing in this space about the importance and value of exercise in living a healthy long life.  

This documentary brings that message to life in a most rewarding way.  But it’s more than that. I watched as the audience laughed and often wiped a tear. The film is entertaining but mostly a testament to the art and beauty of aging, to perseverance and discipline, willpower and the delight of growing old together.

It’s like my old friend “Banana” George Blair - the world’s barefoot waterskiing champion at 77-years of age - once told me, “as soon as you feel too old to do a thing - do it!”

After the screening of the film, I met a woman named Veronica - who reads this column - and who told me excitedly that she has joined a hiking club.  The “infectious inspiration” is spreading, I’m happy to say.

The elderly seem so much younger than they used to be.

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