After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island is thrilled to announce that Bea Victor Senior Olympics will return with live, in-person competition this year. Events will take place at locations throughout the Island from June 12–16, with the Closing Ceremony on June 17. Individuals age 50 or older may participate in as many events as they like for the $10 registration fee.
“An important part of our mission at the JCC is to empower seniors to stay active and healthy,” said Kara Roche, marketing communications manager for the JCC. “We’re committed to seeing Bea Victor’s legacy living on through the Senior Olympics.”
The event is named for Bea Victor, a community leader who founded the Senior Olympics in 1987. Victor directed the program for 20 years and was involved with the event until her passing two years ago.
While the Senior Olympics were fully cancelled in 2020, last year’s event was held virtually.
“The last two years were very challenging because of COVID,” said Lisa Lubarksy, nutrition and wellness coordinator at the JCC. “Participants were very responsive to last year’s virtual event, which featured a Mind, Body & Soul theme. We wanted to get people involved that may not be that physically fit or were still afraid of going outdoors and competing with people. We gave them challenges like reading books, doing puzzles, arts and crafts, and cooking — anything they could accomplish. Participants then sent us pictures of their results. It was really nice.”
The theme was so successful they are doing it again this year. “Even though the events are live, we still encourage people to participate in any activity that can stimulate the mind, body and soul,” Lubarsky said.
This year’s Senior Olympic events include bowling, table tennis, basketball shoot, pocket pool, darts, tennis, mahjong, canasta, bridge, pinochle, horseshoes, shuffleboard, croquet, cornhole and Predict-a-Pace. Space is limited for certain activities, such as pocket pool and darts, so sign up early. Venues for these events include the JCC, YMCA, The Bridge Club of Staten Island, Staten Island Community Tennis, Unique Lounge and New York City parks.
“We call Staten Island the City of Parks for a reason,” Lubarsky noted. “We have the best places to compete for these events.”
Participants play to win gold, silver and bronze medals, which are awarded at the end of each event by program volunteers. All players receive a swag bag, which includes an event T-shirt, a water bottle, towel and sling pack.
After five days of competition, everyone who participated in the games is invited to the Closing Ceremony at the JCC facility at 1466 Manor Road to celebrate the games.
“At the Closing Ceremony, a lot of participants wear their event T-shirts and medals,” said Janice Salerno, fitness/wellness director for the JCC senior program. “We ask the winners to stand up and we clap for them. We also have some guest speakers followed by a hot brunch.”
Roche noted that it takes a lot of planning and assistance to execute the Senior Olympics. “This is a community-wide event. We host these events all over the Island with the support of some great community partners that are helping to make this possible,” she said.
Partners for this year’s Bea Victor Senior Olympics are UJA Federation of New York, DFTA (Department for the Aging), YMCA, New York City Council, Staten Island Advance and Staten Island Community Tennis.
Registration for the Senior Olympics is now open at www.sijcc.org/bvso, where participants can view the activities, dates and locations and select the events in which they would like to compete. Those without computer access may call the registration hotline at 718-475-5261 to sign up, or register in person at 1466 Manor Road.
The JCC of Staten Island is located at 1466 Manor Road. Call 718-475-5200 or visit www.sijcc.org for more information.