Senior Games arrive in Southwest Florida

Author: Mike Walcher

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Athletes from 50 to 100 years of age are in Southwest Florida for the Senior Games. Men and women from all over the state and country are competing in nine days of events.

The 20 and 40 kilometer cycling races were held Thursday morning in Cape Coral.

You’d never know that 86-year-old Jack Baker has survived a heart attack and took up cycling only a few years ago.

We first met Baker right after he finished the 20-kilometer cycle race, that’s about 12 1/2 miles. He was pretty winded, and was not sure he’d make the 40K race but he found the energy to hop back on his bike and pedal another 25 miles.

“The doctor says ‘do some exercise and get off your butt!'” said Baker.

Baker is the Ohio state champion in his age group, 85 to 90 years. He traveled to Lee County to try to become the Sunshine State champ.

“I drove down just to get out of the sleet and snow and to compete. It’s a companionship thing,” added Baker.

He says after his wife died, competing in sports became his reason to live.

“It’s a discipline, I suppose is the good word. You just have to get up and do it.”

Baker finished the 40K and was the fastest in his age group. He will go on to compete at the National Senior Games in July 2015.

“Fitness is not related to your age really, you know, you can be 85 year old and a very fit person. Or, you can be 50-yaer-old and a couch potato. You need to have a passion for some sport, and the Senior Games offer all kinds of sports,” said Mary Griffith.

“They’re staying in the hotels, they’re eating in restaurants, buying gas at the gas stations, they’re going to the local merchants this time a year for Christmas shopping. They plan for it, they save money their money and come to have a good time,” said Nick Gandy with the Florida Sports Association.

The county says past games have meant an infusion of $840,000 in direct spending into the economy. With spin-off dollars, that translates into more than a million, total impact.


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