The winners have been chosen for the Eastern Area Agency on Aging George Hale Silver Frame Awards. These awards are the celebration of active aging and, as always, the entrants were inspiring.
The categories were artistic and creative; fitness enthusiast and adventurer; and lifelong learner, community supporter and entrepreneur in two age groups: 60-75 and 76 and older.
Interestingly, we did not receive any nominations in the artistic and creative category. So, because we had a number of excellent entries in the other two categories, we decided to give out an extra award in each. Instead of two for fitness and life-long learner, there will be three each.
First, Barbara Steller, nominated by Juanita Taylor, won for in the fitness enthusiast and adventurer category.
Steller, 72, always says, “To age and enjoy the process, one needs to have goals,” wrote Taylor.
In her senior years, one of Steller’s goals is to travel the world. Luckily, she has good friends with the same aspiration, so they have become a traveling band of adventurous seniors. First it was a trip to Alaska. Then, it was off to China for 20 days, including a marvelous tour that began in Beijing and ended in Shanghi.
In November 2008, Steller and her buddies headed for Europe, visiting Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey in 20 days.
Although Steller had a fairly new left knee, it did not stop her from venturing off to China and taking a long jaunt on the Great Wall, and creating an inward yearn to learn tai chi. She gave in to this yearning and still practices at least twice every day.
To increase her exercise regimen after retiring as executive director of Dirigo Pines, Steller included walking, weight training and meditation. All this activity helped with her other goal — to lose at least 15 pounds, which she has done.
For her next adventure, Stellar is headed to Australia and New Zealand.
Our next winner in the fitness and adventurer category is Carroll Conley Sr., nominated by Carroll Conley Jr.
According to his son’s essay, Conley, 76, loves basketball, although this love is surpassed by his love for young people. This is no surprise to the countless people who remember Conley’s many trips to the tournament over the years.
He loves getting “out there and demonstrates the finer points of proper footwork, shooting mechanics or defensive posture” to young athletes. In fact, his longevity speaks to dedication to the sport.
This fall marked 61 years of Conley’s continued work with young people in athletics.
Just weeks after major heart surgery, the unstoppable Conley showed up for the first day of tryouts at Bangor Christian School. While the coach protested and attempted to send the enthusiastic elder home to continue recuperating, Conley wouldn’t hear of it.
“I’m all right, I’m all right,” he kept repeating. And stay he did to help the team he loved.
And finally we have Roxanna McLean, nominated by Libby McLean.
Daughter Libby wrote that Roxanna, 62, suffered for years with arthritis pain in her knees. Due to the tremendous physical shape she was in, McLean’s doctor recommended that she have a double knee replacement.
It took a mere three days after surgery for McLean to be sent off to a rehabilitation facility with her new and improved knees. That stay was brief, as well. Instead of staying for two to three weeks, she was released in just one.
She continued her therapy back in Millinocket and no matter how painful or grueling the workouts were,
McLean persevered. She found a rehabilitation facility that offered a choice of options for her workouts. She still does strength training and cardio workouts three days a week, walks two to five miles six days per week, and still manages time to volunteer at the Katahdin Support Group.
Congratulations to all these inspiring seniors.
Next week, the lifelong learner category winners.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at EAAA. E-mail Higgins Taylor at email@example.com. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.