These residents of Deaconess-Krafft and Deaconess-Zane Centers were among the medalists.

Each year, residents of Deaconess-Zane Center and Deaconess-Krafft Center — two UCC-related Retirement Housing Foundation affordable housing communities — prepare for a special event: the Senior Olympics, held in May in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland.

The Senior Olympics tradition began 34 years ago, and is a project of Senior Citizen Resources, Inc. (SCR), a local organization working for the welfare of older adults in Old Brooklyn. SCR’s offices are at Deaconess-Krafft, and originally it held the Olympics there.

“SCR operates out of the Senior Center at Deaconess-Krafft Center, and have been at Krafft since the building opened in 1980,” says Steven E. Shroka, RHF’s Great Lakes regional manager. “We lease the space to them for $2 per year — $1 for the offices and $1 for the Senior Center space.”

Over the years, the Olympics have expanded. Today, the event is open to all older adults in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County. To accommodate the increased number of participants, SCR moved the Senior Olympics to a nearby community recreation center.

The cornhole competition heats up at the 2019 event.

The 2019 Olympics were held May 10-17, and featured such activities as bowling, billiards, shuffleboard, bocce, basketball free throws, darts, cornhole, miniature golf, relay races, and ping pong. The Olympics also include adapted wheelchair-friendly competitions. Several Deaconess residents medaled.

Retirement Housing Foundation— based in Long Beach, Calif. — acquired the Deaconess communities in 2015. Each year, it adds its support to the Senior Olympics as a sponsor.

“Sponsors allow Senior Citizen Resources to offer a quality, week-long event which includes 24 activities for both active and frail participants,” says Liz Kilroy Hernandez, executive director of SCR, says. “The sponsorships are essential to SCR’s ability to offer the Senior Olympics.”

Another perk for residents of the two RHF communities is the ability to get outside after a midwestern winter.

“The Senior Olympics get people up and moving in a sort of friendly competitive way, adding socialization to the mix as well,” says Shroka. “People are itching for spring and warmer weather after a long, cold Cleveland winter. The Senior Olympics provide participants an opportunity to get out and enjoy the time of year and join in on some fun and excitement.”

Following the competition, SCR holds a victory luncheon, where all the participants, including the medalists, celebrate the week’s events. Says Hernandez, “The Olympics remind us all that fun and the competitive spirit are vital for all of us, young and young at heart.”