The 2011 Summer National Senior Games came to Houston, TX, last month, and thanks to Humana, StoryCorps Door-to-Door recorded the stories of athletes, caregivers, and the Houston community for ten days. In a MobileBooth parked at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the term senior was redefined. We met 93-year-old triathletes and 70-year-old competitors who began their sports at age 60. The Summer National Senior Games are open to adults, age 50 and up, who qualify for their sports in the States and Canada. Several athletes stopped by to share their stories after seeing the Booth parked near the Athlete Village, and we were excited when Patsy Lillehei was one of them (pictured in the first slide below).
Patsy recorded an interview with her daughter, Birgit, who drove with her dad from Minnesota to see Patsy compete in the Triathlon event (Females 65 to 69). The two women share a brilliant smile and a love of sports.
Patsy became a triathlete when Birgit could no longer participate in sports after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Birgit, an active woman who played team sports, remembered the fear she felt when she first noticed the numbness in her body. Initially, she attributed the numbness to her strong exercise regime but later learned it was MS.
Patsy’s first response was to become her daughter’s caregiver. Next, she became the avid athlete her daughter could no longer be, participating in races and bike rides to raise awareness about MS. Soon Patsy advanced to statewide competitions that qualified her to compete in the Summer National Senior Games.
Birgit says that seeing her mother develop as an athlete has made her happy and proud, for Patsy now does the things that Birgit once enjoyed. This mother-daughter spirit was truly inspiring! And in case you’re curious, Patsy finished an amazing 7th place in her triathlon category, with a time of 1:52:06.7. Congratulations, Patsy and to all the 2011 competitors!
If you’re a Senior who’d like to share your story, click here to record an interview with a loved one.