Fran­chot hon­ors Se­nior Olympian Wally Dashiell

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Front Page - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — Mary­land Comp­trol­ler Peter Fran­chot stopped by the Kent Is­land Elks, Lodge 2576, in Stevensville, on Tues­day, Sept. 26, to honor Se­nior Olympian Wally Dashiell, who will cel­e­brate her 94th birth­day later this month — on Oct. 31, Hal­loween! The honor came from Dashiell’s suc­cesses com­pet­ing at the Na­tional Se­nior Olympics, held in Brim­ing­ham, Alabama, in June.

Dashiell com­peted in four field events there, the javelin and shot put, win­ning sil­ver medals, and in dis­cus

and ham­mer throw, where she took gold. In Birm­ing­ham, she broke her own na­tional record in the ham­mer throw. In Au­gust, she trav­eled to the Mary­land Se­nior Games and broke her own na­tional record in the ham­mer throw again.

Fran­chot pre­sented Dashiell with a procla­ma­tion at the Elks lodge, con­grat­u­lat­ing her on continuing to strive for ex­cel­lence in her mid90s. She has com­peted in the Na­tional Sr. Olympics since it was first cre­ated in the U.S. in the early 1980s. The na­tional games are not held ev­ery year, but ev­ery other year in a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion some­where in the U.S.

She has been to Lou­siana sev­eral times, Or­lando, Florida; Vir­ginia Beach, Vir­ginia; Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia; Louisville, Ken­tucky, South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and sev­eral other places to com­pete at na­tional games.

Due to knee re­place­ment surgery in 2013, and hip re­place­ment surgery in 2015, Dashiell missed the na­tional games held in Hous­ton, Texas, and St. Paul, Min­nesota. From 2015 through 2016, she worked to get back in shape to be able to go to Birm­ing­ham.

Un­der doc­tor’s or­ders, she had to give up run­ning and jump­ing com­pe­ti­tions.

“My doc­tor told me this knee and hip he gave me have to last,” she said. “He told me if I break ei­ther of them, he’s not go­ing to do surgery on me again. He told me he was crazy to have op­er­ated on me at 91 for the hip. I was in so much pain, I told him I’d rather be dead than go on liv­ing with the pain!”

So, Dashiell is lim­ited to field events now us­ing her arms only.

“I don’t go to the Olympics to be a spec­ta­tor,” she said.

Since she was a lit­tle girl grow­ing up in her na­tive Ger­many be­fore World War II, she’s al­ways had a phys­i­cally ac­tive life. In her youth she de­vel­oped a pas­sion for bal­let. Af­ter the war, she mar­ried sol­dier Ge­orge Dashiell, orig­i­nally from the East­ern Shore city of Cam­bridge, where Wally opened a bal­let dance stu­dio. The cou­ple lived in Cam­bridge near his fam­ily, but de­cided to move to Stevensville, also mov­ing the dance stu­dio. Wally taught dance for 65 years be­fore re­tir­ing five years ago. Ge­orge, who died a decade ago from a heart at­tack, of­ten joked that “She re­minds me of the En­er­gizer bunny!”

Fran­chot praised Dashiell for be­ing such a great ex­am­ple for every­one for her “un­be­liev­able suc­cess at the Na­tional Se­nior Olympics!”

He also com­pli­mented her work as a dance in­struc­tor for so many years.

“She taught dis­ci­pline, cour­tesy and val­ues,” he added.

Fran­chot pre­sented her with one of his coins he gives to “Mary­lan­ders Who Make a Dif­fer­ence.” Dashiell wants to have a small hole drilled at the top of the coin so she can wear it as a pen­dant.

Fran­chot asked her, “What’s your se­cret, how do you keep do­ing this?”

She replied, “I just do it!” She ad­mit­ted that she has a small ex­er­cise chair in her house that helps her strengthen her arms. Other than that, she prac­tices in her back yard.

Fran­chot also com­pli­mented Dashiell for be­ing an am­bas­sador for the Se­nior Olympics.

Dashiell said, “I’ve al­ways tried to en­cour­age other se­niors to join the Se­nior Olympics, but most of the time they re­spond with ‘I can’t do it, I ache all over!’ Well, I ache all over too, but I do it.”

KI Elks Ex­alted Ruler An­gela Meyer said, “Mrs. Dashiell is so in­spi­ra­tional.”

The KI Elks spon­sored Dashiell, pay­ing for her ex­penses to go to this year’s Olympics. They were able to do it through the state Elks 501(c)3 or­ga­ni­za­tion, pay­ing her travel costs, lodg­ing and com­pet­i­tive en­try fees, not giv­ing her the money di­rectly, which is against 501(c)3 rules.

Ge­orge and Wally Dashiell were among the founders of the KI Elks, Lodge 2576, in Stevensville, in the early 1980s. The lodge has be­come one of the most suc­cess­ful char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions on all of the East­ern Shore. In the past decade, the lodge has given more than $1 mil­lion back to lo­cal 501(c)3 char­i­ties, chil­dren’s or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, 4-H, and es­pe­cially sup­port for vet­er­ans re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions, like Truck’n’ 4 Troops.

Oth­ers who were present pro­vid­ing con­grat­u­la­tions in­cluded com­mu­nity li­aisons, Denise Love­lady from Con­gress­man Andy Har­ris’ of­fice, Melissa Kelly of Con­gress­man Chris Van Hollen’s of­fice, and Kim­berly Kra­tovil of U.S. Se­na­tor Ben Cardin’s of­fice.

State Se­na­tor Steve Her­shey had mailed a con­grat­u­la­tory let­ter as did Har­ris. Cardin and Van Hollen also sent ci­ta­tions of praise.

Sr. Olympics start for peo­ple when they turn 50. Age group com­pe­ti­tions for Sr. Olympics are held in fiveyear in­cre­ments.

Dashiell said, “The next na­tional games will be in 2019, in Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico. If I’m able to com­pete, I’ll be mov­ing up to the next age group — 95 to 99 year olds!”

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Mary­land Comp­trol­ler Peter Fran­chot, left, talks with Sr. Olympian Wally Dashiell, 93, of Stevensville, Tues­day, Sept. 26, when he pre­sented her with an of­fi­cial procla­ma­tion rec­og­niz­ing her continuing ac­com­plish­ments as an Olympic com­peti­tor. In June, she set a na­tional record for her age group (90-94) in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, in the ham­mer throw event.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Mrs. Wally Dashiell, 93, of Stevensville was of­fi­cially hon­ored by Mary­land Com­pro­ller Peter Fran­chot with a procla­ma­tion on Sept. 26. From the left, Con­gress­man Andy Har­ris’ com­mu­nity li­ai­son Denise Love­lady, KI Elks Ex­alted Ruler An­gela Meyer, Con­gress­man Chris Van Hollen com­mu­nity li­ai­son Melissa Kelly, Fran­chot, Dashiell, KI Elks Board Mem­ber Ron Martin, KI Elks Lec­tur­ing Knight Mike Ben­son, and U.S. Se­na­tor Ben Cardin com­mu­nity li­ai­son Kim­berly Kra­tovil. All pre­sented recog­ni­tions to Dashiell.

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