Dragon Boat rac­ers prove that speed knows no age

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY MICHAELA MARX WHEAT­LEY BrandIn­sight Editor This ar­ti­cle is spon­sored by Span­ish Cove Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity.

When the “Golden Drag­ons” zip down the Ok­la­homa River dur­ing prac­tice, you would have no idea that the av­er­age age of the row­ers in the Dragon Boat is 81.

“Race night is al­ways ex­cit­ing. The crowd loves us be­cause we’re out of the norm,” said Dorothy Call­away, one of the pad­dlers.

Her hus­band Red added that in past races the pad­dlers who range in age from 60-plus to over 90 not only had fun do­ing it, but in fact out­per­formed some crews half their age.

The crew that mostly con­sists of res­i­dents of Span­ish Cove Re­tire­ment Vil­lage in Yukon has been pad­dling since 2012. Their next race will be the OG&E Night Sprints Re­gatta Fes­ti­val on Oct. 5-6.

Dorothy and Red have been part of the Dragon Boat Team for three years. They prac­tice once a week, early in the morn­ing.

“Early morn­ings on the river are just beau­ti­ful, but it’s the ca­ma­raderie that we love,” she said.

Of course, the sport also builds up­per body strength and prac­tices bal­ance — skills that are very im­por­tant for se­niors who want to age healthy and ac­tive.

And ac­tive is what the Call­aways are. The hus­band-and-wife team live at Span­ish Cove Re­tire­ment Vil­lage, a Life Care se­nior com­mu­nity that will have care and med­i­cal ser­vices avail­able to them once they need it, but for now, they live in­de­pen­dently and en­joy life to the fullest. When they aren’t on the Dragon Boat, you may find them ex­plor­ing the city on their bi­cy­cles, head­ing off on an RV trip — or par­tic­i­pat­ing in many of the activities the vil­lage of­fers.

“We started look­ing at four or five places a few years back,” said Red. “Span­ish Cove was at­trac­tive for us for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, but the activities were a big part of it.”

There are con­certs, Tai Chi or yoga, square danc­ing and group meet­ings. Span­ish Cove res­i­dents are also pre­par­ing for the State Se­nior Games. Those who aren’t part of the pad­dling team walk at the Ok­la­homa River to prepare.

Red and Dorothy said it is the per­fect way to stay con­nected with their neigh­bors and stay fit and healthy.

“If I had some ad­vice to give to oth­ers con­sid­er­ing se­nior liv­ing, it is to move the sooner the bet­ter. You come and get in­volved and en­joy the fun en­vi­ron­ment of the com­mu­nity,” Dorothy added.

An ac­tive life­style and com­mu­nity set­ting is com­mon­place in most se­nior liv­ing vil­lages these days, but many peo­ple still have mis­con­cep­tions about it, said Jill Huff, Span­ish Cove’s mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor.

“Se­nior liv­ing has changed. We are not your grand­mother’s nurs­ing home. The options are as unique as the peo­ple liv­ing there. The key is know­ing what you want and what’s avail­able,” Huff said.

That’s why the se­nior liv­ing com­mu­nity is hold­ing a se­ries of free events for se­niors and their fam­i­lies to come ex­pe­ri­ence re­tire­ment liv­ing in a fun, no pres­sure at­mos­phere.

The next event, “Send Off Sum­mer,” will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 at Span­ish Cove in Yukon, 11 Palm Ave. Come en­joy tours of the cam­pus be­gin­ning at 6 p.m., with food and fire­works from the rooftop. The pub­lic must reg­is­ter by call­ing Huff at 405-354-5906 or by email­ing jhuff@span­ish­cove.com.

A broad va­ri­ety of activities are just part of life at Span­ish Cove.

“We also en­cour­age the chil­dren to get in­volved with the de­ci­sion-mak­ing as well,” Huff said. “That’s why we of­fer nu­mer­ous events, such as Satur­day morn­ing break­fast open houses where the en­tire fam­ily can come. Whether it is an ed­u­ca­tion sem­i­nar or Caribbean Cel­e­bra­tion, we try to have a va­ri­ety of op­por­tu­ni­ties to come visit our cam­pus at a pace that’s com­fort­able to our guests.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about Span­ish Cove, visit www.span­ish­cove.com.

[PHOTO COURTESY OF SPAN­ISH COVE]

The Dragon Boat rac­ers of Span­ish Cove Re­tire­ment Vil­lage have been pad­dling to­gether since 2012.

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