BC Seniors Games has come a long way
Roger Skillings still remembers the first one.
It was 25 years ago, 1988, Vernon, and 700 participants had registered to participate in the first B.C. Seniors Games, a provincial-wide event for people 55 years of age and over.
“It came about by a growing recognition of a bunch of seniors that felt they needed their own athletic and social competitions to provide them with a forum where they could show their expertise and try to get people to understand that just because you get to 50, 55, 60 or whatever age you can still be an athlete and compete,” said Skillings.
And Skillings says he still has fond memories of those early meetings with seniors and their enthusiasm for the Games.
But even he didn’t visualize what the event would blossom into.
When the 25th anniversary edition of the B.C. Seniors Games is staged in Burnaby, Aug. 22-25, it could become a record-breaker. The local organizing committee is shooting for 4,000 participants to take part in the 26 events on the calendar, which would make it the biggest participant B.C. Games (Summer, Winter and Seniors) on record.
Skillings retired from his position in 1987 and he handed the torch over to Kelly Mann, who still holds the CEO-President position today. For all his hard work in the position, Skillings was named an honorary board member in 1998.
Mann and his board do not run the Seniors Games, rather act as event managers. The BC Seniors Games Society Board is made up of a president, a vice-president, several directors and is entirely volunteer driven and includes zone reps from each of the 12 provincial zones who carry on the core responsibilities such as playoffs and dissemination of information such as playoff schedules, registrations, etc.
The local organizing committee comprises a president, two vice-presidents, a 14-member board of directors, several vice-directors and chairs for the various components within each directorate. For example, there are 26 chairs who oversee the 26 events.
Funding for the Games comprises $85,000 from the provincial government through the BC Seniors Games Society, $55,000 cash and another $50,000 in kind from the host city, participant registration fees, sponsorship and in-kind fees garnered by Friends of the Games and miscellaneous items such as merchandise, etc.
Burnaby has successfully hosted BC Summer Games, in 1997 and 1984, and plans to put the icing on the cake with this year’s Seniors Games.
Perhaps Roger Skillings said it best: “With 4,000 participants anticipated for Burnaby it speaks to how important healthy lifestyle, physical activity and recreation and sport pursuits and engagements with others is important to seniors and I think this vehicle is the one that facilitates that.”
• Volunteers are still needed for Games and if you’re interested information is available at www.2012bcseniorsgames.org.
• Brian Pound is a former journalist with the Vancouver Province, Sun and Toronto Telegram. He is chair of media and public relations for the Burnaby’s B.C. Senior Games.