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Re: Still Rollin'
Re: Still Rollin'
Despite suffering rheumatoid arthrits, Hazel has attended every one of the National Senior Games. Every one. And she says she intends to keep bowling until she absolutely can not roll the ball.
Stories like these --of senior citizens who won't stop, who can't stop-- help to inspire me to get up at the crack of dawn to exercise, to watch what I eat, and to make the healthiest choices I can. Because I want to be like Hazel.
I hope you'll be inspired by her story as well.
In sports, sometimes the story is about amazing feats of skill and glory. Other times, it is about how an athlete overcomes obstacles to persevere in an inspiring display of courage. Frequently, such challenges come off the field of play, as in the case of Hazel Hassen Bey.
Of eight athletes who have competed in every National Senior Games since 1987, Hazel is perhaps the most surprising to have achieved perfect attendance. The retired licensed practical nurse has been bowling since her late husband bought her “a real ball” over 60 years ago. She loved league play, and in 1984 started going to the US Bowling Congress (then called Women’s International Bowling Congress) national tournament. She hasn’t missed one since. She and her doubles partner then read a flyer about New Jersey Senior Olympics and the first national games for seniors being organized in St. Louis, and after trying them out both events became must-go competitions. In fact, Hazel has not missed any of the three events for more than three decades.
What is most remarkable about this achievement is that, since 1992, Hazel has had to manage chronic rheumatoid arthritis. She considers herself blessed that it affects her legs, feet and toes the worst, and that her hands and fingers have remained able to handle a bowling ball. Because of balance issues, she now stands at the line to deliver the ball. Every day is a battle, but Hazel does her leg exercises each morning to get out of bed and get on with her life. She refuses to let a little pain keep her from doing what she wants to do. The ball keeps rolling.
Further injuries from a car accident in 2014 almost ended Hazel’s sporting career, but she has bounced back. The accident was not her fault, and she still drives herself to play in local leagues twice per week. As she looks forward to coming to Birmingham for the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana, her biggest concern is not about her health or getting herself there; it’s about finding a doubles partner to go with her.
Hazel is the perfect example of a Personal Best athlete achieving optimum quality of life by never giving up. As you read through the following conversation, imagine a humble church-going lady, the type who never says a bad word but always speaks her mind. The type who uses faith and self-reliance to take on anything life hands to her.
Life handed Hazel Hassen Bey a bowling bowl, and by God, she’s gonna roll it!
Selected snippets from the interview (link to full interview at bottom):
You have been bowling for more than 60 years now. You’ve been in every National Senior Games over the past 30 years. What has motivated you to keep up the streak?
I like to take the trips! [Laugh] I look forward to going to bowl in the New Jersey Senior Olympics every year, and then traveling to the Nationals every two years.
I have also been going to the [U.S. Bowling Congress] women’s national bowling tournament every year. In fact, I started going to those three years before the Senior Olympics started. And I’ve made every one of those, too!
What do you tell others about staying active?
You know, there’s a lot of things to do out there. Get up from your television. You can walk to the library or to your church. Do what keeps you going.
How often do you bowl now, and how do you keep your body in shape?
I bowl twice a week, on Thursday morning here in Essex County with all women, and Friday at noon in Bergen County. That one is senior men and women.
I do exercises with my legs in the morning and at night. I have to do it in the bed before I get up in the morning, because otherwise I know I’ll have trouble with my knees and my feet, and I’ll be falling all over the place. I make sure if I’m going to fall that I can grab onto something to where I don’t break anything. Knock on wood, I haven’t had a bad fall yet. [Laugh]
I do things other things to get out. I’ve taken up knitting with a crafting class at Trinity Presbyterian Church. I make hats, and I’m trying to learn quilting, although I’m not that good at that yet.
So, how long are you going to keep bowling?
I’m gonna tell you just like I told my doctor. He asked me, “Hazel, how long are you going to continue to bowl?” I told him, “Until I walk up to that line, they hand me a ball and I drop it, and it goes where it wants to go.” He said, “You’re kidding!” I said, “No I’m not. If I can get to that bowling alley and get up to that line, I’ll roll that ball.”
Read the full interview with Hazel here: http://nsga.com/health-wellness/2016-04-20-13-52-56/personalbest/still-rollin
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