National Senior Games
Presented by Humana
I try to portray subjects in a way in which I feel to me represents their power and strength, whether it's an 89-year-old marathon runner or is a 22-year-old NFL MVP I don't approach them any different. While the shell might be aged, the spirit is undaunted
Aging isn't stereotypically seen as powerful and strong, that's a challenge I embraced when commissioned to capture the spirit of athletes competing in the National Senior Games presented by Humana. In 2003 I shot Gordie Shields, a San Diego based Senior Olympic Athlete as part of a personal project. The image created of Gordie helped propel my career forward, so when Humana presented me with the opportunity to capture portraits of inspiring senior athletes, I jumped at the chance.
Over two days in a hotel conference room I was overwhelmingly inspired by the passion and energy of my subjects. Blown away would be an understatement and motivated to improve my own strength and fitness level. The stories shared and the connections made, left me energized to take on the world.
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Carol Klenfner, a 74-year-old athlete from New York who lost her husband, job and home in 2009. After watching a documentary about ping-pong, Klenfner entered a table tennis tournament and eventually found her way to the National Senior Games.
Carol was one those people that truly embodied the 'I am not going to let anything stop me,' It comes across from the image that she is filled with passion for what she's doing.
Heide Moebius, 80, began running at 55 and hasn’t stopped since because, she says, “My body likes it and I’m good at it.” She has completed a total of 714 races worldwide, including 100 half-marathons and 10 marathons.
Bill Otto, 86, threw himself into cycling after hip issues made running too difficult. He’s since broken two Florida state records in his age category and won more than 75 gold and silver medals, including four national silver medals, in less than 25 years.
Kathy Meares, 72, wouldn’t let four knee replacements slow her down. The runner was devastated when her doctor told her she’d have to quit. So she started power walking instead and got her time down to an 11.5-minute mile. Competing at the National Senior Games for the first time, Kathy finished in first place in the 70-74 age group Power Walk 1500M.
JoAnn Sampson, 78, gave track and field a chance after retiring in 2002 and won a gold medal in her first race. She went on to represent Florida in that year’s National Senior Games and these days feels more youthful than ever.
Victor Kerst, 71, of New Orleans is a competitive swimmer. He has earned multiple first place medals in freestyle swimming at the district and state level.
Kamal Chaudhari, 84,Despite a health struggle with skin and prostate cancer at three different points in his life, Kamal’s desire to stay physically strong and active has never wavered. And his physical health isn’t his only priority – Kamal still works as a structural engineer and takes college courses with his supportive wife on subjects like gerontology and history to keep his mind sharp.
Kay Glynn, 66, the Iowa state record-holder for the long jump put her track and field days aside for three decades to raise a family. Jumping back in at 48, she soon began setting records again and now holds multiple gold medals and world records in master’s events.
Deette Sauer, 77, went from being morbidly obese to joining a U. S. Masters Swim Team and winning numerous medals at the National Senior Games. She was also inducted into the Texas Senior Olympics Hall of Fame. Most importantly, though, she says swimming has given her a sense of community and camaraderie with her fellow swimmers.
Dick Johnson, 78, is a pickle ball player who has competed and won medals in all seven recognized national and world championships in one year. He holds nearly 200 medals (mostly gold) and has gone to 90 sanctioned tournaments across the country, including the National Senior Games.
Kathrine Switzer has long been one of running’s most iconic figures.She is well known for being the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967, breaking the gender barrier and the 1974 NYC Marathon Winner. She was inducted into the U.S.A. National Women’s Hall of Fame and also is known for creating positive global social change.
Pat Lillehei, 75. This triathlete’s journey started in 2008 when she rode with her daughter in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 150-mile bike ride. Encouraged after finishing that race, she went on to finish a triathlon, too.