By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Silver Sneakers participants got to have their cake, eat it too, and burn off the calories.
Many attended one of two classes before the 10th anniversary celebration of the program at the Danville Area Community Center or one of two classes after the observance Wednesday morning.
“Absolutely — they’re going to work off that cake,” quipped Joann Gray, director of senior program and an instructor of the program, when asked if fitness was involved.
The center was the first in Montour County to start the exercise program for people 65 and over.
Sam Harrison, 90, the oldest Silver Sneakers member, blew out the candles on the large cake.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years. When I went to the first training, it was quite incredible not knowing where it would take us. There was one class and shortly after a few days, the room was filled to capacity and then two classes and three classes and now four classes,” Gray said during the party where they also sang “Happy Birthday” to the program.
The program also includes a water program, working with weights and using the gym.
“It is an honor and privilege to work with each and every one of you and a joy to come to work every day,” Gray told the group of about 50 attending.
“You bring such richness of experience, humor and life’s lessons. We look forward to seeing you every day and worry when you’re not here,” center Executive Director Jean Knouse said.
Dr. Bill Gibson, who has participated in the program, said he has seen people come in using walkers and after a while, graduate to a cane and then to walking on their own.
Jack Snyder, of Danville, started the program when he was 71. Now 73, the retired radio advertising man had already been exercising at the center for some time before that. “It’s really good exercise and more of a stretch. This is a wonderful group of people,” said Snyder who went to a class earlier and usually goes three days a week.
Danville residents Jackie and Bucky Mensch have been with Silver Sneakers about eight years. A friend urged them to join.
“I have poor balance and it has really helped my balance,” Mrs. Mensch said of going three times a week.
Joyce Delaney of Danville said her goal “is to stay limber.” She saw an announcement about the program in the newspaper and showed up. She has been with Silver Sneakers for four years.
“I feel better when I exercise,” said retired Danville teacher Lois Gensel of Danville who exercises there three times a week. Gensel likes the stretching and aerobics.
She started with the program along with 10-year veterans Jim and Lois Kishbaugh, of Mahoning Township.
Silver Sneakers began at the center in 2004 with more than 300 members registered the first month. About one-third were already members and the others were new to the center.
By the end of that year, 250 seniors had joined.
Today, the program has 600 members with about 425 considered active.
The program is managed by Healthways which contracts with GHP Gold, Highmark Blue Shield and AARP.
Part of the supplemental insurance seniors purchase includes the fitness program.
Kelly Rogan, Healthways representative from Luzerne County, said other Silver Sneakers program are conducted at the Sunbury YMCA, Milton YMCA and in Shamokin Dam and Lewisburg.
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