Wanda Krause, left, and Wanda Dennison chat during the Senior Olympics awards lunch at Bonnie Dallas Senior Center on Friday.
Wanda Krause, left, and Wanda Dennison chat during the Senior Olympics awards lunch at Bonnie Dallas Senior Center on Friday. (James Fenton/The Daily Times)
FARMINGTON — On Friday, more than 300 people filled the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center's main hall for the San Juan County Senior Olympics awards ceremony and picnic lunch.

Over the course of a month, seniors showed their mettle in a broad range of events held at senior centers and sites all around the county. Active sporting games included miniature golf, tennis, bowling, archery, dance, and cycling. Tamer - but no less competitive - events included pinochle, bridge, shuffleboard, canasta and dominoes.

Seniors raised the idea for the Olympic events when Director Larry Bomberger came on board nearly 25 years ago.

"So many of the members here when I arrived kept asking for an Olympics program, but many of the games they wanted were what I call "passive recreation" activities," Bomberger said. "But then I said, 'Why not?' It's about getting people involved and having fun, right?"

One of those is Edna Clark, 87, who has participated in every annual Olympics event at the center - all 31 of them.

"I just love doing it," said Clark, who has macular degeneration in both eyes. "It's something to keep me busy, I need the exercise and I have a lot of fun trying to find what I can do."

This year, Clark won first place ribbons in the 85 to 89 age category for basketball free throw, cribbage, croquet, shuffleboard (singles and doubles with her husband, Frank), softball distance throw, Frisbee distance and accuracy throws, soccer kick and horseshoe toss. Her specialty and favorite is shuffleboard.

Her son, Ray Roberts, came by for the picnic lunch and soon found himself in a doubles potato-carrying-by-spoon relay event with his mom.

Mother and son took first place.

Clark's friend Lynn Grannell, 79, sat out the games this year, but plans on competing in horseshoe toss next April.

"I'll avoid all shuffleboard events, because if I try to compete against her, Edna'll clean my plow," Grannell said.

Clark and her husband have competed in state and national senior Olympics events, traveling as far as Orlando, Fla., and Palo Alto, Calif., in her quest to have fun, make friends and add award ribbons to her collection.

Ruth and Gary Milliken signed up at Bonnie Dallas last year strictly to use the center's gym.

The Milikens come to the center three or more days each week, and competed in one event this year, estimated walking, in which they won second place ribbons.

Gale and Wanda Krauss both earned first place ribbons, but for separate events. Wanda Krauss, a tennis enthusiast and Roger Federer fan - "He is so good looking," she says - dominated the Ping-Pong table.

Gale Krauss aced the air rifle and pistol events, using another competitor's firearm.

When not competing with a tennis raquet or Ping-Pong paddle, Wanda Krauss finds a lot of fulfillment and fun in the many classes offered. Currently, she is enjoying a memoir writing class.

"You meet people and have great talks, but the class really opens your eyes," she said.

The Krausses' friends, Gloria and George Dennison, sat out the Olympics events this year.

"Our event is getting here from (our home in) Shiprock each day," Gloria Dennison joked. "We come here to visit friends, enjoy the meals and take part in the many programs here."

The Dennisons have traveled far and wide around the globe - China, Italy, and lived in Tehran, Iran - feel at home with friends at Bonnie Dallas when they are not at their home on 20 acres in Shiprock.

Bomberger is a popular leader at the center, speaking English one minute and Navajo the next. He likes that his efforts to bring people over the age of 50 together in active and supportive ways.

Meals on Wheels coordinator Stephen Dick, a transplant from Belfast, Ireland, has worked at the center for two years.

"They're just being kids again," Dick said. "To be here to see it every day does your heart good - and theirs, too, being a part of it and having fun."

James Fenton can be reached at jfenton@daily-times.com; 505-564-4621. Follow him on Twitter @fentondt.