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Park District's Senior Games Has 90-Year-Olds Going for Gold

By Patty Wetli | September 25, 2013 8:22am
Senior Games: Shuffleboard
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

LINCOLN SQUARE — Not to harp on Chicago losing the 2016 Summer Olympics to Brazil, but Rio de Janeiro's got nothing on the Chicago Park District's Senior Games when it comes to showcasing inspirational athletes.

Meet Don "Gus" Savage, 95. Ninety-five. Don't be fooled by his soft-spoken, humble demeanor. Dude came ready to play, winning his division in horseshoes by besting Rudy Dillon, a relative whipper-snapper at 82.

"He wins gold in everything," Dillon said.

Though Savage, who grew up in Logan Square and now lives in Sauganash, attributed his success to "luck," he did, when pressed, offer up a few words of advice on how to age well.

"You've gotta stay active and exercise, even if it's a walk around the block," he said.

 Welles Park hosted the shuffleboard competition during the Chicago Park District's 2013 Senior Games.
Senior Games: Shuffleboard
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Savage was one of approximately 20 participants who signed up for the Senior Games shuffleboard competition, held recently at Welles Park along with horseshoes. Other events scheduled over the Games' 16 days included golf, swimming, track and field and line dancing.

"I said, 'Just put me down for everything except jumping,'" said Trudie Acheatel, 68. "I didn't get one horseshoe and I don't care. I'm here."

After two spinal fusions and surgeries on her ankle and knee, one could forgive Acheatel if her sport of choice were channel surfing, but the feisty Bowmanville resident isn't about to spend her golden years on the couch.

"When you see the sun, you get up, you get out," she said. "I believe seniors can do a lot of things. Let us stand up and show we count. I feel this shows there's things to be done."

South Sider Winona Dillon and West Sider Hazel House, both 80, were frequently pitted against each other in the same age division and had developed a friendly rivalry.

"I've been having a problem with my knee, but I'm going pretty good today," said House, who held the advantage over Dillon in horseshoes and shuffleboard.

Dillon, set to turn 81 on Saturday, joked that House had an unfair advantage. "See, she's younger. That's why she beats me."

Whether they won any medals or not was of little importance to most of the seniors. Showing up was victory enough.

"The main thing is to just get out of the house," said Rudy Dillon, Winona's husband of 62 years. He pointed to a fellow competitor: "She's 85, 86 — she's still out here."

The Senior Games wrap up with an awards luncheon on Thursday at the Columbus Park Refectory.