Raymond Keeter, 94, led the way for wellness Monday at the Golden LivingCenter in Tarboro.
“He’s getting ready to run with this walker,” said Keeter’s daughter Ruby Parker.
An eager Keeter started his trek before motivational speaker and leader Dr. Evelyn Johnson announced the event had begun.
“I walk some every day,” Keeter said. “It loosens you up in all parts of your body.”
Before he became a resident at Golden LivingCenter, Keeter regularly walked three times around Golden East Mall in Rocky Mount.
“That’s what has kept him living as long as he has,” Parker said.
LivingCenter staff member Gloria Sain said it was wonderful to see the residents participating in physical activities.
“To see someone who’s [almost] 100 years old walking down the sidewalk, it’s just amazing,” Sain said. “Without healthy living, that would not be possible.”
The seniors all got moving in some way during the event, whether it was walking on their own, using a walker to make their way around the parking lot, or exercising their arms while being pushed in wheelchairs.
Aging has not slowed down Johnson, walk leader and Edgecombe County Board of Education member, who just celebrated her 67th birthday.
“I’ve already done two miles today,” Johnson told the residents just prior to the walk. “As long as you’re here, you need to keep moving.”
To illustrate the need for seniors to continue to stay physically active, Johnson asked them,
“How many of you can move your foot?”
Many of the residents raised their hands.
“That’s a blessing,” she said.
Johnson’s objective was not only to motivate the residents to walk but to bring “joy and cheer” into their lives.
She danced, tossed balls to residents to keep them moving before asking everyone to join hands and sing “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand, make this world a better place.” Later at the celebration, she held the microphone for residents who recited poetry for their peers to enjoy.
“This is a great way to combine the family, community and friends, and let residents know they are not forgotten,” Johnson said.
Monday’s walk kicked off a weeklong national celebration of wellness. Golden LivingCenter joins more than 650 Aegis Therapies communities across the nation in the celebration.
“It’s a weeklong event to promote physical wellness, along with the other aspects of wellness,
Aegis Rehab director Rachelle Hare said. "It’s a community-wide event.”
At 3 p.m. each day this week, the residents will have a chance to participate in activities to promote physical, intellectual, emotional, occupational and spiritual wellness.
Hare watched watches Monday as residents clapped their hands, took turns playing the tambourine, singing, and socializing,
“They’re having a good time," she said. "This is something they wouldn’t normally do.”
When asked how long it’s been since she’s attended a “party” like the one Monday, 82-year-old Dorothy Brown said, “It’s been a long time.”
“I’m having fun,” she added. “I walked and kept time with the music.”
Mary Acrey, 80, said she was glad everybody was “getting out… laughing and talking.” She recited a poem her father taught her as a little girl.
“I think it enhances the quality of their life, being able to participate in an event like this,” Sain said.
Hare agreed, saying the wellness week is in line with Aegis Therapies’ mission of providing good quality of life, reaching “one patient, one person, one family and one community at a time.”