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Hopemont State Hospital hosts annual Geri-Olympics

KINGWOOD — The skies were dull outside, but inside, Hopemont State Hospital was filled with music and excitement Thursday, at the annual Geri-Olympics North.
“This is only the second time in 23 years that we’ve had it inside,” said Hopemont Activities Director Michele Shay, who was among the organizers.
Games of basketball, sticky ball, horseshoes, moon ball, bean bag toss and wheelchair races were all held.
“It’s such a positive thing for the residents, getting out and participating in games,” Shay said. “It’s not so much that they’re going to win a medal but if they do, that is such a positive element in their lives, as far as coming out. And the friendships. They come every year and see the friends they’ve made.”
Six nursing homes: Hopemont; Dennett Road Manor, Appalachian Crossroads and Oakland Nursing and Rehab, all in Oakland, Md.; Pine Ridge of Kingwood; and Meadowview of Bridgeport, all brought people to participate.
Though the games had to be moved because of the rain, there was plenty of laughter and talk flowing inside. The strains of County Roads and Johnny Cash filled the air, as Randy Thomas and Friends provided music. There was even a little toe-tapping and dancing going on.
Glenda Harris, who lives in Pine Ridge, was testing her arm at the sticky ball game. She wasn’t revealing her age but said, “I tell people I may be old, but I’m young at heart.”
The day wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteers of all ages, Shay said. For example, Leona Rodeheaver, a nurse who retired from Hopemont after 41 years, sang the national anthem. The John D. Good Recovery Center sent volunteers as well.
“You don’t get this with most nursing homes,” said Hopemont Administrator Mark Nesland. “This is special … unique.”