The 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana took place June 14-25 in Albuquerque, N.M. More than 13,700 senior athletes from all over America competed in 20 sports—including cycling, basketball, horseshoes, pickleball, badminton, swimming, power walking, and track and field. It was the largest number of participants in the Games’ 32-year history.
The National Senior Games, involving athletes ranging in age from 50 to over 100, promotes health and wellness for older adults. Humana honors a handful of these athletes as Humana Game Changers—people who demonstrate how regular physical activity can positively impact overall health and inspire others to pursue a healthy lifestyle, no matter their age or athletic ability.
Read on for more about Humana Game Changers. You can also visit , opens new window for information about the National Senior Games presented by Humana.
Bill Otto, 86, Coral Springs, Florida
From the moment Bill Otto retired from his job as a hospital director at age 60, he did everything but slow down. With seemingly boundless energy, Bill became a licensed boat captain, balanced multiple part-time jobs and, remarkably, found a new passion in long-distance bicycle racing. Having been active his entire life, Bill was not ready to give up his daily exercises when hip issues started to inhibit his ability to run. As an alternative, Bill bought a bike and started competing, ultimately breaking two Florida state records in his age category, and winning more than 75 gold and silver medals, including four national silver medals, in less than 25 years. For the seventh time, Bill competed in the cycling time trials (5K and 10K) at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Charles Kolitz, 75, Knoxville, Tennessee
Charles Kolitz has been a multi-sport athlete all his life and played baseball, football and softball to keep active. In 2010, Charles took his health up a notch when when he participated in the local Senior Games. Charles went on to win a gold medal in the 2015 National Senior Games. Charles is an Ambassador and member of the Board of Directors for the Senior Games in Tennessee, and he volunteers for several local organizations that include the National Park Service, Master Gardeners of Knox County, Park West Hospital. Charles donates some of his medals to athletes who participate in the Special Olympics. Charles Kolitz competed in horseshoes and pickleball at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Kamal Chaudhari, 84, Tampa Bay, Florida
Born and raised in the birthplace of badminton, Pune, India, it’s no wonder Kamal Chaudhari fell in love with the sport at a young age. He was the number one badminton champion of his engineering college team before coming to America in 1959. Whether Kamal is facing competitors at the National Senior Games or college students at the University of South Florida, he continues to challenge his badminton opponents to this day. Despite a health struggle with skin and prostate cancer at three different points in his life, Kamal’s desire to stay physically strong and active has never wavered. And his physical health isn’t his only priority—Kamal still works as a structural engineer and takes college courses with his supportive wife on subjects like gerontology and history to keep his mind sharp. Kamal competed in badminton (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Mattie Lenhardt, 60, Broward County, Florida
Track, cross country, baseball, softball, volleyball... it’s hard to think of a sport Mattie Lenhardt hasn’t tried and excelled in throughout her years. But one game surpasses all the others for this lifelong athlete: basketball. As the oldest player on her women’s basketball team, Mattie enamors all with her talent, passion for the game and unyielding determination to win. And while Mattie has combatted her fair share of health issues over the years, nothing has stopped her from showing up for practice. In fact, her love for basketball has given her the strength to get through recent physical and emotional hardships like losing her husband, diabetes and a serious heart condition. “No matter what I am going through, when I’m on the court, everything disappears—I’m never giving up the game,” she says. Mattie coached and competed in women’s basketball in the 2019 National Senior Games.
Ramiro Cavazos, 79, San Antonio, Texas
Growing up, Ramiro Cavazos was unable to play team sports despite his love for athletics. When Ramiro joined the Air Force in 1957, he jumped at the chance to join the track team at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany. Eager to continue to play sports after completing his military duty, Ramiro played softball and competed in various city, state and national championships. Concerned with his health while he was working for the Community Affairs department at USAA, Ramiro’s sons convinced him to try cycling. When his sons left him in the dust, it motivated him to get in better shape and try harder to become a better cyclist. While racing, Ramiro discovered that he had arrhythmia and doctors needed to perform a heart procedure to correct it. The doctors told him he couldn’t race but could continue cycling. Seventeen years later, with the doctor’s approval, Ramiro competed in the Texas Senior Olympics and won a bronze medal. For the first time, Ramiro Cavazos competed in the 5K and 10K Time Trials at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Dan Cavazos, 52, San Antonio, TX
From football and baseball to soccer and basketball, there hasn’t been a sport that Dan Cavazos hasn’t played. While team sports were a huge part of Dan’s life, it wasn’t until after college that he started practicing martial arts and became a black belt. Dan opened his martial arts academy in 1994, where he teaches over 250 students Taekwondo and Muay-Thai. While sparring with seven students, Dan severely broke his leg, needed a titanium plate implant, and had a corrective surgery to fix a torn nerve and Achilles tendon. This was a mere bump in the road for Dan, who recovered quickly because of his active lifestyle. When Dan turned 40 years old, he was determined to focus on his health and began cycling. After his father, Ramiro Cavazos, was diagnosed with an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), Dan vowed that health would be their primary focus. Dan encouraged his father to start cycling with him and compete in the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred cycling event in Wichita Falls, Texas. Now, the father-and-son duo train two or three times a week, and have been for the past eight years. For the first time, Dan Cavazos competed in the 5K Time Trial at the National Senior Games.
Patricia Thieman, 70, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Patricia Thieman has always loved sports. Whether it’s tennis in the fall, skiing in the winter, softball in the spring or jet-ski racing in the summer, this competitive athlete always prioritizes exercise no matter the season. When Patricia was introduced to racquetball 29 years ago, she immediately fell in love with the year-round game. Patricia also fills her week with country and salsa dancing because she believes staying active is the best way to keep healthy. Patricia has earned gold and silver medals in racquetball tournaments in and out of state. For the first time, Patricia competed in doubles and singles racquetball at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Kathy Meares, 72, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Having been active her whole life, Kathy Meares was devastated when her doctor said she needed to stop running after four knee replacement surgeries, the first of which was at 36 years old. Determined to continue exercising, the pace of Kathy’s daily walks became faster and faster until her time was down to a competitive 11.5-minute mile, and her distance exceeded a half marathon. Kathy isn’t the only Meares with a need for speed, as she is the proud matriarch of a running family—four inspired children who race in marathons and triathlons, and six grandchildren excelling in track and field. “I never called it power walking… I was just really fast,” explains Kathy, a gold and silver 5K and half marathon race-walk medalist in her age category. For the first time, Kathy competed in the 5K and 1500 Meter Power Walk at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Victor Kerst, 71, New Orleans, Louisiana
Victor Kerst was always athletic, but he developed consistent daily exercise habits during his time in the United States Air Force. Following in the footsteps of his father who served in World War II, Victor enlisted right after his college graduation to fight for his country during the Vietnam War. After returning home to Louisiana, Victor continued to maintain his fitness and began competitive running, racing in half and full marathons and triathlons across the country up until the age of 70. More recently, Victor has been focusing less on running and more on his swimming career, having earned multiple first place medals in the freestyle swimming event at the district and state level. Victor competed in the 50, 100, 200 and 500 meter freestyle swimming events at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Mary Kemp, 97, Fairhope, Alabama
Mary Kemp is known as a “road-runner” on and off the track. Mary has always been on-the-go: physically active, walking, doing yard and house work. After studying cosmetology in high school, Mary joined the Army in 1944, completing her service in 1946. As a mother with two young children in 1955, she worked by day in an auto factory and went to school by night to get her secretarial degree. That degree provided her with a secretarial job at Owens Illinois, where she took the stairs, not the elevator, continuing the road-runner mentality for over 25 years. While Mary is a newbie to athletics and the Senior Games, her journey to a healthy life hit another gear at age 50, when she decided to quit smoking cold turkey after 35 years, over a weekend. Mary also began eating healthier, including using a juicer for fruits and vegetables. Mary is an active SilverSneakers® member and enjoys attending fitness classes five times a week. In 2017, Mary competed in the National Senior Games for the first time and won a gold medal in track for the 50-yard dash! Mary Kemp competed in track (the 50 m, 100 m, and 200 m) at the 2019 National Senior Games.
Glen Kemp, 70, Fairhope, Alabama
As a child, Glen Kemp watched basketball games on TV, dreaming of one day playing for a professional or collegiate team. While that dream was not realized, nor did he even play organized ball, Glen never gave up, continuing to hone his game for over 62 years on the “blacktop,” from Alaska to the Florida Keys and many stops in between. A two-year stint in the Army (1969–1971) led to the GI Bill, a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, and a 35-year career with the U.S. Postal Service. Glen has overcome many serious basketball-related injuries, and more recently, a four-year bout of severe depression/anxiety. He never let health challenges stop him from living a healthy lifestyle. Glen will tell you that basketball saved his life, and ultimately led to senior basketball in Alabama in 2016. At the Fairhope Rec Center, Glen is known as "Pops,” where he continues to work on his game, and informally mentors young kids. Glen’s motto is, “every step you take is better than the one you don’t.” In 2017, Glen competed in the National Senior Games for the first time and won a gold medal. Glen, the son of fellow Game Changer Mary Kemp, competed in Men’s Basketball at the 2019 National Senior Games.
The next National Senior Games will be held in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2021. Please visit the , opens new window for more information, including how to volunteer.