Over the past six months I have had the good fortune to interview several participants in the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics as a volunteer public relations and advertising coordinator for this event which is kicking off its 35 anniversary season tomorrow morning, Saturday, Sept. 9. I was lucky to meet these seniors and I am thankful they allowed me to tell their stories.
I would like to share one of these inspiring stories with you today, that of Joyce Tobias, 79, and her husband of 56 years, Tom Tobias,84, of Haymarket, Va. They are shown in the photo above I shot near their home in Prince William County, Va. As you will read, the Tobiases do not let age get in their way.
Below is their story along with a few other photos. If you happen to live in Northern Virginia Area, I would invite you, no I would urge you to attend one of the free NVSO events over the next two weeks that are listed at http://www.nvso.us. You will have fun, see some inspiring people and chances are you will walk away with a slightly less anxious view of growing old. Most people say they can wait to get old while people like the Tobiases embrace aging and they do it well. Please feel free to share this story and these photos with anyone you like. (please see story and photos below)
Don’t talk to Joyce and Tom Tobias about the “horrors of aging.” They won’t have it.
Joyce and Tom are not discouraged by doctors’ diagnoses nor will they let a fall on a bike keep them from competing in the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics this month.
Joyce, 79, puts it this way. “I am in chronic fibrillation and wear a pacemaker, but at the cardiologist’s office, they wait to see my medals each year. They approve and encourage me to do what I do.”
Tom, 84, her husband of 56 years, had a fall on his bike during a training run in August, a month before the opening day of the 2017 senior Olympics, breaking a rib and getting a bad case of road rash earning him a trip to the hospital.
Joyce told friends in an email sent shortly after the accident, “He definitely won’t be riding in the senior Olympics on Sept 10…Never a dull moment even when you are 84.”
Never a dull moment indeed. Amazingly Tom will be riding his bike after all Sunday, Sept. 10 at the Vint Hill Village Green near Warrenton, when the NVSO cycling races begin at 8:00 a.m. He and Joyce will be in both the 10k and 20k cycling events.
The Haymarket, Va., couple enjoys the competitive, social and fitness aspects of the NVSO.
“It (being involved in the Olympics) improves your quality of life,” Joyce says. “I keep doing it because I don’t have all the aches and pains that all my peers have. I don’t have the arthritis that everybody around seems to have.”
The Tobiases epitomize the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics’ motto of “Living Healthy Longer.”
Most mornings, Joyce has already biked 12 miles before 9 a.m. On days when she is not cycling she can usually be found at the community pool going for a mile long-swim. Her husband follows an equally rigorous schedule cycling about 200 miles a month.
Joyce became involved in the NVSO in 2009 after hearing about the NVSO’s swimming event from a neighbor. She has been competed in the annual event for seniors 50 and older ever since. She has signed up for five events at the NVSO swimming championships that take place Friday, Sept. 15, at the Claude Moore Recreation Center in Sterling.
The year after Joyce entered her first NVSO swim meet, cycling was added to the Olympics and she added it to her repertoire. Tom took up competitive cycling with the NVSO at the young age of 79. Tom also competed in cycling at the 2015 national Senior Games in Minneapolis, earning a bronze medal. Tom and Joyce have also cycled across the United States together.
Tom has medaled in swimming as well in cycling at the NVSO but says this year he is focusing on the cycling as swimming is not his strong suit. He jokes, “I swam during the 2016 Marine Corp Triathlon and drowned.”
Tom and Joyce have won numerous NVSO medals, so many that during a recent family reunion Joyce says she handed out some of her medals to nephews, nieces and grandchildren. She also competes in the state senior games in Richmond.
For Joyce Tobias, being part of the senior Olympics has taken on even a greater meaning.
“I want to be a role model for my grandchildren, to show them that old people can have fun and be fun,” she says. The Tobiases have seven children and 19 grandchildren. Joyce says it is very important to set a healthy example for young people and being in the senior Olympics is a great way to do that.
The opening ceremony for the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics will be held Saturday morning, Sept. 9, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington. The cycling events will begin at 8:00 a.m at the Vint Hill Village Green near Warrenton, Sunday, Sept. 10. The NVSO swim championships will be held Friday morning, Sept. 15, at Claude Moore Recreation Center in Sterling, beginning at 9 a.m.
Spectators are encouraged to attend all NVSO events. There is no admission charge to cheer on the senior Olympians. To see a complete list of events, venues and starting times please visit http://www.nvso.us
The NVSO is still in need of volunteers for some of it’s larger events including the indoor track meet in Arlington, Sept. 9th and the swim meet in Loudoun County, Sept. 15th. To register to volunteer, please call RSVP Northern Virginia Volunteer Specialist Carly Hubicki at 703-403-5360.
Photos and story by Rob Paine