Golden Age Games calls coast home for the first time - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Golden Age Games calls coast home for the first time

Almost 800 veterans, 55 and older, took to the convention center halls to compete in events like table tennis, pickle ball, air rifle, and much more. (Photo source: WLOX) Almost 800 veterans, 55 and older, took to the convention center halls to compete in events like table tennis, pickle ball, air rifle, and much more. (Photo source: WLOX)
The athletes will be competing through Thursday at locations all over the coast. (Photo source: WLOX) The athletes will be competing through Thursday at locations all over the coast. (Photo source: WLOX)
These games are actually a qualifier for the National Senior Games in June. (Photo source: WLOX) These games are actually a qualifier for the National Senior Games in June. (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

A national athletic event is calling our coast home for the first time. The 31st National Veterans Golden Age Games are being hosted by the Biloxi VA this year.

The games kicked into gear with various events all over the coast Monday, but mostly at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center.

Almost 800 veterans, 55 and older, took to the convention center halls to compete in events like table tennis, pickle ball, air rifle, and much more.

"I look forward to it. It's a lifesaver for me," said Don Jackson, a Navy vet from Chicago.

Jackson is in his seventh year competing. He believes the games help with service-related issues he faces every day.

"It's an amazing opportunity for us veterans. The camaraderie with the other veterans. To be alive. To be thought of as independent other than a soldier," said Jackson.

For many of these men and women who sacrificed so much for our country, this was the perfect way to get out and get moving.

"It gives them an opportunity to feel good about themselves competing with other veterans, and it's a fun activity. We get to know one another," said George Gray, an Air Force vet.

Gray liked getting to know other Air Force vets, like Charles Bennett.

"This is an opportunity to get physical and do some of the things that you used to do," said Bennett.

These games are actually a qualifier for the National Senior Games in June.

"It's a lot of fun. It's exciting, and we look forward to doing it each year. I hope they continue it on and on for generations to come," said World War II veteran Lou Bestenheider.

The Golden Age Games are in desperate need of volunteers. The athletes will be competing through Thursday at locations all over the coast.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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