10 people posing in front of an Olympic banner
Competitors from Pisgah Valley in Chandler, NC, show off their game faces for the Liberty Games. (Photo credit: Liberty Senior Living)

The 2024 Summer Olympics may not start until July, but Wilmington, NC-based Liberty Senior Living decided to get the ball rolling a little bit early when residents from eight of its communities descended on the campus of Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall, Wilmington, NC, for a friendly competition called the Liberty Games.

The competitors may have been advanced in age, but there was no shortage of competitive fire, Liberty INSPIRE Wellness and Enrichment Coordinator Haley Kinne-Norris said. 

“We had many competitors in their 90s, which was really wonderful,” she said. “It’s not only a great opportunity for our residents, but it’s a great opportunity for our staff and to remind everyone why we’re here, what we’re doing and how we support our residents.”

Participants traveled from states such as Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina to compete at Wilmington. The competitions included bocce ball, cornhole, a water balloon toss and many more. Each team collected points from each event, with the winner receiving the most points. Kinne-Norris made sure that each team evenly distributed its competitors across the events. 

“Everyone has the same amount of entries per community, and they can’t have more than three entries per event,” she said. “That way, they couldn’t just put 15 people in cornhole. They can only put three in, and then three in bocce or whatever they wanted to do. So they have a even amount of participation opportunity for points, and then if first, you get five points; if you place second, you get four; and if you place third, you get three points.”

This year’s winner? The Templeton at Cary, Cary, NC, took home the gold, with Carolina Bay receiving silver and The Barclay at South Park, Charlotte, NC, receiving bronze. But for Kinne-Norris, it was not about winners and losers. For them and their fellow staff members, seeing friendships blossom across state lines was the most rewarding prize. 

“My favorite part is being able to see residents from different communities, different states become friends,” Kinne-Norris said. “We have several residents who have become really close friends with people who live in a completely different state, and it’s because of the Liberty games. They email and call and hang out with each other outside of the games. They look forward to seeing the residents who have been a part of it since the first year.”

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