HARLINGEN — Juan Ochoa was enjoying his little field trip.
“I’m having a good time,” said Ochoa, 72, who had journeyed with other nursing home residents for La Hacienda Healthcare’s Eighth Annual Senior Olympics.
Ochoa and several other residents of Retama Manor Nursing Center in Weslaco had a day filled with music, dancing, races, ring toss, cheese toss and much more.
About 200 residents from eight nursing homes in the area came to the event at La Hacienda Healthcare at 2204 Pease St.
Games and tarps were spread across the facility’s parking lot, where everyone could enjoy the fresh air.
Ochoa said he and the other residents at Retama Manor in Weslaco get two outings a month, and this was one of them.
“It’s a change of pace, which is kind of nice with all the people coming out,” he said.
Ricardo Rodriguez, administrator for La Hacienda, was pleased with the turnout in spite of the weather. The day had started off a little wet.
“We have this event to celebrate life,” Rodriguez said. “Just the interaction with family is good.”
The residents had the opportunity to mingle with all sorts of people, including 35 young volunteers from St. Mary’s Catholic School in Brownsville.
“We help the older people so they can have fun, so they can be happy,” said Vianka Villafranco, 11.
Fellow volunteer Ana Maria Butron, 11, seemed especially in tune with the realities of some residents.
“It feels good to be helping them because they might not have family,” Ana Maria said. “We make them feel special.”
Both girls had helped Juanita McPherson toss some rings over polls.
“I think it’s fun,” she said before heading to the next activity.
Organizers initially feared the weather might cancel the event. Diana Medrano, activities director, said two nursing homes called about their concerns.
“Thank God the rain stopped,” Medrano said. “All the nursing homes were excited to get here.”
The event was scheduled to last about three hours. Memories of the smiles of both young and hold, however, were bound to last for many years to come.