Inspiring Stories

Mind, Body, and Spirit: Sponsored Athletes 2020 Wrap-Up

The Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete program was launched in February 2020 alongside the commemoration of American Heart Month. No one could have expected the heart and courage required of our five outstanding athletes over the following 11 months. Adapting to new health and wellness routines amid a pandemic wasn’t easy, but each individual prevailed with new levels of creativity and strength. After a year unlike any other, we asked each athlete to answer the following question:

What have you learned about yourself, and what matters to your wellness during the pandemic?


David Hill, 63

“I learned to adapt to all this year’s challenges and opportunities. Early on, the changes from COVID-19 disrupted my exercise routines and I was injured. Using Zoom, YouTube, and Central Park birding, I was able to regain the balance I had before in a different way. Getting lots of sleep has mattered to my wellness. That’s the best part of retirement. Also variety; yoga, HIIT, running, stair climbing in my building, boot camp runs, birding with my wife, and long walks with my son.”


Joan Janek, 67

“When the Pandemic arrived  I made some hard decisions. I learned that I’m adaptable. My wellness is still my number one priority! Eat well, exercise and be safe.”



Carol Klenfner, 74

“I’ve learned again how important physical activity is to my physical and mental well being. Not being able to play and practice my sport during the first four months of the pandemic led to a specific physical weakness that required PT. This injury came despite doing conventional workouts on Zoom.

Since walking was the main physical activity available, I learned that I can walk farther. That I was ‘within walking distance’ of destinations ordinarily reached by subway or bus. Exploring new neighborhoods has been one of the pleasures of the pandemic. Now that I’m back playing ping pong in a new venue that practices social distancing, I’m both relieved and grateful with the knowledge that I have resilience.”


Liliana Cortez, 76

“Greetings to all at Senior Planet. Wishing each of you a happy upcoming holiday with immense gratitude for your service. Be well, safe, and kind to one another. We are the alchemists. We are built to be in command of our own soul, light, spirit and life. Mastery has three stages: being, knowing, and doing.

For me, the actual ‘ah-ha’ moment of recognizing a theme in what presents itself in our lives has been ownership and responsibility. Having had the time to observe the intention in my every move, I can say that yes, I am today the best version of myself. It’s given me more enthusiasm to delve ever deeper into the ‘me’ I always knew could, and would, come forth. This acknowledgement of me is what I vibrate out into the world around me — oneness, love, hope, joy, service… Life is good!”


Burr Daly, 81

“I had completely assessed my physical condition early on and realized that in addition to age, I was at risk due to my lungs. I suffered from sarcoidosis, a rare lung disease forty years ago which resulted in my losing 30% of my lung capacity. I was early in my training for race walking, and I realized that my body was not in the best physical shape.

As my training increased and my performance improved my breathing improved as well. The results of my annual visit to the pulmonologist proved my assessment to be true. So, my training progress motivated me to continue to improve my stamina and my times, but also to be aware that my health needs to be 100% to fend off the possibility of catching the coronavirus. Today, 12/2/20 after my annual physical, my doctor told me that I am in such good shape now, that I am only at moderate risk for the virus.”


Thank you to all of our amazing athletes who shared their personal wellness journeys with the Senior Planet community this year. We wish all of you a safe and healthy 2021! For a look back on everyone’s stories, click here.


3 responses to “Mind, Body, and Spirit: Sponsored Athletes 2020 Wrap-Up

  1. I ‘m a stroke survivor and this year has been a year to remember(or forget) This covid-19 has changed my whole life. I’ve always been active in stroke support group, senior center, church, bible study group, etc. But I have learned to adapt. I stay busy by reading, walking, and visiting with our daughter(safely). I keep up with AARP news and activities. The idea is to find things that you like and stay with them Try to stay positive. Remember that if you are struggling mentally don’t be afraid to seek help.

    1. Thanks for the accolades, John but I give you the Athletes of Courage Award. You plow ahead and don’t complain. But it all goes back to our teenage days: me playing basketball, shooting left handed when everyone guarded to the right and you playing baseball right handed but batting left handed and beating out infield hits. Merry Christmas to all you Californians.

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