By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS staff
Betty Bason’s got a gun — and she sure knows how to use it. So said the folks at the 2005 New Mexico Senior Olympic State Games when they handed her the gold medal in the rifle standing category earlier this month in Albuquerque.
Bason, 72, beat out seniors from across the state to nab the rifle gold for Quay; seven other Quay seniors also came home with high honors in one of 26 categories.
About 1,700 New Mexico seniors spent five days competing in categories that included 8-ball pool, walking, table tennis, shot put, javelin, discus, line dancing and more.
Mary Rivera, walked away with the Spirit Athlete of Quay County.
Overall, Quay came home with four gold medals, five silver medals, three bronze medals and a host of fourth- and fifth-place ribbons, Bason said. Quay competitors included Eppie Vigil, Mele Armijo, Leona Faye Mayfield, Lorraine Runyan, Maurice Runyan and Pete Valverde.
Bason said the competition is open to seniors 50 and older.
“I’m determined not to get old,” she said. “Our motto is ‘You don’t quit playing because you get old, you get old because you quit playing.’” Besides, she said, it’s fun.
Bason, who has been coordinator of Quay’s senior olympics for four years, said shooting just came naturally for her, even with the air gun used in the olympics rather than the rifle she used growing up on a ranch.
“It’s about the same thing,” she said of the olympic competition versus hunting rabbits and coyotes. “Except when you’re hunting you have a moving target.”
Bason said she also competes with her sister in the singing category.
“We do the talent show every year,” Bason said, adding that she is deaf and sings with her hands in sign language while her sister Becca Cawthon vocalizes the notes. “I don’t hear the music,” she said. “She sings with me so I can keep the right time.”
Bason and her sister aren’t the only ones who frequent the state senior olympics each year. Rivera, 77, said she attended the state-level games for 16 consecutive years – from 1984 until 2000 – until she fell ill in 2001.
“I still go to support them,” said Rivera, adding her forte is the 800-meter walk and she continues to walk daily — although not like she used to. “I can try to recruit people to go (to the senior olympics). I just tell them how much fun we have.”
Although eight Quay seniors got to the state level this year, 20 qualified to attend, according to Paul Bason, the man in charge of the Quay County senior olympics under the Volunteers in Service to America Program (VISTA).
Paul Bason said there is an easy explanation why less than half of the qualified seniors were able to attend the games in Albuquerque.
“The Rattler reunion was the same weekend,” he said. “The Rattler Reunion wins out over a lot of things,” he said.
To find out more about senior activities in Quay County or how to compete in the Senior Olympics call
Betty Bason: 461-2423
Paul Bason: 487-3187