Senior citizens, athletes visit as a part of Older Americans Month

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Intergenerational communication isn’t always easy – Garvey Manor Nursing Home resident Monsignor Thomas Mabon recalls some visits with young people where neither side could find common ground with the other.

But dressed in their sports uniforms on Tuesday, student-athletes from Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, Altoona Area High School and Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School visited Mabon and about 20 other Garvey Manor residents, ready to field their questions and pitch a few themselves.

Resident Anna Kist, 100 years old, was energized by the students’ visit, which focused on sports highlights, sports trivia and stories as part of Older Americans Month and National Nursing Home Week.

“It’s nice. They got into it. I enjoyed everything. Made me feel younger, better than 100,” she said.

All-state football player Nick Ceschini, a Bishop Guilfoyle senior, said he felt grateful to the nursing home residents.

“It’s important to give back to those who came before us and thank them for everything – thank them for laying down the path for us. They went to a lot of the schools we went to,” he said.

In fact, Mabon is a former superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown schools.

“It’s a great thrill for me, to see these guys who work their heads off for games on Fridays,” he said.

Some residents who graduated from AAHS can still recite their alma mater and sang along with Altoona Area athletes, including baseball player Alois Steinbugl.

“It’s nice to meet and talk with older people who know a lot more than we do, not just about sports but how the community has changed,” he said.

Many of the residents were interested in what the students do and who their grandparents are.

Altoona Area first team all-state volleyball player Hannah Moore said she is thankful for the support young people have received from older generations.

“I spoke with a few ladies who were interested in my sport,” she said, noting how the students’ visit was a way to give back to the community. “They’ve supported us for so many years.”

Phil Riccio, Altoona’s athletic director, said he looked forward to hearing students talk about what stood out to them after they returned to school that afternoon.

“I think it’s great. Our whole school participates in community events, but this is a good one especially. These folks are the pillar of our community,” he said. “They’ve paved the way to let us be at this point.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.