EBENSBURG - Roller skating for a 79-year-old senior from Ebensburg is old hat.
For the past 12 years, Shirley Wilson and her partner, Bob Hostler, have been tearing up the floor skating Sunday nights in Bedford at the Moon Glo Skating Rink.
On Wednesdays, Wilson and her senior friends from Ebensburg, New Germany, Johnstown and other surrounding communities take to the floor at the Young People's Community Center in Ebensburg to practice their skills on the rink.
Shirley Wilson of Ebensburg shows off the roller skating skirts that she makes for her senior roller skating friends along with the hand-crafted walker covers and other items that she designs and donates to veterans and personal care homes.
Turning back the clock, it's as if they were youngsters again.
"We're just seniors having fun," Sandy Younker of Johnstown, one of the regulars in the group, said.
Wilson makes all the costumes for the dress-up occasions in Bedford. She has hundreds of skating skirts that she has made for the skaters in all assorted colors in glittering materials.
At Wilson's home in Ebensburg, she has two large rooms, one featuring the cutting room for all her crafts and the other serves as her sewing room. There are five regular and commercial sewing machines.
When she's not skating, Wilson spends her days turning scraps of cloth into many beautiful items such as walker covers.
She has designed and hand crafted more than 600 of these covers that she gives away to veterans and personal care homes.
"I just get a lot of satisfaction from helping people and knowing I've made somebody's life a little happier," Wilson said.
She also makes personal tissue covers with people's names on them along with cosmetic bags, wine bottle covers, detergent bottle covers, pin cushions, cell phone holders and many other items.
Wilson makes up all the sayings she puts on the walker covers and cosmetic bags - all by free hand. Some of her sayings include: "Raising kids is like being pecked to death by a chicken," or "You think you have been put through the mill? I've been picked, shucked and shelled."
With Wilson giving away everything she designs, it's no surprise she is always looking for anyone who has scraps of cloth, buttons, velcro or any other sewing accessories they want to get rid of. She will gladly take them and can be reached at 471-0131.
Just ask Sister Jane Stroehmeyer, who said, "The number of people who have benefited from Shirley's hand-crafted work are just too numerous to mention. Her magical work can be found on walker covers in personal care homes, nursing homes as well as homes that she visits.
"She is a skater," Sister Jane added, "and literally skates into people's hearts."
Through Wilson's sharing, caring manner, people's lives are made more beautiful, Stroehmeyer said.
"Hanging from their walkers and wheelchairs, one can find the beautiful handiwork that Shirley so easily provides through her kind, generous heart," Stroehmeyer said. "Whatever she makes, she makes with perfection."
Pastor Kevin McNamara from the Lutheran Church in Mundy's Corner called Wilson "a gem," adding everyone at all of the nursing homes and personal care centers where she donates her work appreciates her kindness.
"And we all love Shirley, too," McNamara said.
Wilson used to ride the highways with her late husband, Ronald, on motorcycles and worked along with her husband at Hertz, delivering cars and picking up new ones.
In her spare time, Wilson delivers extra food for churches and food pantries.
In the fall, she goes to her family farm in Mundy's Corner and harvests the corn and makes the corn cobs into dolls.
Wilson and her late husband lived in Mundy's Corner for 47 years before he passed away in 2001 following heart surgery. Wilson lost her daughter, Connie Rose, 22 years ago to cancer. (Connie made commercials for television before she passed away at 30 years old.)
Wilson's other daughter, Tracy Wilson, lives in Bedford, where she works at the Walmart Distribution Center.