This blog post was originally published on betheredothat.hylands.com.
Huntsman World Senior Games, Della Works, track and field
As I was sitting at the Hyland’s booth in the Dixie center of St. George Utah, I saw the athletes trickling into the registration booth. Softball players, cyclists, table tennis players and many other of the 10,000 athletes at the Huntsman World Senior Games. There was a certain pep in their step and a confidence that I have seen in many athletes of any age. From far in the distance I see a woman who had this amazing smile, and a vitality that I knew that I wanted to capture. I was unsure what sport she played at the time, but whatever it was I was sure that she brought her amazing spirit with it.
The next day I sat out to capture a few photos and speak with some athletes. The first event on my list was Track and Field, since it was a sport that I had some experience with, and exemplifies the spirit of the Olympic Games. After snapping photos of runners getting ready for their events, I made my way over to the discus ring. Della Works was her name. 77 years old and wearing the reds, pinks and purples that have become her trademark colors. After she makes her first throw of 11 feet, she steps out of the ring, letting the judge measure her distance.
“How far was that?” Della asks.
“Eleven feet, five inches.” The judge exclaims.
“Come on, I can do better than that! I’m going for 12 this time.” Della steps up to the ring, takes her stance, pivots and gives it her all. This time she hits eleven feet 8 inches. “Better!” On her final throw she hits just shy of her mark but continues to better herself. I love her determination and spirit.
Della Works, Discus event at the Huntsman age 77
I was able to meet up with Della over at the track where she had just finished her last race, the 400 meter, in which she placed second. She was very excited when I asked to speak with her. That same energy that I noticed the first time I saw her at the registration booth was still beaming.
I asked her to tell me her story of how she first found the Huntsman World Senior Games.
“I’ve been doing this for the past 6 years and came because a friend asked me to. I see the World Senior Games as a type of preventative medicine.”
Over the years, Della has added more sports to her regimen at the games. She currently competes in the 400M, 800M, 1500M, 3000M , Discus and Long Jump. And she does very well in the 65+ age bracket, winning first in her 3000M, 800M and 1500M runs. She said she didn’t do as well as she wanted in Discus, and she wanted to compete in shot-put as well but the times conflicted.
I asked how the competition was this year at the Huntsman World Senior Games.
“Competition is getting tough, people are just living longer.” She smiled.
Della has an active lifestyle outside of competition as well. She is an avid hiker, started running marathons at age 59 and has since completed 24 of them. She even ran two marathons in one day. Her two biggest accomplishments are the Pikes Peak climb, where she completed over 7,000 feet of the 14,000 foot mountain; and in 2005 she completed an Antarctica run. All of this at a time when most people her age are living vicariously through their grandchildren.
“I just wanted my Grand kids to know that if Grandma can do it, then so can they. I want to be an inspiration for them to do this.” Della says. “I feel blessed.”
Della made the Huntsman trip for me. She is an inspiration not only to her grandchildren, but to me as well. She truly exemplifies the “Be there, Do that” spirit.