Love is More Than a Score for this Senior Games Couple

By Sue Murray

Ray Jenkins (age 74) and Brenda Hales (age 72) met six years ago on an Internet dating site. Having a companion not only doubles their enjoyment of activities, such as going to the theater and having lunch, but they’ve also doubled their fun by participating together in the annual Piedmont Plus Senior Games.

The possibility of entering the Games first occurred to Ray when a representative spoke to a group at the YMCA.

“Before that,” said Ray, “I thought it was all track and field, which I wasn’t interested in.” He soon discovered there is more – much more – to Senior Games. Over the past five years, Ray has participated in cornhole, horseshoes, the football, softball and basketball throws, billiards, and shuffleboard. He’s still active at the Y but noted, “The games are a great way to meet people my age.”

It wasn’t long before Ray talked Brenda into joining him. She’s been playing cornhole, bocce ball, and shuffleboard for the past three years. Although Brenda lives in Asheboro, the Piedmont Plus Games are open (with prior approval and depending on circumstances) to contestants from other counties.

“I always thought I wasn’t good enough to do anything,” Brenda said. “But when I see people older than me participating, it inspires me to keep going.”

Local, county-wide events are the first step in qualifying for the North Carolina State Finals, which are held every fall in the Raleigh area. All local programs are sanctioned by the North Carolina Senior Games, Inc., which is sponsored statewide by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services.

All entrants must have resided in N.C. a minimum of three months and be aged 50 or better. Our N.C. Senior Games create a year-round health promotion and wellness education program to keep the body, mind and spirit fit while enjoying the company of friends, family, spectators and volunteers.

Sports categories can vary from county to county, but usually include everything from archery to racquet sports to swimming and track. In addition, the Silver Arts program, which is exclusive to North Carolina, affords seniors the opportunity to express their creativity through the visual, literary, heritage, and performing arts – as well as cheerleading.

These days Ray and Brenda can be found at the bowling alley. They play in separate leagues; however, Brenda indicated they may compete in doubles soon. Ray also has his eyes on golf.

If you’re not yet 50, don’t get discouraged. Someday you might be able to compete with Ray and Brenda. In the meantime, consider checking out your competition. They’ll be doubling down until then!

Application deadline for the 2017 Games is Thursday, March 31. The games will begin in April and run through mid-May. For more information on participating or volunteering, please call Chuck Vestal at 336-727-2325 or visit

Sue Murray is a Senior Games participant and a Senior Games ambassador. She is a local freelance writer who also enjoys game development and cat rescue. 


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