Linda Brangham (top photo) received the coveted Hazel Gay Torch Award during the Northwest Louisiana District Senior Olympics Athletes’ Celebration May 31. Other award winners are shown in these photos. Photo 2, Doyle Blasingame, winner of a Distinguished Service Award, is flanked by Lionel Brangham and Ronny Comstock. Photo 3, Female Athlete of the Year Mildred Reeves of Union Parish, poses with Union buddies Maxine Thomas and Barbara Wheeler. Photo 4: Lionel Brangham presents Tony Cole with the Volunteer of the Year award. Photo 5:Jackie Conner shows off her MVP award. And Velma Johnson (Photo 6) beams after receiving the Ken Howard’s Spirit Award.
FIRST DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD GIVEN
Linda Brangham was named winner of the coveted Hazel Gay Torch Award Tuesday as the Northwest District Senior Olympics honored individuals for superlative service to the 2016 effort.
Velma Johnson, Jackie Conner, Tony Cole and Doyle Blasingame joined Brangham among those honored Tuesday at the Athletes’ Celebration held at the Bossier Knights of Columbus Hall.
Brangham follows Lillian Trammel in the list of Torch Award winners. The award honors the late Hazel Gay, Program Director of the Bossier Council on Aging who was instrumental in keeping the district games alive after its founding group, the YMCA of Shreveport-Bossier, discontinued conducting them after 1994. Linda has worked tirelessly in numerous capacities through this, her first season on the board of district coordinators.
Johnson won the other “named” award, taking home the Ken Howard’s Spirit Award, which goes to the person who embraces the games with the same spirit the late Howard did. “Ken was part of almost everything offered, enthusiastically helping carry out the activities as well as encouraging his fellow competitors as they enjoyed the games,” recalled Gerry Robichaux, who presented the award. Les Brosset was the winner of the Howard’s Spirit honor last year.
Conner won the MVP Award. “She has been there any time we needed her, any time we asked, with advice and willing hands to help,” said Ronny Comstock, the first-year District Coordinator.
Cole was named Volunteer of the Year. “When something needed to be handled, needed to be accomplished, he was our man this year, We could count on Tony,” said Comstock.
Comstock and Lionel Brangham, the duo that directs the district this year, called a familiar figure to come forward later. They gave Doyle Blasingame the Distinguished Service Award, a new honor. “This is for his long service in building the Senior Olympics into what it is today, making our work so much easier, giving us advice and guidance in how things should be done,” said Comstock.
Blasingame retired after 19 seasons as coordinator last year. In receiving the DSA, he recalled his thoughts when a group of ladies from Union Parish several years ago asked if they could enter our district games because their Northeast District, housed in Monroe, shut down. “I didn’t want that to happen to (the Northwest District),” he said. “So I began looking for someone willing to take over here when our coordinators began to step down.” He said after Comstock and Brangham and their friends work this year, “I believe we are in good hands.”
In other awards:
—Joyce Middleton was named winner of The Susan Berry Golf Award, named for the late coordinator of district golf competition.
—Mildred Reeves was named Female Athlete of the Year.
—James Russom was named Male Athlete of the Year.
—Leon Darden won the Golf Sweepstake.
As individuals arrived at the Athletes’ Celebration, they were presented with an Aloha necklace made of colorful paper flowers. It established for all the theme of Good-bye to 2016 and Hello to 2017, which will mark the Silver Anniversary of the District’s Games. And 2016 will be remembered for a registration of 550 participants, second highest in the district’s history, topped only by a 570 figure in 2011.