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LOCAL VETERANS BRING HOME THE GOLD.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

Odds and ends from around the Valley:

You're standing in a field in Topeka, Kan., with 400 other veterans from around the country at the closing ceremonies of the National Veterans Golden Age Games.

There's a gold medal hanging from your neck, and the guy on your right - he's in a wheelchair - has one hanging from his neck, too. The guy on your left is wearing silver.

``The Star Spangled Banner'' is playing, and everyone is saluting the flag. You're feeling 22 again, not 72, thinking it doesn't get any better than this.

``Your chest is sticking out a mile,'' says Don Starler, who won two medals at the Games. ``You're feeling so proud and patriotic, surrounded by men and women who are like family to you.''

The Golden Age Games may not get a fraction of the attention the Olympic Games do, but for pride and patriotism you're not going to beat them.

``This was our Olympic Games,'' says Patty Jones, an occupational therapist at the Sepulveda veterans hospital who coached the 11-member team that brought home 26 medals recently from the Golden Age Games - 13 golds, 7 silvers and 6 bronze.

The games range from physically strenuous events like the pentathlon all the way to board games like checkers and dominos. It's broken up by age groups, all 55 and older, and includes ambulatory and nonambulatory athletes of both sexes.

For vets like Starler, and Sherman Schwartz, 80, of Sylmar - a World War II Army combat vet - the games are more about friendship than competition, although having that medal hanging from your neck at the closing ceremonies feels awfully good, too, they say.

``It's not only your teammates you're close with, but all the other vets from around the country you get to see and talk with again,'' said Schwartz, who won three gold medals in his age group - two in swimming events and one in the pentathlon.

So, to the 2000 Golden Age Games team from our Sepulveda VA, congratulations, and here's some well-deserved recognition:

Steve Palmer, four medals; Abe Englander, four medals; David Briggs, two medals; W.D. Hanson, one medal, Patricia Mazel, three medals; Marilyn Miller, two medals; Charles Snowden, one medal; Fred Stanberry, two medals; Greg Yaldizian, two medals; Sherman Schwartz, three medals; and Don Starler, two medals.

Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. over at Headline Salon in Woodland Hills, co-workers of Sandra Miller will hold a cut-a-thon to help raise funds to buy her an electric wheelchair.

Miller, who had a 30-year nursing career before joining the salon as a licensed massage therapist, was stricken with a rare spinal stroke in January, and was paralyzed from the rib cage down.

All the proceeds from haircuts, manicures, massages and waxes will go for that wheelchair to assist in enabling Miller to bring some form of normalcy to her life, says Lidia Underberger, who owns the salon.

There will also be a raffle and door prizes. The salon is at 20051 Ventura Blvd.

And finally, there's a $25,000 national scholarship and other smaller scholarships looming out there for some talented high school students who wants to answer the question, ``What Price Freedom?'' in the Voice of Democracy National Audio Essay Contest this fall semester.

Any 9th- through 12th-grader at a public, private, parochial or home study program is eligible to put his or her feelings together on that topic in a three-to-five minute audio essay.

If you want to give it a try, contact the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post in your area for more information. The deadline is Nov. 1.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Some of the 11 local veterans from the Sepulveda veterans hospital who competed in the National Veterans Golden Age Games show off the medals they won in competition. They are, from left: Patricia Mazel, Martin Fishman, Abe Englander, Don Starler, Sherman Schwartz, Charles Snowden, W.D. Hanson and Steve Palmer.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 22, 2000
Words:664
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