Camaraderie main reason GJ veterans participate in Golden Age Games

For Grand Junction military veterans Darrel Chapman, Eric Rosenquist and Emma Folnsbee, the desire to compete in athletics is still strong.

The three participated in the National Veterans Golden Age Games last week in Birmingham, Ala.

The Golden Age Games is a four-day sporting event for U.S. military veterans age 55 and older who receive medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It’s all about the camaraderie among the competitors,” said Rosenquist, a 73-year-old Marines veteran. “You meet new people every year, and get to see old friends as well.”

This was Rosenquist’s 10th Golden Age Games, where he participated in bowling, shuffleboard and dominoes. He didn’t win any medals this year, but he won medals in bowling and shuffleboard in 2003 at the Golden Games in Orono, Maine.

Rosenquist’s feats are impressive when you consider he’s partially paralyzed on his left side because of a stroke 18 years ago.

Because of that, he has to bowl one-handed.

“I take it up to 11 o’clock, bring it back and take it back forward. I do pretty good like that,” Rosenquist said. “I have had a couple 200 games, but that’s a couple years back now.”

Watching Rosenquist’s bowling style five years ago at the games inspired Folnsbee to compete in bowling.

“I started bowling 40 years ago, but after I hurt my leg I didn’t bowl for 14 years,” said Folnsbee, a 73-year-old Army veteran. “Then I went to games and saw Eric, and thought, ‘if he has enough guts to do it, so do I.’ ”

Folnsbee has had success on the lanes, winning a gold medal last week with a two-game score of 249. Folnsbee also took home a gold medal in horseshoes.

This was Folnsbee’s sixth Golden Games. She also competed in shuffleboard and dominoes, but didn’t medal in those events.

Even so, she said the real reason people attend the Golden Games is for the fellowship.

“It’s like a family,” Folnsbee said. “There were over 700 veterans there, so you meet new people and you see people you met in the games before.”

Last week was Darrel Chapman’s first trip to the Golden Games.

Chapman, a 79-year-old Air Force veteran, returned home with plenty of hardware.

Chapman won gold medals in shuffleboard and bowling and won a silver medal in horseshoes.

Chapman also received the Challenge Award, which is given to a first-time competitor who exhibits qualities of sportsmanship and strength of character.

Chapman, who is blind, was given the award in part for a day that included eight hours playing golf in 90-degree heat, followed by the bowling competition.

Chapman said he was surprised to receive the award.

“During the week I had a couple interviews with people there, and they were asking me about my military history,” Chapman said. “Then at the closing ceremonies I was sitting there listening and they started reading off someone’s military history and I said, ‘That sounds like me.’

“It was quite an honor to be selected out of that many veterans.”

All three plan to attend next year’s Golden Games in Des Moines, Iowa. Every athlete who participates in the games must pay their own way. Rosenquist and Folnsbee have been able to fund their trips by selling crafts at the VA hospital.

Folnsbee said her goal is to get more Grand Junction athletes attending the games.

“For us it’s getting people aware of, ‘Hey you can do it,’ ” Folnsbee said. “It’s such a great experience.”


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