The purpose of the Senior Olympics is to provide Wisconsin’s older adults, men and women age 40 and over, the opportunity to improve their overall fitness and wellness through recreational, social and competitive events.
The program is organized, governed and conducted by an all volunteer board of directors which meets once a month. In addition there are seven standing committees, Budget & Finance, Brochure & Registration, Marketing & Public Relations, Opening Ceremony, Games Coordinating, Awards & Recognition and Hall of Fame, which meet as often as necessary.
Wisconsin Senior Olympics began as a vision of the late Betty Dick, then director of the Washington Park Senior Center in Milwaukee. While visiting in California Dick observed a Senior Olympics competition and thought such an event would be great for Wisconsin senior athletes. The first organizational meeting took place in July, 1979 with representatives from several recreation departments from Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.
With a $3,700.00 donation from State Central Credit Union the organization had the funding to develop the first Wisconsin Senior Olympic Games. These Games were held in September, 1980 at various venues in the Milwaukee and Waukesha area and drew 300 participants.
Events were: golf, bowling, swimming, track and field, basketball, table tennis, basketball free-throw, jarts, baitcasting, dartball, rope skipping, Frisbee toss, softball throw and billiards.
Over the years various events have been added and dropped from the program. Currently offered are: archery, badminton, 3 on 3 Half Court basketball, basketball free-throw and three point, bowling, cornhole (bags), croquet, cycling, golf, horseshoes, lawn bowling, lawn darts, pickleball, powerlifting, race walk, racquetball, 5K road race, shuffleboard, softball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track and field, triathlon and volleyball.
Local Games are held annually and National Games are run bi-annually. In order to participate in the National Games athletes must compete in the local qualifying games and also must meet certain qualifying standards for each sport/event as specified by the National Senior Games Association.
Except for basketball free-throw and horseshoes, competitions are scored in 5 year age divisions. Swimming is further divided into Masters and Novice events. Medals are awarded for first through third place. Athletes may participate in an unlimited number of sports.