AARP to screen 'Age of Champions' documentary
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 3:39 AM
AARP Oklahoma hosts a free public screening of the documentary "Age of Champions" and a discussion on staying engaged in such programs as Social Security and Medicare beginning at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 at the OSU-Tulsa Conference Center, 700 N. Greenwood Ave.
"Age of Champions," a PBS-bound documentary, follows several adults as they train to compete in the National Senior Olympics.
In the film, meet such athletes as Roger Gentilhomme, the 100-year-old tennis champion, and The Tigerettes, a basketball team of grandmothers 65 and older. Meet Adolph Hoffman of Texas; he's an 86-year-old pole vaulter who has the drive to break the records. Or Bradford and John Tatum, 88 and 90, respectively. They are brothers from Washington, D.C., who began swimming in the 1920s in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the C&O Canal because in their youth there was no pool in their neighborhood for blacks. In "Age of Champions," Bradford Tatum pats his pacemaker moments after finishing a race. Decades later, he and John were still swimming.
"It shattered some of our expectations of aging," film producer Keith Ochwat said of shooting the documentary with friend and director Christopher Rufo three years ago.
"Culturally, we have this expectation of older people that they have this wisdom, they have these experiences, but their life is pretty much behind them," Ochwat said.
"What our film sets out to do, what the characters taught us is that (expectation) is not true or doesn't have to be true."
In the more than 800 screening events of the documentary, Ochwat said there is always this amazement by the audience, young and old, with the film's inspiring characters - all fierce competitors not limited by their age but driven to set goals, train, compete and win.
And the screening fits perfectly with AARP's campaign to inspire older Americans to stay involved in the ongoing discourse on Social Security and Medicare, said Craig E. Davis, spokesman for AARP Oklahoma, which is sponsoring the local event and bringing along two representatives to lead the "You've Earned A Say" discussion on the status of the government programs that directly affect seniors.
Earlier this year, the Tulsa World reported that 92 percent, or 478,397, of 65-plus residents received Social Security in 2011. Also that year, 98 percent, or 485,000, of older Oklahomans were enrolled in Medicare.
According to AARP's "You've Earned a Say" questionnaire, more than half of all Oklahoman respondents answered there is a need for balanced approach of benefit and revenue changes to make sure Medicare and Social Security are available for future retirees.
Davis said the conversation about how the programs are changing is important and concerning the film, that the people to be featured are facing the same issues that Tulsans are facing.
"Just as 'You've Earned a Say' is empowering Americans 50-plus to make their voices heard for a healthier and more financially secure future," Davis said, " 'Age of Champions' inspires viewers with a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends and community and our shared journey to discover the best of what's next."
Following the community conversation, see "Age of Champions." After, one of the filmmakers will host a Q&A session about the documentary.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Visit tulsaworld.com/ageofchampions to RSVP for free tickets or call 877-926-8300.
Original Print Headline: AARP to show 'Age of Champions'
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316