94-year-old competing in Senior Olympics, shows us how to take things one step at a time

Bright Spot

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Who said you have to give up the sports and activities you love as you get older? There are ways to still use those skills in ways that fit your body best. One man in Memphis is proving that.

“Life can be beautiful if you let things become. I don’t use the words getting old. I use the words advancing in age,” 94-year-old Boone Sumantri said.

Advancing from Indonesia to states like Pennsylvania, California, and Oregon as a chemical engineer, Mr. Boone has done it all. And now, he shares some of his memories on social media.

Born in 1927, Boone has quite a few stories to tell. His memories include ones about his childhood, college life and adult life. He said his divorce changed his life.

“I said I need to know how to love.”

To do that, Boone started working with the homeless. He began in ministry, helping churches develop homeless shelters.

Along the way, he lost his ability to hear so he taught himself sign language then began to teach others.

As he got back on his feet, Mr. Boone met his second wife, Barbie.

“It was a wonderful time together. I’m so glad I’m here,” Mr. Boone said.

Barbie passed away a few years ago. The home garden he walks past is named after her, called Barbie’s Rose Garden. He said Barbie loved roses.

When we asked Mr. Boone when he stopped working in his career, he said “Stop working? I never stopped working. I still work now. Work doesn’t have to be paid to be work.”

Every morning, at 3:30, Mr. Boone starts his workday. He works in and outside, where he can see Barbie’s Rose Garden.

“I walk here outside and inside so that we are increasing the target. I do squats. I do about 15 squats in the morning.”

At 94, the goal is to keep moving one step at a time. His pace isn’t his priority right now, he is just grateful for the steps he can take today.

In 2019 he participated in the Memphis District Senior Olympics. He won gold that year as the only participant in his age group to complete a 5K.

Right at the finish line, a heart attack stopped him in his tracks.

“I write down what I do every day because I want to be able to see my progress. My goal is a very slow walk and then my balance is a problem,” Mr. Boone said.

From his blood pressure, weight and temperature, Mr. Boone keeps a track of everything. This isn’t just for his own reading but because he’s training for this years Memphis District Senior Olympics. He’s focusing on what he lost from the heart attack, like pacing, balance and speed.

The Memphis District Senior Olympics offers over 15 competitive sports like pickleball, basketball, swimming among many others. Opportunities like this are giving seniors similar to Mr. Boone, a chance to enjoy the sports and activities they love and always have.

“I love to do guitar playing. It’s always at the bottom of my priority” Mr. Boone said jokingly.

Let’s face it, Mr. Boone is a life competitor. Not only does he walk and run and tune his guitar, he’s a horseback rider, fencing and badminton player.

We asked Mr. Boone, what keeps him going?

“Just life. I want to be well enough to care for people I want to be able to give my time free. I will finish ministering when the lord calls me home,” Mr. Boone said.

Mr. Boone still needs his cane sometimes during walks. He started using it after his heart attack.

His plan for the senior Olympics is to walk without it.

If you’re interested in the Senior Olympics in Shelby, Fayette, Tipton, or Lauderdale county and want to participate, registration ends on the September 17. The event runs from September 24-October 8. Participants must be older than 50 years old.

You can find out how you can join by clicking on the link in this story.  

In the meantime, if you know someone or something you would like to feature on Bright Spot, send an email or message Symone on social media.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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